Timing is Everything

When we purchased the pink house, nearly five years ago, there were a few things that needed fixing. We were able to work with AlaskaUSA Federal Credit Union to get a customized refurbishment loan. We ended up with a $180,000 mortgage with another $30,000 escrow to use for needed repairs. The loan was set at a fixed rate for five years, after which it would become adjustable. At the time our general life plan was to remodel the house for a few years then refinance, re-insure, and setup the place on a longer, fixed loan.

flooringSo we spent the last four years using up that $30,000 and then some. On the outside we added a whole new roof, a new chimney stack, replaced a bunch of rotting siding, and gave the whole thing a fresh coat of pink paint (technically, the name of the paint is Ashes of Rose). We replaced four windows with frames including a good amount of work on the front windows (each of which require custom cutting). Inside the house we replaced a large amount of dry rot, did some foundation repair, put in a new toilet, installed a whole new furnace, and extended the breaker box. Upstairs we installed new flooring throughout, new trim, and all new coats of paint. But our main achievement was the completely revamped kitchen. We took out an old unused chimney, rebuilt one entire wall, re-did the ceiling, installed all new electrical, lighting, plumbing, cabinets, counter tops, and appliances (the works).

Remodels were particular in the Pink House due to her 100-year history on a hillside in a rainforest. Those of you with similar homes know there is no such thing as a right angle or straight line. Each piece of trim had to be custom cut, every angle measured and then re-measured. We used a lot of shims when installing the cabinets. There’s also no such thing as “standard”. For example, in order to get the new lazy susan into the house we had to replace the front door. The old door frame was built for tiny miners!

Many of the Pink House's interior walls were solid wood.Complicating things even more, many of the interior walls weren’t constructed using studs and drywall, but instead were solid wood. In some places we literally had to carve grooves in the wood for wire conduit and electrical boxes. The picture at right shows one such wall, exposed.

This summer marks the beginning of the fifth year of our fixed loan. On the last day of May I was sanding a piece of trim for the pantry. The piece included a couple custom cutouts for the power box and pantry shelf that were too close to the doorway.

That night the fire next door spread to our house and completely erased all our remodels. Since we hadn’t refinanced, our investment of time sweat and money may as well have never existed. Poof.

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