“What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900-1944
In April, I made a weeklong visit to Tucson to look at houses, ride horseback through the desert, and walk and drive all over to see what I could see.
Here’s what I noticed about older homes in mid-town Tucson – they are attractive and charming in so many ways. Also, they often have a step somewhere on the first floor. Sometimes it’s a step down to the living room, sometimes, it’s a step down to the Arizona room. What I learned is, if there is a step, I will either trip over it or go flying off of it thinking the floor was flat there.
I often was very impressed with the charm of a house until I got to the kitchen. I’m not fussy about kitchens, I don’t care if they have granite countertops, for example, but there are kitchens in older homes in mid-town that make me wonder what the builder was thinking.
The upshot of the visit was that I found a house that did not have a step up or down inside the house and it had a “normal” kitchen. “I’ll take it!”
When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.
Thornton Wilder – 1897-1975
In 2008, I bought a fixer upper and have been fixing it up ever since. Wanting to know what needs to be done to make the house sell for the best price, I contacted a local real estate agent who sends monthly postcards listing houses sold and their prices.
He said that I should complete the renovation because people want a house to be turnkey ready for them. Then I read an article about selling a fixer upper and it advised pricing the house right for a buyer who wants to put the finishing touches on the house, including doing the kitchen renovation to suit the buyer’s tastes.
I have a friend who sells real estate two hours from here and she concurs with the other realtor’s recommendations. She thinks wood flooring, granite countertops, and white cabinets and gray base cabinets are the way to go. That is what I’ll do.
The work on the house has chiefly included raising the floor of a room so it’s level with the first floor and not 4 feet below the first floor, insulation, new windows, siding, and wiring. There is still a lot to do to the house to make it a renovated house and not a somewhat fixer upper. The kitchen and a bathroom upstairs still have to be renovated top to bottom. Windows and siding on the back of the house have to be installed. The whole inside of the house has to be painted, and most of the floors on the first floor have to be refinished or replaced.
Yikes! There’s a lot of work to do in the next year or so.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Attributed by some to Mark Twain – 1835-1910