Plan of Attack

This week it’s going to be the last push to get over The Great Battle of Paperwork that has consumed the last month of my life. I was hoping dive headlong into The Great Battle of Tearing Shit Out of My New House, but apparently the bank and devil appraiser decided they aren’t going to let me off that easy, and that they needed to have some say in the projects I do on my house.

Yes. You read that right. And if you know anything about me, you know that being told what to do ranks just under trying to tell me what I can’t do on the list of activities that will likely result in having a hammer thrown at your head. Guys, most of the time I’m a nice, educated, well-mannered, even-tempered young lady, just as long as you stand the hell back and let me get on with what I’m good at– tearing things down and building stuff. Stand in the way of that and I go a little… um, what’s the phrase I’m looking for here? Oh yeah. Batshit crazy.

Here’s a small example of some of the fun I’ve been having: A couple of weeks ago the house needed to be appraised for lending purposes (perfectly understandable) and because it was owned by some large conglomerate auction company that is located nowhere near here and would simply put the house back up for auction if I didn’t take care of the details of getting the loan approved, I was responsible for getting the house dewinterized (which means getting the water and heat back on) for the appraisal. Since it had been approximately five degrees below freeze-your-ass-off for a while, it was necessary to do coordinate these efforts so that the house could be dewinterized, the utilities checked, the house appraised, and then rewinterized to ensure nothing froze on the same day. That experience went like this:


  • Finalize plan to have plumbers at house to dewinterize Thursday at 08:00 sharp, appraiser to follow at 13:00, well inspection at 15:00, house to be rewinterized the following morning.


  • 0800: House dewinterized. Costs me $450
  • 13:00: No appraiser
  • 14:00: No appraiser
  • 15:00: No appraiser
  • 15:01: Well inspection begins. Septic company that quoted me $800 to inspect system and pump out tanks (on house I don’t own) says the price was to pump a 1500 gallon tank, but because there are two 1000 gallon tanks there will be a $150 upcharge. (Company also calls me back two days later and says they forgot to add the $50 digging fee and need a credit card before they will send the well and septic report into the county.)
  • 16:00: No appraiser. After several frantic calls to the bank, find out that the inspector cancelled the inspection and no one bothered to tell me. Try to set up a new inspection for the following day.


  • Cancel re-winterization. No appraiser. No call from bank. I lose my shit. Ask plumbers to show me how to drain pipes and put antifreeze in toilets without completely re-winterizing. (Cost $250)
  • Finally hear from bank. Apparently the appraisal has been scheduled for Sunday 13:00. No one cares that it will cost me an additional $450 to have the pipes rewinterized and dewinterized again to ensure they won’t freeze without heat for 48 hours in sub-freezing temps.


  • Wake up with 102 degree fever. Borrow space heaters from every person I know and set them up in house to ensure pipes don’t freeze before inspection.


  • 12:00 In fever induced state of delerium, drive to house to turn water back on for appraiser.
  • 13:00 No appraiser.
  • 13:30 Hear from bank that appraiser will be coming at 17:00
  • 13:31 Devise 101 way to kill appraiser. Toss up between stringing her up and shooting her at dawn, or coughing my flu germs all over her face.
  • 15:00 The mythical appraiser actually shows up at house!


  • Plumbers come back to re-winterize. Attempt to charge me an additional $450 dollars for the pleasure.

Here’s why I’m telling you guys all of this. Well, first, to share my pain and frustration, which was considerable and can only be alleviated by thousands of people crying “This is bullshit!” in unison. And second, because if that ordeal hadn’t cost me three days of my time and a fuckload of money, I wouldn’t be nearly so irritated at this:

Here are a look at some of the things she noted (pictures from actual report):


And my favorite…

Debris? Debris? That’s a goddam treasure trove, lady.

For those of you who haven’t had the fun of going through the property appraisal process, there are a few basic ways they can “mark” an appraisal. One is “subject to the following repairs” (in which they list the necessary repairs, and was what happened back on Memorial when I had to reinstall the kitchen cabinets in order to get the loan to tear apart the kitchen and expand it… another experience that tested my sanity) or they can mark it “as is”, which means the current condition of the house is reflected in the appraised value and no repairs are listed.

Since the appraiser (correctly) marked the appraised value “as is”, which was still $40,000 above the purchase price, mind you, there shouldn’t have been a list of repairs included in the report. But since there was, (and despite the fact I’m putting another 20% down on the loan) the underwriter basically started running around with his hands up in the air, screaming “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and the end result is that the bank is going to make me escrow what will probably be an additional $10,000 to make these repairs to the house, and then get it reappraised before they’ll give me my money back.

