Monday, January 30, 2012

The Joys Of Buying A House

Now, before I get into this, let me say that my husband and I have been together for 11 years in March. We've always rented. For the first 5 years we were together, we actually lived with his mom. We were 26 when we moved out.  

We're certainly not rich by any stretch of the word, so please save you're "at least you GET to buy a house" comments for someone else.  We wouldn't even be able to do this if my husband didn't get enough for a down-payment from the passing of his mother.  We'd both MUCH rather just have her back and forget the house buying completely.  But we can't.  And all she ever wanted for us was for us to own a home.  So we're going to do it.  


Our first place together was a tiny house on a farm property. It was super cheap to rent, and did us just fine. But the truth is, it wasn't even a "house". It was two portables (you know, the ones they use for schools?), pushed together. It was weird. LOL But it was fantastic to be in the country, and it was the perfect place for two people starting out.

Then I found out I was *finally* pregnant. That little "house" suddenly became a place I just couldn't be. There was definitely mold in the walls (which we really didn't give a crap about before...we just closed the door to the 2nd room where the mold was and didn't use that room). And there was a gas wood-stove-looking thing in the corner of the livingroom. It was our only supply of heat. When it was just us, that was fine. We were warm enough, but it got HOT when it was on. Not safe for babies.

So then we moved into a 4-plex in town. It was sweet! The floors were ceramic tile, there were 3 bedrooms, the kitchen was huge...two bathrooms, and it came with a brand new fridge, stove, washer, dryer, and dishwasher. The building was only 3 years old, so no fear of mold.
I had the twins when we lived there, and at first it was just fine...
Then they started moving around.
As it turns out, when babies learn to crawl, sometimes they smash their head on the floor. And when they try to pull themselves up on furniture, sometimes they wipe out and bang their head. Ceramic tile flooring was DANGEROUS for them. We ended up making the "master bedroom" which was oddly located upstairs, directly located in the kitchen...into a playroom. We bought those padded floor mats and padded that room from one end to the other. Everyday I sat in there with them for hours on end, trying to help them develop their gross motor skills. In that house they learned to crawl. Big Boy was 10 months old, and Ooey was 11 months when they became mobile.

The Playroom
At that house the kids started Occupational Therapy, and their worker came once a week to see them. And as great as the room was that we'd made for them, she agreed with us that it just wasn't enough space to teach them how to walk...and they should have the whole run of the house...not just one room.

So, after our lease was up on that house, we moved again.

This time we moved out to a 4 bedroom country house.  It was huge and old, and it had an enormous room upstairs that was used as a church for 45 years. Our intentions were to use that as a huge playroom/den, and we'd sleep in the bedrooms downstairs so the kids could be in the room directly beside us.

The "church".
House #3.
That house was awesome.  I had 5 flower beds to keep me busy, it was bigger...the backyard was huge.  And more importantly, the floors were soft linoleum...or carpet!  The kids had the run of the downstairs, and all was right with the world.

Then winter came.  As you might notice in the picture, to the left of the house, there was propane for heat.  Super, right?  NO FREAKIN WAY.

It cost a fortune...and I mean we'd get a $1200 bill every month for that crap.  And, when it was super cold and windy outside, the heat would kick off.  You know...right when you REALLY want heat!  The problem was that the "outtake" on the propane heater was pointing toward the side of the house that the wind blew from.  (Left of the house.)  And as we had it explained, when the wind would blow up into the outtake pipe, it would blow the carbon monoxide back up the pipe and the heater would shut off to protect us from dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Lovely.  So basically we had two choices.  Be cold or die.  

There were many times that the heat was off for 24 hours.  In the winter.  And here we have normal winter weathers of -20 or lower.  So the twins would be bundled in several layers of clothes, hats, mitts, boots, and coats.  We had to buy two electric heaters which then made that $1200 propane bill piss me off even more because we ended up with a $500 hydro bill a week later!  Auuughhhh!!!  We're NOT rich, so bills like that quite literally made me cry.

