Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Which We Make An Easy Decision

We received an interesting phone call yesterday.

It was the people from the first house, the one with the huge yard and the roll-in shower. They offered to make us a good deal-- provided we cut out our real estate agent.

Um, no.

First of all the real estate agent has already done all of this work for us, which they would now not get paid for. Not only do I find that really unethical, but I'm not even entirely sure that's legal. Second of all, we know enough now about the home buying process to have figured out that we never, ever want to try and buy a house without a real estate agent. Offers? Contracts? Escrow companies? We have no clue how to draw up or find any of that stuff, and I don't really think that in the middle of buying a house is the best time to learn. So the one good thing that's come out of that phone call is that it made our house decision pretty darn easy.

So we've got an offer in on the other house: the house that will need some renovation. We've already received a counter offer, and we're in the counter/counter offer stage right now, but I'm thinking that it's pretty likely we're going to end up buying this house.

I am ridiculously excited about the idea of getting to design a bathroom.

It will probably be mostly me designing the bathroom-- Jer is not so big on interior decorating. The man would be perfectly happy living in a white box, so long as it had a bed, a toilet, an espresso machine, and Internet access. Also right now a ramp. At any rate it will be me making most of the design decisions, which is just fine as I live for this stuff.

So right now I am spending every second of my free time scouring the Internet for design ideas and the addresses of local architectural salvage places, which are pretty much the thrift stores of the home renovation world. I'm hoping we'll be able to scrounge up some really cool finds in the way of counter top, tile, etc (perhaps left over from someone else's project) so it won't look like a wheelchair accessible shower but rather more like one of those luxury Universal Design showers. Universal Design is apparently the new politically correct phrase for handicap accessible. My theory on this is that all of the baby boomers are getting up there in age and starting to need this sort of thing but none of them want to be reminded that they're getting old, so interior designers came up with a new phrase and coached it as luxury design. That way not only do they continue to have happily in-denial clients, but they can charge more for it.

At any rate I've never been a huge fan of adaptive equipment (especially for kids) that makes no effort to not look like something straight out of a hospital, so we're going to try and make something beautiful and functional. Hence the Universal Design. On a tight budget. Wish us luck.

We're going to have an interesting time balancing all of Connor's needs in regards to the house, too. Take the floors, for instance. Now, in terms of his wheelchair use, the harder the better. Hardwood, ceramic tile, stone, laminate-- all of these are good options. But for his hearing loss? Carpet all the way. All of those hard options bounce sound around the room like nobody's business, and that living room has a cathedral ceiling and huge windows on either side of the fireplace, which isn't going to help. Rugs help absorb sound but are really bad once again for wheelchairs. So we're going to have to find a balance that will allow Connor (who is still totally covered in hives, by the way) and Jeremy to maneuver around but won't bounce sound everywhere. Upholstery, curtains, and fabric covered surfaces will all help. We'll see what we come up with.

At any rate hopefully by Monday or Tuesday we'll be one step closer to buying a house!



Janis @ SneakPeek said...

Check out Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It is sort of like Vinatge for homes. They have awesome finds there - some brand spanking new & some older stuff. My mom bought a new oven for $120, it would have been $1100-1400 retail. I hope you get the house and BOO to that other unethical guy, so glad you didn't have to end up dealing with them.

Niksmom said...

Wow, I hhope you let your RE agent know about the first guy's "offer." It's not only unethical, in most states (I'm guessing in WA, too) it is illegal.

Enjoy the design and renovation plans; that's always fun! :-)

Kristin said...

Have you seen those alphabet/number/shape foam squares for kids? they function like a play mat, but help to dampen sound a bit. We've got them covering part of our laminate floors. They're okay with wheels too as Josh rides his fire engine over them regularly with little difficulty. they may squish down a bit with wheelchair weight, but wouls probably bounce back since they're foam. Anyway, just a thought.

Bronx Cataldo's said...

Have you thought about cork flooring. Don't know what it would cost but it is sound absorbing and flat.

Julia said...

Congrats on the house progress. If you're going to use contractors to do the work, you might want to start lining them up now. I'm sure you have more options there, but in our small town, all the good ones are usually booked up half a year in advance. Like with all aspects of this, you shouldn't feel self-conscious about pulling out the wounded vet card, if that would make someone more interested or supportive. As you've already discovered, many people genuinely want to help pay back for Jeremy's service. (Also, ask around for recommendations -- we were just about to sign with one contractor, but then we got a flood of e-mails from friends and colleagues warning us that he was bad news.)

Talleen said...

Howdy! I've been following your blog for a while and just want to say you're in inspiration.

Here's a few ideas for your home renovation projects: For flooring that is more sound deadening, perhaps try a vinyl product. Here's a link to some info regarding Spacia Access (a luxury vinyl product):

Too, by investing in a quality rubber pad under laminate, it can greatly help with the noise.

Kudos for sticking with the realtor. Hope Connor feels better soon!!

Anonymous said...

I was going to recommend Berber carpet, but then I remembered you have a cat and that wouldn't be such a good idea!

terena said...

I use those alphabet foam squares in Queen Teen's room and they work great! I just pop them in the washing machine now and then to clean them.

As for the bathroom, my hubby reinforced a standard towel bar so that Queen Teen could use it to help herself get around. Functional and still pretty, plus it didn't cost an arm and a leg!

Good luck with the house

Anonymous said...

Look at some of the ideas from extreme home makeover. Cork or bambo flooring might help the sound levels. smg

Mel said...

I was thinking of entering you guys for "Extreme Home Makeovers" - they would love the McGuffy family! :D

Anyway, let me know if you want help with the painting / building / etc. I'd be happy to come down and lift heavy things for you guys. :)

PS there is a ReStore in Seattle, near me in Ballard. If you want me to check it out for you, let me know.

Tom said...

I think I speak for all men when I say "Toilet optional".

Anonymous said...

I'd think that commercial carpet might be a good option.

Ella from Toronto said...

Oh good luck with designing the bathroom. It's an essential part of a home and I've found it very hard to design a bathroom in my career. Especially the details, they have to be stylish and practical, especially for you. I've got some tips on staging bathrooms if you want to check those out. Really helpful stuff on how to make your bathroom look nice with little spendings. Good luck and I hope you'll love your new home.

Take care, Ella

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