So, What's Next?

The time comes in every renovators life when the first project is done. Our house isn't DONE, but it is pretty close. The nook is now finished (I know, I need to post about the light we hung and a Before & After of course), and all that's left after that is Chris' office and the second half of the laundry room. Chris' office should be really simple - a couple patches on the walls, ceiling repair, then paint. And the laundry room just needs the rest of the flooring, cabinets, new paint, and some other small things here and there. Still two rooms, but in the grand scheme of things, not a lot of work at all.

Then of course we are now a family of three, we need room for working on projects and we need room for storing materials for future projects we will be working on. We have a two car garage, but now that we're working full time on our handyman business, that workshop is getting used daily and we're running out of space for the tools and materials we need on a daily basis. On top of that, we regularly buy large quantities of materials for projects we've got down the line in a couple of days or weeks and we are running out of places to store them. Our front room is a regular storage spot for materials waiting to be organized, installed or built for a client. It's not that our house doesn't have enough space, it's just not laid out great for us. For instance, the front room is probably a few hundred square feet of space that we don't really use ever - except to exercise in with our recumbent bike and free weights and pile building materials in. And I always feel bad about that.

So what comes next? Well, I posted on Facebook last week that we did something CRAZY: we put an offer on a house. We didn't get it, grrrr (I'll fill you in later in this post about it), but it did let the cat out of the bag that we're beginning to think about where we are, what we need, what we want and what comes next. Some of you commented on the post that you were wondering if we were going to move soon because we're almost done on this house (and that seems to be what crazy renovators do). And the answer is: yes, we would like to move. And here are the details:

If it was up to Chris we would move away (probably to Michigan). Chris has always wanted land and to be self sufficient. We both really fell in love with Michigan while on the Renovation Roadtrip and now are lucky to have (what I would hope to call) friends living there :) And in neighboring states as well :) But I just can't do it. I am a Bay Area girl at heart (4 generations here) and the thought of leaving makes my heart hurt. 90% of my family lives within an hour of our house. And I love that. So I have made Chris stay in the Bay Area :)

Then comes the question of WHERE in the Bay Area. Again, Chris wants LAND, so we had thought about moving to the outskirts a bit where we can get more land for A LOT cheaper than around here. However, now that we've started our business, about 95% of our clients (and just about all of our regulars) live in the city of Oakland. That's super nice and super convenient. On days when we need to drive around to several client's houses it's nice knowing that it will never take more than 20 minutes to get to someone's house. However, if we lived in another city (if you know Bay Area traffic), that commute will significantly change. And building up a new client base is always a question mark. And even if we did, it isn't like we would leave our existing clients, so it would mean driving to and from Oakland to "INSERT HERE" city, very frequently. And end up costing a lot more in gas. And a truck doesn't get great gas mileage.

Not to mention, I have the deepest soft spot in my heart for Oakland. I did not grow up here, but instead grew up in Albany and Berkeley. I moved to Oakland when I was about 21, lured by the affordable rents. And I loved it. I loved how diverse it was (4th in the US), how there was always something going on, how proud people were to be from here. It just kind of felt awesome. I also have a soft spot for the underdog, and Oakland has definitely had struggles (I did my senior thesis as an art major as a video installation on the social and economic differences of living "above" or "below" I-580 that goes through our 'town'). I get sad when people get well paid jobs, have kids, "grow up" and decide to leave Oakland. And I didn't want to do that.

So we will most likely stay in Oakland.

We definitely want to get the biggest lot we can afford. Again, if it was up to Chris we'd have 500 acres and a bunch of goats, sheep, chickens and an orchard. So if we can find 1/500th of that, that would be awesome. The trouble is - at least around here - whenever you're able to get a big lot, the house is ginormous, and we don't either want or need that. To us, the size of our current house is great (1600 sf), it's just not laid out the way we use. If we could find a 1600 sf house laid out differently than ours is now and on even just 1/2 acre with good workshop and storage space, that would just be downright awesome. Of course that all comes with a price because the Bay Area is NOT cheap. Our budget for a fixer would buy us two finished 2000 sf houses in OK City for example. Oy.

