March 5, 2012

Weekend Wrap up – House Hunters - Rigdon Edition

All I can say is “We survived”! Wow, what a long mentally and physically weekend it was! As many of you know from past post {G} and I went for a three day weekend down to the Ames/Des Moines, Iowa area on our first look at homes in the area. It was my first trip to the area, period, so it was also a time for me to get a feel for what my new home state will be like. I apologize for the length of this post but there is so much to share!

{ Friday }

I took off a vacation day so that we could take our time driving the 5.5 hrs to West Des Moines Iowa where we were staying. Why West Des Moines?… well I don’t think I have brought up my husbands addiction to Priority Club points yet so here it is. He travels often for work and stays in Holiday Inns, with that he is a priority club member. Those of you reading this that are priority club members are probably just getting giddy with excitement from the moment I said “my husband travels often”. Yes, he collects points and MANY of them. For every night you stay you get X amount of points that you can later use to buy stuff. Ever read Sky Mall on a plane? Same concept. Another benefit to this system of point collecting is using them for “Free” night stays at any Holiday Inn chain. Some nights will cost 5,000 points where others could be 15,000-25,000 points. We use our points instead of personal cash to go on long weekends/vacations places. Really it’s a good thing my husband obsesses over them because it save us anywhere between $200-$400 on a long weekend somewhere. The hotel in West Des Moines was only 5,000 per night but the one is Ames was 15,000 (Probably since ISU played Baylor in Men’s Basketball Sat. night – And they WON! Great game). So we saved some points and stayed in an awesome area! Only a mile from our hotel was what is called “Jordan Creek Town Center” Premiere shopping, dining, and entertainment. YES!!! CIVILIZATION! I’m not saying Sioux Falls, SD doesn’t have shopping because it does but this place was AMAZING! We got to the Hotel around 3:30, settled in, then went to Jordan Creek to walk around and then try out the Cheese Cake Factory. Neither of us have ever been and after we went we were let down…. Too many items on the menu to make a decision, large portions, and overly priced for what we thought wasn’t the greatest meal ever. However, the Snickers Cheesecake slice we purchased for $6.50 was heaven! After dinner we went back to the hotel and watched a movie before nodding off around 10pm… Saturday was a big day and we needed our rest!

{ Saturday – House Hunt }

We woke up around 6:30am to eat breakfast and get showered for the day. We stayed in a Candlewood hotel so they have nice kitchenettes. We knew we would be eating out a lot so we bought 1/2 gallon of milk and brought our own cereal and oatmeal. Cost Saving #2 :)

We were to be up in Ames to meet our realtor by 9am at her office. So we were out the door by 7:45 making our way North to Ames. It’s only a 40 minute drive and we made great time and hit the Ames exit by 8:30 so we drove around the town to see some sites. ISU (Iowa State University) is a lovely campus and is HUGE! I can’t wait to see what it looks like in the spring and summer.

We met our realtor exactly at 9am and jumped in her car, she was nice to drive us around to all the homes. The first place {G} and I had taken off the list but she said it was still worth looking to give us an idea of what to expect later in the day.

Home #1- Built in early 1930’s, farm house on 2 acres, 4 ag buildings, new siding and roof. 3 bedroom 2 full bath. This was a really nice house priced at $297,000 but when you walk it you time warp back to the 70’s and it smells of grammas house. The house really needed renovated and with the price already over our budget that would leave nothing for us to work with. This was a def. no, but again “Prospective” was the point of seeing it.

Home #2- Mid price range built it 2003, 5 bed, 2.5 bath, 8 acres, pond, hog house/pen. Upon walking in the landscaping was a little hard on the eyes, we would def. rip it out and start over. The first floor was very lovely, hard wood floors and tile in kitchen. deck off the kitchen. Nice size master with full bath, others rooms of good size. Everything was looking good until…. The basement. A lot of homes in Iowa are “Ranch style” homes built into a hill so most all the basements are fully finished with walk outs so that you still have the space of a 2 story home. At first glance the basement looks nice, it’s finished with carpet and hard wood, had a family room with bar then 2 bed rooms and a 3/4 bath and laundry room. We started looking closer and saw bugs so we checked out the seams on the sliding door and it was WAY off, then we checked the windows in bedrooms and they were caulked but very messy. Then we noticed dry wall outlet cut too large for the covers, paint over the fire detectors and the list goes on. We think the owners tried to finish the basement themselves but they did an awful job of it. These are all things we can fix but what if that’s just the surface problems… what is under the surface that we cannot see. We walked outside and came upon more problems, siding falling off, foundation problems, metal sticking out, door frames falling apart. This home was built in 2003, no way should it have this many issues already. It was shotty construction so we decided it will just bring headaches for us later on.

