We bought our house a little less than five years ago. It just sort of fell into our laps—we had no intention of buying a house at that time. I had never even given it any thought. For goodness sakes, I wasn’t even 19 yet, and Jerm was 22. Just look at us– we were practically babies.
It all started when I can home from work and Jerm was working in his garage. His dad had just called him, telling him about a house three doors down that was in foreclosure. He had called the listing agent and found out that they had just dropped the asking price to $40,000, so he told us we should buy it. We both wanted to at least look at it. $40,000 seemed so cheap, so we were wondering what was wrong with it. I called the agent, and we made an appointment for the next day. I was so excited, I think I even dressed up for the occasion. Here she is in all her untouched beauty. Notice the plastic covering the broken windows and the broken bottom step?
After walking through the house, it was evident that it needed a ton of work, but the bones of the house were good. The house is around 800 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom—perfect for a future starter home. We walked straight to the real estate office and put in our offer the same day. Since it was a foreclosure, it took months to hear anything back from the bank, but we finally got word that it was ours. We waited another month or so for closing and out of nowhere got a call that we could close that day if we could make it to the lawyer in time. I ran to the bank just before they closed to get our cashier’s check and then we flew to the closing. We left without getting any keys—no one knew where they were—so we ended up having to break into our new house.
Our house needed everything. When the owners found out it was being foreclosed on, they pretty much gutted the house. They took all of the conduit and wiring down in the basement, they took all of the cabinets, and they took the furnace, water heater, and air conditioner.
We were both “house newbs.” Neither of us had really worked on things like plumbing or electrical before, but Jerm is very handy and was able to pick it up quickly.
A few of the major repairs that we did right off the bat:
- We took out the chimney. The chimney came up right through the kitchen making figuring out a layout very difficult. Jerm stood on the roof and chiseled off bricks. He dropped them down the chimney one by one, and I stood in the basement and pulled them out. It was dirty work.
- We installed a high efficiency furnace and water heater that could vent out the side–hence the reason we could get rid of our chimney..We actually ended up getting our furnace and air conditioning unit for a little bit of traded labor. Jerm’s dad went out on a garage door service call and saw them sitting in the customer’s garage. The customer didn’t have a use for them, so he agreed to trade them for the cost of the service call. This was awesome, as it saved us a couple thousand dollars!
- We (or should I say Jerm) re-plumbed the whole house in copper.
- With the help of our friend Mike, the whole house was rewired.
After that, it was onto a lot of cosmetic stuff. I will be getting into the details in some later posts, but we were initially planning on using the house as a rental house. Keep in mind that we weren’t even engaged at this point, so living there wasn’t really an option. Because of this, some of my initial design decisions were questionable – we are talking about a girl who lived in an orange bedroom with blue carpeting. We were trying to use what we had and remodel very economically. Luckily, I didn’t get too far before we got engaged (a whole other story) and realized I should decorate how I wanted it. This only involved repainting 2 rooms…
Even though we have lived here for over 3 ½ years now, our house is still evolving. We have big plans for the future, and I’m always finding little projects I want to take on.
More to come in the future but how about you? Do you have any stories about your first home-buying experience?