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TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD DO WHEN YOU BUY YOUR FIRST HOME: The Journey to a Solid Foundation

4.30.2013

[Because I feel dramatic today...Muhahahaw. Women!]

I remember the day really well. I was at work, anxious, excited, overwhelmed, and browsing blogs like a mad woman looking at a million and one DIY projects. I talked my bosses ear off about all the plans I had for my house, asking for advice, and just getting pumped about the possibilities. "Today I'm officially an adult! I am going to own my own home with my husband...Is this real life!? Ohhh, I definitely want a white kitchen...I'm going to need to take down the wood paneling, replace with some really cool backsplash, ohhh and we are going to have to get brand new white cabinets, all new appliances...oh and the floor. has. got. to. go. There is SO much cleaning to do. The floors don't match, so we will be replacing those. Shell sinks need to be demolished. We need new fixtures, new outlet covers, we need, we need, we need..."I probably said all of this at a million miles a minute.

These were my over-committed and super unrealistic thoughts on the day we signed the dotted line and bought our new home. 

I took off of work early, met Drew at the real estate office, and on our way in, we passed a couple in the hallway. I knew they were the previous owners...you could just tell. They had just signed over their home, to two young newlyweds ready to move into our very first home. Adulthood was waiting for us just past that door. I kindly stopped the middle-aged, sweaty palmed, nervous looking couple and said, "Oh you must be Mr. and Mrs. Jones (changed the last name for privacy reasons). I reached out for hugs and they hesitantly gave me a hug back. " Oh, Hello." I stepped back and with all the excitement in the world I said, "Ahhh! We are so so so excited!!! Thank you SO much! We can't wait to move in! Was the home good to you!?" "..."Ah, yes, yes. Congratulations!" They quickly rushed out the door and didn't look back.

I replay this moment in my head almost every day now thinking, "How could they look at me in the eye...and say congratulations? I wish they would have just said, "Muhahahahaw, GOOD LUCK! PEACE OUT SUCKAAAAS! It's ALL YOURS!" 

Now when I look back, I can't even imagine the feeling that middle aged couple had when they saw us in the hallway that day. I can only imagine the excitement, the guilt? and the incredible RELIEF it was to sign over OUR home to us that day. They probably wanted to get out of that building as fast as they could. I can't say I blame them.

We were both celebrating that rainy, dreary day...but for two completely different reasons. 

We quickly rushed down to the room at the end of the hallway where the blunt and gigantic stack of papers awaited us. We signed them all, and I took pictures on my phone like a crazy woman smiling from ear to ear. Then before we knew it, the real estate agent said those four words that would haunt us in a few months:

"Congratulations! It's ALL yours!" as she slid the keys to our home in front of us. 

I remember looking at Drew with tears in my eyes, and admiring my husband's proud face. Drew and I hugged, laughed, and danced our way to our home. I turned up the radio and danced like a fool and kept saying, "WE OWN A HOME BABE! WE OWN A HOME!!!!" 

We pulled up to our house. 



There she was. Neglected. Beautiful. Big. Outdated. Rough around the edges. It was a project. It was the ugly duckling waiting to be loved on. It had an awesome layout. Tall ceilings. Bigger closets. Not the best neighborhood by any means...but it was perfect, for us. It was ours.

We hopped out of the truck, and Drew said, "Alright babe! I guess this is what people who just bought a home do..." and he picked me up, and carried me through the threshold. He sat me down in the middle of our empty home full of  possibilities with a smile on his face. We hugged and just stared at each other like a deer in headlights thinking "OMGGGG what do we do now!? AHHH! Let's run through the house!" And that we did. Like two crazy newlyweds in love. I will never forget this for as long as I live. 

We went to pick up our dogs, and then to Olive Garden to grab our favorite food to go, along with our favorite dessert (Chocolate Tie Mousse Cake), stopped at our new grocery store and grabbed a bottle of wine and rushed back to our house. By this time, it was dark and we had no plans on leaving anytime soon. We took my childhood blanket that I packed up that morning, and had ourselves our very first dinner in the middle of our empty living room. We made a game plan and made a pact right then and there. We were going to give it our all and do it all ourselves. This house was going to get some TLC.


