Archive for the ‘Home Buying’ Category

The baby’s room. It is making me crazy.

We finished painting the walls awhile ago, and it looked great. But when we took the tape off, we realized just how awful the trim and baseboards looked. The previous painters did such a poor job of painting that everything was covered in multi-colored speckles and streaks.

This is just one corner, but imagine that all over every piece of window trim, door trim and baseboard. It was so ugly. So we thought, Let’s paint it all white! Oh us, we were so innocent back then. Our simple idea has become a disaster. No, a DISASTER!

Mike started the project while I was on a business trip for five days. He painted the ceiling, then took on the trim. But he didn’t tape the walls. Why? Well, the problem is that there is so much paint gunked into all the corners between the trim and walls (see photo above), that you can’t really tell where the wall ends and the trim begins. Had he taped, we would have found orange, blue and white paint still stuck visibly in those cracks when it was removed. So basically he had to slop on the paint, cracks and all. Meaning, there is now white paint on the beautiful Beguiling Mauve walls. Once we’re done painting the trim, we’ll have to to define the corners, then tape the trim and REPAINT the mauve!

So that’s the first problem. The second problem is that the white paint will not cover the stained wood. We did our research before starting, but still failed in execution. Mike sanded, but probably not nearly enough. And we failed to use primer first. So now, nearly two weeks later, he’s working on the fourth coat of paint. And it’s still not fully covering.

The third problem (yes there’s a third) is that out of nowhere, parts of the wall paint started bubbling. Little tiny bubbles spattered across the wall. The only thing we can determine is that somehow moisture (humidity?) got under the second coat of paint, and it just now decided to react. And the only solution Google has provided is to scrape off the bubbles, sand to wall to smoothness, and REPAINT!

I mean really. How much painting can one room require? I’m so over it. I can’t even walk past that room without feeling anxious, so Mike has completely taken over the project. He spends all his evenings meticulously painting trim. It’s no fun for either of us, and we’re not even close to being done with the painting in there.

Oh! One more thing. We decided not to paint the actual windows, just to see how it would look. It looks terrible. Not so much because they are stained wood windows surrounded by white trim (though that’s part of it), but because of this:

HUD paid to have the lead paint in the windows fixed. Which everyone (including our realtor) thought would mean replacing the windows. But instead they paid over $3,000 to have someone paint over the existing paint. A three-year-old, we presume. Because they did such a terrible job, there’s no way it was done by a professional company who accepts payment for this kind of work.

Unfortunately, we can’t get a hold of anybody who will help us fix this problem. It’s been a losing battle since the beginning, but we’ve refused to fix the problem ourselves because we hope someone will eventually take ownership of this crappy work and do something about it.

So now what’s happening is the white of the trim is picking up and emphasizing the white paint slopped onto the window panes. I don’t have a photo to share because, remember? I can’t go near that room without having an anxiety attack, let alone take any pictures of it. Just trust me, it looks bad. We’re either going to have to paint the windows, scrape the window panes (from the outside, on the second floor), or live with it.

I’m leaning toward living with it. At least until the baby is 12 or so. If we can get the trim and walls in decent shape, maybe I can stand to live with the ugly windows.


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Move-in day was amazing. Did you know we have the best family possible? I know lots of people have great families, but mine is definitely one of them. So many people showed up, and most of them stayed all day. The last didn’t leave until after 7:00. Who showed up?

My dad and stepmom and their two kids
My mom and stepdad
Mike’s dad
Mike’s mom
My sister Andrea, her husband and son
My sister Emily and her husband
My sister Kelli and her daughter
Mike’s brother

They moved our entire house over, and then helped us start unpacking. They got our whole kitchen unpacked, most of our bathroom stuff, and a variety of other things. We even set up our living room furniture, the desk, the dining area, and all of the beds. They even made the beds and set up a few decorative touches here and there. We haven’t figured out a way to thoroughly thank everyone. Other than POOL PARTY! Too bad we’re not opening the pool till next summer…

Anyway, when I last left off, we were midway through painting the living room. In the last few days before move-in, we finished that, painted some of the brick on our fireplace, painted a door, and started to paint in the kitchen. Here are some photos from move-in day.

Giant Moving Truck

All packed up!

Living room with new paint!

Remember what it looked like before?

Sitting room with fireplace (other side of living room).


The fireplace used to have reddish bricks with a random splotch of white paint. We painted them grey. The white part needs a new coat of paint still. You can see the before look here:


We started painting it grey (the same as the fireplace bricks), but we still need to do the bulk heads. And we’ll paint that brown paneling part on the left to be white. And eventually I want to paint the cabinets (despite several people discouraging me – I just really hate the wood cabinets). And down the road, new flooring and countertops.

Here’s the kitchen before the paint:

Moving on the multi-purpose “front room.”

Front room – entryway and dining area.

Front room – sitting area (plus lots of random junk – this was our drop zone)

Front room – desk area.

Half bath on main floor. What’s up with that paint?

Basement rec area. The rest of the basement is a large unfinished area we’ll use for storage and laundry.

Full bath upstairs.

Full bath, another view.

There are also four bedrooms upstairs. I don’t have any great photos, and mostly they’re just a big mess right now anyway. One is the guest room, which I’ll also use as my sewing/craft room. The second is a future nursery. The third is the room where I store all my clothes, and also where I’m sleeping until I can cure my ridiculous insomnia* and be a normal human again. The fourth is our room, where Mike sleeps and stores his clothes.

