House Update #1

You guys really loved the first blogpost about the house, but not so much the cliffhanger ending! It went a little like this..

“So we badgered the seller to either: fix the problems before closing or give us the monetary value to fix it. Not getting too into the details, we received 2 estimates saying that it could either cost us $5000 to fix it all, or $13,000. So by now, you guys know we went with the house. So what did we get from the sellers to make us to justify those problems and go forward with closing?”

So what did we get from the sellers? Honestly, it was pretty disappointing what they offered: a monetary value so that we can fix up everything we needed. But it wasn’t near how much we expected. Per the 2 very different quotes we got from 2 contractors after we went them the inspection report, we were expecting the sellers to give us at least $8,000. Instead, they offered $5000 as the final and as much as we tried to fight them on it, we decided we didn’t want to push too hard and possibly lose the house.

But keep in mind, these were very general quotes that were based off of the inspection report. The inspector isn’t allowed to poke and pry and find out exact issues, just general ones. So there were a lot of unknowns at this time: is the crawlspace really that bad? Will the rusted pipes/venting need to be completely gutted out and replaced, or will patchwork suffice? We would have to find out by hiring out several different people to come inspect and quote us on the exact problems and their cost.

So it began.

Every day that first week, there were people coming in and out of the house - HVAC guys, plumbers, electricians, crawlspace specialists - all throwing estimates and quotes that I just about had a meltdown of how much $ we were about to spend on a freaking house. I knew homeownership would be stressful, but this was tough, especially with the frenzy of everything: buying the house, negotiating with the sellers, packing, moving, cleaning the townhome for its final inspection, Caleb working, and me trying to manage my schedule so at least one of us could be present when all this was happening. Thankfully, my FIL took off work, drove up and stayed with us throughout this time so that if Caleb and I weren’t able to be at the house when the contractors came, he would be the one to overlook all the work.

Plus, what do we really know? I rented apartments with roommates and lived with my parents and they are also still renting, and Caleb lived in brand new lofts in college and then lived with his parents while we were long distance. So Caleb’s dad was constantly the one asking the right questions and not to mention he has been working on his own projects around the house. Thank god for him.

And so you must be wondering.. did the $5000 that the sellers offered cover anything we needed?

Hell to the no. But we kind of expected that. But also didn’t expect everything to cost so damn much.

Without getting too much into detail, we found out that the entire HVAC venting system needed to be completely gutted and the crawlspace to be encapsulated and sealed because upon further investigation, there was not only mold, but also a pool of water that caused the crawlspace to be wet and muddy, and the venting system was so crappy that the crawlspace was actually getting better AC than the house itself. Not exactly what you want to hear on a 90 degree day. We were quoted about $8000 for that.

Then, the plumbers told us we needed to new water heater STAT. We knew this already: the water heater was a mess, and was in the master bedroom closet. Not up to code. And add those hot copper pipes right next to a washer/dryer? We would essentially be asking for something very bad to happen. So there went $5000.

Then, the electrician told us we didn’t have any dire needs, but that lots of the wires weren’t grounded and that we needed an updated system so that if there ever was anything wrong, a bigger problem such as a fire could be prevented. Also keep in mind that none of the rooms had lights installed (wtf), and a lot of the outlets were 2-prong instead of 3-prong. So he quoted us around $15,000 total, but thankfully.. we were able to bargain with him, take out some of the miscellaneous items that we wanted more than needed, and brought it down to about $9000.

Essentially, we found out that the house had just been touched up and had patchwork done. It was no surprise, though, since the sellers had rented out the house for the past 20 years. But the most frustrating part of the whole thing was that so many of the problems could have been prevented or just done right the first time around.

First things first: we needed to prioritize what needed to happen ASAP. The water heater and HVAC took precedence before anything. So there went $5000 on a tankless water heater installed on the exterior of the house, but god do we have peace of mind knowing that the water heater system won’t need to be replaced for another 18-20 years, and we have instant hot water that doesn’t run out. We also needed a new gas range, but the original range was a Jenn-Air downdraft, which is #1. weirdly niche and unnecessary, and #2 old as dirt, #3 EXPENSIVE, and #4 probably a part of why the crawlspace was so disgusting, because the vent led directly into it. A new downdraft range would cost us about $3000 and there are only about 2-3 downdraft ranges in the market. So we decided to get a new hood installed and buy a new range with the Memorial Day sales going on, which would ultimately cost less than buying a new downdraft range that could possibly break and cost another $3000 in the future, compared to $600-1500 for a normal gas range.

The HVAC is estimated to cost about $8000. I mean, can you just imagine how many burrito bowls that could get you!? And imagine me, with a running list of home decor I want, being told that we’re about to spend all our money on this crap instead of being able to actually decorate the house. But I quickly got my mind out of that place because this all needed to happen. The cute frilly stuff could come later. So that weird habit I have of filling up my shopping cart and exiting the browser got even worse. Because it would be like a $800 dining table and a $700 coffee table from West Elm in the cart and then exiting out. But let me tell ya, it’s cathartic in a way.

So you can do the math, $8000 for HVAC + $9000 for electric + $5000 for plumbing + $1500 for range/hood + miscellaneous = an outrageous amount of money. Plus, we still have daily expenses like getting gas for our cars, eating out when the power and water are out and the workers trash the house, etc. Now, being pretty financially responsible, we knew that it’s always smart to keep at least $20,000 in your savings at all times. Because things happen! So we decided to take out a small personal loan to finance the HVAC with Estes at a 0% interest rate (cha-ching!) and pay out of pocket for just about everything else so that it could all be done and we won’t need to worry about any major issues for the next 10-20 years.

So… that’s where we’re at! We are spending a lot of our money. It sucks. But wow are we fortunate. We have to keep reminding ourselves that:

  1. We are fortunate be in this situation in the first place.

  2. Doing all of this now means not having to worry about it for the next 10-20 years.

  3. This is what we saved up for!

  4. We both still have stable jobs and so we will be able to save $ again.

We also implemented something called, “Small Joys,” where we point out small things that bring us joy during this time. Such as bringing Louis over for the first time and seeing him explore the home and find his pee/poop spots and his favorite room and his favorite napping spots. Another is how beautiful it is when it rains over the canopy on the back patio and we can open up the french doors and feel the breeze while listening to the rain fall. Another is this beautiful planter that my SIL got me for my birthday and the beautiful Elephant Ear plant we got from Lowe’s! Another is how our door handles make a really crisp “click” when you unlock them. Another is this new bed frame we got from Wayfair that I’m obsessed with, the only decor item we purchased so far. Small joys.

With all of that said, things are happening! As I type this, the plumbers are back, fixing our guest bathroom shower because the diverter is broken. This morning, HVAC came to rip out all of the vents and pipes and the 60 year old furnace. If you saw my Instagram stories this past weekend, all the rooms have LED ceiling fans now and the office has a mounted light! We also have an arc fault breaker that will block any wires that may trip and possibly cause a fire.

My MIL also came up this weekend and while I was taking my post-work nap, she and Caleb and my FIL tore up the old, slanted sidewalk that was leaking rainfall into the crawlspace (left). Then we fixed it all up to drain the water away from the crawlspace vents and onto the front lawn.

With the next update, I hope to say that we’re all done with the major work! We did get a quote for our windows to be switched to double pane windows, because these single pane windows aren’t the most energy efficient (or safe). They quoted us around $8500 and it’s the next big thing we need to tackle, perhaps in about 6 months - 1 year so we aren’t completely broke!

Till then, friends. Hope you guys enjoyed following along!