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Old 03-13-2021, 05:02 PM   #121
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Originally Posted by imnontrad View Post
Sit down and start brainstorming what you want, and do not want in a home.
Some things to consider is the availability of public transportation, appropriate medical care (and ensure they will take new patients on Medicare), a Senior Center or groups with activities you like to do, places you would like to eat plus grocery stores that carry items you want, distance to an airport to travel/visit relatives, if there is a local college where you can attend events or even take classes for little/no fee.
Some long term things could be a house with hallways wide enough to accommodate a walker/wheelchair, a separate "in-law" apartment for an in-home caretaker or relatives visiting, an entry without steps (for you or friends), and whether the home would be easy to manage after one spouse dies.
Thank you Imnontrad. I like the idea of a separate apartment for a future caretaker. I have noticed that almost none of the houses we've seen online have accomodations for wheelchairs, should we need one someday. I'd like to have one of those roll-in showers.
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Old 03-13-2021, 05:24 PM   #122
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We thought it would be great to age within walking distance of the medical area in our city - but we didn't think about the sirens that need to drive past our street all day and night, nor the mentally ill homeless who are discharged from the ER and remain in the neighborhood.
I know the feeling, hindsight is 20/20. Once we go through an unpleasant experience, we will at least attempt to prevent a reoccurrence. I do appreciate the tip about the ambulance sirens being part of the package deal of living real close to a hospital. I used to think I wanted to live in between the fire station and hospital to better my chances in case of a medical emergency or fire. Never would have thought about the mentally ill homeless people being discharged from the ER. It makes perfect sense because they are the ones who use the ER as their doctor's office.

This reminds me of my first real j*b out of college. Headquarters, where I work*ed, was located between the city police station and jail and a subway station. Several times a year either a person being released from jail and walking to the subway, or someone taking the subway and walking to the police station to visit a friend in jail, would steal an employee's car out of the parking lot.
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Old 03-13-2021, 05:31 PM   #123
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I remodeled the current home with a walk in/roll in shower. It is OK but the next (last) house will be an improvement on each detail that I can remember.
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Old 03-13-2021, 06:47 PM   #124
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I have to deal with wood-burning smell intrusion, as well: I'm guessing the air intake for my high-eff. HVAC is the source for most of the smoke smell getting in.
We have a very tightly constructed house and I have taken additional steps to prevent smoke infiltration (many of these are an inconvenience), and the smoke still gets in. It behaves like a gas.

1. Applied plastic over the face of our direct vent gas fireplace (it has an air leak I can't identify to fix).
2. Sealed with plastic sheeting and packing tape the grills of each of our 3 bathroom exhaust fans. To use the fan I use a 4 foot step ladder to reach the grill and I pull straight down to open it to the fan servicing position.
3. Sealed the kitchen range vent (in the bottom of the overhead microwave oven) and top side microwave vents using aluminum foil and scotch tape and applied clear caulk at all seams where the cabinets meet the microwave oven. This means we can't use the gas cook stove because it adds carbon dioxide and uses oxygen. So we are using an electric skillet, hot plate, and the microwave oven. About one day a week we are without wood smoke long enough so I can remove the aluminum foil and use the stove.
4. We only use the clothes drier when the smoke level is very low. The drier depressurizes the house and draws air in through the few cracks I can't find.
5. Limit furnace use on nights when an atmospheric inversion is present (we are in a valley, which magnifies the problem). Which are most nights we are not experiencing a due west wind from the wood burners. We have a condensing furnace that draws combustion air from outside, so that prevents bringing in more smoke. The problem is the heat exchangers in the furnace reburn the wood smoke particles because they are in the house air and furnace return air. This makes the most acrid and obnoxious smells and volatile organic compounds imaginable.
6. On Christmas Eve I installed a Honeywell electrostatic precipitator air cleaner in the furnace return just before the fan. I clean and wash it daily.
7. Don't take showers and limit hot water use when outside smoke levels are high. We have a "powervent" natural gas water heater that does not take combustion air from the outside (the fan it has forces exhaust through a pvc pipe out the side of the house), this when it's on, it depressurized the house and will draw in smoke.
8. Applied caulk anywhere I find cracks or openings, such as windows and molding.
And others I can't think of at the moment.

I monitor outside and inside smoke levels (particulate counts) using PurpleAir AQI sensors (laser particulate counters). I can keep the inside 2.5 micron and smaller particulates (the dangerous stuff) very low with the electronic air cleaner, but there is no practical method to remove the volatile organic compounds. Those are what make our life miserable. Since we are bathed in rancid/acrid wood smoke (the poor local woodburner cuts off the air to his stove to control heat output), the stove white smokes all the time and makes really toxic compounds. The VOCs impregnate everything in our house and after a while I can no longer smell them, but bitter things will taste exceptionally bitter and be inedible (grapefruit and coffee for example). That's how I judge how bad the VOCs are.

