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Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

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rrmorton
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Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by rrmorton »

Well, that's the plan anyway. After 17 years living here in NYC, Gwen and I (and Amelia and Kate) have decided it's time to move to the suburbs! Actually it's more of an URGENT F***ING NEED to get a bigger place with more doors to slam before we drive each other crazy. We love living here and we've stayed as long as we possibly could but we just. need. more. space. Our goal is to move before Amelia starts second grade next fall.

First we decided to renovate both of our crummy, dated, eyesore-bathrooms before we sell our place. For the past 6 weeks we've had jackhammers and wetsaws buzzing away during Kate's naptime. (She's a total napping champ and doesn't seem fazed but it stresses me out, goddammit!) That bathroom should be done in a week or so, then they'll start on the other.

We've also been boxing up and moving all our non-essential crap to a storage unit so we can declutter in preparation for open houses. In our living room right now we have a box of baby clothes, a box of spare sheets, three boxes of PC Gamer back issues, five boxes of CDs (A-F so far) and one big box with a new toilet in it. So our living conditions (and the commensurate stress levels) are getting much worse in order to make them much better.

But where to move? We didn't want Long Island or CT and obviously NJ was out due to Smoove and Trent and RM9 and that whole seedy crowd. So we decided to focus on Westchester County. We toured a bunch of towns but nothing struck us as all that appealing until we drove though Pleasantville which immediately felt right. It has a nice variety of shops and restaurants plus a cool-looking movie theater called the Jacob Burns Film Center. And good schools, most importantly. We loved it. And the next day, the NY Times ran an article called Living in Pleasantville which seemed a lot like a sign if I were inclined to believe in such things which I am sort of.

Pleasantville (I know, I know... What can I say? I grew up in Novelty, Ohio. It must be in my blood) is a bit further away from the city than we might want, but we quickly learned that you get a lot more bang for your house-buying buck if you're willing to live further out. Gwen's daily commute (and my part-time teaching commute) would take about 50 mins from Pleasantville to Grand Central. Not ideal but it's doable.

Today we went out with Amelia and toured houses for the first time, just trying to get a feel for what's out there and how much it costs. We saw five homes in our price range and much to our surprise, one of the houses feels like it might be The One. It has a long list of advantages and only one significant disadvantage; it only has 3 bedrooms which means Robby wouldn't get a dedicated office/gaming room plus we wouldn't have a guest room. But otherwise, it's pretty ideal. The asking price is exactly the same as the asking price we're planning to go with when we put our apartment on the market. We still have to crunch the numbers but it feels doable. The apartment directly below ours just sold for that same amount so it's a good guess we'll get that price.

So any advice? Is it crazy to even think about pulling the trigger this fast?
Last edited by rrmorton on Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by AWS260 »

Congratulations, and good luck! I know a couple of families who are making similar moves out of the city right about now, for similar reasons. The selling/moving experience seems to be nightmarish (part of the reason I plan to die in my current apartment), but everyone I know who's made the move has been really happy with it.

It's probably a little crazy to fall in love with one of the first houses you see, but hey, if it really speaks to you and the price is right, why not?
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Odin »

Seems awfully far away from Syracuse to be considered a suburb. Good luck anyway.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Eightball »

Actually kind of makes me sad to read that you've given up on city life and joined us family folk out in the 'Burbs. Totally understandable, however...you made it work in the city far longer than I ever could.

Congrats on finding a place! We're currently looking for one as well; it's a fun but stressful process.
rrmorton wrote:obviously NJ was out due to Smoove and Trent and RM9 and that whole seedy crowd.
But now I live in NJ. Isn't that an inducement??

(listens to the sounds of crickets chirping).
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Smoove_B »

NJ is imploding. You'd be wise to make a wide berth around our state (no offense to 8ball's timing).

Pleasantville, eh? As someone that lives between Hope and Tranquility, I guess I can't say too much.

Inspector Smoove offers the following -- make sure you get a qualified / licensed inspection done of the property by a home inspector. If you're on a septic system, make sure someone evaluates that as well. Same for a private well. Congrats if you're on public utilities - that will save some potential headaches.

