Monday, February 28, 2011

Our 10-Year To Do List

There's only so much time and money to invest in the home. And, admittedly, our 1-year to do list is pretty agressive. So we've also developed a list of things we want to do in the first decade in Our Care-free Home.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Architect Sketch - Bathroom Concept B

Click on the sketch for a higer-resolution image
of Bathroom Concept B.
This is the second concept from "resident archictect" Doug McChane.

We prefer this concept over Bathroom Concept A, as it features a dual vanity and larger master bathroom.

However, we've opted to place the office in the rear of the home (the back bedroom, not drawn in this sketch), so we'd actually flip the bathrooms around. This would create a guest bathroom in the front of the home,  near the guest bedroom and closer to the living room.

Ideally, we'll make the most of the pantry space and the master bathroom will be perfect for two people. We'll still like some space for a pantry - something that has been omitted in this concept.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Architect Sketch - Bathroom Concept A

Click on the sketch to see a higher-resolution image
of Bathroom Concept A.
The bathrooms in Our Care-free Home are original and hideous. One is Pepto pink, the other is mint green. Both are 50s tile and mirror masterpieces.

We're trying to think of it as a bathroom "evolution"... from our single, tiny condo bathroom to Jack and Jill bathrooms in the new house. From one sink to two, from one mirror to two... even though they're hideous, two is better than one. Right? Riiiight? It's hard to stick with this mindset when you're actually in the bathrooms, unfortunately.

And when looking at the beautiful granite in our current condo bathroom... and the polished sink, stainless faucet, marble tile, pristine toilet... it's impossible to imagine waking up to the Pepto nightmare every morning!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WTF (What the Finance)

For sparing us from at least a dozen
arguments over the past two weeks,
while also getting us a rocking
rate on our loan, I must applaud
PJ Harris at Prime Mortgage.

This week we have learned that we hate the process of financing a home. Actually, hate is an understatement. Detest with the fire of a thousand suns is more accurate.

Between the two of us, Rob and I have easily spent 20 hours finding, filling out and reading documents. And with such a short amount of time until we close, we need to get our financing and insurance affairs in order almost immediately.

The best advice I can offer someone who is looking to finance a home: Hire a mortgage broker that is not only intelligent and trustworthy, but also friendly.

Our 1-Year To Do List

There are numerous things we need to do right away to get the home up to code. (That checklist was provided to us by the city and inspector, ugh!) The list of projects we want to complete within the first year was much more fun to put together... Detailed timeline to come!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just to Get it to Code

Before we live in the home, in order to get it up to code, there are numerous boring and glam-free tasks that we need to take on... like cleaning the entire home, inside and out, top to bottom.

The list seems so boring - we want to get on to the cosmetic fixes right away! But purchasing the home meant purchasing all the annoying things that come with it...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Photos From the Inspection

This afternoon we spent hours walking through Our Care-free Home to understand its current condition. We suspected it needs a lot of work... now we know just how many repairs will be required! Fortunately, the bones of the home are in great shape - the biggest need is cosmetic... and the many window replacements.

We'll share portions of the inspection report with you as time goes on, as well as our growing list of projects. In the meantime, here are photos from the inspection so that you can see it for yourselves.

The interior is fantastic! The home is built from the last of the old growth wood, so it is sturdy and will hold up for years to come. The foundation is also solid - no signs of settling after more than 50 years! The sliding glass doors and glass panes will all need to be replaced... we're hoping to receive a loan for energy improvements and would use it on more efficient walls/windows.

It's Inspection Day!

Go Go Gadget Renovation!
Today we learn just how crazy we are... it's inspection day!

Barring any major structural or mold issues, we are certain we will still want the home after the inspection. We have discussed the dozens of repairs and updates for hours (days!), and we're still head over heels for our Care-free Home. But with our purchase agreement specifically stating (in oh so many ways) that we are solely responsobile for any and all issues with the home if we want to purchase it, the inspection may seem unnecessary...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

An Architect's Sketch of Our Care-free Home

Rob's father is an architect, and he was kind enough to sketch out the layout of our home! It's the first floor only (basement coming soon, Doug?) but it's fantastic to look at! We'll have to frame and hang it after we move in.

We're bringing the sketches with us to inspection day, tomorrow, where we'll document (in perhaps painful detail) the repairs that we'll need to take on. Given the home is a foreclosure, and the seller won't be taking on any of the repairs, the inspection day is solely for our benefit. But it will be good to know what we're getting ourselves into with this home.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

St. Louis Park - Live Where You Work

Rob's office is located in St. Louis Park, so it was a natural option when we were considering where to purchase a home.

Our fantastic mortgage broker, PJ Harris, made us aware of an interesting program offered by the city of St. Louis Park: Live Where You Work. The city partners with employers to offer employees grants up to  $2,500 toward the purchase of a new home. You can get an extra $1,000 if the home is in foreclosure.

Exciting New Ways to Build With Aluminum (1957) Featuring Our Care-Free Home

In October, 1957, Better Homes and Gardens magazine produced a muli-page spread on the wonders of building with aluminum... and the spread featured the Alcoa Care-Free Home! Each home is slightly different (there are ~24 around the country) but many of the features and design elements are consistent.

Photo credit: Steven / spf237 on Flickr, owner of a beautifully remodeled Alcoa Care-free Home in Rochester, NY. You can check out a blog post on the renovation of his home at Retro Renovation.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who was Architect Charles M. Goodman?

Charles M. Goodman (1906-1992)
Photo Credit:
From the Charles M. Goodman Archive Webpage at the Library of Congress Bicentennial Website

"Architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson has written that architect Charles M. Goodman was 'A figure of international stature' whose 'impact can scarcely be measured' and whose designs 'formed the basis of the generic Modern American house and school, widely imitated in every part of the country.' Moreover, Goodman believed that 'modern technology and materials gave the architect a new responsibility. For him, good design could influence how people live and how they relate to Nature . . . The result was a body of architecture of great distinction that captured Americans’ imagination for many years...'

More Photos of the House

Photo Credit: and

The view of the house from Westwood Hills Drive. We have a half-acre of beautiful yard to enjoy!

Photos from Outside the Home

The front of the house - the aluminum siding will eventually be repainted and the grills washed. We could also use a walkway to the house... but we love the big yard!

Apartment Therapy Article on the Home

This article from the Apartment Therapy website provides some great pictures that show the state the home is in today. It's going to require a lot of work - but that is exactly what we were looking for in a home!

The 1958 Alcoa Care-Free Home Brochure

Article from MinnPost on the Care-free Home

MinnPost - Audio report: Unique 1950s home on the auction block

This article from Todd Melby at MinnPost includes a photo tour and audio report on the Alcoa Care-free home in St. Louis Park. Soon it will be ours!

Welcome to Our Home!

We've decided to purchase the "Care-Free Home" in St. Louis Park, MN! The home was built in 1958 by architect Charles M. Goodman for the Alcoa Aluminum Company.

Our offer was accepted and our financing has been approved, so it's nearly a done-deal! Join us at this blog as we go through what is sure to be 10+ years of updates to our dream home.

The cover of the 1958 Alcoa Care-free Home sales brochure.