We both used a vacation day and took off of work that Friday. We woke up early and were at Sears before it even opened. We were ready to dive in to beautifying OUR home.  



Here we were ready to make our first home purchase (rakes, trimmers, and some saw for cutting bushes lol). You know, real man tools. We were ready for the blisters, sweat, blood, and tears that awaited us. 

We worked all weekend long, from the early morning into late at night. That weekend we raked close to 40 bags of leaves and pulled up all the bushes in our front yard. This is no exaggeration either. See?







We cut trees, we made endless amounts of trips to Home Depot and Lowes. Drew celebrated his first moment on a roof. I celebrated getting my hands dirty and working like a boss in the yard. Sadly, there were no milkshakes involved, and no boys came either...what's up with that?

We were tired, boy were we tired. However, we were happy and we were proud. We didn't let the older home scare us. We were exhausted already, but the idea of us flipping our home was a dream and we couldn't wait to get started. Just seeing the progress we made that FIRST weekend was rewarding and such a RUSH. 

We also tackled the upstairs bathroom. Y'all...it looked like a smurf family exploded inside. The toilet was wood and obviously had been pee'd on A LOT...because there was a whole lotta proof. We took that room by the horns and did our best to cover up the smurfsplosion. 

 Gross is right.

Don't worry little bathroom. We gotcha covered.


Oh heyyyy bum bum. Lookin' good.



 And our house after three days...SO much improvement.


The backyard: Again, a smurf exploded in the back. Drew built some stairs, and I painted the concrete brown. 




After we moved in, our game plan was to start on one room, and then once it was complete, we'd move to the next. We also wanted to leave the expensive things for last, so that way we would have time to save. We both had never done ANY type of renovations, EVER, so we figured we'd start small, with the smaller rooms, also meaning smaller projects. We saved up, purchased, saved up, purchased, and on and on. Little by little we started improving our home. After the yard was picked up, and the smurf bathroom was improved (but not finished), we decided to start on the entry way. Why? 

Because it looked like this. 

Blue/Gray tile that was greeted with berber carpet. Not exactly gorgeous or welcoming for visitors. 

Drew broke up the tile, and layed down some new tile that we found for reallllly cheap at Habitat for Humanity.










Don't worry, we finished the trim but I never got a picture of the finished project. 

Then we moved to the small bathroom in the hallway downstairs. 





We then moved to the laundry room. 

Added some paint, new fixtures, some trim...

 Drew later laid the same tile in the laundry room as the small bathroom...but I can't find the finish product anywhere right now. This will have to do for now. :)







 A picture of Drew, Drew's eyebrows (dangggg babe), and yours truly looking sweaty, salty, and ohhh so sexy. You're welcome. I did work too, I promise! :) 

We painted our bedroom next. (Before, and After)









Then one day...we were watching TV in the living room when we heard a HUGE BOOOOOOM come from upstairs. It scared the absolute crap out of us both...and when we ran up to see what the heck it was...we saw this: 

Termites. 

They ate their way through the tile. Unexpected expense. PAIN in the butt. Palm to forehead...WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD. We never saw this coming...that is for sure.





So, we took all the tile down, sprayed and sprayed and bombed the mess out of this bathroom. We patched it up, and Drew retiled our entire shower. I don't have an after photo right now either, but will def. make sure to update this when I do. So, basically, we had to take a few steps backwards and work on the first room we started out with in the beginning. 







