A Shaker Heights Renovation Part 3 – The Cancellation | Cleveland East Side Moms

A Shaker Heights Renovation Part 3 – The Cancellation

by | May 18, 2019 | Around Town, Home Improvement


As you guys all know from my previous posts (which you can find in the blog archives if you missed them) we live in Shaker Heights in a house that was built in the 1920s. We had a water leak last August and planned to renovate. We had plans drawn up and we selected a builder and a designer (separately). We sent them off into the world to gather costs and had planned to start construction this month. That is, until the real costs of the renovation came back from our selected contractors. Not including the payments we’ve already made to our architect and designer, we were solidly 20% over what we could afford and 30% higher than we thought was feasible. With a sinking sense of dread, I realized that not only could we not do what we wanted to, we also couldn’t afford our compromise. It was time to start looking for alternatives.


The Open House

Back when this water leak happened, I set a few alerts on Zillow to let me know when houses became available. For those of you familiar with Shaker, we live in the Fernway area now, but almost all our friends live in the Lyman Circle area and I’ve secretly wanted to move there for a while. My husband vetoed moving outright, so up until a few weeks ago, it’s been a real ‘secret’ desire, nothing truly actionable on my part. However, when our contractor prices came back and it became obvious that we really couldn’t afford to renovate unless we planned to literally die in this house, I decided to drag him kicking and screaming off to at least an open house so he could see what was out there in the price range we could afford. I started this process with an open house – just ONE open house. And he was not remotely pleased about going to it.


Open houses are the ‘just browsing’ equivalent of the real estate journey that I have never been convinced actually work. Who are those people who see an alert for an open house, go to the open house, fall in love with the house even if they have no real need of moving, and actually make an offer? Those people don’t exist because moving takes planning, right? Yeah … about that… (waves hand). Apparently we are one of them.


My husband and I have very different taste. He likes new, I like old. I like character and charm, he likes modern and sleek. We both think that kitchen appliances should be top of the line whenever possible, but that’s about the only thing we truly agree on. So imagine my surprise when the open house we went to appealed to both of us. The house we looked at was on the market for almost a year. The pictures on Zillow suggested that it had carpet a few places that maybe it shouldn’t, but that was really the only obvious negative from the pictures. Well, as it turns out, the pictures on Zillow were outdated. We walked into a house with brand new refinished floors throughout. It’s this awesome mix of old and new, renovated and original, it has some quirks to the layout that wouldn’t appeal to everyone (probably why it was on the market so long), but it was perfect for us. Considering we’ve never agreed on a house before (literally, not ever), we were both shocked at our collective reactions.



Making an Offer

Next came the logistics of making an offer. I started my company in July of 2018 and don’t have two years of self-employment income to use for any sort of pre-qualification (proof that we weren’t looking to move – we truly did not think it was financially feasible), so it was on my husband to qualify for this house. Fortunately for us, our current house is financed exclusively by me, as are a majority of our other major financial investments, so he had most of his income available to qualify (minus a car payment). After 30 minutes on the phone with a mortgage broker, we had a pre-qualification letter. We were stunned.


We joined that elite club of home buyers two weeks ago when we made an offer on a house that we fell in love with, despite having no intent to move. Three days after we made our offer, it was accepted.




Our renovation is officially cancelled because we’re moving! Our move is finalized for the beginning of June.


Stay tuned for the super fun updates from us as we get our house ready to transition to a new family & we navigate Shaker’s Point of Sale inspections. More to come …

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