So here’s the thing about moving.
Specifically, about buying a vacant old house and renovating it.
It’s gonna have issues. You’re gonna have challenges. Trust me, it’s just going to happen.
The previous owners of this home built it 50 years ago and, while we knew it needed some love, we didn’t fully anticipate the issues that would crop up as we just tried to move into the dang thing.
First, the previous owners had passed away and the house had been vacant for some time. Despite having months to prepare for the sale, the owners’ family had grossly underestimated just how much *stuff* one could accumulate over five decades. In short, this meant they were still moving out when we were supposed to be moving in. Lovely people, but the net result was that at 9 pm, we finally gave in and checked into a hotel. Our stuff spent the night outside, in our new driveway and backyard, while we scrounged up enough toothbrushes and t-shirt “pajamas” to push us through our impromptu hotel stay. (Spoiler alert: we didn’t locate enough of either).
From there, things only got more interesting. On day 2 our nine-year old ran full speed into a poorly-placed glass door (invisible when closed) and it shattered. (I guess they didn’t temper glass in 1969???!) In any case, we spent 3 hours in the emergency department and while he left with a good collection of bandages, we were extremely fortunate that it wasn’t worse.
A variety of small hiccups tested our sanity as we tried to unpack. We found a toilet wouldn’t flush, only to discover the water was turned off because it leaked. We realized our kitchen cabinets didn’t actually have a paint glaze on them, they were just really dirty. Mice had taken up residence in some areas and the telltale evidence was more than I had the stomach for. Our laundry room faucet had a tiny hole that made the spray shoot sideways and hit you in the face.
We discovered the hot water tank was broken but the company wouldn’t repair it, as the tank rental fees hadn’t been paid for a couple of years. Six phone calls later, I was able to reach someone at the company willing to let me pay the bill so we could get a technician in to repair the unit. If you’ve never spent two days carrying furniture and unpacking boxes in August heat with no shower, well … let’s just say I don’t recommend it.
Just as we were getting settled in, the washing machine died (with a drum full of water. Of course). Then the fridge conked. Turns out the kitchen was built around the fridge, which meant it would have to be disassembled before we could wiggle it out. In doing so, we punctured the Freon line and, not entirely sure what gas was now leaking into our house, I sent the kids to the park down the street. Hubby and I had just gotten the fridge to the curb, seriously scratching our floors in the process, when our son ran in to say our daughter had just fallen and broke her foot at the park.
An x-ray confirmed a fractured foot and our girl was on crutches just in time to start at her new school, which – ironically – we had been so excited to learn was within walking distance of our house. Ouch.
On it went … and it’s still going. We’ve lived here a few months now, and are into the thick of dreaming, scheming and planning. We’ve stripped miles of wallpaper, pulled off trim, ripped out ceilings and light fixtures, made small tweaks to make things more livable. And we’re working with our amazing architect to finalize plans that will see us gut this place, open it up, freshen it up, and give us the modern amenities we’re missing.
Will it get easier? No. But it will absolutely, totally be worth it.