And since the appraiser has to come back out to the house at some point in the future and verify the repairs are done, that means I can’t do important things like tear this ridiculous bathroom out before I do stupid shit like re-roof the not-leaking donkey shed.

Now, this is all stuff I was going to do eventually anyway, and I’m all about being understanding of people just trying to do their job, but the fact that they already cost me $1700 and four days of my life just to get the appraisal, and are now going to hold a big chunk of my cash hostage so they can determine the order of projects on my house? Let’s just say it doesn’t make me less likely to go to jail for burying someone in the backyard.

And if you can imagine, that’s only a small fraction of the stress and drama I’ve been dealing with in the last four weeks.

However, what I’ve said through this entire process is that I don’t expect things to be easy. I will happily work hard, spend money, wade through piles of shit and paperwork, as long as in the end I get to call The Liberty House home. And I do. Which means the last 1150 words was the final purge of my frustration, and now it’s time to let it go and formulate my plan of attack for getting the necessary work done. For those of you who can’t read the tiny print on the appraisal excerpt (Hi Mom!), that list looks like this:

  1. Scape and paint interior (specifically upstairs full bath ceiling, master bedroom walls)
  2. Repair exterior wood, scrape and paint
  3. Repair or replace cracked window in bedroom
  4. Replace missing windows in basement
  5. Install missing outlet covers
  6. Repair missing guardrail on rear deck
  7. Restain front porch and rear deck
  8. Replace roof on home
  9. Replace roof on outbuilding (aka Future Donkey Barn)
  10. Re-side garage
  11. Remove debris

There are also a few must-do repairs that weren’t on this list, including:

  1. Repair radiator pipes
  2. Replace all improperly winterized (and now broken) faucets
  3. Install new locks on all doors
  4. Remove skylights
  5. Replace window in master bath
  6. Install new garage door on back of garage

Then–after all of that is done, inspected, and approved by the bank– we get in to the first round of cosmetic-ish changes to the house, like:

  1. Remove all carpet
  2. Replace back door
  3. Sand and refinish first floor wood floors
  4. Remove wallpaper
  5. Paint parlor, worlds largest hallway, mudroom, study, and basically every other room in the house
  6. Tear out master bath and at least cap water lines.

And we can’t forget getting ready for the donkeys:

  1. Fence in pasture
  2. Remove junk from inside barn
  3. Repair barn windows
  4. Build stall
  5. Remove concrete floor from stall area
  6. Repair barn spigot
  7. Reseed pasture

The second round of cosmetic changes to the house will probably look something like this:

  1. Rebuild master bath
  2. Install flooring in master bedroom
  3. Tear out closets in study and add built-ins
  4. Tear out cupboard under the stairs in entryway and add in built in shelves
  5. Remove glass block from parlor “doorway” (wait til you see this one the grand house tour, it’s fantastic)
  6. Replace light fixtures throughout house

Then I’ll take like a 15 minute nap and start on fun stuff like building a pergola on the patio, redoing the kitchen, and tearing out another bathroom or two.

While there are a lot of projects on the list of immediate stuff that needs to be done for the bank that I would like to tackle myself, I have to factor in the need to get that stuff done and approved quickly to get my money out of escrow (and because my entire body starts to itch when I think about leaving that carpet in the house longer than necessary) which means I’ve been getting quotes for things like re-roofing the house and siding the garage, and will probably have a crew of people helping me out for the next month or two.

Let the adventure begin!


35 Responses

  1. Um, what? I’ve never heard of repairs being forced to finalize a loan unless it’s an FHA or USDA or construction loan. And even then fucking chipping paint isn’t considered a repair or,in the case of an appraisal, even considered an asset because it’s considered (at least by NC standards) cosmetic and expected upkeep. In essence, it doesn’t add to a value because people expect it to be done. I’m surprised the bank isn’t going to make you abate the house for potential lead based paint due to the age of the house.

    And if this is an auction sale, they didn’t have some bozo they pay a property fee ( I mean, someone had to put out the sign) who should be doing all this shit for you.

  2. Meanwhile, you are a better person than I am, because I would’ve told some people to get bent. Ok, I lie, I would’ve cried, then get pissed off from being told what to do, probably be obstinate for awhile, and then tuck in like you’re getting ready to do.

    Sending sanity your way!

    1. I definitely had one moment on that Friday when the appraiser didn’t show, no one would call me back, and I had to spend more money to get the house re-winterized, where I basically dissolved into a small puddle of tears.

      But like I said, I kept putting it out into the universe that I didn’t expect it to be easy, as long as I got my home in the end. This is a pain in the butt, but so worth it!

