Posted in Home DIY, Life + Living

First Time Home Buying Experience

My last post was made before we closed on the house–I’m sorry to have been away for so long!! The month of October absolutely flew by.  We are only just now starting to really feel settled into our home.  The closing went really smoothly.  I took half a day off of work and met up with Jeff and our Realtor at the office where our closing was being hosted.  We met the previous owners who seemed like really kind people.  The woman was dismayed to find out that I didn’t like pugs as well as she does, and the man let us know that the electrical update was just a partial update.  The signing of the paperwork flew by–it took less than an hour to go over everything and then we were presented with our very own keys!  Just like that we were home-owners.

We knew going into it that there would be some things to fix around the house, and, being first time home-buyers meant that we didn’t have any of the essentials that we would need to take care of the property.  Off we went to the housing store to get the essentials.  Mom and Keith picked up a new lock set for us, and we picked up rakes, shovels, ice picks, a furnace filter, broom, push broom, dryer vent cleaning kit, extension cords, paint, rollers, edgers, etc.  Over the next few weeks we’d make so many more trips to the hardware store.  We had to buy joint compound and mesh tape, hammers, scrapers, chisels, wrenches, dryer vent kits (x2, one of the expandable semi-rigid metal, and another of straight pipe style aluminum).  Just when we thought we could afford it, we splurged in a snow blower and a couple of leaf blowers… half an acre isn’t going to take care of itself.

Then we moved in.  We had a ton of help and really appreciated all of our family and friends who came out to support us.  Our driveways were full of the cars from all of the volunteers.  Shout outs go to Eli, Nickola, Wes, Gloria, Mike, Mom, Keith, and Michael.  Steph had to work, but sent good vibes anyway 😀  And to our long distance friends who totally would’ve schlepped boxes on our behalf: Corine, Lori, Ross, Ray, Anne, et al. Thank you so much for sending us your happy vibes.

The first week, things started falling apart.  First, it was the water main.  The seller’s disclosure said that they had to snake the main every other year for roots… so, I don’t know why, but I expected to be able to wait to do that until next year.  Nope.  We had water in our basement on day one.  On Day 2, we went to clean the dryer vent only to find it so stuffed with lint that it really was better to replace it–and luckily we found it because it was burned through on the back.  On Day 3, I had a technician out for our stove which was irreparable, and the home warranty company decided not to cover it.  I blew up at my Realtor for misleading us, and she helped us to get a new one.  Since I was home, we also had the internet service provider out–who found wires to be chewed through and that’s outside of his scope.  When it finally came time to install the replacement stove, I ended up coiling the gas line in on itself because I was a schmuck who didn’t know that you had to use two wrenches.  Then we had to buy a new service door because we couldn’t get the new lock set to fit on the old one, which had been rigged.  Needless to say, being home-owners was stressful!

photovisi-download

We got all of those issues taken care of (thanks go to my very flexible employer for allowing me to work from home while figuring this crap out).  That brings us to today.  I am working from home because I have (yet another) contractor coming out to take a look at issues that we’re having with this house.  When the stove was replaced, it was discovered that the floor was sinking underneath it.  This rang alarm bells quite loudly in my head and I told Jeff that we need to prioritize the fix immediately.  We knew that there were structural issues with this house, but we didn’t appreciate just how extensive or expensive they would be.  The home inspection said that there were “missing or insufficient” supports in our basement, but that we probably wouldn’t have to repair it immediately.  The logic was that the house has stood this long, it’s not likely to just fall down tomorrow.  The previous owners had lived here for 28 years, and so we listened and thought that we’d eventually fix the structure, but we’d save up for it first.  Seeing the floor bowing under the weight of the old stove frightened me, though–what if the new stove falls right through?? And with it being a gas stove, that could cause an explosion on top of it! (I have a really active imagination…)

