Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Week 1: Decluttering our half story

It's amazing the amount of crap that you can amass in just a few years.

As I said in my previous post, our house is small. We have a full basement as well as a half story/converted attic which has been used as an office for my husband in the summer when he writes marching band drill. There is also a full sized bed upstairs, as well as an armchair with an ottoman, a dresser and a side table, as well as several short bookcases that line the walls of the half story. The ceiling is fairly low so you may hit your head on the ceiling if you're not aware of your surroundings.

When we first moved into this house, we managed to keep the upstairs fairly neat. In fact when we brought our new kitten Lily home shortly after we moved in, that was where she lived for the first few weeks while she got acclimated to living with us. After some major life changes the following year (a change in career for me), we gradually began moving all of our clutter up into the half story, rather than finding an appropriate place for it.

During this first week of preparing our house to be put on the market in August, we have been rooting through all of this clutter and have discovered many interesting things...some of them "lost treasures" like notes from former students, others are things that we would prefer never to see again. All in all it is amazing to discover just how much junk you can amass in just a few short years!

I have found the best way to deal with the clutter, most of which tends to be junk mail and other paper goods is to divide into "neat and manageable piles". The piles consist of four bankers boxes with labels such as "To Shred", "To Keep", "To File" and "Recycle".  Over the last week we have dumped several loads of recyclables  into the ABTIBI paper bins near of our work least someone will actually benefit from our clutter! We also have several boxes of items which are to be shredded by a local non profit which provides work opportunities for special needs adults. We are beginning to see real progress upstairs, but this process becomes a bit daunting when we realize that we have to go through this in every room of the house in order to stage this house to be put on the market.  Not only will it be frustrating to dig through all of that junk we have gathered through the years, but it is a challenge to do anything when you have a six month old infant who is going through a co-dependent stage.

I look forward to the next, more fun stage of this project that should involve buying a new neutral IKEA couch and new window treatments. But before that can happen, we have to paint every wall in this house, as well as move all unnecessary pieces into a storage unit nearby for the duration of the time the house is on the market.  Hopefully this all will remain relatively painless process and we can remain motivated!

This is a picture of our upstairs shortly after we moved in in 2006. That's me with our sad little kitten Lily, who was very scared, but who had the entire upstairs as her playground for the first two weeks she lived here. To this day, she still considers the upstairs to be her area of the house.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Realizing the problem, and coming up with the solution.

A bit of background information...

My husband and I have lived in our tiny house since April 2006. It has served us well for five years, but now with our five month old boy it has become increasingly small...we're talking about less than 700 square feet for 2.5 people and three cats. Add to this the fact that my husband has to drive 35 miles to work each way and during the busy school year, this results in him not seeing our son very much. It has become painfully obvious to us that we need to move closer to my husband's work. On a whim last week we set up an appointment to view a fixer-upper in a neighboring town. This house turned out to be way more work than we would be able to tackle, plus it was a short sale with several other contracts already on the table (plus it had a basement that resembled the dungeon in "The Silence of the Lambs". We did view another house that we fell in love with that was even closer to my husband's work that seemed perfect for us. We were planning on bringing my parents to see the house and were entertaining the idea of making an offer. Out of morbid curiosity, we met with a mortgage broker to see if we could conceivably rent our house and buy this new house. It turned out that this would not be feasible given the current economic climate and that in order to move out of our tiny house, we would have to sell our tiny house.

Selling this house will be easier said than done. In our neighborhood alone there are many houses for sale at a variety of price points. Some are bank-owned foreclosures, and some are well maintained homes that the sellers are hoping to get top dollar for. When we purchased this house in 2006, it was at the height of the real estate bubble and we paid quite a bit more for this house than it is currently worth according to the county auditor. Assuming that we could sell this house for what we paid for it five years ago would be foolish. What we're hoping is that we can sell this house for what the house is currently valued at, and not have to bring too much to the table in order to unload it.

I plan to write about this process, mainly to help me vent about everything we're going through.

This is a picture of our tiny house. It has served us well but it is time to move on.