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 Counseling, Emotional Eating, Gaming

The first visit

TL:DR – went to counseling. It sucked. I’m going to find a better match.

So, I’m sitting here at the moment.. eating cereal with a fork because there are no more spoons.. trying to figure out what I have to do for the day.  Dishes, obviously.  I hate that when I get into a funk, there is a cascade of things that stop getting done–cleaning being one of the first.  Next is cooking, working out, eating right, and then showering.  This is probably a good thing, though, because when your hair is gross and you have nothing/no way to eat–you’re motivated to do something about it.

I don’t know why but cleaning up and seeing my accomplishments always makes me feel a lot better.  One of the first things on my to-do list today includes blogging about the first steps.  I’ve had a lot of positive feedback, and a lot of silence about my most previous post.  My WordPress entries get shared to my facebook page (and all of the friends who choose to click the link) so a majority of my entries are superficial and at the very least entertaining (I hope?) So, for me to now be posting something so heavy is a little nerve wracking.  Hopefully the friends who choose to read it will talk to me.

——–

One of the things that’s difficult about starting counseling is figuring out where to begin and what you want to talk about.  On Monday, after work, I was asked to do just two more things and I was in tears over it.  They were simple things. Easy things.  But it was after a day of non-stop pressure to get everything done–missed breaks, looming deadlines, everyone needing everything right when they ask for it and drop anything else you’ve been asked to do because my need trumps their need.  Is it understandable why I broke down into tears?  Partially.  But that also happens when I listen to sappy songs or see insurance commercials.  Stress is stressful and like a judgy parrot in my ear my mom has always told me “you don’t handle stress well.”  That kind of stressed me out.

Tuesday, I woke up and I was still just run down.  A Kelly Clarkson song (Dark Side) came on the radio and I was a blubbering pile of mush.  I went to work because I was supposed to meet with my manager about a deadline that I missed.  I closed the door and tried to tell her in a level voice (which was probably hard to understand as I kept feeling overwhelmed) that I need to take the day off and I’m finally going to ask for help.

She was very supportive. She gave me the day off, canceled all of my meetings, told me to take as much time as I needed, but to make sure I clued Jeff into the situation and make sure that I’m not alone.

“I’m not in danger,” I replied, “you don’t have to worry about me.”

Apparently this sounds rehearsed and was not believed (really) by anyone who heard it.  So, to make sure they weren’t fussing over me, and because I was going to tell him anyway, I called Jeff on my way back out to my car and told him I was not working that day and that I was finally going to ask for help.

When I got home, I had to have basically the same conversation with him that I had already had that morning with both my mom and my boss, and he was the third to react in much the same way “If you need the help, get the help.  I’ll be here for you.” This was followed by my favorite kind of Jeff-hugs–the uber gentle yet strong ones that say he’ll hold me up if I can’t hold myself up.

I idled for a while, waiting for him to go to work and not quite realizing that he wasn’t going to leave.

My employer offers an Employee Assistance Program through ComPsych and so I just sucked it up and made the call while he was there.  They did an availability search and signed me up to see the first person available.  The next day.

“Hi, yeah, it’s Jeff. I’m not coming into the office today.  My fiancee is having a bit of an emotional break down and I’d like to stay with her.”

Jeff and I just chilled out, napped, watched House and Dr. Who and Supernatural the rest of the day.

I worked from home for half the day following, and spent some time looking into this person they had referred me to..

Her website used a lot of fluff words.  “I take a strength-based approach in counseling. We not only bring our problems to counseling, we also bring our problem solving and coping skills” I found myself judging this person, even though I had never met her and scoffed heartily at this statement.  Coping skills?? COPING SKILLS?! I HAVE no COPING SKILLS! That’s why I’m going to come see you!

ahem

Still, though, the hardest part is always taking the first step.  Even if she wasn’t the best fit for me, she was someone who was highly educated and presumably cared about helping people.

I found my way to a waiting room…nicely appointed, I suppose, if completely outdated.  I sit anxiously and browse Pinterest on my phone until someone says my name.