After this unexpected cost, we had to wait on renovations for awhile. After we saved up a little, I told Drew that if the kitchen looked better, I'd probably cook a lot more... ;) 

Obviously that was just my way of trying to get started making progress in the house where we spend the most time... so we decided to nix the idea of new cabinets, and painted them ourselves. We searched Craiglist for appliances, and got our fridge for $600 cheaper than it was in the store, and we found our dishwasher from Habitat for Humanity for half the price as well. We did have to save and splurge for the oven and microwave at Lowes. Obviously, the floors and the countertops have yet to be replaced because they aren't quite in the budget yet. Here is the progress thus far: 

Kitchen before: 










And After: (Pics to come) but here is best one I could find:




 Overtime, and with seasons changing, we added grass to our yard where the bushes we pulled up used to be.




So here we were...thinking "Alright, I guess let's get these floors replaced! That will really pull our home together, don't you think!?" We wanted the hallway, the livingroom, and our bedroom to all match. We savedddd and savedddd and then we finally bought new dark hardwood (laminate) flooring. We got them home, and since Drew had never layed laminate, he started in the hallway. At about the time Drew started to finish the hallway flooring...was when we started noticing some changes in our home, and at a very rapid pace at that.

I started to notice that the bathroom door wouldn't shut. 

"Babe...something is wrong here. Why won't this dang door shut!? It's driving me crazy!"

So, Drew shaved the bottom of the door so it wouldn't catch on the floor. 

Next thing we know, the door frame was cracking, and had moved so much, our door wouldn't even fit IN the frame to close. 

Then our pantry door wouldn't close. I tried not to think TOO much about it...but then we noticed a bright light (outside) coming from under our door...then a crack started...and grew, and grew...and then another wall started to crack, and another, and then another door wouldn't even open. Our front door was no longer able to be used, so we would always enter through our garage (which was our crap room for projects). It was a HUGE eyesore, but there wasn't really any other options. Our sinks started to back up...a lot, and all to often. Our electicity bill was HUGE because all of the air was going through our cracks and doors. This was so frustrating, and as much as we hated putting towels around our doors...we did. It helped a little, but were still paying a good $150-$200 over the normal amount a month. 

Then one night, we found this little fella in our toilet. 

Something REALLY wasn't right. This shouldn't be happening. Am I right or am I right?


I still look at this photo and can't believe it happened. After this run in... we knew. We KNEW we were about to have to face reality. 

Cracks dominated our dry walls. You couldn't look up without wanting to cry. All the trim and baseboards Drew slaved on? They were about an inch or so off the ground. 

We were both in denial and ignored it for a couple months because we both knew that the next thing we would be seeing were dollar signs...dollar signs that we didn't have. 

We got our house looked at and quoted, and that's when reality came crashing down around us. We put off all of our renovations for about a year. We had no option but to live in a home that was falling apart around us, and also half renovated. We were forced to see the work we had done this far...start to crumble little by little. 

I was starting my business during all of this mess...so editing photos became my way to take my mind off of what was happening around us. I wanted to be a photographer, and I just kept that as my therapy.  I would close the door and edit away until the wee hours into the night. 

However, I have to be real. I worked in this mess for a really long time...ready for it? 



See me? Barely? Oh, hey girl hayyy. 

Oh, and that desk over there to your right? That's what I worked on...for months and months. FINALLY, I got the room cleaned out and it looked like this: 

Isn't she lovellllllyyyyy? ;) 


We had laminate floors sitting in the garage ready to be used in the living room, but since we knew that our foundation was going to be worked on at some point, then there was NO reason in laying down a brand new floor that was going to be eventually be pulled up. So...we felt the itch, ripped up the carpet, and got to work. This was the room that had the least amount of damage...and I really craved a workspace that inspired me. 

And I know you have all seen the after: 



Now it might make sense as to why this space means the world to me. 

You see, I think the hardest part of ALL of this was just knowing, and seeing that all of the work that we have poured into this home...well, was a waste in a lot of ways. Knowing the tile and trim Drew had worked so hard on was going to be pulled up in the blink of an eye? Knowing all the time we spent painting our walls were going to be re-painted...all of it...was done to be re-done. The icing on the cake? Finding out that the flooring we bought...got discontinued. It's exhausting thinking about it. The feeling of knowing this made us feel sick. The dollar signs at the end of all of these quotes made us feel hopeless. I did most of the crying, naturally. Men deal with stress much differently. They get quiet. They get quiet for a long time, and then once they hold it in long enough, you see the damage it does to a person and it breaks your heart in a million pieces.  

