So the first thing I did when Tim starting worrying over the bank dragging their heels was to download the Zillow app for my phone. I’d been lurking on the website for a couple years, because I get curious when I’m out walking the dog and see houses for sale in my neighborhood but I can never remember what companies they’re with – Zillow is great for that. And one of the first pieces of property I found was ten acres, with a 1700 sq. ft. mobile home, a 5-barn horse stall with enclosed tack room, and a 40×40 covered shed/pole barn. Right around the corner from Chris and Sharon. Significantly less than a price we had been thinking of spending. Now, I will tell you right now in case you don’t know, but I am about as anti-mobile home as a person can get. I’ve lived in three of them, and they’re flimsy, shoddy construction, hard to keep up, the thing about the heat/air vents being on the floor just fucking kill me – it’s like the house is dictating where you can and can’t put furniture, and cats lay on them in the winter and hog the heat. Yes, I am less than excited about mobile homes. I have been saying since I bought this house 19 years ago that I have lived in my last mobile home.
We don’t have heat or air in this house. Half the windows don’t open (or don’t have screens, thanks, cats and dogs). The hot water in the bathroom sink hasn’t worked in about ten years. We can’t fire the kiln and run the dryer at the same time or the power will short out. I can’t dye yarn and run the dishwasher at the same time for the same reason. So then. Is a mobile home really a step down? Really? Plus, what we were finding on the app is that it’s like a shell game. We can choose two of three: block house and workshop but it’s on less than five acres, or more than five acres and a workshop but it’s a mobile home. We talked about it deeply and decided that we can always build a bigger and better house; but once we buy land, we’re not getting more unless a neighbor moves and we can buy them out. So our game plan has sort of changed a little in the last week. Unlike those couples on the real estate TV shows who are always whining about how this house would be PERFECT if the BATHROOMS were just tiled with PUPPIES instead of BLUE TILE (or whatevs)… Tim and I agreed that we would accept a mobile home in return for a great workshop and a lot of land, for a good price. Which we would try to pay off within five years, and then put our monies towards building a dream home.
So back to the ten acres near Chris and Sharon. It as a “for sale by owner”, so Tim emailed him. Nothing. I called him. Nothing. After about two days we drove out there – Chris and Sharon only live about 15 minutes away so it’s not like it was a truck out that way) and… no for sale sign, and the house was clearly occupied and kept up. As I told Sharon later, I suppose it could have been squatters with a penchant for yard maintenance, but… I also did some research/review-reading and found out that the Zillow app isn’t exactly the most updated/on top of things. So that night I downloaded the Realtor.com app.
If I really wanted to cause a riot, this would be a great place to say “find out the rest tomorrow!”… but I get the feeling a lot of you would dig out your phones and call me. Hahahah. So. Keep reading! Do you have something to drink? This is a long ‘un.
So while we were watching TV that night, I’m plugging in search terms on the Realtor.com app. Must be more than 5 acres. Fireplace. Workshop (or so much less expensive than everything else that dropping $15,000 on building a workshop isn’t a huge drama). House that does not seem to double as the town dump. There are other requirements, of course, that I can’t plug into the app – house delivery for mail, for my home business; internet, as I run an online business, enough clear-cut that Tim won’t have to buy a back-hoe to dig up trees for his garden. Within 30 minutes of Gainesville so that Tim won’t have too terribly long for his commute. I probably looked at 100 different places. One of them caught my eye, and during a commercial I asked Tim, “so, what about a place with a 2000 sq. ft. home? It is a mobile home, but it’s a 4/2.5, so we’d definitely have room for all our furniture, PLUS a guest room, PLUS we’d still have an unused room in which to lock the cats during parties. It’s got a 2200 sq. ft. finished workshop, and I’m not even kidding. Totally finished, with AC, and it’s bigger than the house. Oh, and all of this is on …(pause for dramatic effect) … 18 acres.” Tim looked at me like I was bullshitting him. “What’s the price…?” … (I have to admit I was savoring this a little.) … “$50,000 less than what we were looking at.” Naturally he wanted to look at the pictures, and what he saw pleased him.
