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New Johnson Homestead
Entered on: May 22, 2004 8:09 PM by Ross

So, I got the news today that my buyer agreed to my response letter to his repair requests, which eases my mind like you cannot believe - I've been a nervous wreck ever since the inspector arrived.  So I still agreed to various nitpicky repairs, but I don't even care - now it's just following through, and there's no real uncertainty left.  I can finally concentrate on the new place. 

Today we had the inspection on that place, and it went really well.  Of course they found various minor issues but no showstoppers.  I took tons of pics, and I'll post them in the comments.

NEWS 619 - 35 Comments
From: Ross Entered on: March 10, 2009 6:36 PM


Exterior shots:


The driveway is brick, which is pretty sweet! 


Closer to the entryway.


Back of the house.  No deck, but a decent sized patio.


They left behind a nice swingset.  Logan saw it and said "weee!"


Just inside front door


Looking back at front door, two coat closets on either side of the door.


The family room.  It's pretty darn big.  I want to put my TV on the left bookshelf, as there is a cable jack under it anyway. 


My office will now be right off the family room.


Another kitchen view.


First floor bathroom.


View from living room into dining room.


View from dining room into living room.


Big garage.  Very important.


View from entrance to master bedroom.  The fireplace is shared with the tub on the other side of the wall, which kind of seems like a porn set to me, but hey, I'll take it.  The closet on the right is ginormous: it's probably 2/3 the size of the bedroom, which in itself is pretty darned big.


Another view of MBR

View from inside the closet.  There are two closets within closets off to the left.


Tub and shower in master bath. 


Vanity in master bath.

I'm not including pics of the other bedrooms, but they're pretty nice, with tray inset ceilings/fans, and nice bathrooms.

So now on to my favorite part: the basement!


This room will become the gym.  There is already a TV stand mounted on the wall and a cable jack next to it.  I plan to put down rubber flooring and a large mirror on the left wall.  The treadmill and a weight bench with dumbbells will go here, and hopefully some mechanism for me to mount a pullup bar.


Full bath in basement.  Waste of a shower, but whatever.

Stairs down into basement.  Entrance to gym is to the right of the stairs.  There's a closet to the left.  Also that nice little lighted shelf begs for some kind of sweet sculpture.  Zilla, find me a large Master Chief, Spider-Man or Batman to properly nerdify the area.

Rec Room area.  To the left is roughly where I was standing when I took the previous pic, the right doorway is to the gym area.


View of rec area, where I was standing in previous pic.

Double doors open into unfinished area with furnace and hot water heaters, but also what will become...

The home theater!  Someday, once heather goes back to work and we aren't house-poor, I will finish this room, get a 1080p projector, seating, and all the fixins...

So that's pretty much it.  There's a couple other interesting things but you get the idea.  I got a really great deal on this place and there's no way I could have afforded it a few years ago.  Assuming all goes well, we'll be moved in on April 21st!

From: Ross Entered on: March 10, 2009 6:58 PM

I forgot one minor room but an important one to me.  Just off the rec area, there is a small room with the sump pump and electrical hookups.  This is probably where I will put a rack and put the house's networking equipment and servers.  That means that's where Jackassery will probably be housed.


From: Jackzilla Entered on: March 10, 2009 8:29 PM

Holy crap!  Everything looks awesome, Bert!

See?  There's an upside to falling house prices:  You can really cleanup when you're going bigger!  And it sounds from before that you didn't do too bad on the old place, right?  Congladutations!  Got a move-in date yet?

From: Ross Entered on: March 11, 2009 7:28 AM

Thanks!  Yes, assuming all goes as planned we close on both places and move on April 21. 

As for the old place, the guy buying it definitely is getting a bargain.  I'm sure my neighbrors aren't pleased as it probably reflects poorly on their property values as well.  But I still got all my equity back plus a bit more, so I'm relatively happy.

I also posted a gallery with more pics if interested.

