Fixer Upper

Ben Buie | 4/16/14

Brooke and I have been trying to buy a while. We got the bug almost a year ago when I started working at Voltage. Banks don’t sell entrepreneurs homes, so I figure I had better take advantage of this opportunity while I have it (not that I’m planning to leave Voltage any time soon, because I’m still having fun and learning a ton).

Our first attempt to buy was with a cute little house in Lafayette with a small rental on the 2nd floor. We were a little nervous about the outdated look of the interior, but loved the price and the possibility to offset our mortgage with rental income. Our dreams were dashed when we tested the house for meth and it came back positive. I really think meth is a bigger problem these days than people want to think.

We spent the next 6 months pursuing just about every house in Lafayette that had a big room for our annual parties, a back yard for our boys, a storage room for our food, and a garage to keep us from scrapping our cars in the morning. Nothing was on the market and the two offers we made in that time didn’t work out. Our real estate agent said he’d never seen a time when less houses were on the market in this city. It seemed like we couldn’t catch a break and Brooke was getting tired of the emotional roller coaster.

About a month ago we found a house that fit our checklist. Could this be the one? The problem: it was in horrible condition. It smelled like a dog kennel, it didn’t have any flooring, and much of the kitchen was broken, not to mention the paint was the perfect shade of pink that makes you want to puke :)

The owners were selling it as is, which meant that we’d either have to pay cash for the house, or we’d have to do some improvements after loan approval and before closing. Luckily, we work with a great loan officer who knew of a special FHA loan that would allow us to improve the property using our down payment.

We put in an offer which we think competed mostly with offers from investors. We were very excited when they accepted ours. I credit this to our awesome real estate agent who knew exactly the price we should offer. We then went on a mad dash to inspect the home. We tested for asbestos and meth, both came back negative. Yay! We also did a general inspection that didn’t uncover anything too concerning. The appraisal came back at a number we could live with and we got loan approval last Friday. Everything just fell into place.

With loan approval, the work started. Brooke and I took a couple days off to scrape popcorn ceilings, remove wall paper, and clean and prep the floors. The good news is that with a some long days and late nights we got the house ready for painting, which started today. The bad news is that we uncovered a serious mouse problem. You’d think my wife would be more put out by this than I am, but she says this is something our ancestors dealt with for thousands of years. :) That said, I’ll be launching an all out war with them over the next couple weeks and I must have victory before we move in.

After the painting is done tomorrow, we’ll be installing floors next week and moving in early May. I don’t get excited easily, but I have to admit, I’m starting to feel the excitement.

I’m curious if our house buying story pretty typical. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About the Author

Ben currently works as a contract web developer and business consultant in Boulder, Colorado.

His passion for entrepreneurship led him to study business and learn to code. Although he never anticipated working on the web, Ben has spent the past 9 years learning everything he could about building and operating websites and web assets.

When not at work, Ben spends a lot of his time with family. He is married to a “beautiful” woman and they are raising 4 energetic boys. In his spare time he loves keeping up with technology, playing guitar, eating Sweet Cow ice cream, and painting (although he has very little time for painting these days). Other than that, Ben is a supporter of freedom and liberty, a fluent speaker of Russian, and he tries to be a humble follower of Jesus.

Read more about Ben.