Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Building a House, Month 9.75: It's Finally Ours

When we last left off in the building a house posts, we were beginning final walk throughs and starting the inspections process.

Our house has now had two official inspections, and we've been to four walk throughs. Finally, with only a few cosmetic issues being tended to today, it was time to close on our home.

When people say closing is nerve-racking, they aren't kidding. I read most of the 123 page document yesterday (some of it was contracts I had already read in advance). We went in ready to sign, and signing the documents only took one hour. We paid all of our closing costs with a cashier's check and signed and dated all the lines, but the keys wouldn't be ours until the loan was funded. We were informed at the end of closing that there was a hold up waiting for the appraiser. The appraiser had to visit our house and declare it finished (since it is new construction) before the lender would officially fund the loan, thus making the house ours.

We finished signing documents at 2:30pm, and then we went down to city hall to put the water utilities in our name. I assumed we'd get a call shortly after that, but we waited and waited and waited. At 4:30, I called the lender, who said the appraiser was at the house and going to take ten minutes to inspect things and that she would call me back. Brendan went to school for his office hour and creative writing class. At 5:00pm, there was still no word, so at that point, I was getting a little nervous. At 5:15pm, I got the call: we were funded. I had time to call Brendan and let him know, before his class began, that the house was finally ours.

It took nine months and three weeks and a whole lot of signatures, but it was every bit worth the wait.

Today the house is ours! January 28, 2015

After signing at closing
It still doesn't really feel real, but I know one thing is for sure: I can't wait to make our house a home. 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Snowy and Stress Filled Week

I'm so relieved that it is Saturday morning. I just slept in and then cooked breakfast. It's an amazing feeling to be relaxing with Zoe on the couch.

Our week was anything but relaxing.

After being sick with food poisoning all day Monday, I made it to work at 8:00am Tuesday for a long workday. I wasn't feeling great, but I managed to make it through everything. I haven't taken a sick day yet, and I won't unless I absolutely have to. While I was at a meeting, Brendan met the inspector at our house. They were there for two and half hours. The inspector found a long list of things that needed to be corrected. They were mostly minor things, and no one was really shocked about anything, but we were definitely glad we had an inspector, as we would have never found this stuff on our own. The part that was discouraging is that we had pushed the inspection back five days at the builder's request, and they really hadn't seemed to make much progress in those five days at all. There were certain aspects of the house that could not even be inspected yet (air conditioning and the jetted tub are two examples).

On Thursday, I met with the builder and our realtor while Brendan was at a work meeting. It had been snowing a lot, so I got a picture of our home in the snow. This is also the first picture I have that shows the stained front door.

January 22, 2015
Basically, we wanted a chance to communicate that if the list of corrections couldn't be completed in time for our Wednesday closing, we wanted to push it back. The builder seemed confident that he could get it all done in time for Tuesday's re-inspection. If the closing gets pushed back to February, it would be a hassle, as our lender would have to re-check our bank statements, collect new pay stubs, etc. etc. It's definitely a hassle we hope to avoid. While at the meeting, I was happy to see the pendant lights finally made their way to our kitchen.

On Friday, we had a delayed start at school due to snow.

We got a phone call that morning about some surprise fees added to our closing costs. Not what you want to hear five days before closing! My aunt is a real estate agent, so she was able to give me advice on how to handle the situation. As we drove to work, I was looking forward to putting aside the stress and teaching my class. I walked into my classroom, and what I saw was horrifying. Another instructor, who has never used a Smartboard, had taken Expo markers (for dry erase boards) and written all over the classroom board. The markings are permanent, and the instructor had tried to erase them, creating an even worse effect. This meant my only method for showing my class notes, videos, computer skills, etc. was effectively ruined. The boards are quite expensive, and I don't know if we will have to replace it, which could take weeks. I was really disappointed, as this throws a wrench in my teaching, and my classroom had been a nice aspect of life staying the same (half of our apartment is in boxes).

After work, we drove to Home Depot to place an order on a fridge. We found the perfect one, and I'm happy to say, it's going to be ours (I'm nerd level excited about the two bottom freezer drawers and finally having an ice and water dispenser), but unfortunately, not until February 12th. Note to self: don't wait eight days before you are going to need a fridge to order one. I see purchasing a mini fridge in our future.

