So when we attended the inspection during the sales cycle we knew we should be prepared for some unexpected surprises. However, we were not prepared to learn that our little vacation rental / guest cottage had a dirty secret growing in the house. Actually, it had two dirty secrets, a ’cause & effect’ kind of secret. The tenant had turned the basement into a grow-house – as in ‘weed’. Now she did have a license to do so, but not once until the inspection did the grow-house scenario get mentioned. Due to the excessive humidity, the little house was filled with mold. Ironically, the tenant was growing ‘medical marijuana’ to assist people with migraines, and due to all the mold that had accumulated in the house she was suffering from migraines. She also had a bad habit of letting the dogs out the front door to relieve themselves – the front yard was being heavy fertilized by dog poop. We had to laugh – and we still were willing to move ahead with the sale – the parcel of land – it’s size and proximity to the lake were too perfect to not purchase.
We made an offer Monday March 2nd after only physically looking at 2 properties with a Realtor & a drive-by of one other parcel. From the time we made the decision to move – it took 6 weeks to locate a parcel that we put an offer on, and have it accepted with a signed contract on March 6th. Shortly there after we quickly commenced work on plans for building a house. Working with an architect – to design what was originally going to be one home – turned out to be a farm compound.
We really have to thank our Realtor for showing us the 10 acre parcel that has:
* 1 farmhouse with an attached garage filled with junk;
* 1 cottage supporting a tenants *cough* cottage industry business
* 1 detached garage – also filled with junk, but with a healthy looking concrete slab;
* 1 pole barn also filled with junk; and finally
* 1 little hut / bunk house with more junk, but so cute.
Pictured above is the front cottage as we first saw it, and we were not really sure what we would do with it? There it is was standing still and appearing somewhat neglect all covered in snow. It looked like it was in need of a hug. The house had been updated sometime in the 90s, we briefly looked at it when we were searching for property, there was a tenant occupying it with three dogs. However, once it got to inspection there was a surprise for us to discover inside.
Essentially, after the inspection on March 19th, a few weeks post making an offer we discovered what we really had; 2 healthy house foundations; 2 slabs of concrete, and a sturdy insulated horse / pole barn. The houses had pretty much come to the end of their lives, and both will need to be pulled down, there really was nothing to salvage – not even something remotely ‘cute’ – well except the ‘bunkie’ we hope to save that.
Mid Feb – we stopped off to look at a snow-covered 9 acre lot with a lake on it. We couldn’t believe our luck – to get access to our own private Lake. The dog was going to love it. It was cold when we visited, and the parcel was buried under 2 plus feet of fresh snow. There is a good reason that many people don’t look for land in Winter – there is nothing to see. Still we looked. We eventually passed up on this lot, after making some calls to people in the area, and realizing that the Lake was not under any association etc. It was really lovely, and we truly started to see ourselves living there – but too many variables with the other family members that had part ownership in the Lake that had been parceled off. We said to ourselves – NEXT.
Two weeks later we were back in the area on Feb 28th with the selling Realtor of the Lake property, he had something that he wanted to show us. We were talked into looking at something with existing buildings on it. It was not what we had initially intended to buy, but the land itself the minute we saw it just felt right – we knew we were going to buy it after about 15 minutes. Even covered in snow, and not sure what really was beneath our feet – we had fallen in love with all the trees, and the creek, and the peacefulness – it was perfect.
The visual you see here are some photographs the selling realtor took for the MLS listing. The Realtors poor photography skills might have lead us to a bargain. Hard to believe that anyone would want to consider buying it as pictured. Lucky for us a visit + our imagination for what the land & the grounds themselves really could be had us SOLD.
Around January 18th we [him + her] made a decision that we were ready to leave the City of Chicago for a life less hectic. It was spurred on by a series of events: a desire to downsize + a yearning for open space filled with trees and fresh air + a dream to build a glass box in the woods + our neighbors of 10 years selling their house + new neighbors that operate at ’11’ on the volume scale + a need to find room for our 70 pound rescue mutt to run in his own yard off-leash + a garden with space to grow vegetables & fruit trees …. the list goes on.
We immediatly started our search online looking in both Wisconsin and Michigan, for parcels of land that were within a 90 minute drive from Chicago. It didn’t take us long to quickly realize that we really love Michigan and sunsets over that giant lake, so we reduced our hunt to Michigan only. The added bonus of this decision afforded us the ability to:
a] have a relatively easy commute back to Chicago for work / access to an airport;
b] be closer to family;
c] be closer to the lake;
d] have space at an affordable price in an area that has some form of civilization & friends with vacation homes;
e] situated in an area that has access to lots of organic farms for delicious produce.
We scanned the area virtually from google earth and bing maps, then utilized Trulia and Zillow to figure out what was for sale. Initially the search was in Buchanan & Three oaks area on east side of I94, it was still that extra commute too far – we wanted farmland – but we didn’t want total isolation. Then we confined our search to East of I94 and the Lake. Oh! And not to make it impossible but we wanted more than 5 acres – vacant and wooded, and it needed to be dirt cheap.
We have been kinda busy over here – and have somewhat neglected Roam & Home – for a good reason. In April we closed on a 10 acre parcel of land in Michigan, located in the heart of Harbor Country, a 5 minute bike ride to Lake Michigan. We are so excited, but there are many hurdles to overcome before be can actually move / live there. After years of admiring the area and visiting in the Summer months – we have decided that our day jobs are flexible enough to allow us to move there full-time. In doing so we will be opening a Vacation Rental – called the Lesser House. It will hopefully be available in Spring 2016 to take reservations. It will be a year round modern cabin. There will be no musty smells and dodgy bathrooms or doors that are precariously hanging from the hinges. The kitchen will be stocked for a chef ready to cook-up a feast, with real wine glasses and matching silverware that doesn’t bend when you try to use it. After many years of booking vacation rentals in the area and never finding the perfect place – one that allows well-behaved dogs – we decided to turn the cottage on our farm into that rental we always wanted to find.
So follow along to watch the progress and learn more about our new adventures. Wish us luck – we hope we don’t kill each other in the process.