Saturday, June 03, 2006

Random Posts: Why We Are Buying a Spec

You may be familiar with our written house program, which we composed way back when we were planning to hire an architect, buy a lot, and build from scratch.

Through research and chatting with architects, and of course our
Euclid Avenue experiment, we deduced that perhaps living through a new build or gigantic ugly remodel is not the best solution for us right now.

I travel a great deal for work. The better half does his share of travel as well. We could foresee something major coming up while we were both out of town that would set the whole project back without an immediate response.

"You have to select your countertops TODAY! We need the concrete finish color YESTERDAY."

Stuff like that. It does happen.

And, after the
Euclid Avenue experiment, we learned that, to be in our preferred area of town, we'd end up sinking a minimum of $400,000 in a remodel or new build, which is the ultimate tip top of our total budget.

So, we set out to buy a 50's ranch in Barton Hills. We came damn close to buying a really great simple brick courtyard ranch that was ripe for a light remodel, but someone beat us to the punch. Bastards.

And then, while we were out and about one day, we came across this mini-development of four houses on a really nice plot of land:

There were no signs on the property to indicate the developer, builder or marketer. Our first impression was that they would be priced out of our range. Knowing that the Metrohouses share an average-size urban lot and start at around $360K, it didn't seem possible that these similarly-sized stand-alone houses, with larger lots, would be accessible.

But, after stewing on it, I decided to do some sleuthing and find out.

First, I looked the houses up on the tax rolls and found the legal owner's name. Then, I did a Google search and managed to track down an engineering firm that had worked on the project. A contact there finally returned my call and was able to give me who he thought was the realtor for the property. One more internet search yielded said realtor's contact information, and I left him a voicemail.

This whole primary investigation took about a week, what with the voicemails and phonetag.

But then...Voila! The realtor called me back and confirmed that yes indeedy, he was the guy.

To add another hurdle, the house we immediately liked best had already been promised to someone else, but he agreed to meet us at the property and show us around.

After a tour and quick Q & A, we still preferred the taken house.

Two weeks later, the taker backed out, the agent called us, we hooked him up with our agent, and we were able to make an offer. A week or so after that, we were officially under contract.

Our option period has come and gone, we've had our first walk through with the builder, and it looks like, barring catastrophe, the house is as good as ours.

Courtyard layout?


Great light?

Check Check.

Cook-friendly kitchen, high-end finishes, ample storage, plenty of privacy, nice mix of materials, double master walk in closets, huge master shower, room for a koi pond.

Check. Check. Check.

Having about 90% of what we originally included on our wish list, we're pretty darn happy. Sure, there are a few very minor things we would've done differently and a few things we'll tweak once we move in, but overall, we don't think we could've done much better (on our budget) by building from scratch.

The luck of the Irish. Except I'm not Irish.


Blogger jplouis said...

They look very nice. I wish there would have been more options like this when we where looking for a house. We ended up buying a spec modern house almost two years ago. Curious as to what part of town it is located in.

9:57 AM  

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