Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Cave Home Story with a Happy Ending

Loan should allow Mo. family to stay in cave home
By BETSY TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer Betsy Taylor, Associated Press Writer
Tue Mar 10, 3:27 pm ET

ST. LOUIS – An eastern Missouri family expects they'll be able to stay in their home built inside a cave after accepting an offer of a private mortgage contract. Curt Sleeper said Tuesday that a New Jersey-based business offered a 15-year loan with a low interest rate that should allow the family to keep their home in Festus, about 30 miles south of St. Louis.

"We're excited about it." To celebrate: "We're throwing a party at a friend's cave," he said.

Curt and Deborah Sleeper fell in love with the unique geography of an old mining cave in 2004 and figured out how to build a house inside of it. But they were having trouble making a large payment that was coming due on the property, prompting them to put their home up for auction on eBay.

They no longer plan to auction the home through the Web site, but Sleeper says the house will remain there until paperwork is completed on the loan.

Jon Demarest, owner of Logical Source Inc., confirmed that his the Fairfield, N.J.-based archiving and medical record company offered the Sleepers a mortgage.

"I was intrigued by it," Demarest said. "Someone who has put that much into it shouldn't lose it."

The Sleepers built their cave home with the help of friends. A gray timber frame exterior was constructed in the 37-foot-tall opening of the cave. Thirty-seven sliding glass doors also are used as windows throughout the three-story, three-bedroom home, allowing natural light throughout the finished sections of the home.

The walls and ceiling are natural cave stone, but it has amenities including a large soaking tub in one bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen.

Sleeper said his family's struggle to keep their home has resonated with many, including some who have been unable to pay their own mortgages.

"I've got 8,000 e-mails in my inbox. Everyone wants to wish me luck, but also tell me their heartache," he said.

"It's certainly been almost life changing — except I'm keeping my cave, so not that life changing," he said. "I'd love to hear the end of the story read, 'and they lived happily ever after.'"

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nothing turns off a potential buyer faster than peeling paint, a broken window, or a splintered front step. It's wise to make necessary repairs before you put your house on the market. A house in good condition demonstrates pride of ownership—one of your best sales tools. Start by covering these areas:
Inside the House
§ Fix or replace damaged flooring, such as torn linoleum or cracked tiles.
If you can't afford to replace damaged or worn floors, consider offering the buyer an allowance for renovation.
§ Fix any drains, faucets, or plumbing fixtures that aren't operating.
Fixes can range from replacing a faucet washer to buying a new toilet.
§ Paint the interior.
Fill and paint any cracks or holes in the walls. (You may need to repaint entire walls to mask such repairs.)
§ Replace burned-out bulbs and broken electrical sockets.
Most agents will want you to turn on all the lights before a showing.
§ Replace or fix broken stairs.
Fix any creaks as well.
§ Replace old locks and doorknobs.
Make it easy for a buyer to walk in.
§ Fix any doors that don't open easily, including the garage door.
If your garage door opener doesn't work, repair or replace it.
Outside the House
§ Replace cracked windows and torn screens.
Don't let your house be shown with the equivalent of a black eye.
§ Fix cracks in the driveway and entry walkway, and clean up stains.
If the driveway requires major repair, it may be preferable to offer the buyer an allowance for the work.
§ Paint the exterior.
Touch up peeling paint, window frames, porches, and shutters. Repaint the entire exterior if it is drab or peeling.
§ Replace broken gutters or missing downspouts.
Good drainage is key to passing a home inspection.
§ Replace or fix broken stairs.
It's a matter of both safety and aesthetics.
§ Reseal the deck and repair broken boards.
A new coat of sealer can spruce up a fading deck.
§ Repair the roof.
Replace shingles and tack down loose flashing. If the roof is old, you may want to replace it and adjust your sales price accordingly. ( from Realty Times)
Great tips for making your home fresh and breezy with these helpful tips for Spring Cleaning brought to you by Harry Andruss of Pillar to Post Home Inspections.

Everyone knows spring cleaning sounds like a great idea. You say you’ll do it, then a few more weeks go by, then another month, and before we know it spring cleaning takes a back seat to everything else. By breaking spring cleaning down into manageable tasks that can be accomplished over a couple of weekends, you can get the whole job done without feeling like you’ve missed out on all the fun. It doesn’t have to feel like drudgery either – put on some music or listen to an audio book while you work. Here are 7 ways to make your home feel as fresh and clean as a spring breeze.

I. Tackle those windows. Okay, no one really likes this task, but what a difference it will make! Windows should be thoroughly cleaned inside and out – you’ll be amazed how your home will sparkle inside and out once the dust and dirt are gone. Considering hiring a professional window cleaning company, especially if you have a multilevel home. They’ll have the equipment and experience to do the job safely. If you have screens, now is the time to wash them and repair any holes or tears. If screens are completely removable, take them outside and wash with a scrub brush and mild detergent, then hose off and let dry in the sun.

II. Windows are easiest to clean when the curtains, shades, and blinds are removed. Use this opportunity to get drapes and curtains laundered or dry cleaned (check labels first), and give blinds, shades, and other treatments a good cleaning and dusting. Some vacuum cleaners have special attachments that will make cleaning blinds a breeze.

III. Get all the angles. Going from room to room, use a long-handled duster to make quick work of dusting ceilings, moldings, and corners. If you have ceiling fans, dust the tops and bottoms of the fan blades and around the motor housing (this is also a great time to replace light bulbs in fan fixtures).

IV. Make a grand entrance. Clean porches, steps, and railings of accumulated dirt and grime and you’ll have a bright welcome every time you come home. Replace light bulbs in porch and outdoor fixtures. While you’re at it, add a colorful potted plant or two to welcome spring. Keep an eye out for any needed repairs and make a note to get to them in the weeks ahead.

V. Under cover. Gather your heavy winter bedspreads and comforters and have them cleaned, then store away until cooler weather comes. Vacuum mattresses and box springs and clean up those dust bunnies that have hibernated under the bed. Launder mattress covers, take lighter weight bedding from storage and air out for a day before using.

VI. A better bath. A deep spring cleaning of fixtures, sinks, tubs, and toilets supplements the everyday surface cleaning that keeps things looking good. Work from top to bottom, ceiling to floor, and keep all of your cleaning products, scrubbing tools, etc. with you in a bucket so you’ll have everything you need at your side. Use an old toothbrush to reach into crevices to get things shipshape, and you won’t have to do it again anytime soon. Don’t forget to clean bathroom exhaust fans to keep them working their best.

VII. Kitchen confidential. Wrap up your spring cleaning in the kitchen. After regular use during the colder weather, the stove and oven can likely use a deep cleaning. Clear countertops of clutter and wipe down small appliances and cabinets. Wash the walls and floor, and give the kitchen sink a thorough scrubbing. Now is also the perfect time to rid your refrigerator of old or expired items (check those door shelves lately?) and clean produce bins and shelves following manufacturer’s instructions. Then reward yourself with a vase of spring flowers and enjoy your sparkling home!

Harry Andruss