New digs + downstairs tour (and the backstory of buying two houses in a single calendar year)
August 25, 2017
After an arduous journey through the hell that is the current real estate market in the Mile High City, we were thrilled to close on a house of our very own a couple weeks ago on August 11th. I haven’t talked about it in great detail here on the blog, but the reason we sold our last home, (which we only bought August 14th of last year) basically boiled down to a whole bunch of cosmetic issues turning out to be structural issues, upon further inve$tigation. Also, mold. The mold was really the last straw. We found it in the basement in the back wall of our big boy’s bedroom at the end of a long renovation process, and we decided to call the game. We had it professionally remediated, the air tested clean, and then we put the house (and the disclosure documents) on the market.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of friends and the providence of God, we were able to spend a couple weeks months living in a house north of the city while a family just our size – 3 boys and a girl – served overseas doing mission work. They assured us that we were an answered prayer, as they felt comforted knowing their house wouldn’t sit vacant in their absence. We’re still pretty sure we got the better end of the deal, however, and we’re hoping we can pay that generosity forward at some point down the road.
Since they left behind their furniture and kitchen gear, it was basically like moving into an extended stay hotel or a vacation rental. We kept all our things packed in boxes in their oversized two car garage and just brought in sheets and clothes.
While the setup of this house was ideal and the generosity of our friends unprecedented, it wasn’t without it’s imperfections. It was about an hour each way to work each day for Dave, and when school was in session, I would leave around 2:15 for pickup and sometimes get back close to 5, traffic depending. So we learned to embrace the minivan’s DVD player and the art of living out of a van (but not down by the river.) Still, I don’t care if I never see I-25 again. At least for a month or two.
It also made house hunting … interesting. Once the first trimester started to ease up, I’d spend an hour or so in the morning scanning the listings, send a handful to our realtor, and then jump in the car and see a house or four before hightailing it back north to beat rush hour and/or scoop up the big kids from school. We saw about 70% of the houses with all 4 kids in tow, which was really, really fun for our realtor, St. Brendan. We walked through close to 80 houses in a couple month’s time, and we were under contract seven (7!) frapping times before locking down a very Biblical home run with our current abode. I was beginning to despair that my desperate artificial deadline which I beseeched the Lord with was ever going to be met. (I pleaded with Him: “don’t let me have to make that drive again this school year; not even once.”)
Well, against all odds, mere hours after our 6th contract fell through (#foundationissues), our home came on the market. It was listed as an estate being dissolved by the adult children of the deceased owner, who took impeccable care of it and very much embraced the 70’s whence it was built. So the windows and AC and water heater and all the serious business had been updated, but the gold shag carpet (in.the.bathrooms), yellow linoleum and faux wood panelling game was strong. (Is still strong, linoleum-wise. Embracing my inner Kendra Tierney.)
We saw the house 2 hours after it hit the market, on a Thursday afternoon, wrote an offer that night, and had a signed contract before the end of the day on Friday. We got it for slightly under asking but still a bit more than we’d been hoping to pay, but it’s in our ideal neighborhood, close to my sisters, and 10 minutes from our parish and 20 from school. Plus, at 2,900 sq feet including an unfinished basement, we’re not about to bust out of it any time soon. In fact, I plan to be buried here because after 8 moves in 7 years of marriage, we’re loading another Uhaul only if my casket’s inside.
I know some people thought we were morons for trying to buy a house in this market (and I got a few lovely comments on social media to that effect. People be classy.) But we both felt that God had more for us. And after 6 months of almost continuous respiratory and GI illness in our old house, we figured out that the mold was actually making us really, really sick. Me and the two big boys, in particular. Within a week of moving into our friend’s home in the spring, every single one of us had a complete return to health. It was actually kind of disturbing, in retrospect, because it made us realize how sick we’d really been, and for how long.
Our new house tested mercifully mold and moisture free, and the basement being unfinished was actually a bonus to us, because we could be diligent in our investigation of any possible moisture incursion and rest easy that no below-grade drywall was hiding a dirty secret.
Once we closed earlier in the month, we had a little over a week until school started, and so we rolled up our sleeves, called in our sibling and parent crew, and got to work. (Well, they got to work. I made a lot of runs to Starbucks and Chipotle and wrangled a lot of kids for a lot of long nights solo.) My husband, his father, and his brothers tore out all the carpeting downstairs, took down a hunting lodge worth of faux wood paneling, beams, and bookshelves (trust me, it wasn’t charming or paint-able) and tiled two bathroom floors. I ripped down two room’s worth of wallpaper, painted the kitchen and family room (low voc and with a mask, fear not) and cleaned. We still have a ways to go (trim, moulding, some more paint) but overall it looks like a new house. I wish I’d saved the listing pics for before shots, but I was too busy ripping carpet up the hour after we got the keys to think about snapping evidence shots. So all I have for you is some after-ish shots today. Think of them more as “work in progress” shots.
We ended up moving in Saturday, August 19th, 2 days before school began, almost the literal 11th hour of my imaginary deadline with God. Nicely played, Lord.
The downstairs has a large living room, a formal dining room (which I love because of the size of our family/extended family) a half bath powder room, a family room with a fire place and great sliders out to the backyard, and a smallish galley style kitchen with a breakfast nook. I’ll probably end up putting a small table there for a homework center/grocery bag drop zone, but right now it’s where we’re eating our meals off a folding table while a girlfriend’s talented hubby builds us a custom farmhouse table + bench set. (Local Denver readers, stay tuned for details.)
Without further ado, please enjoy some adequate cellphone snaps and the reminder that lifestyle blogger I am not. And thanks for all the prayers along the long, bumpy ride. (And thanks to our wonderful community for all the muscle and all the meals the past week. We’ll never ask for moving help again, and we owe you a Saturday or 10 in return.)
Front yard and exterior. We’re on a super quiet street and all our neighbors are in their 60’s. Introvert’s dream.
Stay tuned for the vv exciting upstairs tour coming soon to a blog post near you, and happy Friday.