Oh...and I should mention that the "church" that we had looked so forward to using had soft spots in the floor (scary), and there was on tiny heater for the whole room.  It was FREEZING up there!  It ended up being our indoor storage space.  None of the other rooms up there had any heat at all, so they ended up being left pretty much empty, other than one being used for my computer room.  (I had to use a blanket to even sit in the room!)

When I got pregnant, I said enough is enough.  Time to move.  We needed a house that's warm in EVERY room, and safe for the kids.  The country house, even in the summer when it was warm, was surrounded by fields.  Great, right?  Not so much.  My twins started running out into them, which wasn't too bad when it was soybeans, but when they planted corn...paranoia.  I could just IMAGINE those search parties!

So, we moved to the house we're in now.  It has 3 that they used for their playroom, and two for sleeping.  The twins still share a room (my son won't sleep alone), and one for my husband and myself (and Baby Piranha).  There is a fence around the back yard, the floors are made of hardwood, lots of room to run.
This is just blocks from our house.

But my BIL has moved in with us.  And he brought his huge dog.  So suddenly our big house isn't big enough.  The playroom is now his, and so our hoarder-amount of toys are in our dining room.  And livingroom.  And kitchen.  And hallway.  And upstairs.  It's madness.  We need enough room for them to run, play, and have a special place for those toys.  And we need an extra room for the BIL.  Hopefully he'll find his own home sooner than later...but until then, he's here.

 We're looking for a 4 bedroom house...all the bedrooms have to be on the same floor.  (What if there was a fire?)  I need to know if anything happens, my kids are in the next rooms...not on another floor.  Because I WOULD die to save question.

We're looking for a house with a fence.  I have this arms are firmly attached to my body.  If I actually had go-go-gadget arms, I'd be fine with no fence.  But I don't.  And since there are three kids to my one self, we NEED a fence.

And the floors have to be normal.  Not made of skull-cracking concrete, or anything equally as dangerous.  

The basement has to stay dry.  If we're paying for a house with a basement, it better be something we can use.  Seriously.  After that last house we had, I don't want to see four inches of water when I open the basement door, or I'll snap!

I thought that's all I really cared about.  Then we started looking at houses....

The first one was beautiful.  So beautiful in fact that we put an offer in on it. did 3 other families.  Great.  We even went all out and offered exactly what they were selling it for...and that NEVER happens, right?!  And even though we thought there was no way anyone else would do that, we didn't get it.  The person who got it offered $1500 more than they were even asking.  Seriously.
(It's like going to the grocery store and seeing bread for $3 and offering to pay $4 for it!  Crazy!)

So whatever.  We didn't get that most beautiful house ever.  : (  I'm not sad...sniff sniff...

After that we looked at no less than a dozen houses before finding a PERFECT house.  Three bedrooms (one was more than big enough for the girls to eventually share it and have lots of room), a finished basement, the house was completely renovated, the roof was great, the backyard was AWESOME, and it was a super-quiet street full of families.  We told our Realtor that we wanted that house, and we'd do whatever we had to do to get it.  It was about $20,000 less than the first one we put an offer in for, and they were totally willing to sell it to us for less than they were asking.  Everything was going great.  We told our Realtor what we would be willing to pay, and it was the same price they came back to us it was ours.  By 9pm that night, we were going to be signing papers to make it all official.
At 4:30pm we got a call from the Realtor.
The family that was selling that house had to pull out of the deal.  They didn't have their end figured out, and didn't realize that because they were getting out of their mortgage before their 5 years were up (apparently you're locked in for 5 years, and if you get out early you pay a fee), and they were downsizing, so there was another huge fee...they would have had to pay $15,000 to get out of there.  So they have to stay.  No choice.  Now I'm just sad.

We've looked at a couple more houses since, but I can't stop thinking about that last house.  It was just perfect.

And everytime we look at a house now, we compare it to that one.  Yesterday we looked at a house that looked pretty awesome in the pictures online...the backyard was super, the rooms looked nice, the floors were nice, the roof was new, the windows were new, the kitchen was beautiful, the bathrooms were nice...  When we got inside, suddenly we realized there was no livingroom.  It was weird.  They changed their livingroom into a bedroom, so "technically" it was a 3 bedroom...all of the rooms were small...even the livingroom-bedroom.  Now, they DID have a finished basement, but it was weird too!  The layout was odd...more than half was like an extra-wide hallway that was really not something anyone could use, and the area they were using as their livingroom was small and very cramped.  And off to the side was an "L" in the layout where they had a bar set up.  We'd literally be living in the kitchen and basement...cramped.  

