Welcome to the Ballot Box web site, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the VOGT Family TreeHouse web site!
Living the Dream for Ten Years!
We had been dreaming about owning a home in Maine for thirty years or so, ever since Lynn's mom bought a house in Camden and we'd drive up to visit a number of times each year. Gradually, Lynn became more and more anxious about doing something about our dream, rather than just talking about it, so we began looking at real estate in mid-coast Maine about 2006. The plan was to retire up there in fifteen or so years, so we wanted to get our "foot in the door" by picking something up for vacations and weekends, and then either converting it to a year-round home over the next few years, or leapfrogging into a suitable year-round home after a few years of getting used to the area. We took our two weeks vacation in the area each year, and we worked with a real estate agent we trusted, looking at a dozen or so houses each time we were in the area.
Alas, everything we looked at in our price range fell into the "handyman special" category. Normally that's not a problem (I'm fairly handy), but having a handyman special located 3-4 hours away from one's primary home makes it difficult to spend much time working to fix the place up.
But then, lightning struck.
In September 2009, on the last full day of our 2009 vacation, we looked at a relocated and converted carriage house that we fell in love with. It had lots of character, was very bright and airy, and was charming in every way.
Unfortunately for the seller, the sale was a "distress" sale, the result of a break-up. The couple never got to finish the renovations before the split, so no-one had lived in the house in its new location. We saw the house for the first time on a Friday, really liked it, discussed it over dinner Friday night, slept on it, and decided Saturday morning to make an offer on the house while we were packing up at the end of our vacation to go home. We stopped at the local bank to pick up a mortgage application, stopped at the real estate office to make our offer, swung by the house one last time to look at it, and then drove home to wait. At 5:05 pm on Sunday, we got the call that the offer had been accepted.
The inspection went great, with very few problems uncovered. We closed on the house in late October 2009, and the closing went smooth as silk. From the closing we stopped at the insurance company to pay the hazard insurance premium, then we were off to our new house! We had closed on a Friday, and we came to the closing with a van packed to the gills with "first load" stuff for "camping out" in the new house that first weekend - two cot beds, a bunch of chairs, a kitchen table, a blow-up queen-sized mattress, sheets, linens, towels, pots, pans, coffee and a coffee maker, tools, mops, brooms, cleaners, etc.
We say that lightning struck because this house was fully renovated, ready to move in, fully winterized and ready for year-round habitation, and was definitely not a Handyman Special. It was a dream-come-true for us, and we were also able to meet the needs of the seller as well as far as price and a quick closing. Lightning struck.
Lynn spent the first weekend cleaning and starting to figure out what was needed, and I spent the first weekend putting things up that normally come with a "used" house, but because this was a total renovation, it was more like a new house; we were missing things like toilet-paper holders, towel racks, a shower curtain rod, door-stops, coat hooks, yada-yada!
Since then we've bought some furniture, brought up a lot of things (one accumulates a few "extras" in 40+ years of marriage), and have been spending our free weekends adjusting things, aligning things, figuring out things, and making the place a place we want to spend time in. It's our escape home. It's not done yet, and may not be done for a while, but we have time, and we're having fun!
Ballot Box changes are afoot! Read all about it!
And now, ten years later, we've decided to retire to Maine permanently. The Ballot Box was a wonderful 4-season getaway destination for these ten years, but it was too small as a year-round residence for us... we have too many hobbies and too much "stuff." We explored the options... sell and buy something bigger, tear it down and start new, or expand it to fit our stuff. We couldn't bring ourselves to sell it or tear it down, so that left only option 3... so we expanded! We kept the basic house and all it's charm, but bumped out in the front to add to the tiny kitchen and dining cubby, added a 4-season sunroom on the west side, built a 3-bay, 2-story garage on the east side with 2 bays for cars and the third bay split between a tool shed and woodworking shop, and the entire top floor of the garage is a quilt studio... with half-bath. We have room for our hobbies and our "stuff!" This is the new "Ballot Box," no longer a little "box," but it's where you'll find the VOGTs for a long time to come!