We were in over our heads and the more we thought about it, the more we stressed we became, and the harder it was to be just be happy. It was one thing after another. More cracks. More movement. More headaches. 

This is where we finally took this unfortunate situation and decided to face it. We sat down and had a long discussion one night, made another game plan, and that's when this post happened. 

No more complaining. No more anger. NO more.

How can we take this and turn it into a positive?

What went wrong? WHAT did we do!? HOW do we fix this? 

What can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again?

When we really sat down to think about this situation, all we could do was say:

NEXT TIME...

NEXT TIME we will do this, and this, and this, and this. 
NEXT TIME we will know better. 
NEXT TIME...well...will there even be a next time? 

Drew and I would never, ever, in a million years wish this experience on anyone. This is why I have been wanting to write this post and share with you the things you need to make sure you do when you buy your next home. Obviously, we are not professionals. We are not experts. We are just young, naiive, inexperienced adults who bought their very first home. 

Hopefully our advice can help you...atleast I hope and pray it can. I know when and IF we ever get to buy another home, we will do all of these things I am about to list. It's really simple advice, but if you are anything like us and brand-new to a big decision like buying a home...these next things I am about to tell you will help tremendously. Buying a home can be a wonderful, rewarding, and amazing experience. I have NO doubts about that as I have friends and family who have all purchased beautiful, loving, amazing homes. However, not everyone gets so lucky, and not everyone knows what they are doing...*cough*us three years ago*cough*. So, let's get on with it shall we? 


1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. 

Know about the side of town you live on. Is the soil soft? Run. Is your neighborhood safe? Do you like the area you are in? Research everything. Ask people in your city where the good/safe places are to live. If a house is in a part of town you aren't familiar with? Research it. Ask questions. FIND OUT EVERYTHING YOU CAN ABOUT THE CITY YOU LIVE IN. The school district? The crime rates? Are people wanting to move in to your neighborhood or move out? That's a big sign.


2. BE PATIENT and DO NOT RUSH THE PROCESS. 

We bought our house when the home buyer credit process was happening. We didn't realize this was even going on until my brother told me about it. We had a time limit of one month to find a home (if we were going to buy under the first time homebuyer credit). Rushing means just that. We rushed our home buying experience. We looked at probably 10 homes and decided on our home based on the size, the price, and layout. TAKE YOUR TIME. THIS IS A HUGEEE decision. If you feel rushed, chances are if you wait until the perfect home, you will be better off. We weren't 100% on board with our house, but...due to the time frame and the options in front of us, we just went with what we thought was the best option at that time.


3. HIRE A REALTOR YOU TRUST. 

If you know of someone who had an amazing experience with buying a home? Ask them who their realtor was. WORD OF MOUTH people. WORD OF MOUTH. Just because their face is on the sign...doesn't mean you should use them. If your realtor seems to be unorganized even in the slightest bit? Find another one. If your realtor is rushing you? They just want the sale people. Make sure your realtor understands your wants, your needs, and is familiar with the neighborhoods you want to live in. It will do WONDERS. 


4. DON'T JUST GET A HOME INSPECTOR, GET AN ENGINEER. 

We hired a home inspector. He was a nice guy. We had a nice chat. He came out, inspected the home to his best ability (meaning, he inspected the surface things of our home), and all looked good. This is where you then need to pay the extra cash that might not feel great on your pocket book at the time...but Y'ALL...if we would have had an engineer come out...he would have warned us of the foundation problems that awaited us. The dollar bill signs that were going to bury us. HIRE THEM BOTH. NOT just one or the other. PAY for it. It will save you a headache in the long run, I promise promise promise you. 


