Are you ready for house three on our house hunting trip? And since it's Halloween, we'll even give you a little Halloween twist we experienced while we were looking at this house.

But before we get started, we're going to make a slight change to our game. I know in the intro post about our second house we mentioned sharing three homes that we looked at, but that was a mistake, or at least a misprint.

All along Wendy and I have been planning to share four houses with you, but I referenced three houses rather than sharing four (House Hunters on the brain). So apparently, I lied. But I will remedy this by now going back on what I said and instead sharing four houses. Take that, journalistic integrity.

Yes, this is the advantage we get by not needing to fit this into a 30 minute television show. It does mean you'll ultimately not know which house for a bit longer, but it's not like we're getting behind on filling you in on anything important. It just means the tease goes on for a few more days by way of one more house that we'll share next week. But we hope you like the fourth house enough to forgive us.

Okay, on with the show, let's take a look at house number three.

The third house we have on our list of solid contenders is an early 20th century home with four bedrooms and three baths.

This house, an all white wood clapboard American foursquare, definitely has quite a bit of exterior charm and character, including a very large and welcoming wrap around porch.

The really interesting thing about this house is that the "front" of the house is actually in the back of the property, which means the porch has a great view of the nice open water and property's shoreline. This a rarity in an early 20th century home.

One very nice thing about this property is the work an owner has done to add riprap (the boulders and fabric lined backfill at the water's edge) and other erosion protection via a "natural shoreline" project.

As we've been looking for a house on the water we've learned quite a bit about riprap, sea grasses, piers, pilings, erosion, protected land, flood planes, and the various other maintenance items that need to be accounted for when caring for a waterfront home. It's mind boggling but seemingly manageable.

Beyond the great views, this home is very spacious. The main living level has a single fireplace with wood burning stove on the edge of the living room, plenty of windows to let in a lot of natural light, and large French doors that look out over the water.

The house's kitchen looks to have been updated in the mid to late 1990s and is very workable in its current state, but could also use quite a bit of work to update the aesthetic to what we're looking for in a kitchen. The general floor plan though is quite nice with a good flow from room to room.

Like the living room, the dining area, which is open to the kitchen, has a set of French doors that look out over the porch and water. While there are no walls of windows, for a place that is over 100 years old, the house definitely has some pretty great views of the water, both from inside and outside.

By far one of the nicest features of the house's interior is the home's main hallway and staircase with big chunky moulding, a large handrail, and a beautiful newel post. The walls are plaster, cracked, and bumpy, the floors a bit torn up, patched, and damaged, and paint has been splattered on unpainted wood surfaces left and right, but this is Wendy's chance at that "Christmas staircase" (one that can be decorated for the holidays with fresh greens, garlands, ribbon and more) she's always wanted.

The second floor is split into a front and back living section with three bedrooms up front, including the master bedroom...

...with ensuite bathroom.

There are more great water views from the second floor that give a good view of the shoreline project I mentioned.

The opposite side of the hallway has two guest rooms (one with great water views), and each has a very small closet. One even has an old mantel on the wall where I assume a furnace once stood and hooked into chimneys that have long since been removed.

The guest bathroom sits just at the top of the stairs and includes an original cast iron clawfoot tub that's in relatively good shape. Perhaps if we buy this house, Wendy won't mind if we don't finish our master bathroom project in our house for several more years. I mean, we'd have a whole other house with a clawfoot tub. Right? I mean, right?

The back living space from the house is accessible through the kitchen and includes a downstairs living area with full bathroom and an upstairs bedroom area that's accessible by a back staircase.

There's also a great staircase above the main staircase that leads up to the home's third floor attic, which has been largely converted to a living space with additional storage beyond the beadboard walls.

One thing you may have noticed about this house is the ample number of window units to cool the big old space. You see, this house has no central air. Thus far this has been a theme for the house's we've looked at, and it's a bit intimidating.

All in all it's a really nice house with an amazing porch, a wonderful view, some great historic charm, and a lot of original details. But it's also a very large house that needs a good bit of updating, some major work on the HVAC, and ongoing yard and garden maintenance.

Alex's take: You know me, I love a good project, and this seems like it could be just that. While the house isn't that 18th century colonial farm house I dream of, it is a century home, and it still has a lot of its original charm and character. The windows and exterior doors have all been replaced, which is a major bummer, but the floors are largely intact and a good portion of the interior doors, plaster, and mouldings seem to be original. 

The photos do a good job of masking many of the problems that you tend to see up close and in person. From cracked textured walls and ceilings to tired bathrooms and kitchen cabinets, but like I said, that's okay with me, I can sleep when I'm dead (as a previous commenter said on an earlier post).

