One recent Sunday afternoon, Steve and Julie decided to go house hunting.
“Julie didn’t want to go because she was sure we would find the right house the first time out and we wouldn’t have sold our current home,” Steve explained.
With their two daughters, Hannah and Samantha, parked at Steve’s mother’s house for a few hours, he and his wife went down the street to look at a house near his mother’s property that was for sale.
The house sat on three-quarters of an acre and had a pool and as Julie predicted, it had been love at first sight — almost.
“There were things about the house that we’d want to fix up,” Steve said. But they were able to put together an offer and the seller accepted the purchase price.
And then the fun started. Steve and Julie hired an experienced professional home inspector to give the house a thorough going over. The inspector found a small area of the basement that appeared to have mold on it.
In taking a closer look, it appeared possible that the foundation was somehow leaking into the basement and there could be a significant amount of mold in the house.
Next, their attorney suggested they have the property tested for radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that seeps up from the ground. It causes a variety of diseases, notably lung cancer, and is particularly harmful to children.
The radon test came back positive. The sellers agreed to fix the radon problem by venting the basement. Venting allows the radon to escape directly to the exterior of the home rather than lingering in the home elevating levels to a dangerous amount. But the radon venting company would only guarantee that the house would meet the maximum acceptable standard. New research indicates that radon may be harmful at levels significantly lower than that.
“We were starting to be a little uncomfortable with the idea that we couldn’t get the radon out of the house entirely,” Steve added.
Another problem for Steve and Julie was that the house, which is in an area of Illinois that is rapidly developing, uses a septic system and well water. “We would prefer that the house we buy is tied to the local sewer and water systems of the village,” he said.
Among other smaller issues, the inspector also noted that many of the windows in the house were failing and would need to be replaced. In one particular area the house had settled and the home’s siding was bowing out.
While the sellers agreed to fix the mold and radon issues, and negotiating about the windows, Steve and Julie found themselves thinking about all the work that had to be done. They wondered what other problems would creep up with this house that would require substantial amounts of time and money. And, Steve kept coming back to the radon and mold issues.
Although the sellers were willing to fix certain things, they weren’t willing to lower the price of the house significantly — not enough to salve Steve and Julie’s fears about the house.
With their attorney’s approval, they finally decided to call it quits. It became clear that this house, which seemed perfect initially, wasn’t quite right after all.
While they had to pay the home inspector (“Best money we spent,” Steve said) and the whole process took a couple of weeks, it helped them figure out that they really were ready to make a move.
Steve and Julie listed their house and had several second showings within the first week. They also found a house near their preferred location that had more land, and is in almost move-in condition. The commute for Steve is only five minutes longer.
All in all, they consider themselves lucky. “This new house is a much better fit for us than the old house,” Steve noted.
But he’s waiting for the inspector’s report before falling in love again.