Last night, I filed our taxes, which was actually really stress relieving. I'm one of those people that LOVES doing taxes. Brendan was happy to make dinner instead. We've done more packing this week, but I already feel behind on my grading, and I spent last night grading discussion boards until midnight to make up for it.

I know next week will be stressful, but I hope that, for the most part, it plays out according to plan (Plan: final inspection Tuesday, close Wednesday, seal our grout Thursday, move our fragile stuff Friday, movers come Saturday, unpack Sunday). However, I also know that plans are written in life planners, not stone. I'm going to try to keep focused on the positives: I love our new house, and I cannot wait to move in. I know once we live there, the stress will have all been worth it.

And I have my cuddle cats and my sweet husband to help me through the unexpected!

Here's to the weekend! I needed it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Weekend With Mimi

Greetings from the other side of the long weekend!

Brendan and I took advantage of our extra day off this weekend and flew direct (so exciting, as we can almost never get a direct flight to where we are going from here) to Houston on Friday night to spend the weekend with my Mimi and Mom. We had a great time visiting, drinking tea, playing scrabble, doing crosswords, watching Downton Abbey, and eating out.

I really treasure the time that I get to spend with Mimi, and I already miss her. I hope we can see her again before too long. Though Houston and Midland are in the same state, it would take us about ten hours with stops to drive there, so we either have to fly or drive from Austin when we are visiting there sometime. I wish we weren't so far apart!

The only downside to our long weekend was that I spent all day yesterday sick with what we think was food poisoning. I managed to not get sick at the airport or on the flight though, so that was good. I woke up this morning feeling well enough to go to work, but not well enough to eat real food. Brendan packed me a survival kit with oatmeal, rice, and a banana to take to work. He is the best at helping me through a sick day.

In other news, our home inspection is scheduled for this afternoon. Closing is supposed to be in eight days (on the 28th), so everyone keep your fingers crossed for smooth sailing throughout this process.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Building a House Month 9.5: Walk Throughs Begin

Greetings from a way warmer Thursday! After cold temps the last few days, we're back up to 56 degrees here. Hooray!

When we last left off in our building a house posts, the house was mostly finished, though it was awaiting appliances and small touches, and we had yet to see the floors under layers of plastic.

Today, we arrived for a "final walk through" and the inspector was supposed to do an inspection. However, the house wasn't totally inspection ready, so we rescheduled with the inspector for Tuesday and this became a "first walk through" instead of a final one. Our relator was un-phased and said new homes are almost never inspection ready for the walk through. When we arrived, the cleaning crew had just come in, which was another thing that was supposed to be finished by the walk through. We didn't mind. It was clean enough to get the big picture, and we'll do another walk through later.

So what is a walk through anyway? It is basically where you take tape and tape any nit-picky small details that bother you (scratches, paint retouches needed, etc.) on both the inside and outside of the house. We had our realtor, the builder, and his assistant helping us, so the process went by pretty fast. I really like everyone we have been working with. They are truly a great team. We found some issues, but overall, things went as smoothly as hoped for.

We also found out about our warranty. For the first year, absolutely everything is under warranty, and the builder compared it to living in an apartment (anything you touch that breaks, they will fix). For the first two years, all the electrical, plumbing, and behind the walls stuff, they will fix if there are issues. For the first ten years, the foundation and structure of the house is under warranty. We literally live across the street from our head builder, so he said to let him know if we have any problems. I feel really relieved about all that, and it made me glad that we bought new construction.

So, without further ado, here are our newest house photos:

Front door, finally stained. This is our builder's assistant; Brendan didn't grow hair.

Formal dining area. Love those floors! 
Entry way. Love those arches. 

Bedroom 1


Bedroom 2 (same room, just flipped) 
Best room in the house
I'm in love :) 
Let there be light! 
Family room with working fireplace 
Master bedroom
View from master into bathroom & closet 
Cue choir of angels--I really like this bathroom.

Dreams of brushing our teeth at the same time

Shower Power 

Ready for a bubble bath!  

Closet space 


Note: we'll do all the landscaping (xeriscaping) ourselves. Brendan says it will be a long term project, but he's looking forward to it. 

garage and attic 
I forgot to take a picture of the front of the house in all my excitement, but I will get one next time. I'm feeling better as the actual closing nears (it is in 13 days, hopefully). Buying a house is a high anxiety process, and it isn't all roses and sunshine, but I do think we'll be happy with our first big purchase.