From: The Bone Entered on: March 13, 2009 8:52 PM

Congrats Bert. That's a really nice home. You can't go wrong with 5 shitters. Makes compliance with the first rule of Boot Club much easier.

I don't know how you managed to break even and then some on your crib but you are lucky as hell. You've come a ways from the dirty dish infested bachelor pad in Lincoln Park - though I loved that place. Ranks up there with the Diamond palace that Roche used to live in when he was rolling solo. 

You driving into work or is there a mass transit system in place?

From: BigFatty Entered on: March 14, 2009 2:29 AM

Hey - I know that area!  We did some competitor research for the Meijer stores in the area.  You are closer to the Plainfield store. There is a Red Robin I had lunch at on 59.  Plus lots of shopping for H Bomb.  Nice house there.  You do realize that next time the Fattys come, Papa Fatty will be in the tub with the fire blazing.  Maybe some scented candles and Sade playing.

We should get our flat next weekend.  Then it is time for Papa Fatty to get to work with renovations.

On a suckier note...  Taxes went up on my GR house raising my escrow payment by $250 a month!  Ouch!  My escrow payment is 40% of my total payment!  I need to sell that bitch.

From: Ross Entered on: March 14, 2009 7:26 AM

Thanks Bone.  Yes, there's mass transit but I'm still several miles from the trains so I'll be buying a beater (probably an old Honda Civic) to make it to the station. In fact I have a huge laundry list of things I have to buy as soon as I move in, such as a lawn mower, a washer and dryer, and various bits of furniture.  Also, I have some home improvement projects slated immediately, my favorite one being putting some built-in bookshelves along this wall in my new office:


And yes, Fatty, you're right - there is a Meijer right down the road, along with just about every other store known to man.  There's even a brand new movie theater complex that looks like they airlifted Celebration Cinema on the Beltline and plopped it a mile away from my pad. 

And dude, your taxes went up $3000?  That's nuts!  Still, I bet they're nothing compared to what I'm about to be shelling out.  Still, my taxes will be about 1/3 of my total payment too.  But I just think of it as the alternative to paying for private schools.

From: Jackzilla Entered on: March 14, 2009 7:37 AM

Fatty - $3K increase on taxes is obsurd.  There's a ton of folks out here fighting their current assessed values and getting their taxes dropped (it was on the front page of the Press last week) -- I would think you'd be a candidate for that too (if you were here at least).  If you had owned the house 12 years and the taxed value was still playing catch-up to the assessed value that would be one thing, but... damn!

From: BigFatty Entered on: March 14, 2009 11:41 AM

Great idea Zillz!  It is total bullshit.  I bought the house a few years ago and since then property values have dropped.  If anything, my taxes should be dropping.  The only thing I can think of is the house is no longer owner occupied and whatever tax credit I used to get no longer applies.

My US house payment is now more than I bring home in a month.  Ninjas gotta have some cash to live on in Yurope.  Baby needs to eat KFC once in a while.  If my renters go.... I am screwed.  And who can rent out a place for that kind of money?

The walk away option is starting to look like a real possibilty.


From: Ross Entered on: April 6, 2009 12:47 PM

Well, I just exercised my "float-down" option on my loan today.  I went from 4.75% (paying 1/8 of a point) to 4.375%, paying the same 1/8 point.  I can't believe how low rates are! 

From: The Bone Entered on: April 6, 2009 11:10 PM

My mind is boggling at how sweet you are making out on this whole affair. All I have to say is well played sir.

From: Ross Entered on: April 7, 2009 8:52 AM

Thank you.  The rate thing is completely luck of course, and it helps tremendously that I get the Bank of America employee discount. 

But I'm sure something will fornicate this process in some way.  If you recall, last time I moved it was me skranking a parked car with the moving truck.  It ended up being covered by either my insurance or the truck's insurance, I can't remember which.  But it made for some sleepless nights.

