Meeting the Contractor

If you haven’t check in with us lately, we bought a foreclosure, fixer upper house.

Early on Thursday morning we met with the contractor that will be working on our house.  I had just lamented a few days earlier that I was bad at waiting..apparently Hubby is too because I didn’t even have to beg or causally suggest it.  He just set up the meeting with the contractor all on his own.

When we pulled up to the house I saw this…


That made me really BIG!!  You might remember me saying that we were thinking about removing the added part of the house to the right.


Well after we talked with the contractor, Roger left and I hung out in the house for an hour or so measuring and checking things out on my own.  I was able to get some pictures to show you too.  That addition houses, the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and sewing rooms.  There is only one room in the whole lot that I really like.  If we couldn’t remove the addition, I was willing to make it work but if we can the possibilities are endless!!

Before I show you the picture I want to tell you that our news from the contractor was WONDERFUL!    We just needed a ballpark figure from the contractor on what the cost was to remove the addition and add new on along with an attached garage.  He thinks the estimate of how much we guessed it would cost is right in line.

Onto why we’d remove the addition…
Here is the kitchen as it is now…small and awkward.


Here is another view of it…odd right??  Remember that big rectangle that comes out of the ceiling..I’ll make reference to that later.


This is the bathroom.  The only thing I like about it is the ceiling.  The vanity is in pretty good shape.  The medicine cabinet too.  We should be able to use them in the new addition.  They are small but I don’t care.  We have antique cupboards that will hold the towels and things.


There is a laundry/back entry too but I forgot to take a picture of that.

The upstairs of the addition is just plain weird.

Here is the one room…


Yep..odd ceilings..odd shape and a bathtub in the middle of the room?!?!  Hubby can’t walk under the light fixture!  That box or drop in the ceiling in the kitchen is what is housing the plumbing for the bathtub!!  I do think I will keep the tub for the upstairs bathroom.  I think that might be easier than trying to get it down the steps.  It’s old and original…

Then off this room is an upstairs porch room.  I am guessing long ago it was open and people would sleep there in the summer when it was too hot in the bedrooms.


This room I actually like. but it’s the only one I do…and it doesn’t have heat.


Now after seeing pictures you might be able to understand why we would love to take that addition off.  Every room is really quite odd.

But after you saw those picture you are probably wondering why on earth did we buy the house in the first place.  I’ll show you pictures of the things we love tomorrow.  Stop back and see them then.

Contemplating..the new house

This limbo time between having a bid on a house accepted and actually closing on the house and having the keys is just murder for me.  I think it’s harder on me than most people because I work from home and set my own hours and time tables.  Yesterday, I found myself doing a little bit of sketching….when I was suppose to be working…


Right now, we are unsure of how we are working several things…my sewing room, the kitchen, laundry, bathrooms and garage.  Currently, all those aspects of the house need help.  The other parts are all good with a just some cosmetic updates that we can manage.  After looking at the picture I took and contemplating we are beginning to wonder if our best form of attack is to just remove the part of the house that we don’t like and start over.

I’ll show you picture to explain but remember, the outside is bad and we’re planning all new windows and siding once we know how we’re adding on a garage…oh and imagine no dumpster.

The back part of the house which is to the right, houses everything in the house that we don’t like or that needs major work.  We are thinking that we could just take that part off and rebuild making the the addition look much like the house to the left of the picture.

That means a new kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, sewing room and garage.  We think it might work but, we need to get back into the house and meet with the electrician and contractor…but we are not ready to do that until we close on the house.

We know it will be more expensive to build but in the end it might not be as expensive as we might think.  We already would have to put on new siding, windows and shingles.  We already have to update and the bathrooms.  We already have to build a garage on.  We already have to remodel the kitchen with new cupboards.  In the end, how much extra will the rebuilding cost?  That’s a question we want to get answered…but that’s a question we are waiting on until the closing date.

In the meantime, Hubby had a doctor’s appointment in Lacrosse so we we stopped at Lowes in Onalaska.  We both just want to look and get some ideas….ceiling fans, sinks, bathtubs, siding…oh the list goes on and on.

In the meantime, I am just trying to stay working when it’s time to work and sketching and thinking and contemplating and pinteresting and looking at cupboard designs and looking at garage plans when it ISN’T time to work.  UGH!  I have such a one track mind, I think this waiting is going to be the death of me.

