Today’s story is the beginning of a series of posts about our first home and how we got to where we are today.
In the Beginning…
Although my personal story begins far before 2010, my blog story begins in August 2010. Mark, my fiancé of one month (now my husband) and I were living apart in neighboring towns in Vermont. He was renting a room in a home with a couple of other guys that was very inexpensive and I was temporarily living in my parents’ house while they were away, which was free, thanks Mom & Dad! We were both in graduate school, and I was also working part-time as a Graduate Assistant. That being said, we were living “the student life” with minimal income. We were only a 15 minute drive away from each other, which in Vermont is super close. Sounds great right? Hindsight always being 20-20, aside from feeling transient, we had made some good life’s decisions.
Then something happened, we had a more detailed conversation about our future, where we wanted to live after we got married in June of 2011. We both were pretty sick of moving around from rental to rental and were ready to settle. Not to mention the money we were wasting from renting. “Maybe we should buy a house” is where the conversation began. Mark loved the idea about having a yard for his dog, Oscar, and a space to call our own. He had even considered purchasing a house before we met but then decided to put that idea on hold, “if this relationship worked out.”
I loved the idea of being settled and making a home with my new husband right away. We both wanted to stay in Vermont, so it seemed like an easy decision for us to move forward. We started looking at the real estate market and quickly realized we would have to buy a “fixer upper,” which wasn’t a huge deal since my dad works in construction and he had told us he could help us with some changes if we wanted. We also would be a bit further from Burlington (the only ‘city’ in the area), but we were o.k. with those two sacrifices.
Everyone starts with a Fixer Upper
Having these details in mind, we hired a realtor, who is also a trustworthy friend. Soon after we started the home buying process before Mark headed to Oregon.
After a short amount of time, with the help of our realtor, we found a house in our price range that we were excited about. It was the first, and I’m embarrassed to say this, but the only house that we actually stepped foot in during this home search. Our realtor encouraged us to look at others but we were determined that this was the house due to the location and other factors that were pulling us towards this particular house. The house was an old farmhouse style home, built in 1899 with .85 acres of land. We thought it would be a great size yard for Oscar to run around in. I loved the rustic character that this home brought into the decor I imagined having in this home.
We went through all the normal procedures you do when you buy a house, including an inspection. We also had my Dad take a look at the house for a second opinion. There were a number of items that came up on the inspection that you would expect in an older home. We had the necessary changes that needed to be made, paid by the owner as much as possible, and contracted out for the other things the owner wasn’t willing to help with so that we could move forward in purchasing this home. Our realtor assured us the requests were reasonable. The inspector insisted that we were “safe on any big-ticket items” for 3-5 years, which was a relief because remember, we were finishing up Graduate school and planning a wedding. I had one stipulation to Mark though before we bought this house, we HAD to replace the carpet with hardwood flooring and we HAD to paint some of the rooms if not all before I would live in it. The main reason for this was because the carpets in the house were nothing less than disgusting and the previous owner was a smoker and I wanted to rid the house of the smell. Mark agreed to my stipulation, and we even had the hardwood flooring stored in my parents’ garage before we purchased the house. Did I mention the house even had mountain views outside of the master bedroom window, and a park with nature trails across the street?
I mean, it looks like a great place to start a marriage, doesn’t it? The closing went through without a hitch, I was alone at the closing table as Mark had already left for his first clinical in Oregon. I knew the house would be under construction a bit before it was feeling like home, but I was o.k with that. After all, I was used to construction since my Dad was constantly fixing something in my parent’s house as a child.
My Dad, Mr. Fix It!
My Dad, some awesome friends, and I ripped out the carpets in the house. Below is the main living area, we started by ripping out the carpets, which was even easy enough for me to do!
- Corn stove…. odd!
- Hearth for corn stove
- Fake wood trim
- Walls painted and discolored by smoke.
- “The back door to nowhere” as we so lovingly called it. Because literally it had no steps, deck, patio, anything on the other side of it!
In all the years of watching my Dad fix and build houses, furniture, and so much more, I never heard him say the statement that I heard on that chilly October day after we ripped out the carpets and he stood down in the crawl space, looking up at me: “Kel, I don’t think I can fix this.” There was a part of me that thought he was kidding: “Dad, what do you mean?” He proceeded to tell me that the floor joists were crooked and it looked as though there was a problem with the foundation and that I should call a Mason to check it out.
Meanwhile I was trying to decide how I would tell my fiancé that there is a seemingly major problem with the house we just bought!
Read more on Thursday to find out how our first home’s living room was transformed.