Yet Another House Hunting Fail

We've pretty much given up on our new house dream -- for this season at least. The Austin market is overheated and overpriced (we hope), and we'd rather wait for things to cool down. Like, maybe on Christmas Day. Despite swearing off any more home tours, I found myself drawn to a particular house like bubbas to the rapture, largely because I spent two or three months trying to get into the same stupid house last year before it was finally yanked off market. What kind of realtor won't allow people to come look at their awesome and amazing house for sale? The kind that has something to hide.

When you look at the pictures, you guys are going to flip, because this place looks like the second coming of Christ. Let me try to explain why it's really just this hellish house 2.0...

Entry = incredible. This house was built in the 70s by a "designer." Hmmmm, not an architect. Ok. Who cares? The neighborhood is a stunner, and even though buying this place would financially destroy us, I am already making plans to sell a kidney.

Upon entry we are informed by the listing agent that the owner installed all the custom *cough* lighting. It looks like Beetlejuice barfed all over the place, but whatevs. It's just light fixtures. And hideous tiles. And ugly doors... but it's all cosmetic, right?

The owners also built this delightful concrete island, with custom beetlejuice uplighting. I want to take a sledgehammer to the entire kitchen -- which is teeny tiny, by the way. Count the cabinets... sike! Many are just for show.

Pop quiz: where is the master bedroom? Answer: in a labyrinthine hidden door BEHIND THE FIREPLACE. wtf???

The house is surrounded by incredible decks that overlook the yard -- only problem is that I'm afraid my foot might go through a board (did I mention I might have to sell Ben's kidney to buy this house, too? no money for repairs). Also there is a weird stairway that goes to the bottom deck, and the opening is only four feet tall. Ike has no problem fitting through the Willy Wonka door, but even shorty me is screwed. We are informed that the "designer" meant to do that because it's "funny." Why was this place not built by an architect???

Speaking of the yard, it's actually pretty great, except for the rickety death fort and the weird drainage ditch that runs across its full length. Oh, and it backs up to a main road.

But we haven't yet discussed the main, uh, focal point of the home. Hmmm... what's that I spy through those windows?

Oh, it's just a 2.5 story waterfall running through the center of the house. Seriously, ya'll, this thing is SO MUCH BIGGER than it appears in the photo. Like almost 30 feet tall. Check the chairs for scale. Notice the stairway through the window. And then look at the green water and imagine this thing backing up in the middle of your house... Do you think this is cool? I admit it's pretty spectacular -- like it's a SPECTACLE. But it is also very very weird. And BIG.

Still, I think I might get over living in fear of a septic meltdown if this place were cheap. Or in any way functional. Instead, it was built by a "designer" who valued a giant waterfall over kitchen space, who hid the master bedroom behind the fireplace, and who built rooms you could only see from the outside. The whole house is like a labyrinth of doors and useless rooms. It's bizarre.

If the price drops 100k, then I think we should buy it, right? And judging by the alternating looks of shame and terror flashing across the listing agent's face, it just might.

What Am I Doin? What Am I Doin?

I'm looking at houses, mayne, that's what I'm doin. We need another bedroom, and we desperately want better schools and quieter streets because we're old like that. I must have eyeballed hundreds online already, and negged dozens in person, but today we may have found a contender. Maybe.

It's over our budget and it's not perfect, but it's in a fab neighborhood with excellent schools -- which is saying something because Austin schools are not so great. Sorry, but it had to be said. Or typed, as the case may be.

I'd show you a pic of the exterior, but frankly you can't even really see it. Because it's built into a hill, and it lies at the bottom of the driveway of death. Sounds great already, right? Yes, but did I mention the views, the miles of wraparound decking, the acre lot, and the seriously amazing neighborhood?

And the WINDOWS. Tons and tons of windows. I'd like to show you more interior shots, but I've had my daily fill of microfiber.

Ok, just this one more. Because that window is so cute. And did you see the beams and the real oak floors, the floors that are not stained a hideous shade of red? Also, can I say that the fireplace -- while awesome and copper and very unique -- must go. It's, like, 30 shades of too big.

Oh yeah, and there's carpet in all the bedrooms. At least it's brand new.

Also, there is a weird midgetty loft to the side of the dining room that I can't show you because there are no pictures. And the cabinets are not the bizness -- nothing a little paint and contact paper can't cover for the time being, but not long term worthy, either.

If it sounds like I'm trash talking the place, well I probably am. I'm skeered. We aren't rich, but we aren't used to carrying much debt, either. We live modestly, and this -- this is not a modest house. This house will make us poor. But it will also make us all upwardly mobile and shit. Poor rich people. And that seems like a lonely place.

