Tag Archives: first-time homebuyer

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming…

Today’s post was going to be the third in our We Bought A House!! series, but unfortunately, our “we still have lots of boxes everywhere” post will have to wait another day.

We have some big news! We called our first repair man! Less than one week in our new house, and it has already been christened with an over-priced furnace repair man. Hrmph.

When we acquired our Schloss, Janice, the previous owner, informed us that the furnace had been switched to the off position because she had moved out a few days (weeks?) before. No big deal! The day after we moved in, we flipped the furnace on and unpacked some boxes while waiting for the water heater to warm up. Then the radiators started hissing. What? I checked the thermostat, which had been turned off. I texted my dad, who said that’s probably normal if the system had been off for awhile. It was restoring pressure to the system, or something. We have steam heat, so I found this answer acceptable, and took my first warm shower in our new house. Ahhhhh.

Then I noticed that the furnace was kicking on frequently. Hmm. Not sure what to do, we turned it off. Because in our computer-age, restarting something is often the answer, right?

Wrong.

We left the furnace off for a few days, mostly because it’s summer and it doesn’t really matter. Except we have an indirect-fired water heater, and need the furnace on to get hot water. That’s an issue. After taking a cold shower last night, Jesse decided that this could not continue. We had to face the facts. We flipped the furnace back on and went to bed.

About an hour later, the radiators started hissing. Fine.

In the middle of the night, they were hissing more. I asked Jesse if they were hot, and he said no. Fine.

At 5:30 am, the cat was sitting outside our bedroom door meowing (she hasn’t adjusted to our new alarm time yet… hrmph). Immediately upon waking up, we noticed that the house was warm. This was weird, because temperatures dropped into the low 60s last night, and we had all of our windows open. Our bedroom was hot. Like over 80 hot. Hand on the radiator… HOT. WHAT?! Jesse ran downstairs and flipped off the furnace. Every. single. radiator was hot. The thermostat was STILL TURNED OFF.

A phone call to my dad left us still wondering what was going on. He had no idea… It could have been a number of things. A broken check valve. A defective thermostat. His recommendation? Call the oil company. Get a repair guy in.

And this, folks, is how we had a repair guy in the the house after owning the house for exactly six days.

Luckily, we got to kill three birds with one stone with this one. Not only did they fix the problem, they also performed the yearly maintenance on the furnace AND we signed up for oil delivery.

So what was the problem? The thermostat on the water heater was set too high. Yep, that’s it. In the summer, your water heater should be set around 130F. If it is set higher, excess steam builds up in the heating system, which will eventually vent to the rest of the house. This is why our radiators were hissing. Eventually, there was so much steam that it actually heated the radiators. In the winter, you can get away with turning the thermostat on the water heater up to around 180F, because the system is producing steam any way.

Hmm, who knew??

I was a little frustrated that we had to call someone in so soon after buying the house, but my dad made a good point. It’s worth it to call people in for these little things in the beginning, because then you learn. And you put any qualms at bay. So the $125 we had to spend on the oil guy? Probably won’t have to call him in for the same thing ever again (unless we develop amnesia), and our furnace has been properly maintained until next year.

One step at a time.

This homeowner thing requires a lot of brain power.

We Bought A House!!: Moving

Moving sucks.

Always. No matter what. Unless you are rich and can hire people to pack, move, clean and unpack for you. We, due to the fact that we just bought a house, are not rich. Not even close.

Packing was the easy part! We started packing at the beginning of July, which gave us plenty of time to get everything organized. If you’re moving, I highly recommend you get off your ass and pack early. As much as it sucks to pack instead of, I don’t know, catch up on back episodes of Dance Moms (guilty), having everything (or almost everything) ready to go on moving day makes moving approximately 598% easier.

I also recommend calling and reserving your moving truck about 3 months in advance. Apparently two weeks in advance is not early enough. Especially because “reserving” a truck on uhaul.com does not actually reserve you a truck. I’m not sure what it does, to be honest. Maybe let’s UHaul know that you are interested in renting a truck sometime in the near future, and if they have one, you might get it? Or maybe they just want to see how many angry phone calls they can collect over the last three days of the months. They must be those weird collector types.

So this is what happened: I “reserved” a UHaul truck on July 10! I got a confirmation email! Yes, I did notice that the email said that the location of pick-up may changed based on availability. I figured this would be fine, considering there are no fewer than 5 UHaul locations in the Fitchburg/Leominster area. This was a mistake, obviously.

On July 26, the day we closed and two days before we were moving everything we owned from one place to another, I get a call from UHaul, confirming my reservation. For pick-up in Belchertown. Belchertown? Like, 30 miles away, Belchertown??

No. Just, no.

I called the guy back and (sort of) kept my cool. Then I called the gigantic UHaul place in Leominster.

“Yeah, we have no trucks available for this weekend. It’s the end of the month, you know.”