Ideally you want to be with the home inspector when they're doing their thing. Ask questions. Get opinions. Even though most of the major components of our home were under 5 years old (roof, furnace, A/C, siding), we've still dropped some serious coin over the last 3 years dealing with issues. Tree removal (almost fell on the garage), dead well pump (no water), no heat, no A/C. My point is that that after you look at all the numbers and figure out your month-to-month expenses make sure you're not moving in all broke-ass. Not only are you going to need cash on hand to deal with all your new yard work expenses, but if something goes wrong you need to be prepared to financially address it immediately. The home inspection report can highlight problem areas, but we were completely caught off guard with most of our problems.

Husband Smoove offers the following -- don't discount the man cave. I wake up every day and lament the loss of my basement in our townhouse. Sure, we've converted a formal living room in the new house into my office but it's certainly not a private, secluded space where I can get work done in a pinch. I'm on the main floor of the house and there's no door so my work is constantly being interrupted with updates on the colors of Care Bears or the desire to find markers, not crayons. It's cute and all, but when I have stuff I need to get done it's maddening.

I guess that's a bit of a ramble, but there you go. My wife fell in love with our house 30 seconds after we saw it, so there was no hope for me. I guess I'd say avoid getting too emotionally involved until you're absolutely sure everything is right - the financials, the space, the inspections, etc....

Good luck - and say hello to Toby Maguire.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Octavious »

Ya you would have to be loony to move into Jersey right now as the school system is about to break out into total war. :doh: As someone who is living a in space much too small for him I totally would jump ship to something bigger if I could. My commute is about a hour each way right now and that's right under my breaking point. When accidents happen and it's over a hour I want to drive into a tree. :mrgreen:

So ya if you think you can swing it I'd say it's a no brainer.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by triggercut »

Go for it! This is a buyer's market (still), but won't be forever.

Oh, and Amelia's in 2nd grade next year?

Holy shit.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by ImLawBoy »

Speaking from personal experience, I would not buy anything until I sold my place. I ended up paying two mortgages for a year trying to sell my condo when I bought my house, and that was before the market completely imploded. Waaaaay too much stress.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Jag »

Congrats. It is absolutely beautiful up there. A little further from the city than comfortable, but that's why it kept its charm. In the Metro Area, bedroom communities that were never considered commutable are exploding since people have to go further and further out to get any value for their money and still want that hometown feeling for their kids. I think its a great move for the kids personally. You are still close enough to get NYC culture and food when you want.

It took my wife a few years to adjust to the burbs from NYC, but she's adapted nicely to being both a professional and a baseball mom.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by El Guapo »

How long of a commute are we talking? Don't underestimate how much a long commute can suck balls. For the past month and a half I've been commuting from Worcester to Boston (about 1.5 hours by train, 2 hours door-to-door). And it sucks - get up at the crack of dawn, get back late. Fortunately that's going to end in about a month when we (if all continues to go well) move into our new place in Boston - I don't think I could keep it up long term. Well, I could, but I'd be miserable.

Anyways, if it's possible to stay overnight there and try the commute at least once (and ideally a few nights in a row) I'd recommend that.
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rrmorton
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by rrmorton »

Thanks for the advice and suppOOrt everyone!

We're going back for a second look at the house on Saturday and my Mom and Dad are driving down from MA to check it out with us. My Dad very awesomely offered to sell us his 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee and he'll be dropping that off so we'll have a car to transport boxes to storage in the coming months. So I've been filling out byzantine, nonsensical DMV forms all day long, plus the babysitter was sick, so today sucked myriad ass and I'm drinking heavily at the moment.

Thanks for the inspection tips, Smoove. The water is on a sewer system so that's good. We'll definitely do an inspection of the roof, chimney, electrical, heating, etc, etc. The current owners updated the furnace and boiler and all that basement stuff recently so we should be okay but we'll be sure to make sure. They also put in new hardwood floors and central air which will be nice to have even though we won't be able to afford to turn it on. The roof is slate which supposedly lasts forever. Does anyone know what stone walls mean for heating/cooling bills?