So, this wood smoke issue has been ruling our lives and I have spent countless hours thinking about it and trying to apply technical solutions to make it through the heating season. Both DW and I are exhausted from it, it's caused lots of anxiety and it's making us ill. That's how bad it is; just about the worst thing that's ever happened to us. This experience prompted me start this thread.
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Old 03-13-2021, 07:23 PM   #125
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[...]So, this wood smoke issue has been ruling our lives and I have spent countless hours thinking about it and trying to apply technical solutions to make it through the heating season. Both DW and I are exhausted from it, it's caused lots of anxiety and it's making us ill. That's how bad it is; just about the worst thing that's ever happened to us. This experience prompted me start this thread.
You're right - - you need to move out of there, ASAP!!! This is no way to live. Sorry you are going through this and I hope you can find another house quickly that will not cause you such difficulties.
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:10 PM   #126
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These aren't not-so-obvious, but important - especially for pre-'80s homes:

1) Grounded/3-prong wiring. A lot of homes have 3-wire covers placed on 2-wire outlets, so buying a tester can save you future headaches - many houses have daunting hurdles to re-wiring them.

2) Look for the possibility of aluminum wiring. Some insurers won't touch homes with it - even if it has been "pig-tailed" by a pro electrician.

3) If buying in an area without basements, a camera inspection of the sewer line is critical. The work to repair a line - when there's no basement floor to dig up - can be a huge hassle.

Happy hunting!
Thanks clubmanstl. So noted. For #3, I take it the costly sewer line replacement applies to concrete slab, as opposed to a foundation construction, or are both problematic?
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:18 PM   #127
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+1
This turned out to be an issue for us. We had never lived in a “resort” area popular for vacations and didn’t realize how noisy and crowded it can be on weekends. It’s supposed to be regulated by the city but managing complaints about short term rentals has become a overwhelming issue for them. While landlords may be on the winning end of that financially (as they advertise “PARTY HOUSE”), it reduces the quality of life for residents when its high volume.

I wish we had realized how much noise all manner of motorized desert fun (OHV, motocross bikes, ATVs, etc) make as they roar by your house, always at full throttle on their way out to the dunes. So, keep that in mind for any area advertised as an “outdoor playground”.

Otherwise we really like where we are. I can paddle board at dawn at two places within a 10 minute drive and hike with my dogs on at least 30 trails with spectacular scenery all within an hours drive. Theres also over 100 miles of bike paths in the area.

So, it’s always a balance to get what you want and abide the rest. We are currently researching some sound reducing windows...

ETA: we turned out to be in a great place to ride out the pandemic and continued to enjoy outdoor activities all year. If we move in the future, we will review how the area fared in the pandemic. This brings together a lot of factors; area population density, local and state strategy and response, how a community did or didn’t come together to support each other, etc.
Thank you Blueskyk. One of the places under consideration is the Lake Norman, NC area near Charlotte. I would imagine renting first for a year would be a good idea to see if a specific are near the lake was acceptable.
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:27 PM   #128
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Quick list. Where is the current dump and prior landfills? Toxic waste sites? Critical if on well water. Are utilities above or below ground? If septic are there plans for a central water treatment you will have to connect to? Just ask the folks in Malibu! How reliable is the electrical service? Can be related to above or below ground utilities. Local internet speeds (went from fiber at 180Mbps to 10 on last move). and cell phone connections? You might have to change carriers.. Access to shopping and delivery... recent pandemic showed that our house had zero grocery delivery options and almost no food delivery options.
Thank you Retired Expat, including these on my list. Sorry you can't get grocery deliveries. That is the one thing we do have that works well (Walmart delivery) and we use it all the time. I also do curbside pick up at the local Martin's grocery. Good cell phone service is the other thing that we have.
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Old 03-13-2021, 09:07 PM   #129
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Our last 2 homes were new construction. One on a huge secluded lot and this one on a tiny lot in a development.

We knocked on doors to ask residents how they liked their homes and the neighborhood. Went on Facebook at sent private messages to whomever we could find that lived there also. We researched info. on the builder and of course, the whole area.

I recommend driving around to see what is around your house. We didn't realize there was a motorcycle camp directly behind our home. Talk about noise in summer/fall! Plus no noise ordinance and they love their fireworks here!

There are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood. I love dogs but our neighbor has one that barks continually when they leave her alone.

We had an inspector come when we bought the house and also at the end of the first year (that is when the builders punch list contract expired).

Location of stores, hospital, health care, activities, etc. Safety of the area, Check out the HOA if there is one- how are their reserves? Rules? What is allowed regarding rentals? How are the schools? Taxes? Ages of the people in your development? How much maintenance is involved?

