The Backstory

This is the story of a couple fulfilling a dream.

Last fall Debbie and I started thinking about what we wanted to do when the kids were out of the house. They were both graduating high school and planning on going away to college. After spending so many years focused on kid-stuff, we were now looking at a time in our lives where we would have a bunch of free time. But, how would we spend it?


YOLO at the dock at Andrews Marina in Haddam, CT
YOLO at the dock

Our #1 passion is boating. So our first thought was to be closer to our boat. We keep YOLO, a 34′ Catalina Islander at Andrews Marina in Haddam, CT – right next to the East Haddam Swing Bridge and across the river from The Goodspeed Opera House. We have boated up and down the Connecticut River and, in our opinion, this is the best spot on the river to be a boater. The water is fresh, there are places to anchor and swim, and the scenery is gorgeous. Plus we are only about 30 minutes (by boat) from Long Island Sound.

Rafting up in Watch Hill
Rafting up in Watch Hill

We LOVE boating around Long Island Sound. Each year we take at least one week long trip anchoring or docking at different locations accessible by Long Island Sound. We love going to Watch Hill Rhode Island, Shelter Island, Greenport and exploring the north fork of Long Island.

The Family Compound

Another motivation was the though of building a “family compound”. Some place where family and friends could come to get away and really enjoy themselves. A place where our kids would someday bring their families and friends. A place to build the next generation of memories.

Not that we didn’t love our house in Coventry. It really worked well for us raising the kids. But we wanted to step it up a notch. We wanted to be close to a place where we could be close to beautiful scenery and lots of outdoor space and great places to shop, eat and explore.

So naturally we turned out attention to the lower Connecticut River valley and the shore. We decided we wanted to move. Were weren’t sure where exactly, but we had an idea – a dream – of what we wanted. And we started the hunt.

An Investment

The last requirement as we started our hunt was that we were looking for an investment. Something we could go in and make our own, while at the same time building equity and value. We were not interested in buying something already finished and perfect. For one, we couldn’t afford it. Houses that were the size we were thinking of and the locations we were targeting were $750k+. We were targeting something that could be in that range with the proper investment, but that would start in the $400-500k range.

I was also looking for a project. Not just a quick month or two project. I wanted something that was like a 10 year project! I’ve always wanted to restore an old home. The character you get in an old house just can’t be replicated in new construction. So, “old house in need of TLC” was added to the requirements.

The River House

In February of 2015 we visited a house in Haddam on the banks of the Connecticut River. At the time there was 2 feet of snow on the ground and it was cold. The house was in the perfect location, less than 2 miles from the marina and right across the river from our favorite anchorage. It was in short sale at $499k. The owner had passed away several years earlier and the estate wasn’t able to maintain it. When it first went on the market it was listed at over $800k.

Panorama of the river house
Panorama of the river house

At $499 it did seem like a pretty good deal. But then we got cold feet. The kids were graduating, we had two college payments coming up, and it just seemed like the wrong time to buy it.

All summer we boated past, looking at the house. Wondering if it would still be there when we were ready to buy it. We joked about offering them $350k. It had been on the market for a long time, but we didn’t think they would go that low.

At the end of August the kids took off to school and we started thinking again about what we wanted to do. Just for ha-ha’s I looked up the river house. When I pulled it up on I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was listed for $317! I immediately called the broker to confirm – yes it really was $317. The bank had foreclosed on the house and they wanted to get rid of it.

Well we made and offer, they accepted it, and then we went “oh sh*t, we just bought a house!”.

The blog is the story of what we did next. Well, we haven’t even done it yet – but we will be doing it. We close in less than a week. Stay tuned. In our next post we will go into more details about the house.


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