I had delayed posting this since I think people were getting tired of hearing about each house that we put an offer on.  But, now that this offer has been accepted, and I don't expect too much trouble with the inspections, I figure it is safe enough to post.I said to a friend the other day, "I think we found a house", and he replied, "Again?".

And yes, this is the fourth house we put an offer on, probably twentieth house we drove to look at, and two hundredth house I looked at on the internet...  The "new" real estate system that lets you see all houses for sale (by realtor) online and lots of accurate, up-to-date information is pretty neat, and does let you see lots of houses that you might not otherwise, but it does take a significant amount of time.  (My computer time log says 84 hours of real estate searching. That counts some offline time, particularly the long trips when we went to look at a house with an agent, but doesn't count all of the short trips, and not even some of the meetings with our agent, since I wasn't exactly precise in recording all of the time).

The first house (425 Route 908 Extension) we put an offer on was bought by someone else the next day, with a higher offer.

The second house (346 East Union Road) was a wreck, and so we put a really low offer on it, and someone bought it the next day for the asking price.  (I think they never actually looked at the house before buying it - or maybe they are from California or something and thought that $85K was a steal no matter what the condition).

For the third house (4042 Gibsonia Road) our offer was accepted!  However, it was a foreclosure, and so the acceptance took a month - pretty tiring to have it drag out that long.   Then we raced around like crazy to get all of the tests completed in 10 days - that included getting the gas and electricity turned on - replacing the grounding rod and connections to the panel, getting the panel inspected.  It ended up taking too long, so I had to rent a generator and jury-rig a wire to allow the plumber access to turn on the well and run his tests.  He looked pretty dubiously at the wiring when he first saw it, but later he decided it was a good job and was safe to work on.  (He originally wasn't going to touch it, and let me hook up all of the wiring, but after closer examination, found that it wasn't as crazy as he first thought).  However, the septic tank, or rather the leach field (if there ever was one) no longer worked, and dumped the sewage into the rain gulley that runs along the street.  I talked to the County Health Department about inspecting the land to see about a new leach field, and the guy asked what kind of septic system was there now - I said, "the kind that dumps the sewage into the street", and he thought that was pretty funny...  It would have cost somewhere around $600-$1000 to have the county do their inspections to see if they would have allowed a new septic system at all.  And then the estimates to install the new system (probably some sort of pump system where the sewage is pumped up to the top of a sand mound behind the house) were in the $30-$40K range.  Apparently, when you add a sand mound system in Allegheny County, you need to have two sand mounds - since they fail so often.  Most plumbers have stopped doing septic systems in the county, since there are so many requirements, and the county dictates how it should be done, even if the plumber thinks it isn't adequate - and the customer blames the plumber if something goes wrong.  We asked the seller to lower his price by $45K or so - the water heater,furnace, and circuit panel also all needed to be replaced.  However, the seller didn't think that was reasonable.

A couple plumbers said that there were some plumbers that would illegally replace the leach field for only a couple thousand dollars, so I sort of expect the seller to do that.  It will be interesting to see what happens - public sewer isn't planned for that area for the forseeable future (10 years).  In the meantime, I wouldn't want to be living near that septic tank...  Hopefully, the neighbors will keep an eye on it, and make sure that the work is done properly.

The fourth house (131 Denny) is the farthest north house of the four, though still a mile or two south of church.  It has a well, and that is the only part of the tests that might be interesting (at least as far as I am expecting).  The water definitely needs to be filtered to remove some stuff - and we'll know in another week if there is anything really bad in the water - though I hear that filters aren't that expensive.  If it can't produce enough water, I am not sure what we will do.  Although, I think it is funny that the plumber says the standard for testing wells is 5 gallons a minute when our current house (on public city water) can't produce 5 gallons a minute. So, if it fails that, I think we'll test it at a lower rate.   The plumber and home inspection are this Thursday, so we'll know a lot more then.

Here is a link to all of the houses that we seriously considered (or at least wanted to see how much they would sell for) - we drove to most of these.  I am not sure how long that link will work.

Posted by Jon Daley on July 8, 2008, 1:29 pm | Read 7252 times
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I got the home inspection reports back today:

Radon test failed: 4.4 (I forget the units, probably parts per million). The high limit for acceptable values is 4.

Some of the water tests failed: bacteria, sodium and iron. Some of the tests haven't finished yet. The bacteria is in the "good" bacteria set, as far as "bad" bacteria goes - like ecoli and fecal, so it could be worse. Our plumber suggested re-doing the bacteria test, after running the 600 gallons for the flow test, that since the house has been empty for 6 months, it is much more likely to fail a bacteria test then when it is being used regularly. I haven't gotten the results back from the second test yet.

Some rotten wood, and the chimney leaks. Not insurmountable problems, nor ones that would cause us to not get the house, but we will ask the seller to pay for at least some of these problems, and we'll see much he is willing to help. I gather that it is better for him to help us some than to have to advertise that the well has bacteria in it, and radon gas and a leaky roof, etc. to future buyers. But, since the Gibsonia owner wasn't interested in helping out with the septic tank, who knows what sellers think...

Posted by jondaley on July 13, 2008, 12:16 am

We got the second bacteria test back, and it confirmed that there still is bacteria in the well. The rest of the water tests will be finished tomorrow.

I called various companies, and researched a number of options and we have asked the seller to lower the price to take care of all of these issues. I only asked for half of the cost of the items on the list, so hopefully he will go for it. Otherwise, back to square one....

Posted by jondaley on July 16, 2008, 2:12 pm

We came to an agreement and signed the papers. It is a little higher than I wanted, but it is alright, and in the long term, I'd rather pay a bit more than not have a house, which presumably the seller knew, so didn't feel like he had to negotiate as much. The house was only on the market 6 days or something before we put on an offer, so he probably wasn't too worried about waiting for another offer.

So, packing up boxes, and calling up utilities, etc. Heather's family is here for a couple days, and they have been a great help in getting the packing started!

Posted by jondaley on July 26, 2008, 9:38 am

Congratulations! We'll be happy to help you pack too. Ever since the Tomans moved, Hannah has been packing her things up in boxes and keeps asking what else she can pack. I've run out of things to give her, so I'm sure she would have a great time helping you.

Posted by Kelly on July 26, 2008, 9:58 am
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