So now I've had to ask that we don't see any houses without a living room.  Who'da thunk it?

Anyways, I'm sure this post is a short novel by this point, and when we eventually find a house (and actually get to MOVE INTO IT), I'll do some "before" and "after" shots of it...once we start making it our own.

For now all I can say is that I am so sick of looking at houses, and as much as I'm trying not to let this get to is.

**As I'm finishing writing this, the Realtor called...she's found another brand new listing on the same street as the last one we put an offer in on!  I'm afraid to be happy...**


So the house we looked at back on the same street as the one we had just put an offer in on looked EXACTLY like my MIL's house (the layout)...only backwards.  As nice as it was done up, and it WAS beautifully done, it was just too much for my sweet husband.  I don't think he could have been happy there.  I think everyday he would have woken up and just been sad.  My MIL was the center of this family, a part of my own life every single day (even if it was just our [many] phone calls to each other).  Losing her is something we all already think about daily...we don't need to wake up and be sad.  Her memory should be celebrated, not something we mourn every minute.  And she wouldn't want that for us.  She was selfless, and a natural mother...she just mothered everyone, all the time.  We know that being a mother, she'd want us to be happy.  And we will be.  (And it's okay to be sad sometimes, but not ALL the's just not healthy.)

So we kept looking.  We've looked at a few more houses, and some were nice. Some were CRAP.  (Like seriously, should you have to ask if a house has a livingroom?!  SHOULD YOU?!)  ; )

Yesterday we took the twins to Nana and Poppa's house and took the baby with us to look at one in a small town about 20 mins. away from the city we live in now.  We've always talked about living there, and we often take the kids there in the summer to go the splash pad, or just for a walk around the river.  It's quiet, and I love it.  (It also used to be our go-to destination when we fished!)

That house was beautiful.  The master bedroom was in the attic, and it was the MOST amazing bedroom I've ever seen in my life.  Gorgeous.  They did a fantastic job renovating that.  There is a sunporch that has clearly been used to homeschool, and I loved that too!  The back deck is beautifully built, and it overlooks the river.  The yard was HUGE and has a nice tall (well built) fence that surrounds the whole yard, so the kids would be safe.  I liked that I could see the river, but would never have to worry that the kids would drown in it.

The only downside of that house is that the master bedroom is in the attic...and the other two rooms are on the main floor.  There is also a huge basement (partially finished) that has a legal-sized window at a legal height that could easily be converted into a 4th bedroom in the future.  Sounds awesome, right?

Well, if our kids were about 10 years older, I'd totally be all over that house.  You don't find a master bedroom like that everyday!  (The en suite...ugh!  To die for!)  But I can NOT sleep on a different floor than my children sleep on.  Not yet.  Not for many more years.  They are small enough to steal.  And what if there was a fire?  I can't be on another floor.  Even if I showed them how to climb out of their windows...they're young, and they'd be running amok outside...escaped...probably naked, or close to it.  LOL

Great house.  Not for us.

Then we looked at another one in a hamlet 6 minutes from the edge of the city we live in.  Big yard.  The house is completely redone.  The basement is completely finished.  All the bedrooms are on the same floor...though the master is on the other side of the house.  At least they're on the same floor, and we DO own baby monitors.

We're going in for a 2nd walk-through tomorrow with the Realtor that is selling it...ours just went to Panama for a week (LUCKY!).  If we like it the 2nd time as much as the first time, we'll put in an offer.

I still don't know if this is it...we really love it, but it's just a tiny bit out of our price range.  If we can get them down a bit, it would be great.  And in reality, we don't HAVE to live there forever...though we probably would.

This will be our THIRD house we're putting an offer in on.  Let's hope "Third time's a charm" is true.  I'm so tired of looking!  XD

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