House #3 – Lake Orion

by brandt

Because we’re in a holding pattern for the Rochester house, we decided to go look at another house – this one was listed at 164,000, had been on the market for a while, another short sale, and we wanted to take a tour to see if we could possibly low-ball them and use the excess money we would have saved for possibly fixing it up or customizing it.

Here are the details:

Built in 1973 – It’s older, but maybe it’s like cheese or Brandt – it improves with age?

3 BR, 2.5 BA – it’s got to be big enough for a budding family

2,275 sq ft – I am intriguied

Lake privileges at a fantastic lake, with a fantastic area for kids and families, literally right down the road in the subdivision.  Plus marina acces, which would be nice if we ever decided to take the jump and get a jet ski like I’ve always fantasized.

A nice heated Florida room (that had me dreaming of being like the YoungHouseLove crew and making an awesome sitting room)

Here’s the pictures (plus my commentary).  These were all taken from my Motorola Droid phone (and I have to say, I am getting better at this whole “House Picture” thing)

First, the exterior pictures:

Facing the front of the house – nice and wide, plus the driveway is a half-circle to front-door service

Here’s a shot of the house far enough away that you can see the corner lot.  While there might be more traffic because it’s a corner lot, the benefit would be the curb appeal.  And look at that tree in the middle of the yard!  That is pure Michigan loveliness!

There’s the Malone Mobile, and notice there is a separate driveway going right to the garage (not connected to the circle).  Thus, we have our own private drive for the garage, and if we have visitors, they can part right at the front door.  Looking good, right?

The back is a little smaller, but that’s what you get on a corner lot like this – it’s shaped like a pie, with the bigger part being in the front and a smaller section in the back.  However, there’s enough room for a small swing set and enough room for little Brandt’s to be running around everywhere.  I was getting optimistic.  Could this work?

And then the housing gods reared their ugly heads, and laughed.

As we walked in, the only word I could use to describe it was “cramped.”  That being said, I’ve learned from going into many houses that you need to look past the previous owner.  What could we do here?  Notice how when you walk in (the above picture is from walking in the front door) that you’ve got the staircase and wall, giving you a cramped hallway.  I’m noticing that many older houses had all the rooms put into nice little secured areas, where more modern houses are much more open.  Bash out that wall to the left seperating that little hallway from the stairwell, and baby, you got a stew goin!

So starting out, we went from “this has potential” to “hmm.”  But it wasn’t all lost, because I was looking at it trying to see past the previous owner.  We could strip the laminate flooring and put in hardwood.  We could replace those doors with something a bit more modern.  We could power-wash some of the closed-in rooms with Febreeze and air the entire house out in the summers.  There’s some things that we would have to live with (being our first home).  For someone big like me, I could take literally2 steps from when I walked in the house to going up the stairs.  No buffer zone there.  And then we saw the kitchen…

It was a bit smaller than I thought.  I can work with the 1960’s yellow (a la Mad Men) but I was trying to wrap my head around how we could reno this kitchen to make it the size Ashley wanted.

It’s a smidge bigger than our 7×5 kitchen (yes, I said 7 feet by 5 feet) we have in our apartment. We could take out that counter to give the kitchen a more open feel, but then what.  Again, I was looking past the cosmetics and looking at the structure.  Take the counter out, move that big microwave on the counter out of there to make thing seem more open, keep the area where the table/chairs are for a prep area, move the eating area into the dining room – this could work?

This is the dining room right off the side of the kitchen (that entry way on the right is the kitchen).  If we wanted to we could expand that entry way, put hardwood down to extend the actual eating area into this dining room, but they wanted 164,000, and we would have enough money to buy the house and move in – and that’s it for a while.  And the biggest problem with doing major structural renovations like this is making sure that the walls or areas your renovating can handle it.  We’d have to bring a professional in to make sure the house is still structurally sound.

The really nice part about the house was the Florida room.  I don’t know if a Florida room is any different than a sunroom, but it’s there to enjoy the landscape/fresh air while being enclosed.  I’ve seen people use it as a nice play room, put a hot tub in there and use it in the winter, or do what the previous owners did and use it as a sitting room.   It looks like a relatively new addition – nice solid windows, good carpeting, and lots of outlets.  Plus it has a heater, and I believe that qualifies it as a room, and thus, you can use the square footage in this room for your house square footage.  So I could work with this.