5. GET THE PLUMBING TESTED NO MATTER WHAT THE HOME INSPECTOR SAYS.

This is an absolute must. If we would have had our plumbing checked by a plumber...he would have said, "Yes, there are breaks under the home...and you're going to be paying X amount of money here really soon. Right then and there Drew and I would have been able to let go of the house. It wasn't budgeted, and there was NO way we would have bought the house knowing that all of these expensive problems awaited us. *Face palm*

6. HAVE EXPECTATIONS. 

If you're anything like me, and you watch HGTV...you realize how FUN and AWESOME it looks to buy a home. AND in our case, a fixer upper. I mean, HGTV can turn an outdated home into a masterpiece in 45 minutes...surellllly it couldn't be THAT bad...right? Wrong. Rome wasn't built in a day, and those beautiful rooms you have on your Pinterest boards are A LOT OF HARD WORK. You will have to be real with yourselves, your budget, and your timeline. As females, I realize that we like things NOW, but really... we know deep down patience is a virtue. 


7. SOMETIMES GOING FOR THE CHEAPER OPTION ISN'T THE BEST IDEA. 

Realize that if you choose to get a fixer upper...that yes, it can be cool, it can be fun, and the reward is SO awesome. However, it is A LOT....AAAA LOOOOOT of work...and a whole lot of money. You have a budget? Expect to double it...and know that nothing ever goes as planned. If you can handle this...then go for it. 

If you don't want to get your hands dirty, and want to buy something move in ready? By all means, DO IT. However, this will also most likely mean a heftier price tag at the beginning and a higher mortgage than that fixer upper down the street. It could be worth it. Especially in our case now.

Just make sure you weigh out the pros and cons, and really analyze your budget. Everyone's situation and preferences are different. Just make sure you are SURE you are 100% on board with whatever you decide. 


8. CHOOSE A NEIGHBORHOOD WITH HOA. 

This is coming to you from the girl who got excited when we found out that our neighborhood didn't have HOA. You mean, we are going to be able to save a couple hundred dollars a year? HECK YES!

Oh...HECK NO. 

Our neighbors never mow their yard. One of our neighbors has...wait for it...wait for it...EIGHT jetskis sitting in his drive way. NONE of them work either. If you ever want to sell your home, you're going to wish for that HOA. Nobody wants to live next to the house with the 3 foot of weeds and grass and a driveway full of broke down jet-skis. 

HOA is worth it. I promise.  I'd pay good money to go back and make this a priority in our house selection process. 


9. GO AROUND TO YOUR POTENTIAL NEIGHBORS AND ASK THEM QUESTIONS. 

I wish more than anything Drew and I would have gone around our neighborhood and asked our neighbors this question: 

"SHOULD WE BUY A HOME HERE!?"

After conversations now with our neighbors...they are in the same boat as us and we all can agree that we are up poop creek without a paddle. 

Too nervous to knock on a strangers door? I feel ya...I do. However, I guarantee an awkward 2 minute conversation with a stranger could have changed everything. Ask questions. Ask away! 

If someone were to knock on my door today and ask me that, I'd tell them to run far far away! :) 

10. AND THE GIVEN...IF IT HAS EVEN THE SMALLEST SIGN OF FOUNDATION PROBLEMS OR FOUNDATION WORK...BASICALLY IF THE WORD "FOUNDATION" AND "PROBLEM" ARE IN THE SAME SENTENCE....RUN...RUN...AS FAST AS YOU CAN. DON'T EVER LOOK BACK! I DON'T CARE HOW "PERFECT" THE HOUSE IS. RUNNNNNNN! YOU CAN THANK ME LATER. :) 


I hope this helps friends. Like I said, it's common sense...but we had NO idea. We were just excited to find a fixer-upper that met our price point and had a nice layout. We thought we were making an awesome decision, and honestly it could have been a good one...but we didn't do any of the above things we listed...and that would have made ALL the difference in the world. 

Lesson learned. 

In light of all of this, we are very thankful for a home, and are so so so excited to be moving back in to our home again. She's starting to look like a home again, and that is the best feeling. She's getting fixed, and I know if anyone were to ever buy our home, I'd be confident to sign her over because we got all the hard work done and out of the way. There is still A LOT of work in our future...and you can bet that I'll be documenting our journey the entire way. 