In other news, we've been packing for the last few days.

We are most looking forward to this upcoming long weekend. We'll be going to Houston to see my mimi! Only one work day between me and my mimi! Tomorrow should be a fun workday: I made my own version of Jeopardy for my class, and I'm hosting the writing center pizza party. A lot of my job is teaching students...another surprisingly large percentage of my job involves eating pizza with students; who would have thought?

Happy almost the long weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 Begins

We've officially made it through the first week of 2015. We had one day in our apartment before work started up again: just enough time to put up the Christmas decorations and grocery shop. 

Work has been busy because our college brought in Dr. Donna Beegle for inservice training. She speaks about poverty and how to help students overcome poverty and receive an education. I had so many reactions to the eleven hours of training I've received in the past two days, and I'm still processing it all. Dr. Beegle serves as an incredibly inspiring example because she overcame generational poverty with the help of many teachers and mentors, and she is an example of what a positive difference teachers can make. There are things I am going to do differently in the classroom because of this training. My mind was opened to a world that I rarely think about existing, and I am inspired to give more and do more. I learned that some elementary schools in Midland have 84-89% of students living in poverty. I learned that students facing poverty who manage to enroll in college have only an 11% chance of leaving college with a degree. I learned that people living in poverty are rarely treated with dignity. I purchased Dr. Beegle's book See Poverty, Be the Difference, and I'm looking forward to reading it and to directing my efforts in 2015 to giving more. 

In other news, since we returned home, we officially set the closing date for our house as January 28th. The builder was ready to move it up to January 19th, but we have a trip planned to see my grandmother that weekend, and we felt we needed more time to pack! We turned in our 60 day move out notice with the apartment (we have to pay rent at the apartment until March 5th, so we can really take our time moving). After that, the real emotions began (uncertainty, agony, excitement, and just hopes that we know what the heck we're getting into). This is going to be a very interesting next step for us. It still doesn't feel totally real. 

Tonight, I returned to yoga class. My body feels so different after being out of practice for three weeks. I've started eating healthy and cutting back on how much I pants were getting quite tight, so I had to take action. I also registered us for our 5th 5K, which benefits programs for single mothers and young women in our area, as well as orphans with Down Syndrome. The run is March 28th, so we have some time to prepare. 

So, that was the start of 2015 for has your first week been? We hope you're getting back into your groove. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Building a House Month 9: In the Home Stretch

When we last left off in the building a house posts, our house was fully bricked and half floored with newly installed counters. Today, we came for the first time in three weeks (we just returned to Midland yesterday), and, despite the holidays, a lot of progress had been made.

January 4, 2015
We had a driveway and a sidewalk and the front yard was filled in with gravel (all the homes in the neighborhood are "xeriscaped" by using gravel instead of grass, which is hard to keep alive in the summer). We also had a fence all around the house, and we are just awaiting the gate now. PS-Check out the blue blue sky!

Inside, we noted all the progress. For one, all the engineered wood laminate is in, but right now, they have it covered. It's a dark chocolate color, and I cannot wait until we can see the final effect. We have this flooring in the living room, formal dining room, and all bedrooms. The fireplace also has brick. 
Living Room
 We have sink faucets, toilets, and mirrors now, and the tiling around the showers is complete:

Second bathroom
Kitchen with faucet in 

Master bath with faucets and mirror in

Masterbath shower tiled with door
Master bath long view 

Closet tiled 
Overall, things are just looking more complete with little details like the interior doors installed.

Laundry room 

Entry way 
We were excited to see the actual shape of the backyard, now that the fence is in: 

Backyard left 

Backyard straight view from porch 

backyard right (note the ice: it has been cold here!)

We also found some green notes with memos of things to fix:

Crooked light switches
 The garage now has a hot water heater:

Down the street, we noticed someone had erected a truly hideous statue of an oil rig for decoration. To each their own, I suppose, though I find this truly distasteful! 

Tomorrow, we submit our 60 day written notice to the apartment that we won't be renewing our lease (we have lived here 3.5 years, certainly longer than we ever anticipated). Our house is looking closer and closer, and we are feeling really ready to move. Though there is one minor detail: we have to start packing. We head back to work tomorrow, so we know it will be a bit of challenge to find time to pack, but I know that we will get it all done.

Here's to a new year in our new home!

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