Tuesday, September 8, 2015


At the end of February, I had to leave Mexico and return to the United States to face my responsibilities. In 2013, I had left to go cruising without having remodeled my house or sold my boat and extra sports car.  In addition, my partner Scott’s stepfather had passed away in January and his mother had moved from Iowa to an assisted living facility close to us.  It was time to come home and face the music.
Installing the Sliding Door

As soon as I returned home, I spoke with the design build firm that was supposedly going to
The Neighbors Liked The New Door
do my remodel.  They had been talking to the building department and the news was bad.  We had been unable to afford to build the structure our first architect had designed because a second story required tearing down the entire house and starting over because of earthquake requirements.  Plan B had been to build a detached garage with a rental unit above it and expand the rear bedroom into a master suite.  While the city had embraced a second unit above the garage when it was part of the main structure, they would not approve a rental unit above a detached garage.  The detached garage and expanded master suite also resulted in structures covering too large a percentage of the lot.  We were just not able to make the existing property work for us.  I renewed my search for a new house.

Bathroom During Demolition
Quartz Shower Surround
New Cabinet, Toilet and Vanity

I had been looking for a new house on and off for a couple of years, since I knew it would be cheaper than constructing what we wanted.  The problem was that I wanted to stay in the downtown area of Benicia and there were few properties with more than a two car garage.  We needed at least three.  Meanwhile, I started preparing my home for sale.  I replaced the shabby french doors and all the rotten fascia boards and had the carport rebuilt.  I had the exterior re-stuccoed and replaced the window trim with a more modern design.  Then I started remodeling the main bathroom.  About that point I found the perfect garage and it came with a pretty nifty house.  The two two-car garages allowed us to get all of our belongings out of storage and still have room to set up a shop.  I would even be able to park a car indoors.  The house had room for each of us to have an office and still have space for me to have a painting studio/sewing room.  The escrow closed at the end of May, but we didn’t move in until the end of June because the previous owners stayed an extra month.  I finished remodeling the bathroom and replaced the very 1950s clapboard siding on the covered porch with slate tile.

New Slate Tile on Porch Wall
After the Paint Job was Complete
Once we got all of our extra furniture (we had gone from three houses to one) and junk out of the old house, I staged it inside and then hurried to paint the exterior.  The old house went on the market at the end of July.  I sold it in under a week for $15K over asking price.  All my work had paid off, but I was exhausted.  The thirty days until closing were occupied with organizing the new house and clearing out the old one.  By the time the escrow closed, I had been at home for six months and was ready to get out of Dodge.  Purchasing a new, larger home had left me strapped for cash, so an exotic adventure was out of the question.  I had wanted to drive across country and visit New Orleans and Florida, but I was studying for my certificate to teach English as a second language and, by the time the escrow closed on my old house, I only had two and a half weeks before class started again.  I decided to take a somewhat quirky tour of the southwestern United States.

Two Garages!
Most people taking of tour of the southwest would hit the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Arches.  I had already been to those places.  I wanted to go to the places I had never seen before.  Capitol Reef was a new park when I visited in the early 1990s and there was hardly anyone there.  Since then, the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument had been opened and I wanted to check it out.  I also wanted to visit the Hopi mesas, Canyon de Chelly, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Taos, Santa Fe, White Sands, as well as visiting friends in Marina del Rey, Prescott, AZ, and Meadview, AZ.  It would be somewhat of a mad dash if I were to accomplish it all in two and a half weeks.
The New House

No comments:

Post a Comment