We tossed around the idea of building our own home and acting as the general contractors to save money. There were a couple lots we looked into that were "cheap" because of interesting obstacles. We went to the city to look into them, talked with a couple contractors, ran some numbers and ultimately decided that building from scratch probably isn't for us. There are all sorts of question marks when you build from scratch (especially around here) that if you're working on a tight budget can completely fuck you up. We made the decision that it would just be too tight of a fit.

I got my real estate license about 3 years ago for my brother's company. With the prospect of looking for a future house for us and my dad and step mom relocating to the area I decided it might finally be time to get myself access to the MLS and start looking. About a week after I got access the most AMAZING fixer came onto the market. It was on an acre, in Oakland, ridiculously in need of fixing, off in a more "country" area (if that's possible). And it was being offered sort of close to our budget. It was definitely a diamond in the rough. I called Chris about it while he was at work, we looked at it that night and I told my parents about it. We all talked about it, sent pictures, ran numbers, had them look at it etc. It was a DUMP

11310 Elvessa St, Oakland, CA 94605

Yup, that's a completely collapsed floor. 

But there was so much potential

11310 Elvessa St, Oakland, CA 94605

Because of the condition of the house, you absolutely needed 100% cash to make the purchase.While we've been really good savers, we do not by ANY means have enough money to pay several hundreds of thousands of dollars up front to purchase the home. So we pulled together and got help from family and presented an offer. We happened to meet the listing agent while checking out the house with my dad and step mom and she was really nice and we chatted for a while. She knew how much we loved the house and we were happy she had a face to go along with the offer we put together (along with a letter). There ended up being 9 offers, and we lost out to someone who was likely an investor that bid $135k over asking. Sigh. The agent called to let us know that we had lost and was very, very nice about everything. She let us know that we were actually second in line, which I'm not sure if that made it hurt more or less. 

I'm confident in saying that Chris and I were COMPLETELY heartbroken that we lost out. I was at work at the A's when I found out last week and literally cried quietly in the corner to myself. Luckily a girlfriend was working that game with me and she was amazingly nice while I silently sobbed. I had to call Chris during an inning break to tell him the awful news. And when I got home I sobbed to him. I sobbed the next day. And more in the next couple of days after. Our family was sad for us, our friends were sad for us. We were very sad. It was on an acre, with two out buildings (one of which was a full in law), more square footage than we needed and in a neighborhood that was completely family friendly and super cute and close to a city owned park. 

It fucking sucked ginormous donkey balls.

But the same thing happened when we were looking for this house. We put an offer on one before this and we lost out and I was depressed beyond belief. I thought nothing would work out after and hey, we got this place and it is SO MUCH MORE AWESOME than that place would have ever been. So I know we just have to lift our head up and keep looking. 

Of course, that means that at some point we will be leaving Picardy. That will be a VERY sad day. I have loved this house and it has been an amazing home to transform. I couldn't have really asked for anything better for a first home adventure. Our house has so much character and I feel a great sense of pride to have brought it back to life. Our neighbors are awesome and our street is amazing. But it's just not as conducive to how our family has developed and how we live our life.

So there you have it folks: we're on the move. But first we need to finish some things up :) It may take a while - a week, a month, a year - but there will be another project on the horizon. 


Elizabeth Gow said...

The home you have created with Chris on Picardy is magical. I know you guys can do that anywhere!! (Thanks for all the Zoe pictures:) made my morning lol!!)

Deb said...

Wow - A LOT going on - exciting!

rosedel said...

I'll miss Picardy. I love the nook and the fireplace in the big room and I want to see the fireplace in Chris's
study get some love and I really really want to see that freakin' laundry room done! You two have brought life back to the house. I love that.
And now there will be a whole new place to love and get to know. I'm excited!

meryl rose said...

Thanks everyone!

And yes, Rosedel, I will be very sad when we leave Picardy. And I want that laundry room done too, damnit! :)