A House for the Kramer’s..or feeding my wood addiction

My life with Hubby has been a series of houses…some I liked.  Some I didn’t like  (like the one we shot a skunk out of the basement) and some I learned to love.   We are in an unusual situation as Hubby has worked for farmers as a hired hand and some farmers in that situation, provide housing for their employees.  We have been in that situation with his employer for the last 16 years.  It’s wonderful in that we don’t have to pay rent or worry about housing costs.  The not so fun part is when I’d like to make a change or up do and we have to ask his boss.  He’s good about it…I just hate not having the freedom.

We have LOVED living in the house here at the farm.  It’s close to school and Hubby simply walks out the door and he’s at work.  Recently though, we’ve started to have some changed feelings…not about his job, he LOVES his job..but about our housing.  With children now all considered “adult” and their getting married, space in the house here is getting really big some days(when they are all gone) and really cramped when they come home-but we don’t want a huge house just on the five or six times a year they all come home.  We also are feeling our biological clock tick…not for a baby but for a house.  Hubby is 51…I’m a little younger.  If we don’t get a house soon, will we have time to enjoy it?  Once Hubby does retire, we want have something in place to retire to and not be scrambling to make house payments.

You may remember a bit ago we put a bid in for an acreage and didn’t get it.  Now, looking at it from today’s perspective, I am SO happy we didn’t.  It was over priced and the upkeep with the acreage and amount of work that ALL the buildings needed, we’d have been working all the time and drowning in repair costs.

SO…about a week ago, I was looking at the newspaper and saw that a house was newly listed with the local realty.  I thought the house looked like one our daughter Kayla had been in as a teenage babysitter.  At the time I remember Kayla saying, “Mom, the woodwork in the house is amazing.”  I went online to learn more about the house.  The listing said, “Foreclosure that needs a little TLC.  This must see 3 bedroom with wood floors and beautiful wood work though out home has a lot of offer a buyer.  Priced to sell!”

Well…what does that mean??  I was leery and optimist all at once.  Was it the house Kayla had babysat in-Was the woodwork nice…and that was 10 years ago what shape would it be in now??    But do we want to live in town??  The pictured house looks plain, how good could it look inside?  Well I talked to Hubby and we decided what do we have to loose?  Let’s look at it.

As we drove up, we weren’t really excited.  The house obviously need siding and windows.  It looked small and plain.

When we got there, workers were removing crap from the house that the previous owners had left, cleaning and making a few necessary updates…like a new back door because the house couldn’t be locked.  There was 1″ thick of dust on the ceiling fans…cobwebs and the smell of a house that hadn’t been lived in for 6 months.  Saying it needed TLC was spot on.  It definitely needs TLC.   The bathroom on the main floor was started to be remodeled…but no trim woodwork was in place.  There is no garage.  It has a fuel oil furnace that needs to be replaced.  No air conditioning.  Windows need to be replaced.  The kitchen-oh, that’s a whole story on it’s own that I’ll tell on another day.  For today, I’ll just say it needs a new kitchen.  Every room has something-something (or maybe two or three things) that needs to be redone, replaced or renewed.  Every wall HAS to be repainted.  Every floor HAS to be updated.  All but two windows need to be replaced. Thing after thing after thing….

BUT…’s good.  The wood work and features of the woodwork are AMAZING.  The woodwork needs cleaning and a bit of TLC- but, WOW.  Hubby and I were both VERY impressed with it.  The layout of the house…we LOVE.  Typically older houses are chopped up.  Not this one.  There is a nice open layout.  The dining room is so big that I can put all the leaves in the table and leave them in all the time and we can still walk around it.  There are hard wood floors throughout the ENTIRE house.  Yes..they need to be redone, but hardwood (my dream).  The bedrooms are decent sized.  There is a built in hutch in the dining room.  There are leaded glass or etched glass windows in three of the rooms.  With the kitchen in disarray, I’ll be able to work with the space how I want.   It’s located on a good street with good neighbors around.  It’s a block from the park.

So with no garage…what do we do?  We need a double car garage.  We want a shop for Hubby to work in (and store his in progress projects in).  The lot is only 66 x 165…small.  Well the next door lot has no house but a garage.  There is a double lot after it that is empty.  There are lots across the alley in the back that are empty.  Hmmm.  Possible potential..but potential doesn’t equal what we’d want- the lot next door.