As for the man-cave, I think I figured that out. There's a big living room and a small family room and I'm thinking I could make that small family room into my office. Maybe it could be a guest room too. And with Hulu and Netflix streaming and all, an office can kind of double as an entertainment room as long as you have a big enough monitor and a comfortable couch.

Long commutes do suck, it's true. I did a two hour commute in the summer of '94 when I was a game tester out at Acclaim in Long Island and it really did ruin my mornings and my nights.

I think Gwen's door-to-door commute will be like an hour and fifteen minutes. Right now her commute is about 30 minutes. If we end up in that house we like, we'd be about 1.5 miles from the train station which would be a quick drive. The train takes 50 minutes but it should be a lot more relaxing than the subway so she can read or listen to music. Plus wi-fi support is rumored to be in the works for the Metro North trains so that would be cool. Her office is pretty close to Grand Central Station (10 blocks) so it's either one stop on the subway or a 10-minute walk during nice weather.

Hopefully it'll prove to be a worthwhile trade-off. With two kids at home, I don't want her out of the house that long either. But Kate won't be a baby forever (she turns one on Saturday!) so that'll get easier over time.

It's all happening!
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Odin »

rrmorton wrote:wi-fi support is rumored to be in the works for the Metro North trains
I had one of those cellular cards at one of my jobs and it was amazing in terms of being always connected wherever I was and whatever I was doing. I don't remember what they cost - it might have been around $60/month - but if WiFi doesn't drop pretty soon it might be worth looking into.

Overall, congratulations on having things moving in the desired direction. Hope it all works out!!
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Jag »

rrmorton wrote: I did a two hour commute in the summer of '94 when I was a game tester out at Acclaim in Long Island and it really did ruin my mornings and my nights.
Holy crap I didn't know you worked at Acclaim in the 90s! That was my first job out of college. I started there in 1990 (or was it 91) in Finance and was offered the IT director position which I turned down to go to Law School since they were on Macs and I saw no future in computers (go figure). Not sure if you remember Dawn, the hot blond in charge of Investor Relations (she was 31, I was 22), that was my last girlfriend before I met my wife. I had so much fun at that company, not really sure why I quit.

Oh and since I lived in Syosset, my commute to Acclaim was less than 10 minutes :D
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Kelric »

rrmorton wrote:But Kate won't be a baby forever (she turns one on Saturday!) so that'll get easier over time.
Holy crap. I would have said she was like three or four months old. :shock:
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by ohbalto »

I live about ten minutes from Pleasantville. Please feel free to shoot me a PM if you have any questions about the area, places to eat, looking for a fellow OO to stalk (we've got a great boardgaming group that meets at least once (and frequently more than once) a week.

But, basically, Pleasantville is great, the commute is painless and we are very, very happy up here.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Octavious »

rrmorton wrote:Does anyone know what stone walls mean for heating/cooling bills?
I think stone is a great insulator as far as I know. My wife said that in Europe they build all the houses out of stone and it keeps the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter... She was shocked at how we build stuff here. :mrgreen:

*Edit* Of course the first thing I google says it's not a good insulator so :shrug:..
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by rrmorton »

Shit got real today, yo. OFFER: ACCEPTED!

Of course nothing's for sure until contracts are signed, but right now it looks to be a done deal. We're mostly thrilled but occasionally struck with bolts of terror about what we've gotten ourselves into.

We still loved the house after our second look on Saturday then we spent the weekend stressing about heating bills and property taxes. Plus I was scared to death that I was discounting the importance of the man-cave even though Husband Smoove told me explicitly, in no uncertain terms, not to. Of course I referred to it as an "office" in conversation but all I was thinking about was gaming on Steam, hanging my movie posters, and having someplace for a turntable. But then my Mom (who could have had an alternate career in home design she's so damn good at it) had an idea to renovate an existing, "heat-ready" three-season room over the garage right away and turning that into my office. It's yet more expense but... man-cave! F***ing crucial.