We brought in a structural engineer to take a look at the place, and he made a lot of recommendations.  He even made some thinly veiled suggestions that were outside of his paid scope on things we need to seriously consider for the future as well.  I’d say it was worth every penny paid to be able to talk to someone who knew what we would be in for.

engineer

Here is one of the photos that was included in the engineer’s report for us.  It shows the I-beam (with surface rust), a 6×6 support beam that has been cut to make room for the duct work, and the (empty) masonry pocket that the beam should be sitting in.  This is all right below where my stove sits.  What adds to the crisis is the fact that there is another 4×4 post that supports a whole corner of my house that has recently been discovered to be splintering at the bottom.  And splitting in the middle.  And there are two other steel shores that are missing from this set-up.

Now, the United States is a very litigious society.  In fact, when Jeff originally moved here, his Canadian insurance provider advised him to seek greater than $1M in coverage in case someone sues him.  It’s well documented that our first instinct is to sue.  So when these issues became revealed to us, I started plotting my court case.  I called the city to get a history of permits pulled on this property, I called my Realtor to explain the situation that we’re now in, I studied both the seller’s disclosure and the inspection report to find problems.  I found that the sellers indicated that the structure to this house had *not* been changed.

So here I was, all rarin to go.  I was worked into a tissy and determined that the sellers were going to help us shoulder this burden, come hell or high water.  And then Jeff piped up.  Are we blind? (no.) Stupid? (no.) Naive? (well…)  He didn’t ask all of these questions to make his point, but he essentially said that we knew that this house had issues coming into it and that it’s our problem now.  We noticed ourselves that there were missing supports, I noticed myself that the beam was cut when we were doing the walk through.  Just because we didn’t appreciate how much it was going to cost at the time doesn’t mean that it’s not our fault for buying this house when we knew it had issues.  He is of the opinion, and I am in agreement with him, that we bought this house with eyes wide open.  We should have done our research before signing on the dotted line, and now it is our responsibility to make sure that it’s done right.  To take responsibility for these repairs is not to let the previous owners “walk all over us,” as I had argued, it is merely to own our mistakes and acknowledge that we made the decision to move in here.  We’re not stupid, we’re not blind, and we’re not incapable of research, and so there’s no reason for us to try to pin this issue on the sellers when we were aware of it before moving in.

This, dear reader, is where I’ve been all month.  I’ve been moving in and cleaning, but mostly fixing our new home.  The issues have made me just a tiny bit bitter about the experience, but I am trying to take it for what it is:  experience.  This is still a lovely home and it will be a great home for many years once we get these issues out of the way.  I love the peace and sophistication of my dining room.  I enjoyed taking our outdated bathroom and making it our own.  The rooms echo with our laughter already and the cats have really settled in–running amok all over the place as often as they like.

If I had a piece of advice to offer a 1st time home buyer (or any home buyer for that matter), it would be this:  Get an inspection report and pay close attention to it.  If there is no cost for remediation, or if it’s out of the scope of your inspector, take the time to look online (at the very least!) or call around to get an idea of how much a repair is going to cost.  It was $168 to have our drains cleared.  $120 to have our stove looked at.  $1000 to have it replaced.  It would’ve been $300 to have it installed if I hadn’t taken on that project.  I’m getting bids on it, but it’s going to be close to, if not upwards of $10,000 to have the structural issues fixed… and that doesn’t even begin to cover the electrical or the plumbing.  Will it be worth it?  Emotionally, sure!  It’s a great house that we can really make ours.  Financially?  Who knows.  These are issues that should’ve never been a problem in the first place, so I can’t say that we’ll see a return on our investment.  What I *can* say, though, is that fixing these issues will make sure that they don’t count against us if we ever go to sell this house, and having these issues fixed will make us that much more comfortable while we’re living here.

Posted in Challenge, Crafty, Home DIY, Life + Living

We’re Moving!

