We did not put an offer in on that house. You know, if we keep getting this excited about houses, by the time we finally do get a house we'll be totally cool and nonchalant about the whole thing.
We met with the realtor at the house this afternoon and went through the place. It turns out that the house wasn't built by a builder but just some guy who hired sub-contractors to do the work. Worse, the house wasn't registered with Tarion, the organization that regulates new home building, enforces the provincial new home building act, and backs new home warranties. Apparently the guy was willing to offer us a warranty, but what would that be worth if it wasn't backed by the regulatory body?
For all we know, this house was the best-built house possible. But the guy didn't register the house and to us, not registering the home with the right organization means that the guy cut some corners and we just weren't willing to take the chance that other, more serious corners were cut. After all, we already knew that the front steps were weird because there was no handrail and that the drainage in the back might be a problem. It's entirely possible that the guy didn't get an engineer to figure out how to grade the yard so that drainage wouldn't be a problem, and that worries us.
Really, the moment where we figured that something was off was when we saw the cut-out window area above the basement stairs. We want basement stairs because we want to cut off the basement from the rest of the house and having a cut-out there defeats that purpose. It turns out that the cut-out was there because there is no light on the stairs. All the light comes from the bottom of the stairs and through that cutout. That just isn't right.
Also, we looked and looked for the attic access panel and finally found it in the garage. I mentioned before that it was a cathedral-ceiling garage, right? Well, at the door to the house from the garage, there was a platform with some stairs. The attic access panel is located 15ft over those stairs close to the platform side. It's a tricky place to get to by ladder because it would be uneven.
We really wish that this house worked out because we did love the layout. But there were all these little things that just weren't right... and they were just the things we could see. Because the whole house is finished, we can't see what things are like behind the scenes. What if there were other, more serious, code violations? What if there was water damage in the basement already? Apparently basements don't usually get finished for at least the first two years so that if there is water damage, it can be found and dealt with without taking apart the finishing.
As first-time home-buyers who don't know much about homes, we need to be extra-careful about what we buy. We don't have the expertise to deal with a lemon and we don't have the money to fix up an expensive lemon. Knowing what we do about the house, we felt that putting in an offer wasn't the right thing for us to do.
Even if the house had been built by a builder and there weren't weird things about it, it was definitely overpriced. It didn't have the amenities that a house at that price should have and at the asking price it was by far the most expensive house on the street. We would have made an offer considerably under the asking price and there's no guarantee that this offer would have been accepted.
So the search continues. We've been looking for such a long time and we're both feeling a bit discouraged. At least we know that the house we want is out there... we just have to find it. We're very picky and have unusual requests so of course it'll take longer to find the right place.
One good thing that came out of today is that we were able to sit down with our realtor and read over the offer paperwork and talk about what's involved in putting in an offer. We both feel much more knowledgeable about the process now. We also feel that our realtor did a really, really good job getting together the information we'd need and in explaining things to us. We're confident that when the right house does come along we can trust her completely to represent us.