Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Uncharted territory

Working on our new townhouse is the first project that my husband J and I have truly done together. We haven't made this many decisions in such a short period of time since we planned our wedding. The setbacks are just as aggravating and the looming deadlines are similar, but there's less emotional pressure now. We are better at bantering and reading each other's non verbal signals. It's really gratifying to work this hard and know that the payoff is going to be so big. That being said, let me share an Unexpected Source of Conflict.

Before I describe it, here are some factors to consider:

1) We are out of our comfort zone when it comes to home maintenance. J has done some construction in the past, and I've done my fair share of household upkeep with a big family and remodeling out of necessity. Updating an existing house to be the kind of home we want is a lot harder than it sounds. Thankfully, we have a lot of friends working for us and with us, showing us the ropes. But we are in over our heads.

2) We're spending more money than we ever have before. One shopping trip to the hardware store resulted in a purchase equal to the price of my first car.

3) We're choosing stuff we have to live with and look at every day: flooring, appliances, furniture, etc. It's not like we can return any of this stuff after a month if we get bored.

For the sake of anonymity, I will describe the Unexpected Source of Conflict as a multiple choice question:

What is the best way to respond to an employee in a big box hardware store who asks, "You folks need any help?"

a) "No thanks, we're good!" (knowledgeable employee saunters off, never to be heard from again).

b) "Hi! Yes! We need help!" (then look expectantly at spouse to do the rest of the talking).

c) "Yeah, what can you tell me about [insert topic-that-spouse-already-knows-all-about here]?"

d) "---------" (blank stares. Crickets in the distance).

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's been one week

In case you think we're lounging around with nothing to do, read on.

Day one of home ownership (11-9-09): Signed Chicago Title paperwork. Left with an ominous feeling, wide eyes, and cramping hand. Final payment due in 2039???

Day three: Keys delivered to work by Real Estate Agent. Hard time concentrating the rest of the day.

Day four: First act as homeowners: bought air freshener for entry way. Musty potato smell subsides. Removed child-proof latches from every door imaginable. I’m led to believe previous owners kept poisonous chemicals in every cupboard. Took down rusty metal blinds from master bathroom shower (Wha?). Purchased 1600 square feet of laminate flooring. Dismantled crummy shelving unit in spare room.

Day five: Shopped at Home Depot for light bulbs and toilet seats. Cleaned previous owners’ black crusty overflow from oven. Pulled carpet up in spare room, found horrifying stains and mold, had panic attack. Ate first meal in new home: PB and honey sandwiches. Forgot to bring a knife; spread peanut butter with screwdriver. Replaced all toilet seats. Promptly clogged toilet; declared first “off limits” zone. Cleaned until 1am. Slept like the dead.
Day six: Shopped for new appliances. Repairman-friend assured us the mold and stains we unearthed are treatable. Recruited my brothers to help pull up all carpets in living room, hallways, bedrooms. Pulled up all carpet-holding-nail-boards. Pulled up all carpet padding. Pulled up all carpet padding staples. Swept and vacuumed all surfaces. Fed brothers. Painted raw wooden floor as moisture block for new laminate floor. The two of us used one rolling brush and one handheld edger brush. Carried our shoes up and down the stairs so as not to spread primer. Primer ran out at midnight. Realized this is going to be a lot more work than we anticipated.
Day seven: This morning we packed our car with the fourth load of boxes. We'll transfer as much as we can into the new garage while the living area flooring is finished. Tonight's project will be removing trim.
Photos coming soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The moment we've all been waiting for

Guess what?

We're moving! Our loan got the final green light last week, and we are mere hours away from being homeowners. We signed the last of the mountainous paperwork on Monday, and we're waiting for our Real Estate agent to call and tell us she has our new keys. The apartment is in total disarray as we start packing all the non-essentials.

Prior to moving in, our projects at the new place include: new flooring, update some or all of the kitchen cabinets, install a security system, fix broken pipe(s), enclose water heater to comply with building codes, buy a washer/dryer and fridge (last owners took theirs) and patch crack in garage floor. We have help lined up and professionals on call, so we're hoping to get started this weekend. CRAZY! I am so excited, but bracing myself to take one step at a time, because I know it will be a process. We've given notice to our apartment managers, so we have to be completely moved out by the end of the month. Between now and then, we'll be consolidating our possessions (we've accumulated a LOT in 2.5 years of marriage), making room for boxes, and cleaning like crazy.

JAK: this picture is for you. My valuables are being given special attention. Rest assured that the new household will be complete since I'm bringing my decorative banana.