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We Are Not Alone

April 8, 2009

So, we went to look at a house yesterday. We’ve been looking for a new house for a couple of years, as the kids are getting bigger and we’ll need more space. Of course, I’m not working, so the timing is off, which means we’re not really in the market right now. But we just like looking at houses. Architecture is a passion of mine, and the Mrs. is kind of nosy. So when we get a call from the realtor, we tend to head out just for something to do.

This isnt the house, but Id love a creepy one like this.

This isn't the house, but I'd love a creepy one like this.

Here’s how it usually goes: the property owners leave so we can tour uninterrupted. This works for me; I don’t want to see them, and they don’t want to see us.

We take a half-hour or so, tour the place, check the details (How old’s the roof? What kind of furnace is it?). I always feel a little awkward being in someone else’s space, but at the same time I’m fascinated with these glimpses inside other homes.

The house we looked at yesterday was nice. Pretty similar to what we’re in now, which is known as a Victory home here in Canada; 1.5 stories, centre-hall staircase, finished basement.

The one we saw had been expanded quite significantly, and had five bedrooms, two baths, a sunroom, big deck and, my favourite, a decrepit old garage in back. And it was close to the river. I like being close to water.

The listing indicated the basement was being used as a one-bedroom apartment, but could be easily converted back for single-family use. According to the listing, the lower level contained a bathroom, a large family room, a kitchen and a bedroom.

This is the part that I was most interested in — the basement would potentially become my office/studio/jam space, as well as the kids’ playroom, so it had to be just right.

One problem: the door was locked. Our realtor found a key upstairs, so we unlocked it and headed in. This opened the door to three very serious issues with the basement:

  1. It had only one small window, and was very dark and gloomy, with trash and waste everywhere.
  2. It reeked of damp, sweat, alcohol, cigarettes and farts.
  3. There was a scary-looking crazy lady asleep in the bedroom.

Have you ever seen a middle-aged real estate agent make a mad dash for daylight? It was surreal. She later got a call from the homeowner’s realtor, apologizing and explaining that the tenant had been told to clear out, but hadn’t.

I was more concerned about the lady downstairs, asleep in the supper hour, living in those conditions. It was very Fritzly.

Sometimes, when you venture into other people’s space, you get more than you expected.

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