  3. i now know why the only people who are buying bank-owned and reo properties are the people who can do so with a pile of cash. the banks unwillingness to provide financing when it’s been appraised above the amount of your mortgage is disgusting. in addition, it’s clear that attitudes like your lender’s (and every other lender out there) are clearly contributing to the slowness of our economic recovery. there must be a reason for them to not want people to invest in the community and bring back these properties so they can live in them (as opposed to slap some paint on them and flip them), but i’m not machiavellian to figure our what their reasons are. your endurance is to be commended!

  4. I’m not sure what it takes to be an appraiser, but I’ve had terrible luck with the ones that are not qualified in some other area as well. My first appraiser was wonderful and hauled out his jumpsuit to poke around in the crawlspaces and attic. My second guy (in a different state) refused to go into the attic *and* I had to point out to him some non-working electrical circuits. Can you guess which one was the retired civil engineer? fwiw, the more crap you can point out during the appraisal process gives ammunition to negotiate a lower sale price (in a traditional purchase situation), since the sellers really really don’t want to put the house back on the market. I’ve also heard on other blogs ( that sometimes the bank will pay you to do work listed on the appraisal; this may be a difference between “bank-owned, sold by realtor” and “bank-owned, sold at auction” ???

    for the life of me I don’t understand why people think it’s okay to cancel appts without telling the other party.

    1. Yes, there’s so much that the sellers would have had to pay for or would have worked in my favor in a traditional sale on this house… but then again they probably would have asked more for it. Doesn’t mean it didn’t frustrate the heck out of me though!

  5. wow. just wow. i have several friends buying houses right now, and i’d thought i’d heard some strange “demands”, mostly painting related when the house was in need of actual real repairs, but your list wins!

    when we bought our house we had to reschedule the city inspection (keep in mind that of course no one told us it was canceled, so we moved forward assuming the inspection had taken place and didn’t find out that it hadn’t until way later). anyway, the city inspector apparently arrived at our house for the first appointment and “didn’t feel like going up stairs”. wha…. what? we have like 4 stairs to the porch, and then it’s just a 2 story house. not that many stairs… but more importantly, isn’t that their job??? that’s like me not working just because i didn’t feel like turning on a computer.

    yikes. people scare me sometimes.

    good luck to you!

  6. That sounds so frustrating! Appraisers and Home inspectors are supposed to help the buyer/lender and while I am sure they aren’t required to ‘have vision’ the same way a diy does – you would think they would have more common sense.

    Requiring you to replace outlet covers and repaint spots on interior walls in order to get a loan??? c’mon! that seems like a person who was trying REALLY hard to look like they were working…

    It reminds me of when buyers on house hunters see a property and all they can say is ‘I really hate the paint color’ Um – the point when buying is to see past the easily changeable personalizations to see the possibilities/ bones / and REAL flaws of a place!

    Anyways good luck! the house seems amazing – and truthfully I think your huge open hall adds so much to the house (one of my least favorite aspects of Victorians is the cramped and narrow entry halls) You lucked out to get an original aspect that reads ‘modern’ in an old house. (I am still trying to figure how to carve a center hall feeling out of our add-on mess of a farmhouse)

    Perhaps you can do a center library table, cover it with large books so you don’t put anything on it – or do a small sitting area of wing-back chairs, or even make a game table area. Or use it to feature a big striped or graphic rug with benches against the wall! If you set the rug a a foot and a half from the wall it should make it read cosier – I love all the outdoor rugs they sell on overstock – totally pet mess proof – I use them in my kitchen.

    anyways good luck on making it through the rest of!

  7. Seems like the bank/bank’s appraiser do not have a Board of Common Sense Why do they care about an outbuilding that the owner is not going to reside in? And the treasure pile of debris? I mean seriously, weren’t those a “hazard” all the while the property was vacant and the bank was responsible? I could go on.

    I congratulate you that the appraiser remains alive and you remain free!

  8. I think you showed admirable restraint in not killing the appraiser – both for the scheduling issues and for the inane list of necessary repairs.

    Good luck with it all and hope you are feeling better!

  9. So, I’m reading through the list of crap that appraiser pointed out and all that runs through my sarcastic brain is, “God bless America.” It’s total insanity. Crossing my fingers that the rest of it goes quickly for you.

    1. That’s about what I said too. And by the way… I LOVE that long rustic sideboard you built that’s on your site! I can’t comment on the post because your blogger settings don’t let me leave a comment with just a name/URL.

  10. Grrr I’m angry at the appraiser for you! I can not believe some of the stuff they are forcing you to do. What a bunch of BS! On the bright side it will all be worth it in the end and you’ll laugh about this someday.

    In your list of things to do I’m assuming you mean you’ll be tearing out the master bathroom after the second appraisal right? I would think reducing the number of bathrooms would hurt you otherwise.