 

wpid-imag1234.jpgWe found this lovely home within our budget… We had gone back and forth a couple times about actually buying it because there’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done in the house.  We had actually rescinded our offer to purchase the home, except the sellers altered the terms of the purchase and we came around.  This gives us so much to actually be excited about…  I know where we’re going to put our Christmas tree, and how I’d like to arrange the dining room.  I can picture what our guest bedroom is going to look like, and I’m pinning up so many ideas for what to do with the unfinished basement.

2014-09-07 21_27_14-For the Home on Pinterest _ 179 Pins

 

The real deciding factor was when we got our parents to do a walk-through of the house to get a feel for whether the problems that it has are insurmountable or not.  After seeing everything in person–including the pug room, and the spray-painted spare bedroom…

wpid-imag1177.jpg

wpid-imag1182.jpg

They said that they didn’t see anything that tells them to actually walk away from the house.  I think that the males in the family were impressed with the 30′ x 30′ garage, and I think that no one could really pass up the half-acre yard that’s already fenced in for pupper-duppers:

wpid-imag1007.jpg

Even though we went back and forth a few times, we’re still trying to keep the same closing-date as before… so here’s hoping that we’ll be able to move the weekend of 9/27.  It’s going to be a flurry of packing and cleaning until then, and sadly, I have to revert the kitchen back to the brown/yellow/red mess that it was when we first moved in.  There was a term in the contract that said no contact paper, but apparently the office staff didn’t read it any closer than I did.  Thankfully, they’ll let me just remove it instead of keeping my security deposit..

Kitchen

Posted in College, Fitness, Food, Gaming, Life + Living, Overeating

Things and stuff and words

image

What’s up, bloggy-type people? I haven’t written any entries recently because I’ve been letting my standing station entry sort of sink in. I shared it with people at work, so I kind of wanted a gap between that and my normal content.

Here’s a few things and stuff and words that matter to me today (get out of my head, Phillip DeFranco!):

1. Eating is (mostly) on par, but I still eat too much sugar.

image

image

image

2. Jeff got a new desk and it’s REALLY COOL. It’s an Obutto Revolution cockpit built for a range of PC activity, but specializing in flight sims, racing games, and other stuff. His friend came over on Monday and helped with the assembly.
image

It’s wicked.
image

Before:
image
After:
image

3. When I went to Ikea recently, I happened upon a set of perler plates and a bucket of beads. My first creation…?

Well, I have had a week of static. To the point that I shocked my computer mouse the other day and killed it (thereby leaving me stuck with a mini mouse that only fits one and a half fingers):
image

Because of this, Jeff proudly proclaimed via Facebook that he married a pikachu. My first creation then, was a pikachu.
image

Posted in Gaming, Life + Living

Step by step guide to building a standing station

Last year, I posted a very high level overview about building an Ikea standing station conversion. This year, I’m showing you:

1: Read this guide
2: go to Ikea

image

3: Daydream about making some of the rooms yours:

image

4: Find and purchase the following:
~Lack side table (21×21″)
~Antonius shelf (31×11″)
~brackets of your choice

image

5. Gather your materials.  You will need

– side table
– shelf
– brackets
– power drill with 1/16″ bit and Phillips had screw driver bit
– screws of appropriate dimensions.( I raided our junk drawer to find some. You want at least two that are just under 1/2″, and about four more that are about 1″)
– a pencil
– a buddy

image

6. Assemble the table according to the included instructions (recruiting a buddy helps save fatigue in your forearms)

image

7. Figure out where you want your keyboard to be by putting the table on your existing desk. Bend your elbows to mimic typing comfortably at a keyboard (usually around 90°) and mark off this height discretely with a pencil on the inside of the table leg.

image

image

8. Measure and mark the holes for the brackets on the bottom of the shelf

image

I couldn’t find my measuring tape, so I just eyeballed it.
9. Drill a shallow pilot hole for each of the screws using a 1/16″ bit. Only go deep enough to get through the veneer

image

10. Line the brackets up as planned, then screw them down. Your screw should just fit:

image

image

11. Referencing your pencil marks from step 7, mark where you’ll be attaching the other side of the bracket to the table

image

image

12. Drill pilot holes *just* through the veneer, and use the smallest bit (1/16″ is what I used).  Get your buddy to brace the table so it doesn’t fall over on you. He or she can hang out and lend some leverage through the next steps.