So that idea clicked and re-energized my love of the house. We negotiated yesterday and today and wound up spending a touch more than we wanted to spend but I think it's smart in this market to reach for something pretty aggressively even if it means cinching in your belts for a few years. And it feels okay to me karmically since the sellers are still going to wind up losing quite a lot of money on the deal, having bought it in 2005 and done substantial renovations before the market crash.

Meanwhile our new bathroom is pretty much finished and it looks outstanding. It's like a resort spa hotel bathroom. Way nicer and more spacious than the master bath in our new house, which is kind of a sucky feeling. But we're feeling good about our chances of selling this place.

I'll try to post pictures soon.

Jag, that's funny we both worked at Acclaim! I think I was actually there the summer of '95 not '94. I didn't have the pleasure of meeting, nor, alas, waking up at Dawn's. I didn't really ever leave our little QA cave where they had me slaving over Batman Forever on the SNES all summer long. But maybe we crossed paths at a company party or something. I remember one of those at a local sports bar/restaurant or something. Vague, distant memories of yore.

P.P.S. That's cool you live nearby P-ville, ohbalto! Neighborhood boardgaming ftw. And I'm very glad to hear you referring to the commute as painless.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by The Meal »

Congrats! (I hope Chris Gwinn doesn't see this thread.)
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Grundbegriff »

rrmorton wrote:OFFER: ACCEPTED!
Congratulations! You have just taken your first step into a larger...er... mortgage!

May it become everything you hope for you and your family.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Odin »

Congratulations, Rob. Now get that grass cut, it looks like hell. :D
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Freezer-TPF- »

Mancave over the garage sounds optimal to me--less chance of flooding than the classic basement mancave. I grew up in an area where no one had a basement, so I treat the entire concept with suspicion.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Captain Caveman »

Freezer-TPF- wrote:Mancave over the garage sounds optimal to me--less chance of flooding than the classic basement mancave. I grew up in an area where no one had a basement, so I treat the entire concept with suspicion.
Plus, more isolated, thereby decreasing the chances for familial interruption. It also has an appealing high school teenager vibe. You should buy some cheap beer and have parties with you neighbor's college-aged daughter, who you just know is going to be both hot and turned on by your expansive gaming collection.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Freezer-TPF- »

Captain Caveman wrote:
Freezer-TPF- wrote:Mancave over the garage sounds optimal to me--less chance of flooding than the classic basement mancave. I grew up in an area where no one had a basement, so I treat the entire concept with suspicion.
Plus, more isolated, thereby decreasing the chances for familial interruption. It also has an appealing high school teenager vibe. You should buy some cheap beer and have parties with you neighbor's college-aged daughter, who you just know is going to be both hot and turned on by your expansive gaming collection.
rrmorton needs to put a drum set and guitar in the corner to complete the look. I guess plastic ones will do. :P
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by triggercut »

I'm sort of picturing Morton's man-cave to be like the Fonz's loft over the Cunningham garage.

Grats!!!
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Jag »

I'm thinking more like Greg Brady's room when he went hipster. We're definitely going to need some beads at the entrance.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by rrmorton »

Here's the new house!

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(The sellers really staged it up. In place of all this nice furniture, picture a bunch of shitty furniture.)

Image

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And the soon-to-be mancave:

Image

The Greg Brady bead curtain entrance is a fantastic idea.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Odin »

That house looks lovely, Rob. Congratulations!
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Z-Corn »

That's no house, that's a Manor! Very nice...


I like the windows in the mancave, lots of peeping potential...
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Kelric »

Nice place, good yard there too. Love the tree out front.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by AWS260 »

It looks gorgeous. Congratulations!
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Jag »

Beautiful. Lots of potential. The landscaping is going to be a bitch though. I recommend my approach...go for the natural look (ie: whatever grows can stay) :D
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Captain Caveman »

That's HGTV porn, right there.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by rrmorton »

Thanks all! We really love it. It has a strong sense of place and it's perched on a hill so you get good views from the upper floor.

