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Never Buy a House Without Lying In the Bathtub First

Updated: Oct 19, 2018

Imagine my embarrassment when my wife said to our real estate agent: "I need to get into the bathtub."

Our agent was a friend of ours, luckily. That made it a little less awkward. Or did it? We would be seeing this woman again, after all ... even after we bought the house.

Fortunately, my wife is extremely charming. And all of her little idiosyncrasies are usually seen to others as "quirky." It's all part of her charm, I suppose. I can't really complain ... it has a lot to do with why I married her in the first place.

I used to be a home inspector. Only in the technical sense. I studied. I was fully certified. I started my own inspection business (which basically consisted of buying some tools and forming an LLC).

I never did get the business off the ground, though. Not from lack of knowledge or ability. I was working too many hours at my full-time job, I never got the chance to do any inspections. Before I knew it, I had gotten behind on my required continuing education and I never seemed to have any time to study. I had been paying for my liability insurance while not bringing in any income. Not the best way to run a business. So I dumped my insurance and called it quits.

But I did learn a thing or two about homes: things that would come in handy when shopping for a house.

I learned that shining a flashlight along an interior wall can expose old patchwork, for instance; even after a fresh paint job. Finding patched plaster or sheetrock at the ends of a window sill, for example, can be a tell-tale sign of past water damage due to poorly flashed windows.

I also learned that the white powdery residue that you sometimes see on basement walls is called efflorescence, a chemical reaction that occurs when water penetrates cement. Good to know if the seller is claiming a dry basement.

I even learned a nifty trick to find out if a roof is needing to be replaced: you look for excessive granules at the ends of the gutter downspouts. That tells you that the protective layer on the asphalt shingles is wearing off, and they will begin to break down faster. Time to think about replacing them.

All good things to know when shopping for a new place to live. Buying a home is an important investment. You need to know what you're getting yourself into. I never learned the trick about laying down in the bathtub, though.

She needed to see if she would fit in the tub ... that's the thing. Using a tape measure might have been easier, and slightly less embarrassing. But that's not how my wife rolls. With her, it's go quirky or go home.

My wife didn't fit in our bathtub at our old house (and she is only five-one). If only she had climbed into the tiny tub beforehand, we could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble. But then again, had we not bought that house, we wouldn't have lived close to the airport for ten years, which came in handy with her parents flying to and from South America as much as they did.

We also wouldn't have met our wonderful neighbors: an older couple, nice as could be. They had lived in that neighborhood for more than twenty years.

We have a very nice couple living next door to us at our new place: she's from Minnesota and he's from Ireland; a young couple with two very friendly dogs. I suddenly feel like I'm the old neighbor, now. It seems symbolic, in a way.

I have to admit, it made me sad to leave that tiny house. We needed to move; it had become much too small, what with my wife's parents living with us for months at a time. I was very excited we would finally be leaving for a bigger place. But it was hard to part with that cute, little house that had been so good to us for the past ten years.

My wife fit perfectly in the bathtub of the place we were looking at. I guess that cinched it. That, and it has a garage large enough for her father to park his car in, meaning he would no longer have to be cleaning his car on those cold winter mornings. His health isn't what it used to be and he's not from here, so his body isn't accustomed to our Minnesota winters.

We're very happy in our new home. And maybe more importantly, we're comfortable. It feels like home, and that's what matters. That, and the fact that my wife fits very nicely in our new bathtub. Of course, the drain stopper doesn't work so the tub won't hold water, which means she still can't take a bath.

Oh well. I guess now we have a litmus test for our next house.

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