    Keep your chin up Kit!

    1. Yes! So right… I’m not tearing anything out (including gross carpet, and it’s fricking killing me) before the second appraisal. I think technically it’s not an appraisal but just verifying the stuff on the list is done, but I’m not taking any chances!

  11. (a) Debris?!?!
    (b) How could she have taken that photo and not have been totally enchanted/distracted by the beautiful light/view going on beyond said “debris”?
    (c) I vote we rearrange “debris” into some kind of sculptural element so we can pass it off as art. I’m envisioning a modernist cinder block Stonehenge, yes?


    1. If I just let the grass grow over it and turn it into a “meadow” does that count? I was so jealous of all that reclaimed brick you have by your boat house… now I’ve got like 3 pallets of it to move by hand into my barn. That’ll learn me!

  12. There is nothing I hate more than bank people and city inspectors that think we just sit around all day with nothing to do until they decide to appear. I mean, they are all the same. I would like to see how long I stay employed if I just decided when I felt like doing my job. ARGH! I also can’t believe they have a say in what you do. Crazytown.

  13. I would have killed someone at about 1500 on Thursday and by 1300 on Sunday… I always tell people – there will be some snag in buying a house and you never know what its going to be. But your list is pretty ridiculous!

    The bank that owned the Victorian I bought wrote in a $100/day fine if I didn’t close on in 30 days. Then at the last minute THEY lost all of the paperwork somewhere in California and refused to give me the keys until they found it! Two weeks later!! They didn’t pay ME $100/day!!

    But three years later I’m about to finish up yet another bathroom and actually have a working toliet again soon! Laying floor tomorrow.

    1. Yeah, I’ve been in the same boat with the fee. Well actually $300 fee and THEN $100 per day. Plus I had to sign a contract that wasn’t contingent on getting a loan… so that was terrifying.

      Good luck with the flooring!

  14. I absolutely would have coughed on her, spread some germs on a door handle she had to touch. Viral transmission under those circumstances like that is about 100%. I don’t think there is any way I could have restrained myself.

    That you were able to do so, is amazing.

    The appraiser story is amazing. The whole Liberty House story is amazing. I hope it gets fun soon.

    1. Well here’s the only thing that stopped me: If she died, the appraisal might not get turned in on time. lol

      The stories should become more fun and less angst-ridden soon!

  15. Good comments above. Let’s see : : : : : : : FIRST: Get a dumpster. SECOND: Tell your Mom to sharpen her hatchet. THIRD: Have your Mom meet me at the bank. I’ll be the one with the belt-mounted portable chain saw. FOURTH: “Mom” and I will commence a remodel of the Appraiser’s and the Loan Manager’s offices, demanding a $10K escrow deposit to guarantee that they have enough cash to pay us for finishing the job!
    WHERE DOES THE BANKING INDUSTRY FIND THESE CLOWNS????? In my State they would both be behind bars by now for theft, confiscation under false pretenses, and harassment. Gotta quit before I get into trouble. “Chin up, old girl”.

    1. Uncle F – You have been reading my daughter’s blog for a while if you know about my hatchet abilities! (I don’t think it is even on here anymore!)

        1. Not 5 years – just a couple months, while recovering from angioplasty #3 and stent #4. Found the Blog via TFH, and got interested after being just curious. DIYDiva is easy to follow, easy to check older articles/postings, and superbly written! It really helped with my therapy, so thank you for that! I apologize for the inopportune comments above – just blowing off steam. Hope you both had a great weekend, and may St, Patrick himself intercede to give you both a “Happily Ever After”. – Later! F

  16. Kit,
    Congrats on refraining from killing and then burying that woman! Doesn’t seem right its appraised as is and requires repairs to buy! But your list of to do’s has inspired me to get off my rump and get busy on my list of to do’s. I’m a single mom with a 7 year old who has add with anxiety issues and have pages of plans to help simplfy our homes and our lifestyles. Keep up the hard work and thanks for always inspiring!

  17. First don’t blame you appraiser. They are held to a code of this and safety regulations 50 pages long. Lenders don’t want to know what your hose is worth for you, they are looking at what can we sale it for if they default, what kind of work will be needed,
    Missing Out Let cover is a Safety issue. peeling paint depending on the age is a health issue and or deferred maintenance, in other words if theres exposed wood to the elements it will cause damage, The roof shows very much in need of repair,

    Now the appraiser doesn’t make you do this thats up to the lender, the one lending you the money, don’t like the guidelines go to another lender.

    Appraiser have to report what they see others wise its a ethics law breaker .

    If I was a home buyer and not getting a loan, Id thank that appraiser

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.