YEAH, I KNOW.

“You gotta reserve a truck far in advance. Like more than a month. First-come first-serve.”

Two weeks? Not advanced enough. So I called the UHaul headquarters in Worcester, because apparently they can check the inventory of all the UHauls in the area.

“Yeah, we have no 14′ or 17′ trucks available in ALL OF CENTRAL MASS.”

What?! None?! Apparently, lots of people are moving to North Carolina, and UHaul can’t be bothered to try and get some trucks back up north for one of the busiest moving weekends of the year. No big deal.

So I called Budget. We had to drive 10 miles to get the truck, and 10 miles to return it, but it was cheaper than UHaul and everyone we dealt with was a million times nicer than anyone I have ever spoken with at UHaul.

Moral? Screw UHaul. Use Budget.

After the truck fiasco, everything went smooth as it possibly could have. Charged up with munchkins and cold-brewed iced iced coffee, our team of superheroes had the cars and the truck loaded in two hours. We made the half hour drive to the Schlöss, ordered four pizzas, recharged with beer, and got everything unloaded in two hours. This includes the half hour it took to get the couch into the living room. Did I mention how our family and friends are superheroes? Our team consisted of my mother, my father, my aunt Maureen, Jesse’s father, Jesse’s brother, our friends Drew and Nikki, and, at the Schlöss, my aunt and uncle Patty and Bill, and our friends Jess and Allen. Superheroes!

Bean also tolerated the move as good as we could have expected her to. Actually, it was the easiest move I’ve had with her since I took her home four years ago. I mean, this house is technically her seventh home in four years (if you include where she was born, and the bedroom at my parents’ house that she was confined to for the two months we were displaced by fire), so she should be old hat at moving. She still hates it though. When I moved the litter box from the basement and closed the basement door, she knew it was time. She meowed at me once, and hid in the spare bedroom behind the futon pieces. When we moved the futon, she behaved exactly as I predicted and went and hid in our bedroom closet, where I had craftily stuck her litter box and the cat carrier. When I came back for her an hour later, she was sitting (unhappily) in the back of the cat carrier. SCORE.

At the house, I let her into the room that will eventually be the office, and she hid in the closet. She’s fine now, and will not stop running around. Success.

After we finished with the move, our sweaty staff made their way home, and we returned our truck. Me, Jesse, and Jess drank some Coors Lights. I unpacked the kitchen, and Jesse set up the TV. We watched half of Hesher. Allen and his wife, Robin came by with more beer. We stood in the kitchen, and Jesse and I accidentally got drunk. Everyone left, and we went to bed.

And really didn’t sleep.

The sounds of a new house are weird. We live on a fairly busy street, which we are used to, but the traffic kept me awake. The creaks of the house kept me awake. Our neurotic cat, coming into the room about five times and mewing once, kept me awake. And both Jesse and I got really confused when the Maynard clock tower chimed… We thought it was our alarm (which wasn’t set).

And even though Jesse woke up with his first hangover in the new house, it okay, because we were home. And Sunday night, I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30. It was okay, except our house looks like this:

Tasks for another day!

We Bought A House!!: The Closing

I stand by my opinion that real estate closings, especially for first-time homebuyers, should have 1) snacks and 2) balloons and confetti upon completion.

Without those things, it’s actually pretty anti-climatic.

Not really, though!

So, our closing! Allen, our friend/realtor said that our closing was about a 0.1 on a scale of 0-10 of difficulty. That was despite the fact that the mortgage broker didn’t get the paperwork to our lawyer until 7:30 at night, and the lawyer didn’t the final number on the oil adjustment until almost 9. This meant that we showed up to the closing with no check, and no idea how much our check would have to be. Fortunately, everyone we worked with was ridiculously nice and they let us run to the bank right after the closing. Whew.

The closing itself was… fine? I’d say it was boring, but I was too busy initialing and signing about two hundred pieces of paper. Even that wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. After working our way through the stack, Janice (the previous homeowner) handed us the keys, her realtor thanked our realtor for making this his smoothest transaction of the year, and we were done (after we ran to the bank)!

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Meeting Janice was actually really cool. I was apprehensive about meeting the previous owner, because who knows what they’ll be like. She was at the walk through (which is odd, apparently) and told us about some of the little quirks of the house. Janice lived in the house for over 30 years and raised her family there. I cannot imagine what it was like for her to hand over the keys to a girl in skinny jeans and Converse and a guy with tattoos, camo shorts, and a dirty Red Sox hat. But she was super friendly. She filled us in on the neighbors, told us where she’d be staying until she found a house in Central Mass, and told us to contact her if we had any questions. I hope we came off as genuinely caring about the house, because we do.

After the closing, Allen took us out to lunch (thanks Al!) and we ate some pretty kick-ass Italian food and talked about beer. And then we went home.