Do you think there are coyotes that eat rich people out there? I bet they might even settle for middle class meat.

House Hunting In Hell

Now that we've invested huge amounts of time and money into renovating our kitchen, landscaping the yard, and decorating the house, I've decided it may be time to move, which makes total sense to all you design junkies, right? So this weekend, Hunny Bunny, the baby, Karly and I, solicited the help of our realtor friend Kurt to look at a house in one of the most amazing neighborhoods in Austin -- Travis Heights. Oh, Travis Heights, how I love thee! When we drove into the hood, I thought about living within walking distance of the shops at South Congress, and I looked at families pushing strollers down tree lined streets with a misty sense that this could be our new life.

reagan terrace

And how cute is this 1930s house? With a little paint and some new plants, it could be killer. Plus, did I mention that the neighborhood rocks, and the lot is STUNNING.

reagan terrace

Yep, that's your own personal creek running through a little patch of wilderness, 5 minutes from downtown, 5 seconds from South Congress. Insane, is what that is. And astonishingly, it's (barely) within our budget. Hmmm.

reagan terrace

As we pulled into the carport, Karly started her "Unh, uh" routine. Ok, so the backside of the house was a little ramshackle... The picture above captures about 1/3 of the length of the house. The carport was caving in, there appeared to be a strange 1980s addition tacked onto the back, there were about 500 doors opening to various outdoor areas, and the landscaping was a bit odd, but still workable. What can you expect at such a bargain basement price? And then we walked inside.

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Is this part of an old garage? What's up with the "stairs" to nowhere? How come that doorway appears to be mounted upside down on the wall??? Why oh why does it smell like death in here...?

reagan terrace

Ben held the baby into the mystery opening to get a closer look, and Ike -- who heretofore was perfectly placid -- started screaming BLOODY MURDER, which is obviously what took place in this room vampire cave. Now, normally I'd go spelunking to check out the "vintage" furniture in there, but I figured Ike knew something I didn't. Obviously, he sees dead people. After that, things got hazy. Karly declared the house was "haunted as shit," and decided to take Ike outside to calm him down, but I was not to be deterred from a bargain by a few measly poltergeists.

reagan terrace

We pressed on to the 80s wing, which featured lovely wall to wall carpet in red -- to hide the bloodstains, naturally. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the leg breaking spiral staircase straight out of Vertical Limit, or the disgusting bathrooms, but truly, these things were only pedestrian gross. You've seen them before. But I bet you've never seen this:

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I'm just going to give you a second to reflect on the situation.

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There is a TREE in the middle of the house -- in the kitchen, for goodness sake, which is somehow even more offensive. And lest a tiny part of you think that it might be cool to have a tree in your kitchen, remember the other rooms. Whoever built this patchwork piece of shit house built it out of plywood, cardboard and duct tape. The roof leaked all around the hole where the tree is, and a foundation was laid over the tree roots. Not good planning.

reagan terrace

Plus it looks like sandworms from Beetlejuice are attacking the exterior of the home, and nobody wants that.

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Here's another shot from the other side. DO NOT be fooled by my pretty picture. Imagine filth, crappy construction, and cheap materials everywhere. It is completely uninhabitable, and I have a VERY high tolerance for fixer uppers. Somehow I neglected to get pictures of the random door that opens onto an unstable, unfenced roof (dangerous, much?), or the creepy door to yet another pit of hell under the house that looks to be the spot where Buffalo Bill held his victims in Silence of the Lambs. The only thing that will save this house is a bulldozer.

reagan terrace

And it's sad, you know? The original house was probably 1000 square feet, with period hardwoods and built ins, and it was tiny and cute. Then some morons decided they should add on 2000 square feet of crappy disconnected boxes, with absolutely no floorplan in mind, and they ruined it. Plus there are the dead bodies. I know they're in there somewhere -- Ike saw them.

Oh, and when we left, Ben backed into a stupid, random brick mailbox that had fallen and was laying in the driveway. Our bumper is totally dented in, and now we have to hire a man that actually goes by the name of "Crackhead" to pull the dent out.

But, guess what? I was never so happy to pull into our driveway and walk into our own nice, remodeled house. So, stay tuned for my dining room makeover on Wednesday. I figure that -- relative to this gem -- it's gotta look amazing.



Kurt sent me the pictures he took that day:

group shot

Just a lil group shot. You can totally tell Ike is screaming his head off. Also, Karly is too tall to live in this hobbit house.


I have also been informed that "Kentucky" will be fixing our bumper instead of "Crackhead." Good to know.