Cell service? Internet/cable service? A lot of power outages? Will you need a generator? What's the water like? Cost if municipal? What are the taxes and the utility rates?

Where's the fire dept., the police? Places of worship? organizations/clubs? Cultural venues? Restaurants? Airport?

What is the fuel? How much is the average cost? Sewer r septic? Dry well? Flood issues? How is the lot sloped? Can you expect water in the basement because of it?

Keep in mind there is no perfect house or area.There are always compromises you have to make in some way. Especially in this real estate market.

In the house, how many amps for electrical? How is the water heated? Will the layout work and will your furniture fit? Is there enough storage? Get at least 2 bathrooms. Does it have central air? Enough water spigots outside? Enough electrical outlets inside and out? Insulation? Lots of natural light inside through the windows?

Oh- and home insurance and car insurance rates! And don't forget radon testing if prevalent in the area!
Wonderful; lots of good stuff, thank you Meleana. I particularly like contacting people in the potential new neighborhood via Facebook. Very clever. Yes, driving around the area is important. Also, I study the Google Maps Satellite View as part of my pre-visit research and many times, finds something unacceptable nearby. I can not tell you how many times I see a home for sale online in a rural (or sometimes suburban) relatively new neighborhood and one street over (maybe 200 to 400 feet) and outside of the neighborhood, are a bunch of old, rundown houses with trash, other crap and rusted out cars littering the property; landfills within half a mile, or less; likewise for quarries, railroad mainlines, manufacturing facilities; and a little further away sewage treatment and coal-fired power plants. One area we looked at had a nuclear reactor near by! Regional airports are also problematic, being about 20 miles apart, there are lots of them! Builders build neighborhoods anywhere the local jurisdiction allows and where farm owners are willing to sell. Builders and the local government pay no attention to the potential impact the local community has on the people that buy these new homes (and I'm sure it works both ways, where the locals don't like the increase in population or to see people move in that are more well to do than they are, and have these nice new big homes).
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Old 03-13-2021, 09:15 PM   #130
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I discovered much to my dismay, that over the block wall in back of our garage was a DIY car wash. These jacka$$es would have their music turned up while they dried their cars.
Also they would beat the living daylights out of their floor mats.
Oh my, sorry you are subjected to this! And this crap affects us a lot more than the majority people around us (the unfortunate ones who still wo*k because they have to) because many of us ERs are home for a greater percentage of the time.
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Old 03-13-2021, 10:05 PM   #131
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Wow, it's amazing to read this thread and see how many things could be a problem! Nearly everything one could think of has already been mentioned.

When I bought this house, I had already "researched" the neighborhood in a sense; Frank lives next door, and had for 11 years so I been over there nearly every day and knew all about the neighborhood (and liked it). Another factor that I discovered is that the joy of living next door to one's sweetie can compensate for some fairly minor stuff.

I guess I can contribute the idea of thinking about the landscaping, and how much it may cost to change it to the yard you want. My yard was literally a jungle, very unkempt with several of the most gigantic water oaks around plus scads of other trees and bushes not to mention wildlife. I am more of a "nothing but grass" kind of gal. I knew I'd have to have the jungle removed in order to be happy. So, I mentally added my own estimate of the cost to have all that removed, to the cost of the home when deciding on my offer. Then right after I moved in I had the yard re-landscaped, re-graded, and new dirt and sod brought in, not to mention all new concrete work, and so on. That was costly but worked out nicely, because it was an expected expense and I got what I wanted.

Think about the laundry room; is it too small? New, oversized HE washers and dryers can be larger than washers and dryers that people bought 50 years ago. In my case the dryer door hits the wall when less than fully open, and it's impossible to get my laundry cart past the dryer to the washer. We figured out a makeshift way to deal with the problem, sort of. I could tear down walls but this is easier. It would have been nice if the laundry room had just been a foot wider.

Are there plans to re-do the street? That can go on for months or years and could be annoying. They were tearing up our street when I moved in, and it was tricky to get the moving van to my house. But they finished just a week or two afterwards so I haven't had to deal with it since then.
Thank you W2R. Good stuff; adding it to my list.
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Old 03-14-2021, 08:25 AM   #132
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... I particularly like contacting people in the potential new neighborhood via Facebook. Very clever. ...
I would caution you to take what you see on such a Facebook group with a grain of salt. We have a town Facebook group. The complainers are prolific (and so often petty). Those who are just quietly enjoying our town do not often post about that.
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Old 03-14-2021, 08:32 AM   #133
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Good point Gumby; thanks.
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Old 03-14-2021, 08:56 AM   #134
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You're right - - you need to move out of there, ASAP!!! This is no way to live. Sorry you are going through this and I hope you can find another house quickly that will not cause you such difficulties.
Thanks W2R.

