House hunting can subtly shift from bold, new adventure to the inevitable pain-in-the-ass move that you’re about to encounter. Since I’ve finally sold our Michigan home after nearly two years in order to move to Charlotte, I’m over the new adventure part.
So, as someone who’s been a remodeler, CKD, CBD, installer and worked for a large cabinet manufacturer, my approach to buying a house sucks. It doesn’t help that my first agent, who would be lucky to know what I’ve forgotten about building systems, was pointing out construction features. (He’s actually a great guy and good agent, but please; I am cursed with x-ray vision when it comes to looking at a house!)
I looked at twelve houses over two nights before I was to fly out again. I know what I want and, better yet, I’ll know when I see it and it defies a set of criteria that an agent would work off. Three bedroom, Three bath, ranch style (I’m done with stairs!), bonus space, large lot with mature trees and some privacy. I like a party at my house, but I also like people to go home and leave me alone. Easy-peasy, right?
Well, minus x-ray vision it would be a snap. A couple of the ‘defects’ I’ve seen are:
- Exposed beam construction where a joint has been placed between support posts (really, cantilevers need to be engineered!)
- Poorly patched ceilings where there had been water intrusion
- Wood floors added after the fact with the worst room transitions
- No GFCI outlets around wet areas
And then, in a category all its own, would be the kitchen. Some of the stuff I saw was a result of “HGTV’itis,” where everyone thinks they’re a design/build remodeler. Clearly, they should stick to their day jobs.
- How about a 60’s oak kitchen (with crappy cabinets to start with) where the doors and frames were shot in the absolute highest gloss white. Did anyone tell them that gloss shows everything, including sanding grit not properly cleaned during prep?
- Or 8 year old construction where they tried a black finish with over-sanded edges. (Hint, you really need a topcoat if you don’t want to see every natural use defect.)
- Brand new construction where a peninsula/eat-in bar abuts the dining space and the sink is placed within two inches of the walkway. Apparently someone didn’t read the NKBA guidelines on workspace for both sides of a sink.
- A corner where the hardware on the door was recessed into the face of the drawer head. It took a tenth of a second to realize that they didn’t use a filler on their blind base corner. Talk aboutdesign 101!
Yes, house hunting is easy unless you know a thing or two about how things should go together. Some days I’d like to trade in my super powers, just for a few minutes!