Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's About Time...


I feel like that should get its own post seeing as how long of a process it was to get there. But there is much more to share so I will continue in this post.

Closing. Finally. It seemed like it took an eternity to get here. Nearly 4 months. But it finally came! After about 2 hours of signing, we were finally handed our keys. I was told so many times how much we would have to sign, I was actually expecting more. Though I will say I was forgetting how to make legible letters in my name by the end of it.

We went back to the house later that day and had our first meal in our house. Subway $5 footlongs. Not the most gourmet or exciting of meals, but at 3pm after an exhausting day and having not eaten yet, they were delicious.

I then proceeded to walk the house and take some pictures (more to come... my battery was dying) while Kevin lay on the living room floor. Take a quick peak at our house "befores" under the House Tour tab! I also took pictures of some of the things left in the house by the previous owners... like a cool vintage turntable and sewing machine (that could possibly make a nice birthday present for one decently talented seamstress that I happen to be related to... and take advantage of on a regular basis for new clothing...) along with about 7 ladders (anyone in the market for a ladder?).

And of course, who could forget about the roof. The wonderful roof. And the not so wonderful drama that came with it. Well about an hour before closing, I got a call from our attorney saying he was able to get the sellers to agree to a small portion of the insurance money. Let's just say its not going to make much of a dent in the cost of a new roof. But we took it anyway. Because a little bit is better than nothing. And at this point we were just so over this situation that we just wanted it to go away. 

Now to just start all the renovation work, pack up our apartment, go through all the stuff left in the house, and get the puppy acclimated to the house before moving in (so she doesn't freak out like last time... see the simple dog in hyperbole and a half). A lot to do still, but super excited that we're finally onto this stage of the process!

We were also given a lovely bottle of champagne (that I definitely just typed as champaign...) by our fabulous realtor that we are excited to celebrate with!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Weekend Wrap Up

And its Monday. The start of another week. But also time to wrap up what happened this weekend.

It was a busy weekend. First notable thing was the trip to Garden Ridge. And I'm in love. This store is great. Huge! And cheap to boot. They were having a few sales while we were there. One being 50% off all pottery. Which was great since we were in the market for some pottery for the house. We got four small pots for the stairs to our front porch (I have plans to paint the house number on these pots too), and one large pot (plastic to make it light and easy to carry) that we are going to use as a compost bin in the backyard (we thought this would be nicer looking than a giant plastic storage container that most DIY sites tell you to use). We dug through the door mat piles and found one with a great vintage flare and the letter G. It just seemed to be calling to us and the house. And of course I took a picture of the organization aisles (or a couple because I couldn't get them all in one shot).

Next on the weekend agenda was finally buying my camera! Now I don't want to start a Canon/Nikon battle... but I did get a Canon. Now I have nothing against Nikon. They make great cameras. However, I happen to already have a Canon SLR. And a few lenses. Canon has designed their DSLRs to work with lenses from the old SLR cameras. So to save myself a headache and a lot of money to replace lenses, I went with the Canon (not to mention I'm already familiar with how their cameras work). I've been watching camera prices for years to be able to justify and afford one, and Best Buy is having a wonderful sale currently. The new model was on sale for the same price as the old model. Not to mention they have free financing for 18 months, making it the perfect time to buy. Unfortunately they only sell the body only of the camera online, so I had to order it. It should be here by the end of this week/early next week. Just in time for lots of pictures of house projects!

And of course what post would be complete without a little roof drama. Apparently the sellers are refusing to give us any of the insurance compensation for the roof damage. I guess we can blame ourselves for not putting together a contract saying any insurance compensation belongs to us to fix the roof (or them if they were going to actually fix the roof). But who would have thought that was needed. To me its a no-brainer. The insurance gives money to repair the roof, the money goes to the people who are going to repair the roof. I guess not in the minds of the sellers. Instead the money goes straight into their own pocket and no roof repairing is done. That seems just a tad scummy and unethical to me. Not to mention to our realtor and her manager (who have never encountered a seller who has tried to pull something like this). Oh well. I'm trying not to dwell on it. Karma's a b*tch. So I'm sure they'll get their dues sooner or later.

