Friday, August 12, 2011

The beginning

My husband, Mark, had a plan:  he wanted to buy the worst house on the block in a great location.  Mission accomplished.  After an entire year of searching, and narrowing down the geographic area of interest to a small area near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, he found what he was looking for.  The house was owned by an older man who had a reputation in the neighborhood of being an alcoholic and someone who didn't take good care of his home or yard.  Oh, the stories we've heard.

Mark and I were not yet married and he was determined to buy the house on his own, so I wasn't involved in a lot of the details of this major purchase.  In fact, I hadn't seen the house before he committed to owning it.  I had toured other homes with him, but there was some miscommunication with the real estate agent on the showing for this house, and he had to dash over to see it without me.  In 2004, the housing market in Minneapolis was hot.  So hot, in fact, that if you found a home you wanted, you better be prepared to make an offer on the spot.  Mark knew right away that this house was the one and made his offer.

My first opportunity to see this house was at the inspection.  The realtor, Judy, and I trailed Mark and the inspector through the house and exchanged horrified glances at what we saw.  The cracked tiles in the kitchen, the paint splattered on the worn hardwood floors, the non-working harvest gold Kitchenaid dishwasher, the massive archaic heating unit in the basement, and the screened-in porch off the back of the house that had certainly seen better days.  The thought that kept going through my head was, "What has he done?"

The inspection turned up some serious issues with the house.  It would need a complete overhaul of electrical wiring (all outlets were two-pronged and many were not grounded), a new roof as soon as possible, and probably all new plumbing, among other updates.  It was just what Mark wanted.  His plan involved updating and repairing the house to fit in with the neighborhood, and possibly installing a couple dormer windows in the half-story upper level to make it more livable.

Though I wasn't as eager about this 'project house' as Mark was, I did look forward to sprucing up the place and creating a home of our own.  After years of living in apartments, I was excited for the opportunity to paint walls a color other than white or beige.

Mark grew up in rural Australia and was raised by a man who found it rewarding to build his home from the ground up.  His hard work inspired both Mark and his brother Dave to buy homes with the vision to improve and expand them.

When Mark arrived at the house on the day of closing, he (and his realtor) were shocked to find that the homeowner had not moved his few belongings out of the house.  Apparently, he did not believe that the transaction would go through and had no plan for where to live after the house was sold.  There was some scrambling, whereby some of his possessions were moved to the detached garage temporarily until he found a place to keep them.

Through all the challenges of finding and purchasing this home in the highly-sought-after neighborhood of Fulton in Southwest Minneapolis, we found great reward in meeting our new neighbors and becoming familiar with the walk around Lake Harriet.  We anticipated a great deal of adventure to encounter as we began to settle into this new home.

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