Oh, what an adventure we had when we bought the old yellow house in Black Forest! We went under contract in April, but with a closing date in late June in order to give us time to sell our home in Stetson Hills. (It was a different market in 2013, much more favorable to buyers than it is today!)
To make a long story short, there were issues with our loan and appraisal because of the condition of the home. The appraiser agreed to upgrade the condition of the home on his report if a few things were improved, namely:
- The roof be replaced or certified
- Peeling paint be fixed
- The chicken coop that was attached to the house be removed (it was deemed a health hazard)
Yeah, so on that last one – there really was a chicken coop attached to the walkout basement, and it was gross:
I’m sure it was convenient to have a chicken coop that you could access from your basement door, but it. was. nasty. It was entirely enclosed with cinderblock walls, glass windows, and a corrugated plastic roof, and let me tell you that the soil in that area is still quite fertile!
Also right around this same time, the Black Forest Fire broke out a few miles from us, and the house was in a voluntary evacuation zone. It turns out that insurance companies don’t like to insure houses that are that close to an active wildfire, so our closing was delayed and that combined with the loan issues made it uncertain that we would ever be able to buy this house.
We actually went and looked at about four other properties at this time, to see if there was anything else out there that we would want if we couldn’t buy this house. Though we looked at some unique homes – one in particular that I would love to have had the chance to renovate! – none had the land that this one did, so we decided to do everything we could to close this deal.
The seller agreed to have the peeling paint fixed, while we agreed to pay for dumpsters and provide the labor to remove the chicken coop. (We also were able to take care of the roof issue.) Putting money and labor into repairing a house that you don’t own isn’t something we would typically advise our clients to do, but in this case, it was worth the risk to us.
We ended up doing the chicken coop removal and various other cleaning up on the grounds while the Black Forest fire burned less than a half mile away. Over the period of a few days, we filled two 30-yard dumpsters with the chicken coop and other trash and debris. (These were the first two of many, many dumpsters – we lost track of how many at about dumpster number 30!)
There were so many pine needles piled all over the house and outbuildings and so many trees so close to the house that it seemed entirely likely that one little spark from the big fire could float over and make the yellow house go up in flames. It was somewhat surreal to be pouring hours of hard labor into a house we didn’t own, all while knowing that it could be for naught.
In the end, we were able to close just a little later than had first scheduled. In a move that seems absolutely hilarious now, we had originally planned to do a couple of weeks of renovations on this house before we had to move out of our house in Stetson Hills, and then move door-to-door to this house.
The delayed closing kept that from happening, and Jeremy’s parents graciously allowed us to live in their basement for about four months while we did a Phase One renovation. (His parents also live in Black Forest, and were actually under mandatory evacuation during this time. They were waiting on some smoke mitigation and cleaning to be done before they moved back in after the fire, but we went ahead and moved into their basement before they moved back in.)
Here’s how the chicken coop area looks now, as of fall 2019:
We still call it the chicken coop, even though it’s really just the walkout basement area!
(If you missed the first post in this series, check out How We Bought Our Forever Home in Black Forest.)