On a happier note, closing day is tomorrow! Still crossing my fingers that everything goes fairly smoothly from here on out.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Roof.. The Roof.. The Roof Is On Fire

Well no, not literally (though that could possibly make this situation easier to resolve...) But we're back... with more on the roof... and still no resolution.

So back in May, when we had the house inspected and they found all sorts of fun things, we negotiated with the sellers to give us a bit of a credit for them. This included but was by no means limited to the worn down roof (I've mentioned the knob and tube and lead pipes before...). After the crazy Chicago storm, the roof was in even worse condition. So we asked the sellers to put into their insurance to have it fixed/replaced (figuring insurance generally covers wind/storm damage). Apparently the insurance denied them.

Well brilliant us snapped some pictures after the storm (see above) and happened to have a picture of the roof from the inspection report (which was well before the storm). The sellers took those pictures back to their insurance as proof that it was the storm that damaged the roof. The insurance said since the roof was old and worn they couldn't replace it completely, but they would give a check to repair it/the section that was lifted up. Great right? Apparently not.

The sellers are now trying to tell us we can either take the credit we negotiated before or this check. Well that's a little frustrating, since the credit was for more than just the roof and also for the roof in the previous condition. So the two attorneys are chatting back and forth to get the sellers to agree to the credit plus at least a portion of the check (or the check and a portion of the credit... either way you look at it). Hopefully we'll have a resolution soon.

On a side note, apparently I am on a bit of a music lyric/title blog title kick. I'll try to stop that with the next post (but I'm not promising anything). And don't forget to follow our blog and leave us some loving comments!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Closing Time

Woo! We have a closing date! Not one of those arbitrary days picked out of thin air, but a firm scheduled one! August 30. Not exactly our first choice (that would have been last week... or last month...), but hey at least it exists finally.

And now my months of mental planning/window shopping can become reality! I can actually shop for tile and cabinets and lighting and counters and appliances and furniture and paint and accessories...etc. etc. I'm a bit of an organization geek, and have bookmarked pages into folders and subfolders of all sorts of stuff I want. But before I get anything, I heard of this store, Garden Ridge, that I have fallen in love with just based on the pictures online (seriously, I'm like giddy about the idea of going to this store). You can't shop online though (which is sad). Despite that, they still had me at "over 1000 ways to get organized" (yes the organization geek comes out again). I'm pretty sure I could spend my life's savings (which isn't very big, but still) on organization. I've always dreamed of having a great closet with a wonderful closet organizer. You know, the nice wood ones.

Anyway, back to reality. Once we close, we'll walk through the house and post all sorts of "before" pictures up here for everyone to see, along with what we're planning for each room. It's super exciting to know we're one step closer to making this house our home.

On another note, our apartment has been rented for once we vacate. The people have decided they liked a bunch of the colors we painted, which means less for us (me) to paint over. This is especially nice since they loved the red bedroom (the dark red paint + primer took four coats, five in some spots) which would have surely been a pain to paint over. Though I am just a tad bit upset that I'm going to have to paint over my masterpiece wall (special thanks to my mom for her help on it). But then again there are some fun paint treatments planned for the house as well, so I guess that will make up for it all. (Forgive the quality of the picture. As good as the camera on my phone is, it's not great.)

Things are starting to come together. Still waiting to hear on the roof issue, but our attorney is hopefully working that out for us. Well, I think that's about all for now. Look for a post next week with all sorts of before pictures of the place! I'll for sure be posting again before then though (planning on going to Garden Ridge this weekend... did I mention how giddy I am to go to this store?) 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Beginnings

First blog! Super exciting... well no not really, but I can pretend right? Coming up with a name for this blog was harder than expected. Who knew every clever name was already taken? Let's be honest, they probably aren't. I'm just not that creative. Though, I definitely have 'Love and Marriage' stuck in my head now (Al Bundy anyone?).