P.s.) Thank you for reading this post. I know it was a long one...but I sure do hope someone can benefit from it. XO!

post circle 67 comments :

  1. Well, I read this entire post from beginning to end. Every single freaking word and all I have to say is THANK YOU!

    Homebuying isn't in our near future, but I know that when it does happen, we're going to want to know ALL of this. Thank you for long and honest opinion. You have no idea how much I appreciate it!

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  2. Ah! I have never met a stranger and I went door to door knocking. We totally passed up my favorite house because the lady across the street was upfront and said "this neighborhood is turning into the ghetto." Bless that lady!

    Good advice, girl!

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  3. I loved this post so much! (Even though it was painful to read; I really feel for you guys and how rough that must have been). My husband and I are just beginning to look for our first home, and reading this was so helpful. I love the tips and the general warnings and will keep all of this in mind as we look. Ever since I started following your blog and read about your foundation issues, it has stayed in the back of my mind, and I wondered about all of the details, and so I really appreciated this post and how you explained everything, and how much you care about saving others the heartache! I admire you guys for getting through that and your attitudes and you commit to all the work that had/has to be done!

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  4. Oh, praise Jesus for this! My Drew and I won't be buying a house until 2014 or '15 at the earliest (God-willing, of course), but when we do you BET we're going to do all of these steps to make sure we don't get duped! It's such foreign territory and so hard to know in advance the problems that will arise. I commend you for shelling out your hard-won advice to the world!!!!!!

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  5. This was an excellent post. I can't imagine going through what you have been through since buying your home. But I appreciate and value all of your tips for first time home buyers! I am no where near being able to buy a home, but I'll remember this for when that time comes!

    I pinned your office images for inspiration a few weeks ago, and now I love it even more knowing the story behind it! You've been through a lot and I am so happy for you that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

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  6. Wow! I want to thank you so much for this funny and God honest post. I have been so scared to buy a home so your tips come good ad gold. Thank you so much for the pictures!

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  7. i won't be buying a home soon but when i do, i bookmarked this page! thank you! i am so sorry that you had to go through all of this!

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  8. I LOVE seeing the before and after pics, Shay! You guys did an awesome job on the house. It's beautiful!! But definitely a hard lesson to learn. But look where you are now :) I'm seriously in love with your office chevron wall. Just gorg!

    Keep on documenting everything. I can't wait to see more!!
    xo
    Alisha

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  9. I seriously almost cried reading this. I've never been through anything like it, but I can't imagine going through what y'all did! I'm in the Austin area, too, so you'll need to send me a message with what neighborhood it is in so we don't move there. :( Thanks so much for the advice! We're looking to buy within the next 2 years.

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  10. I will definently be bookmarking this for ten years down the road when I buy a house. I love what y'all did with the house! I love the designs! And your office is to die for! Good luck with the rest of your house!

    Laura
    http://howdygirl.com

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  11. This is heartbreaking! I know how much you wanted that house and I know that in the long run it will be perfect! Hang in there, girl!

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  12. I read the whole thing and while I'm nowhere close to buying a home, I am SO thankful for this post! I feel like the same can be said for apartments. I have lived in some great apartments, but my last one in college, I would tell people to RUN from it. It was horrible and I wish I would have found something else instead.

    Hang in there, this house WILL be great again and your excitement will return like that first night when you brought home Olive Garden!

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  13. Oh, my goodness! I am so sorry that you went through all of that. I'm a new reader... I found your blog through your Apartment Therapy feature. Your office is such a beautiful space! Now, after hearing about what you went through with the rest of the house, it makes me so happy for you that you have a space like that that you love so much! I wish you all the best with the rest of your house.

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  14. Thank you for posting this! My husband and I have been talking about buying a home and the option of building vs getting a fixer upper and this definitely put some things into perspective for us! Good luck with everything, and I wish all the best for you!