April 21 is going to be another day from hell: we close on both places and move that day.  Luckily, my buyer is doing his final walkthrough 2 days before that instead of day of, so that's one less thing to worry about.  But I still have to make sure the movers are all loaded up and out before I leave for the closing (I only have to be at my buying closing) and then scramble out to the new house where the movers will presumably be sitting around waiting for me to show up with the key.

From: NickNick Entered on: April 7, 2009 12:00 PM

Is that rate an ARM?? 

Those moving trucks are a bitch to drive.  I hate it.

From: BigFatty Entered on: April 7, 2009 3:08 PM

Fatty is neck-deep in renovations.  I took out 2 walls and the entire kitchen last week.   Now we have electricians rewiring the whole flat and upgrading the electrical service so we can have a modern kitchen.  We got a painter that is stripping the walls and will prep and paint soon.  I just brought home the new floor for the bedroom which I hope to put in this weekend.   Thursday, we go to Ikea to order up our new kitchen and bedroom.  I'll start putting those in this weekend too.  After that, we got a tile guy that will put down a tile floor in the hall and kitchen, plus do a tile backsplash.

I have to admit, even though I really like DIY, hiring some good workers is *MUCH* sweeter.  I have them do the messy BS work and the skilled finish work.  I'll do the quick and gratifying floor and Ikea assembly.

There are some before pics.  I just have to find the time and motivation to post them.  Maybe I put them on Flickr tonight.  There is a lot we are doing.  The main thing is correcting all the previous DIY communist shortcuts.

Let me get to Flickr....

From: Ross Entered on: April 7, 2009 3:43 PM

Nope, Nick, that's a 30 year fixed.  Reads like an ARM though, doesn't it?

Good luck with the rest of the renovations, Fatty!  I agree that for big stuff, hiring someone is much nicer.  Still, I'm looking forward to building my office bookshelves myself as a (hopefully) fun project.

From: BigFatty Entered on: April 7, 2009 4:30 PM

OK...  Some of my pics are loaded to my Flickr account - check them out if you wish.

Here is a video of the guys taking down the second wall.  I did the first myself, but it was all wood, glass and doors.  The second one was concrete.  I first planned doing it myself with a heavy drill and sledge hammer.  Man, I am so glad we got these guys.  I would have spent more money on all the tools I needed than what I paid these guys.  It took them one hour and they were out the door, mess all cleaned up and no wall parts for me to toss out.  It would have taken me 2 full weekends for sure!  That bitch had metal reinforcements.  Best $150 I ever spent!


From: Ross Entered on: April 8, 2009 8:11 AM

Looking good!  Can't wait to see the finished product!

From: Jackzilla Entered on: April 8, 2009 9:58 AM

Fatty - You're definately braver than I.  There's no way I'd try explaining to some foreign speaking dudes about taking down walls in my house.  One little misunderstanding and you're sitting there with no roof over your head.

I'll have to check out the flikr pics

From: Ross Entered on: April 8, 2009 2:44 PM

I just made the call to switch my Comcast service to the new house. I decided to drop DirecTV and do both TV and internet though Comcast, even though I have been a loyal DirecTV customer for many years and I prefer their service.  But in the end, the combination of cost, infrastructure, and volume made my choice for me:

  • Cost: my current combined bill for DirecTV + Comcast internet is over $140.  This is partly because I get no discount with Comcast since internet is the only service of theirs to which I subscribe.  My new combined bill is only (!) $100.
  • Infrastructure: to get a dual-tuner DVR through DirecTV, you need two lines run into the DVR.  With Comcast, you only need one.  Hence, places where I would put a dual-tuner DVR that only have a single cable line are screwed.  And you can't split the signal for DirecTV at that point, either.  So that sucks.
  • Volume: In a much bigger house, I have much higher potential for more TVs.  With DirecTV, even to use a basic receiver costs an additional $5/month, whereas the equivalent with Comcast is essentially free, as long as you have a tuner in your TV set. 