I look up, say ‘Hello,’ and they disappear around a corner.  I know their name and they know mine based on the 3rd party appointment, so I suppose no introductions are necessary.  Assuming I am to follow this person, I find myself in an office with the same sort of outdated decor.  She hands me paperwork, but all that I notice are the stains on her shirt and the ramen in the trash.  There’s a dreamcatcher by the door.

They say that first impressions are the ones that get the most weight.  No matter how hard you try to make up for it, a bad first impression isn’t going to get better.  Still, though, I was there for help.  She had handed me the paperwork to fill out and sent me out to the waiting room to get it done.  After jotting down the above, I started looking through the pages and there was more fluff-talk and then some serious questions, which I answered to the best of my abilities.  Jeff was written down as my fiance and emergency contact, stress was identified as the reason for my visit, etc.



I didn’t go on to elaborate that 1-2 hrs was during the work-week and that on weekends, I can play for 8+ hrs at a time.  Nope. I wasn’t here for addiction counseling because it is a hobby, not an addiction.  But, it was another point against her being a good fit for me.

When I returned to the room, she ruffled through the pages and thanked me for filling them out.  Then she set them aside and asked what brought me to counseling.  Stress.  I briefly defined the stressors in my life (I listed off various items but summarized that I have felt overwhelmed in the past and just wanted the tools to deal with stress better).

I made the mistake of mentioning that starting BCP helped me to even out so that I wasn’t so extreme during that time of the month.  Even though I emphasized that I was looking to develop some personal skills to handle stress and to dissipate it on my own, she latched on to meds like a bulldog with a bone. OOH! MEDS! MEDS ARE THE ANSWER! I’m off the hook! her face practically shouted. She mentioned that she thinks medication may help me and that she can’t prescribe it herself but that she can give me a referral for these really reliable folks she works with that are just right down the road. … I had been there less than 10 minutes and expressed quite clearly “I don’t think that’s the right option for me right now. I am looking for tools, not medication.” So then she went on about how previous patients have had success, and made it out so that everyone who gets on the pills are happy and fulfilled in their life. I asked if there’s any way to test to KNOW that I need medication and she said no, talked about the side-effects that could be experienced and said “You would have to take it for a few weeks before it reaches therapeutic levels and if you don’t see an improvement, they can always try the next type of medication for you.”  I deadpanned and repeated that I don’t think it’s the right option for me right now.  “Well, I’m not going to twist your arm and make you take medication, but I’m still going to give you this recommendation and you take it with you.  Your primary care physician can make the referral, too, if you change your mind.” And her face made that “I’m awesome and just fixed your problems but you don’t know it yet” expression.

Medication isn’t going to take the stress out of work and its myriad of demands, college and its never-ending work-load, self-confidence issues partially impacted by a past relationship issue, sick cats, obligations to see family and friends even though I’m so busy all the time, lack of ability to lose weight even though I’ve been trying, financial woes, wedding planning, etc.  I was trying to illustrate to her that I have a helluva lot going on at this time, but that I didn’t have very good ways to cope with it and I didn’t feel like I could stop doing what’s important to me — seeing friends/family, going to school, going to work, taking care of kitties, or wedding planning.

You know what she latched on to? My relationship.  Even though half of the relationship was missing from the room.  She wasn’t listening to me, and now had actively taken a stance against my significant other.  And that FACE!! That “I’m right, but you just don’t know it yet” face..

I called an end to the session and declined to reschedule when she asked when next I’d be in.

Never, if I can help it.
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The important thing here, though, is that it was not a waste of time.  Making the phone call, getting a referral, asking for help, and then actually keeping the appointment when I felt a bit silly about it in retrospect–THOSE were the hardest things.  Seeing this ill-fitted match is the worst that could have happened, but that just illustrates to me that it gets better.

The next step is to clarify what I want, what I need, what my goals are, and how someone else can help me to realize them.  I’m going to have to call for another referral, but this time I’ll be clear in what I want vs. what I don’t, and I’ll screen their websites before I make an appointment.  I may be giving up on that woman as a match, but this isn’t over, not by a long shot.  I may be “feeling better” today than on Monday, but I’ve already stepped over the line–I’ve already declared that I need better tools to manage my stress and taken the step towards getting them.  I’m not going to give up now just because my first attempt didn’t work.