That one time we started working on a house we didn’t own

You guys, I just have to come out and say that the process of buying this house was one of the most stressful things I have ever been through in my entire life. My first job out of high school was working for a real estate company. I ended up working for them for 7 years in a variety of roles, and even had my real estate license for a while. So my experience with real estate does go a little beyond just being a second-time homebuyer. With that I can say that this was the most complicated real estate transaction that I have ever been involved in, in any capacity.

The major catalyst of Jordan’s 3 months of stress-induced zombie mode was a self-inflicted decision. It was the mortgage program we chose. When we had our date night-discussion on whether we really wanted to buy this house, there was one thing we both agreed on: If we were really going to do this thing, we were going to do the majority of renovations up front. When we bought our first house we did the bare bones basics of what we had to do to make it work, and then planned on doing a lot more as we went a long. Looking back, we knew we didn’t like that model. While any homeowner is always tinkering, and improving, and doing projects here and there (at least we are), our previous house felt like everything was temporary. For example, the kitchen cabinets we painted “for now” until we could do what we really wanted “some day.” But “some day” just never seemed to come around. And after 5 years in that house, almost every room still felt like it was stuck in “for now” mode. That is what had us originally looking for something move-in ready this time around. So our compromise was to make this one move-in ready from the get-go. For us, this meant choosing a mortgage program that allowed us to roll in the cost of the renovation into the mortgage. We didn’t want to tinker forever, we just wanted to rip the band-aid off and get it done up front.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I will just say that it was an extremely complicated process. There were lots of requirements. As one of those requirements, we had to submit a bid outlining the project scope and budget. While that sounds pretty simple, that bid was actually a part of the final mortgage approval process. Yup, before our mortgage was even approved we had to start picking out finishes like light fixtures, and flooring, and cabinets, and hardware, and ALL OF IT so we could submit our bid. That is how Jordan ended up having a borderline panic attack in a flooring store on my lunch break (true story). I thought this would be the funnest part! This was the time where I could take all my “dream home” Pinterst boards and actually start picking stuff out! But there was just so much pressure, so many details to select, and not much time to do it. (And apparently too many flooring options in the floor store… and when your stress load is on max that kind of thing can send you over the edge. Or so I’ve heard..)

As the days continued to tick by and there were still hoops and hoops to jump through, the closing date was like a moving target.  After 53 days and still no closing, the sellers were gracious enough to allow us to start working a little on the outside. There was so much to do that didn’t structurally affect the house, like pressure washing and trimming and general cleaning up. They gave us the go-ahead and in one day we had taken the house from this…


To this…


I joked during this process that I bought a house, but I didn’t know what it looked like. But really, I wasn’t joking. What a difference!


Here’s an action shot of me pressure washing. Not just because I look super tough with those gloves on, but you can really get an idea of how overgrown it was right up to the door. And this is even after we had started cutting it back and taken out the shrubs that were up against the house.


Remember all that bamboo? This is how tough this stuff is… the roots were growing right on top of the concrete.


And here’s the pile we cut down with a super cute 75-pound Labrador for scale.


We also went to town on the pool deck pressure washing, and trimming back all the overgrown planters. We really want to rip the planters out completely, but since we don’t technically own them yet… we have to leave them be for now.




Even mini-me got in on the action. And yes, we spent a good bit of this renovation working in our swimsuits. It was Florida in July and we were glad to have a pool to dip into when we felt like our skin was going to melt off our bodies.


But now that we have it cleared… take a look at all that space!



On the flip side, now that it’s all cleaned up, look at all that pink! We mentally add refinishing the deck to our to-do list and keep chugging.

It felt good to finally doing something, event if it was sweating our buts off outside in the Florida heat every day pressure washing everything that didn’t move. It’s a little frustrating the other hand, because we are finally getting up close and personal with all the work that we need to do, and our hands are tied. We can’t start cutting down trees, or painting, or tearing out anything structural, and we can’t even get inside at all.  We do get word from our mortgage company that some tree limbs over the house and pool are a liability, and we have to have those trimmed before we can close. But other than that, all we can do is keep cleaning up the place.


Oh hey, there’s our front porch!


At last, 77 days after our contract is accepted, we get the keys and FINALLY close on the house. At this point, since the closing date has been pushed back so many times, we now have just three days to get out of our old house. Because we have the best family and friends anyone could ever ask for, the crew assembles and gets all our furniture out of the house and into the garage of the new place. The house is not in livable condition yet, so we arrange to move with my parents for a few weeks (spoiler alert… it’s more than a few weeks).

So now here we are, me and hubby, mini-me and pups, all living in my childhood home and spending all our free time working on our new all-consuming, maybe-we-are-over-our-heads, what-did-we-just-do, project. But on the bright side, at least we finally have the keys! It is finally–in all ways official and legal–completely ours, and we waste no time getting to work.

Up next, The Before Tour Part Two: Inside Edition, where we get up close and personal with a seriously nasty carpet situation.

Tell me your horror stories! I can’t be the only one who has had a stress meltdown or two during home buying or renovating. Though I will own that I’m probably the only one who has had immobilizing anxiety because there was too much floor in the floor store!
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3 thoughts on “That one time we started working on a house we didn’t own

  1. Our first home buying experience had a lot less overgrown mess and just as little days to move in. With zero time to replace the floors and paint the walls like originally planned, we assembled the three people we knew to move us. Thank goodness Manga was there to house you all! I’ve decided I’ll need a Manga for my next home buying experience.


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