13. Mount the shelf to the table using 1″ screws.

14. Place standing station conversion on your existing desk, move your monitor, keyboard, and mouse as needed and Ta da: standing station

image

* if you use too big of a bit, drill too far, or use screws that are too short, you might experience the painful conclusion of your shelf falling off when you place your table upright

image

image

Don’t worry, if plan “A” fails, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet. Plan “B” for me was to spin the table around and correct for my mistakes. The damaged part faces the wall anyway, so no one will see.

My trip to Ikea included the parts shown above, crafting beads, and lint roller refills. My bill came to $33.  The table itself should be around $7-9, the shelf around $6-7, and the brackets around $6-7.  Not a bad deal for $20!

I talked to someone there who had already made his version and he was helping a friend build one. This was #2 for me. Are you going to tackle it? Comment below with your thoughts.

Posted in Life + Living

Busted

I’m a PROcrastinator…

My husband proved he’s can foil my attempts at procrastination when he remotely accessed his computer to block me from watching a video. I had shut my computer down to prevent myself from easily using it, but Jeff’s was available!!

image

Until it wasn’t.

Lol

The funny thing is that this was just coincidence. He didn’t realize I was on his computer until I closed a window he opened.  I didn’t realize he was on his computer until he opened NotePad and told me to stop, lol

Posted in Life + Living, Wedding Planning

Crunch Time: (not abs)

So, we’re really heading into “crunch time” for the wedding and things are heating up at work, too.  There are 7 weeks left until the wedding and a lot of loose ends are getting wrapped up.  Jeff’s parents came to visit over the weekend recently and we had a wedding shower (hosted by my lovely sister and my equally awesome Grandma) to celebrate.

Wedding Shower Gifts

There are lots of pics I WISH I could’ve taken, but I did not have my camera and the available photos are mostly focused on myself and Jeff.  We did get a few great shots, though, thanks for my friend and bridesmaid Gloria, and Jeff’s Mom Sarah:

164288_4534620805075_1605896568_n

906640_10151405836249023_391334556_o

894601_10151405846974023_2119661723_o

 

We got our invitations mailed out weeks ago and I think people have had a chance to appreciate their beauty before we posted them online… check ’em out:

12970_4282342178267_955562129_n 11360_4282261896260_2042230530_n

 

The damask pattern was really pretty and doing the printing in black ink really helped us save on costs.  It’s a delight to check the mail these days in the hopes of receiving another RSVP.

We’re using Google Drive to manage our guest list, vendors, gifts, and everything.  It’s been really handy to have everything in one spot online–I was able to make a new tab and move folks over to that tab and share it with my sister so that she could get the invites out for the shower.

I just took a look at the spreadsheet and realized that so far we’ve got

125 unknown
92 accepted
32 declined

google-drive-guest-list

If you’re planning a big event and coordinating with people that may not be local, I highly suggest using a data system such as Google Drive to keep it organized.  My sister liked the idea so much that she has her guest list imported now, too.  Since she moved out of state, this will be a great way for us to keep in touch and coordinate about all the goings-on.

I’ve also been wrapping up a lot of the other details for the wedding, like crafting these adorable bookmarks and getting the vendors all squared away as far as a payment plan goes:

IMG_20130331_143903_274

 

I had one of my last dress fittings before the wedding on Friday and it’s going to be pretty close.  I need to drop at LEAST five pounds before the wedding, more if at all humanly possible.  That means any and all stress eating needs to go out the window.

Maybe I’ll de-stress by gaming instead, now that I’ve got my rig back up and running… If you play GW2, look me up 🙂 I’m in JQ and my sn is Aminarra Westin.

gw003