Wall-to-wall carpet…everywhere #697

#697 in a series of true experiences in real estate

White wall to wall carpet covered the floors, old, threadbare, not clean. The carpet started just inside the front door and extended forever to all the rooms save the kitchen. All from the same roll carpeting covered living and dining rooms, hallway, tiny bedrooms and also into the bathroom. I think that was a first for us, the carpet layers just kept going through the bathroom, around the toilet and sink to the edge of the tub.

We were there to talk to the seller about selling. What would her house sell for? What would she need to do to make the house ready? Within a minute or so of our arrival, we were asking what was under the white carpet?

She didn’t know. The carpet was there when she bought the house and she’d never looked underneath, not even in the bathroom. The house had been built 80 or more years prior; for sure the bathroom floor had had tile or linoleum or something more water resistant than carpet.

And so Anet and I got down on our hands and knees and tried to find out what was there. We removed heater vents and pulled up edges; we looked inside closets, too, but could not determine anything except that there were a great many belongings on top everywhere.

The rest of the house had some quite nice features including an open ceiling, the beams painted white, big windows looking out to a wooden deck and views toward a creek. Very nice views from the living and dining rooms, so peaceful, lots of trees and shrubbery, with an open lane down the middle. It reminded me of a beach house, probably because of all the white paint, but actually, with those views across the porch, more a meadow-like house.

Over the next months we talked and planned. The seller found where she wanted to move, a much smaller space. The majority of what she had now would need to go. Deciding, sorting, removing possessions took a very long time. We’d go to visit and find that progress was limited to books in bags marked with friends’ names.

We had inspections done. Now we knew what was wrong with the house, nothing drastic, mostly just old and could use renewal. We collected bids and made lists of possible work that would raise the selling price of the house. But we still didn’t know about the floors, and the floors became our obsession.

We had to know what was under the carpets. We couldn’t find out until the seller was out of the house, until the carpets were removed. Weeks and weeks went by with us making guesses about what to do with those floors. What if there was only a subfloor? Would it make sense to lay wood flooring? Which kind? Laid-in-place wood is the most expensive, plus it takes a couple of weeks. Would it come back to our seller when she sold?

Every day we talked new carpet, engineered flooring, painted subfloor. None of these seemed like the thing to do. Cost to lay traditional strips of wood throughout and finish in place: about $10,000. Better choice than doing the sewer or upgrading the kitchen?

Our seller did eventually get done recycling and contributing. She sold antiques and took boxes of papers to be shredded. There were many items left in the house, in the refrigerator and cupboards, and the garage. We had the last of these dealt with, and finally, finally, the carpets were pulled up from all the rooms, the bathroom first.

We race to see. Very thrilling! The main rooms have old oak random plank flooring. Lots of sprayed white paint on these floors, which must have occurred during the painting of the roof beams and walls, but it looks like it will sand off.

Bathroom has old vinyl, can be covered in new. Bedrooms are linoleum, bad shape, difficult to remove, but carpet in bedrooms will be fine.

So now we have a price for refinishing the wood floors. Now we can decide what else to fix before we offer the house for sale.

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