Odds & Ends » Home Sweet Home

February 1, 2006

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Before I get started, allow me to say there is an offer on this house and so anything I say probably will not be a surprise to the potential buyer, and it is not like the person would actually read this column and change their mind. That said, this house is a fixer-upper's dream, but with the asking price, I would think it is a keeper, not a flipper.

The property sits tucked up at the base of the foothills at the intersection of 5th and Alturas streets in the North End and is protected by a splendid stone retaining wall that appears to be the remnants of an old and grand plan by ACHD to extend Alturas along the north side of this property. That plan has since been abandoned (knock on wood), leaving the house with a 60-foot wide easement to enjoy.

The house wears its age, inside and out. The gable roof structure has a mix of shingles (I think asbestos) and lap siding painted an off-white, which transitions to water-stained brown at the base. There are patches, repairs, a mix of windows (types and materials), some original construction and so on. It is one of those houses that looks like all the remodels and repairs were done by the owner (apparently there was one owner who occupied the house for 70 years), so there is lots of character with this one.

The front door is not original (maybe from the '60s) and opens directly into the living room, which has beige carpet (the kind that makes you itch just looking at it), painted white paneled walls (without the brown water stains—whew) and tiled ceiling. An arch opening leads into a small area that could be utilized as an office space but primarily provides transition to the upstairs or out to the carport. A radiant heater sits on a hearth of what was once probably the spot for a wood stove.

The lone bedroom sits just off of the living room and is perhaps the sanctuary of the house, as it appears to be the only space that does not exhibit some kind of patch or remodel job.

The kitchen and dining area is a mix of old, cracked sheet flooring and wood cabinets. This space cannot wait for the new owners. The bathroom sits just off of the kitchen through a small hallway and it, too, looks like it has seen better days. The furnace, washer and dryer are also off of this hallway and sit on a concrete slab (why, I do not know). I almost went down in the cellar.

The upstairs was actually a nice space to be in. There are some fantastic views of downtown Boise that should be preserved, even when the trees have full foliage through spring and fall. Currently these views are only taken advantage of if you happen to be situated on the toilet. I am sure the new owner will have other ideas for capturing those views. The rest of the space is pretty much open. There are some headroom and climate issues but that, too, will probably be addressed soon enough.

My favorite moments in the house were spent snooping around the exterior, examining all the layers of the past 100 years, including an old beat up shingled outbuilding, an odd concrete formed storage structure with a rusty corrugated roof and dark stained wood door--good stuff! There are fences constructed out of various materials, an old clothesline and a concrete trench/path turns the corner and morphs into this splendid patio underneath the carport.

Pros: Two for one with that easement. But don't let the county know you enjoy it, I am sure they will find a way to increase your taxes over it and build that road. Also, the house has great views to the south, unless your neighbors happen to be underwearing it.

Cons: Deep pockets required, but what potential! I'm jealous!