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We walked through the entire house. Talked paint colors. Stocked the fridge with beer for moving day. Assessed the back yard. Made mental notes about what had to stay (the owl plant hangers) and what had to go (ALL the brass fixtures… so much brass). We fell in love all over again (with the house, not the each other, hahaha).

Because we had no furniture with us, and you can’t do much without furniture, we headed back to Fitchburg. We did some more packing. We did some sitting. We did a lot of, “Shit, we just bought a house.”

The next day, Jesse went to the dentist. I went to work. We packed and packed and packed. And on Saturday, we moved.

But that’s for next time.

Dreamin’

I would be embarrassed to count the number of hours I have spent flipping through the pictures on the Redfin listing of our new house.

I would also be embarrassed to count the number of times I have berated Jesse with, “What do you think about this?” and “What if we did this?” and the number of hours I have spent on sites like Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge.

While probably normal, this behavior is slightly embarrassing because 1) we have been in the house exactly two times (once for the viewing and once for the home inspection) and 2) buying a house is a lot of money (duh), so to think that we can do some pretty epic decorating and overhauling in the first year is, well, stupid. But if you think this has stopped me from dreaming and scheming, then THINK AGAIN.

I have made a list. A lofty, dreamy list. This list contains all of the things that I want to do to our little schlöss, based on the two times we have been in the house and the pictures on Redfin ONLY. I fully expect this list to expand change once we move in, and I also fully intend on drafting a more realistic, immediate list once we move in and get a better idea of what we are dealing with.

But for now, a girl can dream, right?

The Number One thing on my list is painting. Everything. All of the walls. Currently, all of the walls (except those in the kitchen) are white. I have been reading some a lot of design and decorating blogs, and painting everything white seems to be the current in thing. I hate it! It’s so sterile! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to paint every room lime green (got that out of my system in college, although I did love it), but having every room be white is too much.

Now grey on the other hand… (cue Jesse groaning… He thinks I actually want to paint every room grey).

I want to paint every room, but I don’t have all of the colors planned out. Yet. I would love to paint the dining room a rich, deep navy blue. Like this:

It looks so sexy. Actually, the dining room table I want to build will be very similar to the one in the picture, too. I also want to paint the kitchen grey. Yes, for real. It is the only room I actually plan on painting grey. For now. The counters are a light grey laminate (that’ll be replaced eventually, when we have money again), so I was thinking that a medium grey color for the walls would compliment the counters and the dining room.

I would also love to paint the porch. We have this awesome three-season porch that I think would look great with painted floors, walls, and ceilings (it is currently just natural wood).

And the front door! This is actually the very first thing I would love to paint. We talked about painting it teal-ish (although Jesse is convinced that we decided on plaid. Or argyle. Hmm), and we’ll likely settle on something in the blue range. I think this is a really great way to make the place feel immediately like ours.

Ok, so painting isn’t that lofty. What else? I’m already imagining knocking down the wall between the kitchen and dining room to open up the space a bit. Also, opening the doorway between the dining room and the living room to make it a little more open there as well.  I’d really love a house that is mostly open-concept, but that was unfortunately not in our budget, and also relatively uncommon in the area we were looking in (probably a budget thing?). However, my not-so-expert instincts tell me that maybe just maybe we could knock down some walls to open up a little space. Because I know so much about construction.

As for the kitchen, I probably shouldn’t even get started. Our kitchen is cute. Really cute. It could, however, use more counter space (as with most kitchens). Whenever we have people over, most people tend to congregate in front of the TV (we have a HUGE couch) or in the kitchen. This means we need space for at least two people to sit down, and more to congregate. My first instinct is to put in an awesome kitchen island, which I think we’d have the space for. Then we could put stools in, and everything would be great. The second option is to put a small table in the kitchen, but I really want an island. I also really want to install a backsplash, buy a new stove (This one, perhaps. In 6027, obviously.), buy a fridge with an ice maker, and install new countertops. I don’t imagine this happening any time soon though. Dreams.

One thing that we’ll hopefully be able to conquer next summer is the installation of a small patio, complete with a fire pit that we can cook over. The back yard is currently fenced in, and I think we’re both in agreement that the fence probably should come out (it’s just chain-link) and a patio should definitely go in. Jesse has dreams of a smoker out back, and that could definitely be a reality if we plan it right.

Further down the line, I would love to be able to figure out a way to put in a second bathroom. Piece of cake, right?

I realize that these are all gigantic undertakings and most of them are things we are not going to be able to do for at least five years (minus painting). Like I said, lofty! But I can’t not think about these things.

For now, I should probably just focus on packing. And getting ready to move. Although, moving should be extra cushy, since our landlords didn’t find anyone to move in a month early and we’re on the hook ’till the end of August. Plus: more time to move! Minus: paying rent. Meh.

Three days until the closing! Five until moving day! I think I’m going to have a heart attack.