And that’s the house! Lots more to unpack and arrange, lots of painting to do, and eventually, lots of fun renovation projects. It has only been three nights, but we’ve settled in easily. Even our cats feel right at home. Oberon, in past moves, has hidden away for a couple days before venturing out. This time, within a few hours, he was exploring, lounging on the couch, and hissing at Lennie. All indicators he feels right at home!

*For the last several months, I’ve basically stopped sleeping. I toss and turn and kick and flail all night. I get up and read or find something else to do several times a night. I’m a mess, and sharing a room with another person only makes it worse. For me and him!

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I’ve been excited to share some news here, but I’ve been putting it off. WE FINALLY BOUGHT A HOUSE! Back in May, I mentioned that we won a bid on a HUD home, and it took until July 31 to actually close on it. We were fine with this, we were in no hurry, and the details of the delay were too mundane to be blog-worthy. But then we finally closed, and I still didn’t want to write about it. I was too upset about how things went down in the last 24 hours that I knew any post would be spiked with vitriol. I wanted to celebrate the house, not rant about it. So I waited. Now, a week later, I feel like I can do that. Though I’m still pissed. Well, I’m still going to rant, but then I’ll celebrate!


Without going into too many boring details, basically Mike and I are new to home-buying, but we had lots of advisers and we believe we asked all the right questions and did everything right along the way. Still, less than 24 before close, our mortgage lender sent us our final closing costs (despite our asking for it days in advance). They were nearly $4,000 more than expected.

When we applied for the loan, we were told we could finance a roof repair that was required by HUD. So we added $3,600 to our mortgage. We asked a hundred times, are sure we can do this? Are you SURE? Yes, he was sure. Turns out, no. And instead of being sincerely apologetic or even offering a viable solution, he sent us the new closing costs, told us he screwed up, and that was it. I don’t know about that guy, but $4,000 is a lot to us. And coming up with that much in 24 hours is no easy feat. We drained our savings and pulled from our checking account which pays our bills. I also shot off a very angry email to the lender, who finally came up with a solution.

They would loan us $4,000 at 6%. Um, no thanks moron.

We did not want to go broke to buy a house. We never EVER would have pursued this if we knew that would happen in the beginning. But 24 hours isn’t a lot of time to contemplate. Literally minutes before our closing appointment, we were in the parking lot talking to our realtor, debating if we should back out. In the end I said, “I don’t know if it’s the right decision, and maybe we’ll regret it. But we don’t have time to figure this out, so let’s take a leap of faith.”

And we did. So we’re now home owners.


Now that I’ve ranted, let me say, I LOVE the house. I had forgotten that I loved it because it had been so long since we saw it. But when we got back in there, it all came back. It needs some work, and unfortunately we now have no money to do any of it immediately. First we replenish our savings, then we dive into projects. But it’s definitely livable, and we’re excited to officially move in.

I wanted an older home with some vintage charm, while Mike wanted something a little more modern. I think we found a good compromise. It’s new enough to have a more modern floor plan and some modern updates, but old enough to have the little touches of charm I love. And there is so much potential. We have lots of plans for the future!

I took some pictures on our second visit MONTHS ago, and I’ll get some more updates ones soon, but here are a couple sneak peeks.

The front door:

Unfinished three season porch for which have big plans:

Fun pass-through window and built-in clock in the basement. And wood paneling! My nieces and nephews are already so excited to play restaurant with that window. Also, hi Mom and Brady!

Big open kitchen. We plan to paint the walls and the cabinets soon (there are more cabinets and counters you can’t see to the right). Then later down the road we’ll update the floor, counters and appliances. And maybe a peninsula or island?

More photos soon, I promise. In the meantime, lots to do! Home ownership is exhausting and expensive. Welcome to real world right?

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On top of everything we’re doing to become parents, and on top of Mike’s two jobs, my one job and my freelance work, we decided to also look into buying a house. Because there was definitely not enough stress going around already, we thought now was the perfect time to take on more.

I know some people enjoy house hunting. My sister and her husband said they loved it – hopping in the car every weekend, driving around neighborhoods, scoping out For Sale signs. And another brother-in-law loves real estate. He and my sister bought a HUD home, turned it into something lovely, and are looking to repeat the whole process a second time. But us? We are just not that into it. We’d rather spend our weekends on other things, and we are absolutely NOT handy people. Like, at all.

But we decided we want to be in Grand Rapids for awhile. A long while. And with the market the way it is, if we know we want to buy someday, we’re kind of silly to not buy now. That’s why we’ve both been earning extra money – to save for a down payment and for a potential adoption.

So we contacted a realtor, a friend of a family member, and we’re working on a pre-approval from our credit union. So far it’s all a bit daunting, but fortunately we’re not in any hurry, so we don’t have to settle. And if we get worn out, we can just take a break for awhile. We’ve seen a few houses already. Unfortunately the homes in our price range aren’t quite large enough for us. I don’t mean they don’t have enough square feet, I mean they’re mostly one and a half story houses, and Mike is well over six feet tall. In that style home, the bedrooms and main bathroom are always upstairs with slanted ceilings, and he doesn’t want to spend his life hunched over. We did see one house we liked a lot, but it was above our price range and didn’t have any appliances.

Any tips on home buying you can share with a couple of novices?

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