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  15. Thank you Shay. My husband and I are looking at homes RIGHT NOW wondering whether we can afford one or not. We are looking at the cheapest of cheap options and when we find a home that stands out as beautiful all I can wonder is "what's wrong with it?". Your experience has been so frustrating. Thank goodness you and Drew have one another to lean on. It's so cute to see your smiles in those first pictures, especially the Olive Garden dinner ones.

    As a young gal looking at homes, I really appreciate all the advice!

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  16. Whew! I'm so sorry you went through all of that hassle with your first home. It sounds like so much work and so much $$$ but I'll bet that first night, running through the house together and in love makes up for it. Am I right?

    xoxo,
    Chelsea & The City

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  17. OMG what a mess! But dang, some great lessons learned. I totally wish I would have seen this list when my husband and I were searching for a house. We put offers in on two different places that, after the inspection, were found to have foundation issues. I was totally like 'oooh it's fineeee!' but luckily Ian knew that we had to walk away. Like you, I watch sooo much HGTV and had high hopes for a fixer upper, but we ended up in a move in ready townhouse that was really just all around easier. However, we have put some work into the place and I just can't imagine having it all ripped up. Stay strong and everything will be worth all the stress and frustration. I cant wait to hear about the next steps of the journey!

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  18. love all your home improvements! I've seen your office before- love! but i love your kitchen! may have to start that next!

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  19. Oh wow!! I am SO SO sorry this happened to you, it literally makes me sick to think about. I will definitely take your tips into account when I look to purchase a home one day and am glad that you are close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Best of luck with moving back in and look forward to seeing more of your beautiful home!

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  20. I am so sorry this happened to you. That is just horrible and I could have so easily been you. We bought our first home 7 years ago and neither one of us had a clue what we were doing so this post is SUCH good advice. I hope more people read it.

    Overall, we had a horrible realtor but there was one thing she did right - she insisted we hire a much more expensive home inspector/engineer to look at the homes we wanted to contract on. This guy did it all - checked every pipe, the foundation, crawled into every crawl space, turned on every faucet in the house and then checked every pipe even under the house, etc... his reports were about 80-100 pages long and were worth every penny. We walked away from one home after we realized that underneath its beautifully remodeled surface was a total nightmare.

    Lesson learned - pay for the engineer. Couldn't agree more. People can hide a lot of crap with paint and strategically placed furniture and buying a home (esp your first) is such an emotional experience that it's easy to get your judgment clouded or to be misled.

    Again, sorry for your troubles but this too shall pass.

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  21. I absolutely loved this post! Your house is so great! Thanks for sharing!!

    -- Mary
    maryjozefiak.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. First off, you guys have done such amazing things to your house. I LOVE the office (I mean, who doesn't?!) and really, really feel for you. I have to erase those termite photos from my mind now, thank you very much. :) This is such a well written and interesting post. I had no plans of reading the whole thing and was then totally swept up! Probably because we JUST bought a house and I was like holy balls, please don't let this happen here. ;)

    I still feel pretty confident about our choice. The only thing I would disagree with you on is the HOA. We just moved from an HOA area to one without, and the property values are actually better in the one without. I think that some people really like HOAs for the reasons you mentioned, but you can also find really great areas without them that allow you to express yourself a bit more (I'm talking colors and landscaping, not jetski personal expression :)). Just saying that you don't need an HOA for a good area, and if you don't want one then you probably won't be happy with one in the end. But if you're open to it, then do it!! They definitely deal with most visual issues well.

    Anyhoo, I hope that when you guys are ready to move on to your next home you will be able to without too many problems. I feel like you got the motherload of home buying bad luck all in one, so you should be scot free from here on out!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow, your story is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your real deal. Your home looks soo beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am no where near buying a house, but this post was so interesting to me! I read every.single.word. I hate that y'all had all of these problems because your rooms were looking so great! Can't wait to see what y'all do once it's all fixed!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Oh man! This is so sad! I love all of your hard work that you've done! I can't wait until your house is all fixed so that you can start to enjoy it again!