While there aren't any outbuildings, and no basement means no large permanent wood shop/project area, there's no reason we couldn't add one down the road. The lack of central AC is also s pretty big downer and something costly that would eventually need to be tackled. As I see it, every room needs some sort of minor to major attention, but the whole house is still very livable for the time being. If we're willing to take one another big project (and I totally am), this might be the one for us.

I just can't help but picture hanging out on the porch with friends and family, watching the boats go by or learning how to crab off of the pier. I feel like the view and orientation of the house looking out over the water give this house something unique that would make it great in any season.

Wendy's Take: Christmas staircase? Check. Claw foot tub? Check. Water views? Check. A floor plan that will function well for entertaining large groups? Check. When looking at my list of desired features, this house does a great job of ticking the boxes. I really like the look of the home, and think it's a good compromise between Alex's list and mine. 

To echo his point though, the pictures do gloss over a lot of items that need to be addressed. We'd have to have all of the floors refinished (though they look great in the photos), think about removing that funky half wall in the living room in order to have the floor plan I'd like, take on the cost and headache of adding central AC, repair and repaint a large percentage of the molding and plaster, and the yard seems to be ripe for snakes (auughh!!). And for the record Alex, having a tub in this house does NOT eliminate the need of installing the claw foot tub in our bathroom at home, despite what storing ours in the basement for over a decade might make one believe.

Halloween Twist

As I mentioned at the start of the post, given that it is Halloween and we like to tell ghost stories on Halloween, we wanted to share something a little bit odd that happened while we were looking at this house. 

After walking through the house and looking in all of the rooms, Wendy and I were talking with the agent in one of the downstairs rooms, Wendy shot me a wide eyed look. You know, the sort of look that only a spouse can really notice and immediately understand that something had happened. At first I thought I had said something rude or inappropriate, so I started wracking my brain to figure out what would have garnered that response. As Wendy's stare went back to a more normal and less alarmed state, I didn't think much of it. 

About 10 minutes or so later we got into our car and began discussing the house as we drove away. That's when Wendy said, "Did you see when I shot you that look when we were talking with the agent?" 

As a mature adult I responded, "Yeah, what was up with that? Did you hear a fart or something?" 

Clearly amused with my immaturity, and so thankful she had chosen me as her spouse until death do us part, she said "No...Did you hear a voice that wasn't one of the three of our voices there talking?"

Sensing that Wendy had actually heard something, or at least thought she had heard something, I said, "No, I didn't hear anything other than us, but I was in the middle of talking when you shot me the glare. What did you hear?"

Wendy sheepishly but directly said, "I know this is crazy, but I heard a voice from right behind me clearly whisper in my ear, "Happy Birthday." You didn't hear it at all?"

Given that this was neither of our birthdays, who knows what it was, perhaps someone celebrating a birthday at some point in the house? It could have been any number of things, maybe even something that one of us said that just sounded a little different, but Wendy's face had told me everything. It wasn't major, wasn't a poltergeist or other major spirit flicking lights and closing doors, but it was enough to make the little hairs on the back of Wendy's neck stand up for a minute or two. 

So what do you think? Does this house seem like one we should go for, what with all of it's space, projects, views, porch, and possible spirits? Or do you think this is just too much to take on, too big, too many things that need to be done, and too overwhelming? 

Comments 18


Joey Joe Joe
10/31/2014 at 10:44 AM
This is the one you got, isn't it. The best one so far!
10/31/2014 at 10:50 AM

Please get this house! This is my favorite so far, and I would love to see you guys restore this home.

Holly Laway
10/31/2014 at 11:00 AM
For sure this one! A classic :)
10/31/2014 at 11:01 AM

Ahhhh this is Alex's forerunner for sure!

10/31/2014 at 11:02 AM

I can't believe you didn't pick this house! (or did you and we have to guess after the fourth one is show? I was assuming the last one shown would be the one you pick).

This house has it hall, enough cosmetic refinishing to restore it without it being headachy.

The AC isn't a really big deal. You must be spoiled with your HVAC system. I'm on the East Coast not too far from you (nationally speaking) and I have all window units in my one and only home, even though I do have central heating. It's just expensive and haven't gotten to it yet. You can use those mitsubishi ductless AC units in houses without existing duct work if you don't want that project hassle. Also this house has the best view yet and closest to water, I bet you'll hardly have to use air conditioning during the summer because the water breezes will suffice.

10/31/2014 at 1:32 PM

I call it, this is the one!!!!!!!!!!!

10/31/2014 at 1:49 PM

Oh, this one is by far my favorite, although, the voice Wendy heard is disconcerting... but hey, I could see a possibility of capitalizing on renovating a haunted house! I don't think HGTV has picked up on that yet...
BTW, I want to thank you Alex for taking the time to write the post on replacing your water heater and the issues you all experienced. Our H20 heater is in our attic, and your post motivated me to go up in the attic and check it for leaks. Wouldn't you know there was water in the pan! We upgraded to a tankless - eco smart brand. We do not have natural gas in our neighborhood, so electric it was. It has only been two weeks, but we are very happy with the output of hot water. I am interested in seeing what our electric bill will be on the next cycle, but the peace of mind of having tankless vs. a huge tank of water in the attic waiting to explode is priceless!

