That’s What’s Up: New Homeowner Edition

Um. So. Yeah…

… It’s been two months since I’ve posted to this blog. TWO MONTHS! In the blogosphere that is a total sin as the first rule of blog posting is: post regularly and post often.  So I may have lost some readership along the way, but that’s cool now that I’m back the content here is going to be fast, furious, and fascinating going forward. Hold on to your seatbelts, folks!

So what have I been up to in these last two months?  Well basically, anything and everything.  A quick recap, shall we?

We took legal possession of the house in mid-May.  The sellers had kiddos still in school so we would not have physical possession of the house for three weeks.  We did what is called a “rent-back” where the sellers rent the house from the buyers.  There’s a type of short-term lease agreement included in the sale contract that says what the terms of the short-term lease would be… how long, how much, responsibilities of each party, etc…  Our agreement stated that the sellers would rent the house for $0, $0 security deposit for three weeks,  maintain the house and grounds, and leave the house in good condition upon their departure.  I was ALL kinds of uncomfortable because it is basically a good faith agreement between strangers: In exchange for living free, we won’t muck up your house, mmmkay?  Hmft.  I didn’t trust it. But our agent assured us that with the current Denver market, this was a necessary tool to have our offer accepted, and she was right.

During the 3-week rent-back period, we had one goal: line up the work that needed to be done on the house.   Once the sellers vacated we would have three weeks to get the work done before moving in.   That should be plenty of time, right?

When we came out of inspection, there was an 80-page document from the inspector about issues ranging from things that are inconvenient and inefficient to things that were safety hazards or not up to code. Based on how our financing and contract negotiations went, the sellers were not responsible for fixing anything in the house, it was all on us. I translated the inspector’s list along with our own observations into a spreadsheet organized by urgency and I spent a few days getting estimates on all the work.

We called it “death by a thousand paper cuts,” because there were a lot of small things to fix in the house that were just annoying or unsafe, but few major things.  I’m still torn on which is better – having one-thousand $5-issues or five $1000-issues to fix?  The biggest thing on the list was the radon remediation.  Our house had a radon level that was “slightly above okay” and with radon being the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, we should probably fix it.

Aside from the radon, we were in the one-thousand $5-issues camp with some of those issues costing a lot more than $5.  It was utterly overwhelming and we had no idea where to start.  After good counsel from friends, family, and neighbors we decided to start with the things that are the most disruptive and easiest to address without our things in the house: ceilings, floors, and painting.

Now mind you, our house was move-in ready.  There were no major structural or safety issues aside from the radon.  But there was a lot of deferred maintenance.  The house’s hardwood floors had not been refinished in years, and there were scratches and stains on the wood that could not easily be hidden.  In addition, the basement had not one, not two, but SEVEN types of flooring installed.  Yes, seven!  The basement was something that I really pushed for in the home search.  I grew up having a basement that felt like an extension of the house that you could use for entertaining and guest rooms and wanted the same thing in our new house.  But with seven types of flooring and wood paneling on the walls, there was no way the basement could feel modern and cozy like the upstairs.   The basement would need a full remodel, but we couldn’t afford to do that at this time.  At least if we could create uniform flooring in the basement, we could do the other updates slowly over time, right?

I spent the first three weeks as a homeowner as a full-time project manager, getting estimates, coordinating with the sellers/tenants, and scheduling the work to be done on both the upstairs and downstairs floors.  As you will soon learn, my hope of ‘just getting the floors done’ turned into a lot bigger project than either of us could have anticipated.  Stay tuned for the updates (and photos!) of what happened along the way.

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