The kitchen needs work. The stove and refrigerator are out of date and I don't love that black-and-white look. But it's a nice open, social kitchen.

The landscaping is kind of a concern. There's a little shed out in the backyard for lawn mowers and outdoor tools and stuff. I'm definitely excited to do the regular mowing and some hedge trimming or whatever, but I don't really want to do gardening and weeding and all that. My Mom used to send me out weeding and it's just a back-breaking nuisance. A friend of mine swears that once we're home-owners we'll discover the joys of mulch but I'm skeptical. I've got PC and video games that aren't going to play themselves.

I'm heading out there in about half an hour to do the inspection. Hopefully everything will check out.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by rrmorton »

Jag wrote:The landscaping is going to be a bitch though. I recommend my approach...go for the natural look (ie: whatever grows can stay) :D
Did you happen to see this in the NY Times? The Dandelion King.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Smoove_B »

That house is a real beaut. I always thought Tudor-style homes were secret nerd fortresses -- mostly because they remind me of Old Timey England, which of course means there are numerous secret passages and a dungeon. And what self respecting D&D nerd wouldn't like those?

It's also nice you have photos of the landscaping - as it exists - so you can be constantly reminded of how it used to look. ;)

Landscaping will be your Waterloo. I *severely* underestimated just how much time it would tack on, particularly in the Spring and the Fall and especially all the garden / bed maintenance. This year I said screw it and I hired two local dudes to come out for a Spring clean out. Even with all of the shovels and rakes (and other implements of destruction), it took the two of them six hours to prune, rake, etc...all the plantings around my house. Best thing I did last year was get a bagger attachment for ride on tractor. When I look at your luscious green back yard, all I see is work - in the form of little brown nightmares, falling from high above.

Cutting the grass is a treAt. Weeding and pruning are madness.

I guess that's enough negativity from me. I don't want to seem like owning a home is 100% pain. Probably closer to 80%. :)

Looks like a great place. Big ups.

EDIT: After seeing your yard, I wanted to recommend some type of composting device. It all depends on whether or not you have a shed or some place to secure rotting things. In addition to reducing your trash, you're going to be able to recycle all that organic matter into fertilizer for your plantings. I've never used a straight compost bin and can only recommend the greatness that are worms. Definitely look into it.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Jag »

rrmorton wrote:
Jag wrote:The landscaping is going to be a bitch though. I recommend my approach...go for the natural look (ie: whatever grows can stay) :D
Did you happen to see this in the NY Times? The Dandelion King.
Nice, except things are a bit wilder down here in the jungle. We actually had a palm tree start to grow in a flower bed. Unchecked it would have grown into our house, so I had it relocated to the spot the tree killing bees killed a $1500 queen palm. Nature paid me forward.

I actually don't do any landscaping. I can't stand being outdoors ... or being in the heat...or any type of physical activity actually, so I have someone cut the lawn and do occasional weeding. The rest of it can take care of itself.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by Odin »

Smoove_B wrote:I guess that's enough negativity from me. I don't want to seem like owning a home is 100% pain. Probably closer to 80%. :)
Yeah, 80% is about right.
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by The Meal »

Wow, I almost piped up earlier today about getting a Neuton electric mower for the lawn care. It must be a sign, as they're on sale on woot right now:
http://www.woot.com/" target="_blank

I'd recommend grabbing an extra battery (from the Neuton site) or two depending on the size of the lawn. Great mowers!
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Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by rrmorton »

Nice!

That woot deal is tempting but we're not moving until late summer and I'd have no place to put a mower until then. But when the time is right, the Neuton shall be mine! That thing looks sweet. And it shall call this home...

Image
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rrmorton
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Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 11:06 pm
Location: Pleasantville NY

Re: Buying a house in Pleasantville, NY!

Post by rrmorton »

Everything looked good at the inspection on Friday. The inspector said the house was in great shape for its age (built in 1930) so I guess we're all systems go. It was amazing to watch him dissect the house, piecing together all the inner-workings and history of the place, scraping nails and stomping on floorboards. Of course I thought it was totally overwhelming. In a good way. Mostly.
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