I also want to get away from using company-owned tuners/DVRs, so I just told them to give me 2 cable cards and I just bought a HD Tivo to use on my current TV.  For the next TV, I'll probably do the same thing again.  Ends up being cheaper in the long run, even when you factor in the monthly Tivo service charge.


Anyway, all of this means that, in the very best case, Jackassery could be offline for only 2 days, starting the evening of April 20, and back on sometime on the 22nd.  But I'd wager it's closer to 3 or 4.  I'll send out an email to the main user base once we're back up and running.

From: Ross Entered on: April 12, 2009 7:54 PM

Dammit!  I knew the shitty customer service at BofA would screw me!  I just looked at my loan commitment letter and my locked-in rate expires one day before I close!  Those fuckers didn't do the math properly on the closing date that I gave them (repeatedly) on day one.  Fuck!  I don't think I can re-lock in at this point, so I don't know if I'll now be forced to just go with whatever the rate of the day is on my closing day.  I knew this was going a little too well...

From: Jackzilla Entered on: April 12, 2009 9:11 PM


I've actually been thinking if I should re-fi myself.  Our mortgage is currently 5.75%, but if I could shave a point off now...

I think I'd like to switch insurance companies too but I like having a local place to call or see.  Anyone use Geico or one of those?  Any thoughts?  I'm talking car and house (and probably the store).

From: NickNick Entered on: April 13, 2009 9:19 AM

Not that this will make you feel better about it, but at least the interest rates aren't on the rise.  If you had to look for a silver lining, you know.

From: Ross Entered on: April 13, 2009 10:26 AM

Well I called them today and they were pretty nonchalant about it - said they'd extend the rate "if needed" by the necessary day.  Seems like it will definitely be needed - unless somehow the 21st starts preceding the 20th sometime soon.  So it appears I was freaking out prematurely.  Still, I'm not assuming that they're going to remember this little detail the day before closing, so I'll be following up...

From: Ross Entered on: April 13, 2009 10:30 AM

And you're right, Nick, it would probably work out okay but I don't really like the uncertainty of waiting a week and just rolling the dice that day.  Rates were pretty steady last week but are up ever-so-slightly today, but still below my original lock.

From: Ross Entered on: April 13, 2009 10:35 AM

Oh, and Jack: you should definitely be able to beat 5.75 now - most places will probably give you around 5% right now.  Guaranteed rate is showing just a bit higher than that right now, but depending on your credit and all that you can often beat it.

As for insurance, I've never had a local place.  I've used Geico in the past and they were fine, then I switched to Progressive because they were cheaper, and also fine.  Now I have MetLife for both auto and home insurance since they give me a discount with Bank of America.  I really don't have any opinion since I don't think I've filed a claim with them since I've had them.

From: Ross Entered on: April 14, 2009 7:00 PM

Well, my rate story is finally, truly figured out.  I didn't want to leave it to the cast of idiots working the mortgage applications to determine that it was something that would need dealing with when it really mattered.  So I called the only person at Bank of America who ever seemed to be competent - the person who is responsible for getting your business in the first place. 

I explained the situation to her and she was confused at first but then deduced that I shouldn't have locked in on the 6th, as they counted that day, and that the 7th was the earliest I should have done it.  However, they should have explained that to me rather than letting me reset my rate lock to a day before I close.  So the upshot is, even though it's an error on their part, I still have to pay a fee to extend the lock.  I was really annoyed by this until she made a very valid point: if the person who I was talking do had actually done their job correctly and warned me not to do it (they don't prohibit you from doing it, which is odd), then I never could have gotten this rate, since they've never been that low since!  So only via a clerical error, that I will pay about $200 for, am I able to obtain such an insanely good rate.  Slightly annoying, but still works out okay.

From: John Entered on: April 24, 2009 8:39 AM

The new diggs look pretty sweet! Can't wait to come visit, shit I might not want to leave and you'll have a Roche infestation.

