Remember my last post, when I mentioned new house research was underway? Well, that research went really quickly and we haven’t stopped moving since (literally… we still have four more things to bring to the new house). This April, we became the thrilled owners of a three-bedroom ranch-style house built in the early 70s. Brian named it Second Place, partly because it’s the second place we’ve lived here and partly because of an old inside joke. It’s one of the weirdest houses we’ve ever seen, and we are absolutely in love with it. I had wanted to keep a log of the home-buying experience because this is our first, but that turned out to be unrealistic considering the sheer amount of stuff we had to do. Instead, I’ll channel Inigo Montoya in this post and sum up.
Shortly after the Dog Incident, I got a text from Brian while I was at work. Out of the blue, he just said, “I was wrong.” My eyebrows popped up, but before I could ask him what was going on he continued. “We can get a house now. We’ll talk about it tonight.” I squeed at work and all the way home, where he explained that we didn’t need as massive a down payment as we had thought. He took my hands and told me to go find our house. He didn’t have to say it twice.
Armed with a list of the house must-have/nice-to-have/nope criteria that we’d compiled over the years, I started digging into the real estate search engines with gusto. Online house creeping has been a hobby of mine for a while, and it turns out it’s even more fun when you’re actually planning to buy one. All those things we thought we wanted, though? They got tossed from the list when we started thinking about our day-to-day routine.
- Location out in the country (because people are gross) – Well, people are gross, but satellite internet is downright uncivilized.
- Historical – I have an undying love for art deco and things built in the 1920s, but the houses that meet those requirements here are all on streets we don’t want to live near.
- Fancy – I was secretly hoping to get a house with granite countertops and fancy bathrooms. We could have, but I realized they aren’t worth the extra payments to me.
- Separation – My old-fashioned sense of architectural style likes houses with discrete rooms. Open floor plans never appealed to me… until now.
What we thought we wanted was very different from what we really wanted. What we really wanted was this.
It is right smack in the middle of town, not remotely historical, functional rather than fancy, and has an enormous open floor plan. Shows what we knew.
Brian and I had both pulled this house up in our searches and put it on our list of possibilities to go view. We were driving around several nights a week at that point to check out the neighborhoods and appearances of the houses we thought might work for us. The night we came to look at Second Place, we didn’t bother with any others. We went right home so I could email the realtor for a showing. When she obliged, we spent over an hour poking into every cranny and asking annoying questions. The place had some glaring aesthetic issues, but all we could see were possibilities. This was a house we could work on and make our own, and that had us all atwitter.
Common wisdom says never to go with the first one you look at, though. In the spirit of due diligence, we went to see more houses with our buyer’s agent (who was totally awesome). Some of them were nice, some of them were cringe-worthy, and none of them could compare with the splendor of Second Place and all its possibilities. We thought everything over and decided to make an offer.
The offer process was a bit surreal from start to finish. The beginning went as I had always pictured this sort of thing would go. We met with our agent, signed a ream of paperwork, and put down our earnest money, as you do. Then we proceeded to negotiate a series of counter-offers by text message, also, apparently, as you do. I thought that was such a modern touch to something I’ve always considered antiquated. It definitely sped up the process, because we arrived at a price that made everyone happy within a couple of days. Then came the Great Wait while the bank did its thing.
The Great Wait felt a lot longer for us than it actually was. We made our offer on March 22 and had the keys in hand on April 27. The process was amazingly smooth and fast, but we were so eager to get moving that every day felt drenched in molasses. It was a happy time warp. While we were waiting, we put together our lists of materials required to fix the aesthetic issues and haul all our stuff over from First Place. We also started packing. Eventually, it was time to sign!
Our closing appointment was in the morning, so we took the day off to jump right into the move. Sign, switch over utilities, snarf some lunch, and start hauling over supplies! We signed on Thursday, did an epic (and I do mean epic) Home Depot run on Saturday, and were painting by Saturday night. I’ll post more about the work we’ve done here since we got the keys; then you’ll understand the need for paint. Paint colors were just the start of the decision tree.
Buying a house that requires DIY work is an exercise in rapid-fire decision making. Which rooms will get painted? What colors do you want in each room? What about baseboards, type and color? Is that third bedroom really a pantry or an office? Where are we going to put the bookcases? How do you want to use the open spaces? Which art do you want to hang? Deciding who, what, and where was as exhausting as the execution, but it was also fun and deeply satisfying. Every choice makes this house our home.
We had a baseline for what we wanted to finish before we moved in, and the biggest step was getting the walls painted and new baseboard installed. It was a big job: two full bedrooms, a closet, and the entire open living/kitchen/dining area plus entry way. That took a bit over two weeks and we’re not quite done with the second bedroom, but we were tired of waiting to live here. This house is too great to sit empty, so we moved ourselves and the cats over in the third week and have been funneling stuff over as we can. Fortunately, Brian is immensely strong (hello, solo-moving two couches and fridges, rawr!), and we’ve had help.
Oh man, have we had help. My parents lent us their pickup and trailer for almost two months so we could work on the house and move without having to take time off from our jobs. Brian’s dad has helped us so much with painting, baseboards, packing, and moving that we couldn’t have done it without him either. We love and appreciate all of you guys and look forward to cooking you dinner soon in our lovely yellow kitchen. Oh, and cookies. So many cookies.
From here, we just need to haul over those last few items, give First Place a good solid cleaning, and get all of our possessions sorted into their new locations. Keep an eye out for posts detailing our work to date and new projects as they arise. It’s going to be a lovely summer and a better autumn here at Second Place.