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  26. This is so amazing!!!! Love all the before, during, and after pictures! Great advice..even in a newly built home, we still have a lot of work that needs to be done.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I have the same backsplash in my kitchen! I had to install it too because our home was ancient and in bad need of updating when we bought it!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I read the whole post, because I don't take buying a home lightly and any info I can get, I will take... I'm 100% with you on the HOA fee... My husband and I live in the house he bought years ago and there is no HOA fee :( we basically have the same problem as you, except with cars. 7 freaking cars! It sounds like we might be neighbors...

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh Shay! My heart just breaks for you & Drew every time I read about all of the issues you guys have had with your home! Buying a new house is SO so scary! My husband & I just bought ours in April & I was such a nervous wreck when signing that dotted line. I love our house, it has good bones & great potential for updating (our plan is the same as y'alls - out with the old, in with the new) but, the unknowns & bumps in the road that I know are inevitable scare the bagebbies out of me! Such great advice here in this post - people should really listen to y'all! I hope things are going better now & that y'all will be moving in soon!? OR have y'all already gotten to move back in? Hugs to you & Drew!!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I don't recall bookmarking this page, but found it on my bookmarks in my phone. I gotta say sorry to hear your first time buying a home was bad, wait terrible. However speaking from a 26 year old saying for a down payment for a house I would like to say thank you for your post and heads up as what to look for. Especially with the HOA and talking to the neighbors.
    However being as I'm the type of person to change my own oil and brakes ect.. HOA's aren't to fond of that.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Misery Loves company. We bought a house less than 12 months after we bought it we were out of town and a gigantic storm came through. Our flood protection system malfunctioned and we got 12 inches of water in the basement. All our of prescious items in rubbermade containers? Well, they get boyant in 12 inches of water and tip over. So everything got wet. Our finished basement is still in pieces 6 months later. I feel ya.

    ReplyDelete
  32. THANK YOU! I stumbled upon this tonight with our closing date looming and we are excited/nervous/overwhelmed/ready to go. This post was awesome to read, it helped ease my concerns and feel very capable, or at least like a picnic in our living room is a must!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Great post. We our now in the stages of building our own home after about a year of house searching. I thank everyday that my husband scrutinized houses a but more than I did. I was just so despearte to have our own space I tried to convince him that the house that had cardboard ducked taped to the ceiling covering a water hole was just a super simple fix!! (that house was ridiculous!) Most house problems aren't so obvious. We have been in a crazy whirlwind finding a builder and loan in our construction preocess and can not wait for them to dig that first hole (this Friday!). I love seeing all that you have done to this house now that the terror is over.

    ReplyDelete
  34. OMG! I'm so sorry you had to deal with all this!!! Thank you for this post so much! Such great advice and easy to forget about when you get caught up and rushed to find a home!

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  35. I could really use this information. I also consulted with couple of conveyancing lawyers in Sydney and so far everything is going as planned.

    ReplyDelete
  36. My husband and I are looking at houses now and I remembered reading this a couple of years ago a when you posted it and knew I NEEDED to come back and read this again. Thank you for sharing all of this!! I have loved watching all of y'all's updates! That backsplash in your kitchen is SO great!

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  39. Wow!! I'm going through that loud boom through the upstairs bathroom right now, ....except that boom is what I feel right down in my pocketbook. To make a long story short, what was suppose to be a simple wallpapering project became a bathroom renovation after we found termites, I mean a maze was drawn from one end to the other side of the bathroom floor.... we then gutted the walls, yes more termites...house was treated for termites in the past but wasn't expecting this....well here I am holding off all other projects in the home because it's going to cost a lot of $$$. Little by little we will get this done. I loved your story I really would love to share more...this is just a fraction of what we have a head and the fixes that we did before this. Just wanted to think in the present as I'm hoping to meditate through all this mess I've created... somewhat...I think those pesky termites are to blame....hummmmmm

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