From: BigFatty Entered on: July 7, 2009 12:33 PM

The Treehouse is NO MORE!  Not sure how I feel on this.  I certainly lent my ass out for its share of the economic crisis.  After 5 years of payments, 20% downpayment, upgrades, including $5k for heating and A/C, I walking away from the closing with $175.  It is almost a joke.  I thought I was going to have $3K, but the payoff numbers I was given left a lot of room for movement (against me).

Granted, I join the large number of Americans that got screwed.  My 10 years of home ownership give me nothing to show.  Think of the tens of thousands I put into the 'system' thinking I am building equity.  If I rented, I would be many many thousands ahead - even in the current climate.

I was toying with the idea of just foreclosing.  If fact, I could have rented it cheap (say $500/ month) not made any payments and in 6 month to a year, walk away with cash in my pocket.  The stupid - 'But your credit, your credit!' mantra kept being heard.  So the way I went, saved my credit score... but was it worth it?  I think no.  Who made out - The bank got all their money.  The real estate agents walked away with a lot more than I did, the title company made money, all the inspectors.... so maybe I was a 'Credit Score' sucker.  I don't need good credit anymore.  I already have credit cards that get paid off when used.  If I decide to get a car, I will pay cash - and that is some years away... and in 7 years, my credit will be renewed.  Plus, I already have my new house, not financed through a bank incidently.

So am I bitter.... JUST SLIGHTLY!

From: Jackzilla Entered on: July 7, 2009 3:01 PM

Fatty - Congrats on getting rid of the house!  Of course it sucks that you lost money -- But would it have been better to lose it in the stock market instead?  :P

Be happy that you kept your commitment to the bank.  You signed an agreement and lived up to it.  That in itself should mean something to you.

I'm generally the last person to defend banks, but I don't understand people who -- thrilled when the bank loans them the money and accepts the terms -- quickly turn on them and tell them to F off when home values drop (like it's the lender's fault).  That's like getting mad at Meijer because you bought a Dreamcast system there once and now they don't make Dreamcast games anymore... Or something like that...

From: Ross Entered on: July 8, 2009 9:22 AM

That does suck Fatty but I agree with Jack.  In any case, it's got to feel good to at least be done with it! 

From: BigFatty Entered on: July 8, 2009 3:10 PM

Nope - Jack has a great point.  I did what I needed to do.  But, the good guys are the ones getting screwed in the end.  Which always seems to be the case.  The lenders are the ones creating this mess - and they are getting screwed too - but deserve it...  It is too bad the screwing is spreading to the guys doing everything right.

From: Ross Entered on: July 9, 2009 7:18 AM

To be fair, the lenders were only part of the problem.  Another part was the government controlling interest rates, making money artificially cheap.  Also let's not absolve the people who went after expensive houses thinking that prices would go up forever (not saying that's you, just that a lot of home buyers caused this as much or more than anyone else).

From: Bunky Entered on: July 9, 2009 9:39 AM
Not to mention, people who bought house they knew they couldn't afford, but bought them anyhow. It's great to blame the lenders and government, but the people need to take their share of responsibility as well. No one was forcing them to over extend themselves. Fatty, I don't understand why you didn't try sell the Treehouse before you moved to Hungary? The market was better then and you probably could have gotten out of it and made some money and freed yourself of an extra payment.
From: John Entered on: July 13, 2009 4:06 PM

I believe Fatty did try to sell the house before he moved to Hungary but was unsuccessful.

From: Ross Entered on: December 3, 2009 9:00 AM

So I finally got my bookshelves installed in my office (see pic above for blank wall shot).  Here's the video I made of the process.  You might have to go directly to the youtube page and watch it in HD to see all details (fluting, rosettes, moulding, etc).  There are even lights on the top that bounce off the ceiling, controlled by a touch dimmer under the center shelf, hidden from view.  I'm so happy with how these turned out:





I have some work to do getting these bitches filled!  I thought I had a lot of books, but these shelves are not impressed.



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