So we went home to contemplate.  Yes…No…Maybe so.  Do we put a bid in?  There is SO much to fix…but the price is good and will probably come down.

I took photos while we were there.  I looked and looked and relooked at them.  Hubby talked about tearing out plaster and sheet rocking.  I talked about how to redo the kitchen.  Hubby talked about updating electricity.  I talked about how the furniture would fit in the living room.  We talked and talked and talked.  Then we went to a wedding in Minnesota over the weekend and talked and talked with my family.  Do we want to live in town??

We decided living in town was okay.  We are fine with giving up the “living in the country dream”.  Hubby will still be able to work here on the farm.  His boss is great and won’t care it I bring Ruby and walk her on the field path if I want.  The town where the house is only has 250 for a population so it’s far from big.  There are open lots around us.  With our age at it is, we don’t want to move to the country live there ten years and have to move to town because we can’t keep up an acreage.  Both of us hate moving so hopefully, one more move and we’re done.  We’d only be three miles from the farm so Hubby can still come in for lunch on not so busy days.  We lived in town before and didn’t mind it.  I’d have to give up the chickens though.

Monday morning we put in a low bid.  Asking price was $33,000.  We bid $20,000.  After waiting and some back and forth, Tuesday the bank (who owns the house because of a foreclosure) accepted our bid of $24,000.  I am elated and deflated all at once.  I love the prospect of the house…I love what it will potentially be.  I just don’t think I am going to love the in between  months or year before we actually move…cleaning, painting and remodeling.  (Notice sewing wasn’t mentioned)

One thing that bothers me…people who see the house are going to say, “What were they thinking?”  From the outside, it looks frumpy, small and plain (we even thought so initially).  From the few people who we’ve told, that’s the vibe I am getting.  No one who has seen the outside of the house has said, “Wow..good for you!!”  But add a big front porch, a double car garage, siding and windows and it will be my dream home.  Hubby is really good at fixing things so we’ll be doing some of the work and hiring some done.

As far as pictures, I really don’t have much and most are poor quality or taken in an odd angle as this one is.  I’ll show one…it’s what makes me love the house.


Hubby is in the dining room walking towards the “parlor”.  To his left is the living room which will be our office and I’ll have a sewing machine there.  See one of the pocket doors sticking out on the right?  See the pillars and leaded glass cupboards in the woodwork?  See the built in hutch with the doors open past that??  See the hardwood floors??  oh, oh, oh, I LOVE it.  The open floor plan got me…that, the hard wood floors and the woodwork.

If all goes well, (but why should it), we hope to celebrate Christmas 2014 in our house.  We might not have the porch on..but that can be done while we live here.

So my friends…I apologize in advance.  This blog will probably soon turn into a bit of a “we bought a foreclosure home and are refinishing it diary”.  I am sure that Kelli will still have some time to quilt and I’ll be sneaking a bit of sewing in too so it won’t all be house… but once we  get back from our son’s wedding in August, we’ll be really busy with the house.  Closing is currently set for August 1st with the wedding August 3rd.

For those wondering about a sewing room and where my quilting machine will go?  I have a couple options that we are weighing right now.  The house has a couple odd rooms that could work or we many use one of the bedrooms.  We haven’t measured and calculated to know for sure where my quilting machine will fit but believe it or not, I’m okay with that.   If we don’t like any of the options we may make the garage have an upper bonus room.

At this point, it’s all just a little overwhelming.  We need to get back into the house, make a check list and priority list and a expense list and somehow make all of them jive.  We also need to talk to the carpenter and possibly someone to draw out some plans.

So this is our life right now…Hubby is frantically trying to finish up lots of farm work that is still running late.  Thankfully the haylage and oatlage is chopped..there’s spraying, bin building and cattle work and so much more to do to here.  I am expecting a house full of company, catching up on garden weeding, making bridal shower food, and trying to meet a couple deadlines for sewing projects but while all that is happening, in our minds both of us keep asking how are we going to attach the garage to the house?  How are we going to remodel the kitchen?  How do do do we?  The only thing I am saying at this point is I don’t want to live there while the majority of the remodeling is being done.  I’ve lived in the house as remodeling projects were being done several times in my life–Enough to know that just isn’t fun and I don’t want to do it again.

So on this July 4, 2013, USA Independence Day, that is the “state of the Roger and Jo Kramer union”….a new to us house that needs LOTS of work..but has amazing woodwork (it always comes back to that woodwork-doesn’t it).

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