I'll be posting to document our journey of renovating our house (that will hopefully be ours soon, once the sellers get their sh*t together), and maybe a few other adventures along the way. For those of you that don't know already, its a tad bit of a fixer-upper. But its not your average fixer-upper that is falling apart at the seams. Its just old (105 years!). And out of date (lead pipes anyone?). But the bones of the house are gorgeous. Hardwood floors throughout, built-ins, stain glass windows, three bedrooms (all on the second floor!), extra wide lot (wait there's such thing as a side yard in Chicago?), two car garage... and I could go on and on. But I wont bore you with that now.

While we wait on our closing, I'll share the story of the house. Its been a long, bumpy ride over the last three months. We first visited this house on May 7. Yes, you heard me right. May. We went back for a second showing a few days later (May 10), bringing the mothers with for their "expert" opinions. Later that day we put in an offer. And then waited. I would say patiently, but it was not patient in the least. The following day, we got a counter offer from the sellers. They met us exactly half way between our offer and the listing price (which we later found out had been dropped multiple times while the house was on the market). Done. We'll take it.

Now onto the next step. Home inspection and to get a contractor in for things we wanted to do (and later adding things that needed to be done). Long story short, knob and tube wiring (which we knew was in the basement but weren't sure of the rest of the house). Just about everywhere except the kitchen. AKA, rewire the whole house. Well that's just lovely. Also, roof is pretty worn. It may only have a couple years left. Quality. And last but certainly not least, the lead pipes. Just what everyone wants in their drinking water. Well that all kind of put a damper on all the things we wanted to do. So we scaled back for now and will do more as the years go by. I mean its not like we're planning on moving from this house anytime soon.

So we accepted this *little* challenge and continued on with the buying process. Contractor documents and bids sent to the bank (I forgot to mention, our mortgage loan includes some of the renovation, so its a complicated process). Appraiser comes. At this point we're into July. Over a week after coming to the house, the appraisal finally comes back. Its well short of where we needed it to come in at. Which means we can't get the loan. Wonderful. Now what? So we went over the appraisal and see that he low-balled our house. Based on the comps, we should have been fine for the loan. So wait, why is our house so much lower? I thought comps meant they were comparable? So I call the appraiser (who put all his contact info on the appraisal). Apparently our house is in need of some love (well yeah, hence all the reno plans...) and the other houses were "immaculate perfection". Yes, I'm serious. That is what he said to me. I would love to see any home that isn't staged for magazines in immaculate perfection condition, let alone 5. Especially since all of these homes were 3-4 bedroom, meaning most probably had kids. Well he was refusing to budge on his appraisal and we're back to square one.

So after a few days of panicking about how we can't get a loan for this house, our realtor calls and says she's potentially found a new loan process. And to shorten the story again, we start our mortgage process all over. This one works similarly to the first, but doesn't require 20% down to avoid PMI until after the reno process. This gives us some extra cash to work with. I played with the numbers (so glad I'm good with numbers) and managed to find a way that even with the low-ball appraisal, we should be ok. Well starting the process over also requires a new appraisal (new bank has to order their own, there's another $400). Much to our surprise, this appraisal came in much higher than the first (more where the first should have come in). Perfect! We can get our loan! So we finish all the paperwork we need and sit and wait.

And we're still waiting. Turns out the sellers haven't done a few things on their end. In the meantime, Chicago had a crazy storm. I mentioned before that the roof wasn't in the best condition. We were planning on living with it for a few years, until we could save up some more money to replace it. But thanks to mother nature, the storm involved high winds, which lifted up some of the roof shingles. Nothing ripped off, but its still worse than when we went under contract. So while we wait for the sellers to finish their stuff, our lawyer is fighting theirs to get them to cover the new roof damage. Because nothing can just go smoothly.

But we're not discouraged yet. Actually the opposite. We can't wait to finally close (over 3 months after going under contract) to begin the reno process. So much so that when I don't want to do laundry anymore (who does?), I online "window" shop for decorating ideas. Even though the process has been anything but easy, I think it will make us appreciate our home even more. Now to just wait for closing. Like waiting after we put in our offer, its anything but patient. Oh, and to pack.