House Project – Small Victories That Take The Sting Out Of Dealing With The Unexpected

In an earlier post I mentioned a new project I have embarked upon…a house project. One of the most rewarding parts of this house project is learning so many new things. Having never taken on a project like this before, nearly everything I am doing requires some sort of research and study in order to find the correct way to do something.

The progress is slower than expected, costs more than expected as well as some injury delays but all in all, none of this is really surprising considering we are doing a rehab house.

We got our first tax bill last week and though it wasn’t horrible it was based on a house that people could inhabit and that simply is not our house. Our house is a dump! The AC condenser is seized, the plumbing leaks like a sieve, the electrical was so hazardous the Realtor covered the service panel with a metal plate before showing it and all of the eaves on the roof were completely rotted because the trees had never been pruned. We literally picked the worst house in the neighborhood, had actually passed on buying it at one point because it needed so much work. Needless to say we like a challenge and changed our minds. The location was perfect for a project house, the price was right and we could envision a beautiful home hiding beneath years of neglect.

When Rick saw the tax bill he decided to appeal to the county for a revised bill. Initially he spoke to the assessor over the phone who said the rate was based on an earlier inspection of the house. When Rick explained it was not habitable the inspector said that he would have to come and take a look because it was habitable on the last inspection. He also wanted any documentation we had on its condition for the year 2014. Rick stated he didn’t mind paying taxes but he wanted them to be fair, knowing that as we made improvements…taxes would go up. He just wanted the starting base to be much lower than the current bill reflected.

Knowing that a house had to have four basic points to be considered habitable; roof, working plumbing, electrical and AC,ย  I decided to create a folder summary showing that it lacked these four points. Since organization is my strong point and I specialize in getting proposed ideas passed the first time, I started working on the documentation. Within a few days I selected a series of pictures that showed what the listing showed compared to the true condition of the home…from pictures I took the day we closed on the house. Adding a summary to each page, I put them in plastic sleeves and created a simple folder to deliver to the assessor who met with Rick on Wednesday. The assessor came and took pictures of the house and took his folder, saying he’d get back to us within ten days. Here is the contents of the folder.

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Two days later the assessor called to tell us that the bill had been reduced 60% with a special mention for Rick to make sure to tell his wife what a wonderful job she did on the documentation. He said the folder had been passed around throughout the office and everyone loved it. The picture they liked the best was the one showing the use of butter knives to hot wire the electrical box so the last tenants could have free electricity. Rick and I are tickled pink…I love it when a plan goes through exactly as you intended.

As you may suspect, we have gutted the house since the pictures above were taken. More of that part of our progress will come along in a future post. It’s amazing how much better the place already looks stripped down to its four walls and rafters. Trimming the trees and putting a new roof on it has greatly improved the outside. We have had so many city officials stop by to express their gratitude over all of the work we have done and will do in the future. And we have gotten thumbs up from the neighbors as well…which makes us pretty happy too. Actually the neighbors drive by real slow and stare, trying to see what we are doing next. It’s a hoot to watch!