Even though this is our second winter in the house, the first one was just bearable. It seems to 5 times worse this winter. Not sure why, the weather patterns were similar. Early this summer I got a hint something was amiss. The County increased our house assessment by about 15%. To see if this increase was inline with my neighbors' reassessments, I accessed the County online real estate records. Each residential property record includes the sales history. I noticed that beginning 4 houses down from me and ending 3 houses up from me on my side of the street, all 7 properties (mine included) in a row changed ownership within the last two years. I checked sales records for the rest of the 55 or so houses on my side of the street and perhaps 5 changed ownership within the last 2 years. Many had their original owners. The house directly across the street changed owners too. I was concerned to the point of Googling on superfund sites in the area. Found nothing.

Through this experience, the number 1 thing I now check before I ever leave my recliner for any house I am interested in going to see for possible purchase is the land records of at least 10 of the closest properties to see how many recently changed owners. If several did change owners, it won't tell you what the problem is, but will indicate there most likely is a problem of the type and size that you don't want to live in that house.
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Old 03-14-2021, 10:01 AM   #135
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My next door neighbor did just that, bought several acres in West Virginia and is having a house built.

In the states we are looking in only about 5% of the houses are in non-HOA neighborhoods, probably because they are in newer neighborhoods.
This is a double edged sword.
We have 1.25 acres, in an area with mixed 1.25 and larger lots. 25 years we have listened to neighbors come and go, some of them really not caring about making noise till late in the evening. Their idea of no HOA means loud music and riding ATV's with aftermarket exhausts till the sun goes down.
We really have enjoyed our place, but we are more amenable to a community with 2.5 acre lots and covenants that say take your ATV to the local trails, please.
It might cost us a bit, but it would combine the large lot privacy with peace and quiet.
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Old 03-14-2021, 11:44 AM   #136
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So, this wood smoke issue has been ruling our lives and I have spent countless hours thinking about it and trying to apply technical solutions to make it through the heating season. Both DW and I are exhausted from it, it's caused lots of anxiety and it's making us ill. That's how bad it is; just about the worst thing that's ever happened to us. This experience prompted me start this thread.
You're right - - you need to move out of there, ASAP!!! This is no way to live. Sorry you are going through this and I hope you can find another house quickly that will not cause you such difficulties.
Thanks W2R.

Even though this is our second winter in the house, the first one was just bearable. It seems to 5 times worse this winter. Not sure why, the weather patterns were similar.
It doesn't matter why, and it doesn't even matter whether it is the wood smoke you mentioned, or something else. I sense that you are telling the honest truth about its effects on you, and really you just can't live like this! Nobody can. We're all human.

Exhaustion and anxiety to the level that they are making you physically ill, is an alarming situation that could shorten your life expectancy, lead to a car accident, a bad fall, or who knows what. In my opinion your situation could be considerably more dangerous than just a lessening of your quality of life.

My suggestion would be to move out of there to a rental somewhere (even in another area if that is more feasible) and put the house on the market ASAP. Like, this month.
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:22 PM   #137
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My suggestion would be to move out of there to a rental somewhere (even in another area if that is more feasible) and put the house on the market ASAP. Like, this month.
I'd try to sell it in the summer, when the neighbor doesn't have his wood stove going.
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:34 PM   #138
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I'd try to sell it in the summer, when the neighbor doesn't have his wood stove going.
Well, OK, but at least he could get out of there now. A couple of months' extra rent wouldn't kill him from what I can tell. It's hard to know (since I'm not there) but reading his posts, I am increasingly concerned about his situation. Maybe I'm overestimating their distress living in that location, but then again it doesn't sound like it.
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Old 03-14-2021, 08:06 PM   #139
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I'd try to sell it in the summer, when the neighbor doesn't have his wood stove going.
That's the plan. Also, there will be leaves on the trees and there is a small clump of woods between our house and the highway. Anyone looking at the house will know about the highway because you enter the neighborhood from the highway. It just helps to not have an visual reminder the house is 300 feet from it. The noise actually is not too bad, it bothers DW modem than I.

The other option if we have not found a place is to rent somewhere else during the heating season and sell the following year.
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Old 03-14-2021, 08:20 PM   #140
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A standard home inspection won't include a TV inspection of the sewer line. I'd suggest if a house is really in the running and hooked to sewer and is more than 40 years old, get it done. I do these repairs for my company. Most of the problem is older pipe, concrete, Orangeburg. The municipalities are not doing as much as they used to, so homeowners are left with the bill all the way out to the curb and beyond.
If the inspection finds problems you can negotiate that in the price.
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