Home #3 – Two houses down from the last at the end of the road. Built in 2009, top of our price range, 7 acres, 5 bed, 3.5 bath. The people who built this house spared no money. This home has Geothermal heating (THE BEST), hardwood plank siding, tilt out windows, silent cabinets and drawers in all bathrooms and kitchen. The views were stunning, the home was stunning, and we were in love. The only things that need done to the property are, the basement needs flooring- other then that it’s completely finished with a full bath two bedrooms, and family room.The driveway needs paved, and the flooring in the basement. Everything else is move in ready. We worry that the price is too high and want to make sure we can actually have a life and not just a house that is pretty.

Home #4- I was really rooting for this one based off the pictures I saw online. It was a quaint little farm house with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. Upon walking in it’s def. old but the kitchen was re-done along with the main floor. The Master bedroom had a master bath added on but what tipped us off was that it was SUPER cold in the addition and they had a mini electric heater on a stool in the bath. Not a good sign. We went straight to the basement after and right away my realtor says “Uh oh, do you see the anchors… were getting out of here”. I had not clue what she meant I just saw 3 huge bolts sticking out of the basement wall. So I asked and she says “When you anchor your basement wall that means the foundation is buckling in so they anchor it to pull it back out.” So, George reaffirms this by ending our tour. We didn’t even bother to look at the second floor. Again, something you would never see in pictures of the home. Bye-Bye Blue farm home.

Home #5- Again another farm house. It was cute… remodeled inside, nice new landscaping on outside around home (best we saw all day) However again you get…. Plaster chipping, drafty windows and doors, and a non finished basement that was a complete mess… and the worst was 3 huge barns on the property that ware days from falling over. We would get stuck cleaning all of it up, barns & everything let in the basement. No Thanks…. Bye Bye Gray farm house.

Home #6- One {G} found a little further north but its a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, farm house with 2 little buildings. Tip off one: Iowa didn’t have too much snow but apparently it blew into these peoples yards. No snow anywhere else but this house was surrounded by it! Just a mental note to take. We walk in and the floors were BEAUTIFUL. Newly stained old hardwood floors are really the prettiest, you can’t buy floors like that and install them. The owners did a good job of keeping drafts out, they covered all the windows and doors with plastic. This home also had a lot of character with build in wall cabinets. LOVE THEM. We round out the kitchen and make our way to the back of the house when I suddenly notice a huge slope in the floor. You could place a ball at one end and it would roll to the other. We walked up stairs and it was even more noticeably worse. The entire home was sloped. Great… what caused that? We proceed to the basement and see that there is old foundation and new so an addition was put on the house which probably contributed to the sloping. Bye-Bye house #5

Are you depressed yet because we certainly were!

Home #7- final showing – Brick ranch home on 1 acre lot. 3 bedroom 3 bath basement needs renovated. This was bought and renovated by a contractor and wood worker. Not our style at all, lots of wood/cabin like features. He did a great job but sometimes you just cannot see yourself living in a house and we did not see it. Bye Bye Brick Rancher.

{ What we learned from our hunt }

  • Pictures are deceiving – not only in photo-shopped pictures of super models but also in regular pictures taken of homes. People only show what they know people want to see. No one is going to write on the listing that there are “Anchored walls or sloped floors”.
  • Ames is more expensive then we thought. By looking at homes in the $150,000-$190,000 area we realized that you are not going to be able to buy a newer home or an old home with out problems. :(
  • Home #3 is the only Keeper but can we afford it and still be able to think about having kids soon? And if not, why have a house with 5 bedrooms if you can’t have kids to fill them with.
  • Home #3 if we can afford it is it what we really want? We cant use the 7 acres for livestock because its too rolling…. but it is sooo pretty! You could still 4 wheel around the property.
  • Keep our options open. Right away we went back online to search for some homes we may have missed. There are two, one that I think has potential and one that {G} likes more. He is down in Ames again this week for work so he is going to scoop the two out. Then if they are a no we may throw an offer at house 3 and see if we get a nibble… It won’t be the price that they are asking for so this could be interesting. Good thing {G} is a business guy, he can play the game much better then I can… I love this about him.

{ Sunday }

We drove back early, went to the gym while our home was being showed, picked up Winston, and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

{ Highlights of our trip }

We ate at Jethros Famous BBQ in downtown Des Moines on Saturday night. BEST BBQ ever as seen on “Man vs. Food”, Manly eateries, and the food network.

{G} bought me new running shoes! Mine current ones hurt my feet and Winston took huge bits out of them a few months back. I look like a fool in the gym. Here are my new ones! I wore them to the gym yesterday and they are perfect!

underarmour shoe

{ Best news of the entire weekend… }

My best friend is Engaged! Congratulations to you both!

I couldn't be happier for you and can’t wait to help out with the wedding like you did for mine!


I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I didn’t want to post photos of the homes we looked at because although they aren’t for us they are still someone’s “Home”.

See you tomorrow for “Tips for Tuesday”!

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