Saturday, August 01, 2009

house news?


I haven't written a lot about the house-buying situation lately, because I find it difficult to say anything interesting about cursing and nail-biting.

Here's the thing. The house was built in 1925, which attentive blog-readers may have noticed, is before 1978. 1978 is the year that the use of lead-containing paint was banned in the United States. We are (hopefully) getting a Federal Housing Administration mortgage, and the FHA assumes that every home built prior to 1978 is painted with lead-based paint. They will not back mortgages for any house, built prior to 1978 that has peeling paint, because it may contain lead paint which may cause a health risk to children. (Oh, and they won't actually test to confirm the presence of absence of lead paint. That's far too logical. Scrape paint, or no mortgage, end of discussion.)

Okay so, we're obliged to get the house scraped and primed. You would think that this would be no big deal. After all, isn't Lisa a professional painter with decades of experience, painting for theaters, museums, hotels and all manner of crazy mansions?

Well, it's not so simple.

I run the scenic studio for a large regional theater; I'm not a house-painter. Because of that, I don't need to have a California contractor's license, or to carry my own insurance. I'm insured by the theater.

We are buying our house from the proverbial Little Old Lady. From what the neighbors and the selling realtor have told us, the owner of the house has moved into some kind of a nursing home, and the Little Old Lady's sweet little house is being sold by a big team of lawyers.

And, not surprisingly, the lawyers will only allow licensed and insured painters to scrape and prime the house.

After some grumbling, I went to my beloved local paint store and asked them to set me up with their favorite painting contractors. This experience was Goldilocks-like: one painter was too expensive, one (not suggested by my beloved paint store) was too stalker-ish, and one seemed just right.

But, the extremely nice and affordable painter wasn't quite as licensed and insured as he initially said he was. Lawyers insist on checking up on those sorts of things. Damn.

I went back to the beloved paint store, and got another set of recommendations. I ended up picking a painting company, owned by a very pleasant woman.

And yesterday on my lunch break, I drove over with all my (non-licensed) painter co-workers to drop off cookies and cold drinks for the house painting crew. I'm sure the house painters had no clue what to think of the four women in paint clothes who blew through the house, handed over a bunch of snacks, and oo-ed and ah-ed at everything.

The big downside of all this is the fact that I had gotten used to the idea of not painting the outside of the house, myself. If we had gone with the original (but uninsured) painter's bid, we could have afforded to pay him to climb around on extension ladders and paint all the trim. We sure can't afford to pay any of the licensed and insured painters to do the actual painting work.

Oh well, I guess I'm going to have to get over my fear of extension ladders. (I hate those things!)


Gina said...

Lisa, look into Little Giant ladders. Pricey, but maybe you can rent one. They have an amazing design that makes them very safe. If you do have to climb on a ladder after all.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I don't really like Little Giants, because they're so freaking heavy and cumbersome. I think Robb broke a toe adjusting one.

I am going to look into ladders with adjustable feet, because the house is on a slight hill.

Bleh. I really do hate extension ladders. I always used to get queasy when I had to paint the great rooms of McMansions and was at the tippy-top of an extension ladder.

And, well, you know.....we're where we are today because ROBB FELL OFF A LADDER.

This, as you can well appreciate, FREAKS ME OUT.

Knit Wit said...

Lisa, the thing with the ladders is doubly understandable in your case. Ladders with a slight hill?? Doubly frightening. Heck, I've never even known anyone who fell off one and I won't go up them. We've just lined a company up to paint the outside of our house (a two-story). I'll pay the premium for our safety.

Is there anyone among your painting friends and co-workers who'd be more willing to climb the ladder outside? Maybe tons o' pizza and some of Robb's homemade brew as a reward afterward. :-)

Good luck. I know it's a headache now but the house will be so great when you're done.

Romana said...

Dare I hope that the fact that the lawyers are making YOU pay for the house painting means that you get to buy it afterwards?


2007 said...