10/31/2014 at 1:50 PM

My fave so far, as well. Seems like enough projects to keep you guys going, and I love the orientation! And the ghost mantle in the guest room.

10/31/2014 at 3:06 PM

Alex, this line of thinking: "Perhaps if we buy this house, Wendy won't mind if we don't finish our master bathroom project in our house for several more years." virtually ensures that you will be living here all by yourself.

This is my favorite house so far, but not having central air would be a deal-breaker for me, unless it could be retro-fitted within your budget. I'm not sure if this is Maryland or Virginia, but here in Virginia, the summers are UNBEARABLE. Although, Californians have some very unobtrusive units in their homes - mounted high in the wall rather than the window - maybe that's an option? OK, now I'm waiting for next week.

10/31/2014 at 4:29 PM

If this isn't the house, then the one you pick must be the next one and it must be utterly amazing ... maybe the twin of this one but with a walk-out basement.

Seriously, it's hard to believe you'd pick something else. AC can be added or you could use modern, efficient, low profile units because those are reasonably good for a place you don't live in full-time.

It has projects for you but it's not falling down or a disaster (but always wait for the inspector, yes?). It has water, and a view, and great guest space, and gardens can be turned into low-maintenance.

You can hunt for period doors. Play with wall plaster, Update the bathrooms. You know how to do all these things. If not this house, then what more do you want?

10/31/2014 at 4:32 PM

Well, I'm going to provide a dissenting voice. I like the houses (so far) in the order presented -- first one most, then second, and this one is my least favorite. CA/C can (and should) be added but that's not the issue. The hipped roof and third floor gable say American Foursquare but the downstairs configuration is center hall colonial. A true Foursquare would give Wendy the gorgeous staircase that she's looking for rather than this one which isn't that different than what's in your house.

I don't have any problem visualizing changes but this house just doesn't seem that charming or potentially so. It is kind of sterile and blah, at least to me. (Sorry if you picked this one as everyone is guessing; I'd better reserve final judgment!)

I guess the first one won me over with the big yard and outbuildings and most of all it is a lot more private than #3! #1 is over-decorated but take away the frou-frou curtains, glitzy light fixtures, paint the kitchen tile if necessary and it's livable for the time being with still quite a lot of charm.

John from Little Haus, Big City blog
10/31/2014 at 9:59 PM

My feeling is, this may be too much house size wise, unless you intend to have space for lots of guests and/or family to come visit.

The yard if kept as is would be too much maintenance as a second home where you don't get to more than maybe every couple of months or so.

Being near water, you may have the ocean breezes to help keep things cool. That is definitely true here on the West Coast so AC isn't really necessary here in many areas.

Of the homes you have shown, this one is quite nice and I like it. I'm also in agreement that it may not be a true four square as the front entrance usually is to one side of the downstairs, not in the middle as it appears here.

This one looks to be most original of the two older homes you've shown us. This one also looks to be the most useable in its present state, after a good cleaning and a skim coating as needed in places to shore up cracked walls and the like for now.

Can't wait to see what the fourth house is and what your decision is. I'm all for a modest home that can be used as a cabin. Good friends have a modified A Frame cabin that was built in 1969 along the Washington Coast, and is all of 1300SqFt total on 2 floors (top floor loft and master bedroom) and it works more than fine for family and or friends etc.

11/1/2014 at 12:07 AM

This is a great house but still large for a second home. I definitely wouldn't want to share a house with a ghost who hasn't left the birthday party yet. I'm going to guess you passed on this one.

Morgan Manor
11/1/2014 at 11:30 PM
I'm guessing this is the new house! Great story, too!
11/2/2014 at 12:13 PM

Now this one is nice! Even though it's a foursquare, there's still a good bit of Folk Victorian elements present, so I would guess that it's no newer than about 1905. The mantel on the wall of the blue bedroom is in a bit of a strange position, but it's little quirks like this that make these houses unique. Plus, it has a nice view and it's up high enough that flooding shouldn't be too much of a concern.

We hope you all picked this one!

Melissa @ HOUSEography
11/5/2014 at 4:43 PM

This is the ONE! I somehow missed this post last week but after reading today's post with the farmhouse… this has to be the one unless you are looking for a second full-time project...

11/6/2014 at 10:32 AM

I really like this one. It reminds me of my aunt's house with the front and back stair and the wrap around porch. I always loved that house.

11/6/2014 at 6:05 PM

I don't care what that house has going for it, the ghostly whispers are enough for me to say NOPE, NOPE, NOPE.

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