That Old House

House_sitting_on_a_pile_of_moneyI haven’t written about my father in a while, mostly because he died almost a year ago. But he’s definitely not gone. He was a pain in the ass in life and he’s a pain in the ass in death.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I am grateful for everything he’s done for me and everything he left me. Really grateful. Believe me. But sorting through it is another story.

Take his house. Please. He left me his house in New York – the house I grew up in. I definitely didn’t want to live there. Too many bad memories. So when he died, I put his house up for sale.

On the way back to Seattle, I got a text from my Realtor. None of the keys I’d given her worked in the locks. She wanted my permission to hire a locksmith. So we did. He broke in and changed the locks. Fine.

As soon as my agent put up the for sale sign, a neighbor’s friend made a lowball offer – cash. He wanted to flip the house. My agent said we could get more money for it, so we politely took his number and held out. Selling the house wouldn’t be easy. For one thing, it smelled. Like old man. For another, the full bath did not connect to the master bedroom in any way – very old fashioned. So I was surprised when we got an offer three weeks after listing it.

It was a good offer, but when I talked to my lawyer about it, he told me that I wasn’t yet cleared to sign a contract. My dad didn’t want to spend money on a lawyer so he made a DIY will and screwed it up.  Because of that, the courts were holding off on granting me any authority. The buyers didn’t want to wait and they backed out.

Summer had come and the grass had grown, so I had to hire a landscaper. I did. Fine.

Two months and a price adjustment later, including a hiatus from the market until I could sign, we got another offer. In the meantime, I’d been dealing with my dad’s affairs and the process was very frustrating, not to mention expensive – what with all the lawyer’s billable hours. The house was one thing I could get off of my plate. I could not wait to sign the contract.

The inspection yielded numerous problems – the septic tank degrading, a hole in the roof – my dad had told me that he’d had both the septic and the roof redone recently.  I had to fix the roof and we tabled the septic issue for a while. And then the heating oil ran out and although it was August and nobody lived there, I had to fill the tank, for several hundred dollars. Fine.

A few days later, the well failed the inspection.  The pump wasn’t working. So I hired a plumber and he fixed it. Fine. Once he fixed it, the water didn’t pass inspection, so I had the plumber come back and shock the well – they treat it with chlorine to kill any bacteria. Fine.

By that time autumn had come and everybody was getting ready for colder weather. So I had to service the boiler. I called the plumber back. Fine.

A week later my agent texted me that the toilet was running and needed to be fixed. I called the plumber again. This was getting ridiculous. My lawyer, who was working on the sale, needed an estimate to fix the septic tank. I got someone to look at it, and he said it didn’t need fixing. But I didn’t want to argue so I wound up giving a closing credit for it. Fine.

We were finally able to sign a contract. Once that was done, the title search revealed an open building permit. It was for a room my parents were going to add in 1977, for my Yiaya. She changed her mind last-minute and the room was never added. That one was easy. Then there were two more building issues. No permit for a porch roof that my dad and uncle added in 1982. So I had to apply for that permit, which required a drawing to scale. I sent a Vizio drawing. They said it didn’t have to be a professional drawing but they didn’t like mine so I had to hire a professional to construct a proper drawing. Fine.

The third issue was a missing permit for the finished basement. That basement was there when my parents bought the house. Didn’t matter. I had to apply for a permit, which meant I had to have a builder look at the space and draw it. Once he submitted that, I had to wait for approval. By that time it was Christmas and no one was around. When they did approve the permit, the Department of Health had to approve it as well, so more waiting. The DOH did eventually approve the permit. That was the last hurdle before we could close.

Then they found a leaky pipe in the laundry room. I had it fixed and waited on a closing date. The date took about a month to set. Every time I’ve bought a house, the closing date is set the day after the contract’s signed. But not for this house. Nooo.

We finally did close three weeks ago. I’m grateful to the buyers for sticking around, and I’m even more grateful that I don’t have any responsibility for that house anymore. The morals of the story? Don’t skimp on a will, number one. Keep your house in good working order, number two. And never assume anything involving my father will be easy.