Six years ago, my husband and I bought a new house.
Before I get to my story, a little background:
JT and I are no strangers to a household project. Upon buying our first house, we gutted each room one by one and built it up from scratch. Now, when I say “we”, I don’t mean we saved up and hired contractors. I mean “we” in the literal sense. My husband and I weekend warriored the shit out of that house until it was perfect. Over the course of our ten year stay there, nothing remained of the dwelling we originally purchased. The entire house was new. So, when it came time to find a new house, number one on our must have list: move in ready. It was surprisingly hard to find.
Two years, and a dozen outbids later…
I found it.
My dream home, the perfect house! A large colonial in an upscale neighborhood, a five mere blocks from the elementary school. It had everything – An open floor plan with a huge kitchen and formal dining room, three big bedrooms, including a master sweet, three bathrooms, first level laundry, a garage, bonus loft, walk in basement, enormous windows overlooking an adorable lemonade porch on the front.
It was everything we wanted. Except …
It wasn’t finished.
Let me be clear on that. It. Wasn’t. Finished.
The man who owned the house before us was some kind of contractor who’d planned to flip the home. He gutted the entire space, made a completely new layout, and then ran out of money.
The house was empty.
No kitchen. No floor. No bathrooms. No heat. No water. NOTHING but a framed out empty shell with lovely yellow siding and white scalloped peaks. It was everything I wanted in a home – and even in that condition, it was still at the top of our budget. But, it didn’t matter. I’d fallen in love with this house. I needed it. Though inside was nothing but empty space, when I walked in the front door and saw my kids running down the massive, wooden staircase before school. I saw family dinners and bbqs on the deck out back. I saw nights in front of the fireplace and days on the porch with my kindle in one hand and a coffee on the other. I saw our entire lives unfolding in the emptiness. All we had to do was fill it.
No big deal right? We reno’d a house already. We knew what we were doing.
I can laugh about it now.
Have y’all ever seen The Money Pit? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on some prime comedy. Tom Hanks and Shelly Long play a married couple who buy their dream home then watch as it crumbles around them. It’s one of my faves. I’ve seen it at least hundred times, if not more. Yet, I found myself surprisingly unprepared when it happened to me.
Everything went wrong. From crooked walls, to busted concrete, to faked permit approvals, to a yard that’s nothing but bricks hidden in the dirt, (I still can’t grow grass, that fucker!) culminating with a hurricane that left us without electric or gas for a MONTH. I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you the details.
We did what we could and managed to move our family in just in time for Christmas 2012. It was an incredible accomplishment. I look around now, and shit isn’t perfect and it drives me nuts. A missing piece of trim molding, a crooked handle on our kitchen cabinets – but I need to remember the sheer size of the project we embarked upon. We were insane. Everybody told us we were nuts. It’s been six years and we’re still working on it.
Stick around for the next installment of The Six Year Nightmare – Chapter 2 - The Basement.