So we contacted the Realtor and went out to look at it. It’s in Keystone Heights, about a 25-30 minute drive, and also less than a mile from my oldest family friend and surrogate aunt, Doris. (Long time readers might remember Bill and Doris stories; their lives and my father’s and mine have twisted around each other like brambles for the last 40 years.) It’s on a county-owned dirt road near a park and a hiking trail. It’s across the street from a lake. It’s part of a 35-acre parcel that’s being split (and I’ll get more into this later). There is mail delivery to the house, and phone/Internet. The workshop is awesome like a hundred thousand hot dogs (thank you, Eddie Izzard). It is not without its faults, let me tell you. It’s not storybook fairy-tale perfect; the previous owners left a good amount of rubbish behind, and the house needs a couple of minor things…like a porch…). But it’s perfect for us, and yesterday we put an offer on it. We haven’t heard back yet but it’s only been 24 hours or so, and of course I’ll keep y’all posted. I mean, things could still go wrong, I’m not walking into this as my grandmother would have said, “fat, dumb, and happy.” The owner might not like our offer. There might be things wrong with the house or workshop that we wouldn’t know about until an inspection. Anything could happen. But hopefully the things that happen will be positive in our favor. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, right?
ANYWAY… here are a few pictures.
The house and workshop, standing from in front of the existing garden area. There is no porch, which is going to be a problem high on Tim’s list of shit to fix for me – we’re already talking about taking out those trees right in front and building a house-length porch that will be the best of both worlds of porch and deck; a covered portion (tin, so I can listen to the rain) that will be screened in, and then an open portion that will also have a built-in outdoor oven and grill (and cooler, and sink, and picnic tables). That’s a “first year” project — we’re making lists of things to do right away (new back door stairs, fencing in an area for the dogs, and shelves/tables for my studio); then things in the first year (front porch, begin the garden); then things by five years (starting a new house that we will most likely build ourselves, because that’s how we roll).
Kitchen, with master bedroom and bath through the door. More floor-to-almost-ceiling cabinets extend all the way to the right and around, where the fridge will be (the house doesn’t come with appliances, but Tim is really excited about being able to buy a new fridge big enough for the cooking he loves to do). There are so many cabinets it’s almost ridiculous. I can just hear the builders. “Do we have enough cabinets yet?” “NO! Squeeze a few more in there! MORE CABINETS!”. And notice — the air vents are in the ceiling! No cats hogging the heat!
Part of the living room. FIREPLACE FOR THE WIN! Santa can find us now!
Here’s about 1100 sq. ft. of the 2200 sq. ft. workshop; this is the garage half. My kiln (and eventually a second kiln) will go out here so that we don’t have to worry about installing vents in the other half, and the rest will be for Tim’s tools and general whatnot.
Here’s the other half, the studio half. It’s got an office (which will be great for keeping my computer ceramic-dust free) and a full bathroom (toilet, sink, ginormous shower). We’re going to put a fold-out couch in my office so that overflow guests have a place to stay if the house is already full. The thing I love most about this studio? All we need to do is build shelves and a few work tables. It’s already got AC, insulation, everything. We might tear up the carpet in my office and lay down wood floors, but that’s an afternoon of work, tops.
This is the questionable part – the other part of the 35 acres that’s being split is a former clay pit. Three acres, the northernmost three acres on “our” property is/was part of the clay pit — so there’s about a 50-foot straight drop on the other side of this fence, and then about three acres of pretty unusable land, unless we want to put in a zip line, or try to build a retaining wall and put in a three-acre pond. So part of the paperwork we submitted yesterday was to ask them to lower the price significantly and take off those three acres. As they haven’t seem to have done the official split yet, there’s no reason why they couldn’t keep those three acres as part of the larger property. We would just put a new fence there, and some fruit trees, and did I mention a new fence?
This was carved into the stoop of the studio door. I think it’s a sign.
And now I’ll leave you with some random shots from around the property. Some of you might not think this is pretty, because it’s wild and natural and untamed… but I think it’s beautiful. It’s not classically picturesque, but it’s so much like the farm I used to live on that it’s uncanny. We found wild turkey tracks, fox poop, deer and fox prints, and at least four gopher tortoise holes. I feel like I’ve come home.