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Monster House Returns!

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That title is extremely similar to the subject line I sent my wife last week... and that's not a good thing.

Almost three and a half years ago, I wrote about buying a vacation/retirement home. It was a multi-part series where I went in depth about all the houses we were looking at, and most importantly the factors we used to settle on the house that we eventually bought.

At the time I became smitten with a house that my wife not-so-affectionately dubbed, "The Monster House." As I mentioned at the time, the house is like the semi-famous Winchester Mystery House. That's a house in San Jose that was built by the widow of the man who invented the Winchester rifle. She lost her husband and her daughter. Depressed, she went to a psychic, who told her that the spirits of those who were killed by the rifle caused the deaths. The only way she could avoiding being next on their list, was to build a house for them. With 20 million in 1860 dollars, that's exactly what she did until her death. She built stairs that went nowhere, doorways on the second floor that went outside - a nice 40 foot drop. The house was never "finished" because she believed that would be the end of her life.

This Monster House's story isn't quite as exciting, but as far as house stories go, it's interesting. Built in 2001, the couple couldn't really agree on anything. They extended it and created an in-law suite, but never finished it off by creating privacy for it or making a way for the in-law to get to the second floor to use the second kitchen. The front porch was never finished, but at least the raw materials were there in a pile. The upstairs master bedroom has a door that leads outside... to certain hospitalization because there's no balcony. The floor-plan is "unique" because they bolted on a wing to the other side of the in-law suite that they bolted on. In total it's a McMansion at 3400 square feet.

The couple got divorced and it's been a rental for a few years. This was the story in 2011.

I was on Zillow the other day and I noticed it was back. I almost didn't recognize it. I think it's been changed from blue to grey. The front porch finally looks finished. I couldn't tell if the in-law suite ever got finished, but the description mentions it, so maybe it did. The Door to Hospitalization is still full effect... no balcony yet.

I'd love to know what people's opinions are of the house from the description of it thus far. It can't be good, but I think we've all seen worse houses like The Money Pit.

So how did I become smitten with this Monster House? It's the math. Throughout our search we had looked at places that were $250/sq. ft and finally bought what we considered a bargain at $220/sq. ft that had a new kitchen, ideal location, and a bunch of other things. We don't regret it a bit, and would do it again.

However, Monster House is listed at $120/sq. ft... half price of things we were considering. It's newer construction than 90% of what we looked at... including what looks to be a very nice new kitchen. There's a lot of quality throughout the house including some rare finds like central AC. It's got a unique combination rare quantity and quality of space at a low price... but it still needs work.

More than anything it needs some walls torn down to create an open floor plan as you enter the house. As it is now, the bolted on wings are the big spaces.

If someone gives me a winning lottery ticket (I don't play), I'm definitely going to advocate that we buy the place and see what we can make of it with $100,000 of upgrades. There's one particular loft that is just a huge, huge room. I get giddy thinking about hiring an architect to turn the space into its own tiny house. I love the idea of a house within a house. It would be completely impractical unless I could rent it out via AirBnb, but I'm oddly and unnaturally attracted to the idea nonetheless.

Even though our family has grown from 3 to 5 (yes our dog counts) in the last couple of years, and more space would be nice, it will even happen. My wife had a celebration when I realized last time that Monster House was going to be a long-term fit for us. Her view hasn't changed. When I shut down my overly analytical side of the brain, I know she's right. Still, I might want to take a tour just to get the updated story.

Posted on July 31, 2014.

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Real Estate

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3 Responses to “Monster House Returns!”

  1. Maurice @ CornerTrader says:

    I’m already under the blanket out of fear. No doubt you are getting it at half the price. But have you given a thought why is the price so low? It is because there are very less or no buyers for this ‘haunted’ house. Before buying you should give a thought not to the ghosts but to the prospect of selling the house. Will you get buyers so that you can fare price and earn some money?

  2. robyn says:

    somethings are better left as an aspiraiton. especially if, in addition to the monetary cost, there is significant time cost and life cost [do i hear the theme from ‘divorce court’ playing in the background?].

    • Lazy Man says:

      Actually, my wife admitted that if we got an architect in to do draw up some plans prior to purchase, she’d be comfortable with it. Yes, there would be time costs and of course real monetary costs, but at the end it could be a nearly million dollar home selling for ~$400,000. Still, I don’t think we’d consider it for quite some time. We are pretty comfortable where we are.

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