If you change your mind about the Little Giant ladders, we have one and you can borrow it any time. (Yes, they are heavy and cumbersome but somehow I feel more secure on them than the lightweight aluminum ones.) We're down there most Saturdays so let us know.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Darling Doublesaj -- you are too kind. I may just try out your ladder to see if it suits me.

That is if this (grumble grumble) sale ever goes through.

Anonymous said...

I was also wondering if you guys actually "have the house".

Did you ever hear the joke by Chris Rock? It goes like this- One day Chris is in his house- a prostitute comes by and knocks on the door, telling him she will do absolutely ANYTHING for $20. Get the sexual connotation here, right? So Chris Rock looks at her and says "B****, Paint my house!"

Thats pretty much how I feel about it as well. You have to jump through hoops and scramble for money and sort of bend over and around and prostitue yourself to get what you want or need done. It's worth it. Trust me. Make deals. Calling around and repeatedly going back to businesses over and over is how it's done right. You also get taken more seriously.

We paid more than we wanted (yet still got an good deal) when we hired (and fed) Amish fellows to insullate/side the wooden part of our house. These guys should have been acrobats for the circus- scrambling around, leeping like gazelles. They never once cursed, or left any mess. We PRIMARILY hired them because we thought about Robb and his injury. Also, our house is also on a little slope. Who needs the stress? Some things are well worth paying for, even if the money isnt there at the time.

The few times Gary and I drag our giant ladders out of the barn to use them, ( gutter repair) we scream at each other on how to use them. I end up climbing up as Gary holds the bottom, as I generally hang onto it with one hand, and lean WAY OUT and curse and bang on something else with a hammer. It's not good or safe. I seriously dread using those ladders.

Anyway, you are very busy with work, and so just consider it a necessary expense. Robb cant do it, and I dont advise he try. It is helping the economy, some guys gets a job for a bit, you are freed up with time and don't have to do it yourself, and it comes with a warrenty/guarantee (right?) The workers I have had to hire lately have been very grateful for the work and do a wonderful job.
In the grand scheme of things, It will avoid you scraping and inhaling any lead paint that may be in the house (I've got it in mine, believe me, sweetheart) and this will be yet another thing you can cross off your list that impeeds you both from moving into your home.

This will be a paint job on YOUR HOME. Not someone elses place you have been renting. It is for YOU BOTH. It's worth it, and so are you. Start thinking like that, and talk and talk and ask questions to make sure you get done EXACTLY what you want. DONT PAY FOR A CRAPPY JOB- and dont let any workers or company walk over you. Inspect everything when they are "done". It pays to be a bit of a nagging, pushy B**** when it comes to your house. This is a buyers market and also when it comes to hiring labor. Remember that- You hold many cards in your hands now, even though you may not know it.

I never had to get too crazy with labor I hired, but so what? I'm paying them, my money doesn't grow on trees and I want what I pay for. I also have a good lawyer, and good house insurance, so bring on the stupid heads who want to screw me over when I need a furnace looked at. They will regret it. You have to think like that sometimes (not always), or you will get taken advanatge of.

In this economy, you have to be frugal, and can by with some things, but not all. If paying to get it painted is what it takes to get the house you really, really want, it is worth it.

When you get other repairs done to the house, consider putting in a small time capsule in a wall, with some thing about you and Robb and the house's history (and past owners) as you know it. I did this for our house, and threw in some modern day coins in it as well as a photo of us, and my family. Who knows who will be doing more home repairs to your place in the next 100 years? Maybe the future owners will find your 2009 pennies have become SO VALUABLE in 100 years, that you will have inadvertantly paid for THEIR home repair! I could use that sort of future Karma!


mamakin said...

Did I miss something here? Are you saying you now own the house???? If you don't, why are you paying to fix it? Is that some CA thing? Fix it & we'll let you know if you can have the mortgage, meanwhile, someone with more money stops the sale, you leave & they get it with all your work done for them. What did I miss here? Pain is an annoyance- you do miss things & my kids have announced that nouns are the first things to go.:-)


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