Fixer Upper and the City

Yesterday, we removed the remaining subjects from the house we’re purchasing – it is now officially ours. In order to feel comfortable doing so, I had to do some serious research, which involved visiting City Hall in our new community. Armed with a note pad, diagrams and a long list of questions, I put on my happy, ‘I can get along with anyone’ attitude (just in case you’re wondering, this is generally my natural state!) and approached the shared counter of the Building, Engineering and Planning departments.

While the house we’ve purchased doesn’t quite look like this one, the inspection did reveal several electrical problems, plumbing problems and structural problems. Fortunately, most of the issues are neither major, nor beyond the scope of what The Renovator and I had suspected.

passed down through generations

One issue we weren’t expecting was the pathetic water pressure. Like most people, I like a lot of water pressure. No one likes a stingy trickle! Through chatting with the ladies at City Hall, we learned a few things: The water line is original (1977) and comes all the way from the front of the property to the house. Not only is it only 3/4″ (new ones are 1 1/4″), but it also runs under the driveway. In the past 30+ years, chances are that it has corroded and been crushed! Rather than digging up the driveway it’s entire lenght (it’s quite long), we’ve decided to hook up to the City’s water from the back of the property where the new subdivision is. Yes, we’ll need to re-run the lines from our house to the edge of our property, pay for the City to provide our hook up and pay for the City to disconnect the original water, but in the long run we’ll get a proper water supply and we’ll save money by not digging up the entire driveway.

shag tub

No, this isn’t in the house either, but it could be! I can’t wait to start taking pictures of it and posting them! That being said, a bigger issue than a shag carpetted tub is something else from years gone by – a septic tank. City sewer hook up is possible, but again, it will cost us to get the line to the edge of the property and will cost us to have the City connect us. The Renovator wants to stay on the septic unless it becomes a problem, I however want to be on sewer ASAP. How am I supposed to design a great kitchen on a septic tank? Do you know you can’t use a garborator with a septic system?

Another issue I needed answers to was the creek. Because we want to  do additions to this house and not just renovate within the existing building envelope, we’ll need permits, inspections and the like. No big surprise there, but then there’s the creek. I’ve never had to deal with a waterway and didn’t know what kind of easements might exist. Turns out that the City knows! And, even better, we’re in the clear! Sure, we’ll need them to come out and check on the creek and do the measurements for beurocracy’s sake, but we know it will be fine.

fun balcony

Although we don’t have a balcony that looks like this, we do have a crazy little roof like the one shown under the balcony! It needs to come down. Other amusing things about the property we’ve bought? There’s a fire hydrant on the property – about a third of the way in. I looked it up myself on the City’s web site. No signs of it. I asked when I visted the City. It didn’t come up as either municipal or private. In fact, it simply doesn’t show up anywhere.

It wasn’t until I told The Renovator that there was no record of the hydrant anywhere that he said, “Oh, I forgot to mention that to you – it’s fake, just for show”. And that’s why I love being The Renovator’s Wife.


Ronda Payne

A writer since she first held a pen, Ronda Payne – aka: the Girl with a Pen, is passionate about words. In 2007, she kissed ‘real jobs’ goodbye and began her true career as a copywriter, non-fiction freelance writer (magazines and other periodicals) and creative writer.

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