Lets go into the family room and see what I can work with.

What’s that?  You can barely see the pictures?  Yup, there was no overhead lighting except that little lamp, and everything (from the brick on the natural fireplace to the paint to the faux beams they put on the sealing) was DARK.  If we had an unlimited amount of funds, we could work with this.  We could bash out the back wall (which ends up where the refrigerator was), open everything up, and make it not look like we lived in a cave.  WHAT ARE WE, HOBBITS!??!?!!?  OR CHILEAN MINERS (is it too soon to make jokes about that?)??  But that could be major structural stuff we would have to do, and I’m not sure if the structure of the house would be able to handle it, as well as if we would have the money to actually do it.

There was a half-bath on the main floor as well, but you all have seen a half-bath.  There was a sink.  There was a mirror.  It had the faux dark wood 70’s paneling that’s easily replaceable.  And it had a toilet.  It would be pretty easy to customize, and a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon could fix it right quick.  I’m recognizing that many things just need a touch of paint, some updating, a bit of elbow grease and ingenuity, and they look great!

There were 3 bedrooms upstairs – 2 normal rooms plus a master.  The normal rooms were your standard bedrooms with an open area for a bed plus closet, but I don’t understand this older trend of hooking electric switches to outlets, and not having overhead lighting.  It makes the rooms seem very dark.  We have this in our apartment, and not having the overhead lighting looks

The master is where the interesting part of the house was.  Come with me into the bathroom, I want to show you something – something that sounds like a potty joke, but it’s better.

WHABAM!!!!! BOW CHICKA WOW WOW!!!  Or maybe, like I heard yesterday, it should be BROWN CHICKEN BROWN COW. That is some awesome wallpaper.

The nice thing is that it has a Jacuzzi.  The bad thing is that it looks like it’s the HOT TUB TIME MACHINE from 1970.

Ashley likes jacuzzi’s, and I’m sure with just a bit of love that thing would look great.  The carpeting in the bathroom would have to go, that gosh-awful wallpaper would have to go, that dark wood paneling on the Jacuzzi would have to go, but the bathroom has potential if only for all of the open space to work with.  Once that brown is out of there, it could literally seem much brighter in there with some lighter colored paint, some nice tile, and those windows are all new as well., which means they’ll last for a while and we won’t have to worry about a draft through them.

Oh yeah, no door on the toilet.  But it’s got the shaggy toilet cover!  And then some dork decides to come in and take pictures of everything.  MOVE OF THE SHOT, DORK!

The bathroom is right over the sunroom, which means it’s newer, but it could possibly get pretty cold under foot.  The bath steps up into the bedroom, giving someone tall like me about a foot of head clearance.  But when you couple that with a low hanging ceiling fan like they have, it gives me about 5 millimeters worth of headroom.  If it were someone like Ashley (who is 5’4), it would be fine, however all 6’4 of me is a bit too big for that fan.  Or maybe you could say I’m not a fan……….of that fan………YEOW!.

It’s not a good picture, but the master bedroom hallway then snakes around and connects to a side closet on the left, another closet at the end of the hall on the left, and a door leading into a community bath on the right.  Interesting they have 2 main bathrooms connected to the master.  There is some potential on this second floor, and without a lot of major work either.

I wasn’t able to take any good pictures of the 2nd bath upstairs, but it’s a basic bathroom with single sinks, a glass-enclosed shower (no tub) and a toilet.

The railing going downstairs is the old metal style, and I think we would get that replaced with a wooden one.  The basement was an unfinished basement.

All in all, for a cheaper price, this would have been a great house.  Heck, for the neighborhood alone, it’s a great house.  But the biggest problem is going to be when the renovations begin.  Much of the stuff can be cranked out on Saturdays, such as the painting, the touchups, and the wiring (which I’m pretty sure isn’t major electrical).  If we had more cash available to work with this house, we could make it pristine, and really make it pop.  It needs updating, but one of the best things about the house is it’s only had one owner.  The original owner who built the house back in 1973.  Therefore, you haven’t had a lot of wear and tear because of people moving in and out, trying to do things their way.


One Comment to “House #3 – Lake Orion”

  1. Not too bad – we could make it work with a little help from your friends and my tools – price too high for current market conditions – more like 150K

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