This past week marks the two year anniversary of purchasing our home. It has caused me to ponder the circumstances at which we met, our long distance courtship, our quick engagement, the wedding day, our fights, and months and years of counseling. And I can honestly say that I am more in love now than ever. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m still talking about my relationship with my house. Isn’t that a normal thing to talk about?:-)
Our first marriage was in 2007 to a 13 year old townhouse-styled condo (13 years old, I know, sounds risky)!
Our Condo when we put it on the market
At the time of purchase we only had a one child who was just shy of a year old. The condo was 1675 sqft, 10 minutes from my husband’s work, and close to lots of great shopping. It was a somewhat blissful marriage. Well, minus the next door neighbor’s super loud video game music blasting through our walls at wee hours of the night. He was a 40+ year old man, but hey I won’t judge! Oh, and the never ending cheap-o oak cabinetry. But that was eventually resolved with paint (paint is the ultimate home marriage counselor)!
Condo Kitchen Before
Condo After DIY Counseling- www.providenthomedesign.com
But about 3 1/2 to 4 years into it I started thinking about moving (house divorce). My oldest was 5 years old at the time and was in kindergarten. He was of age to ride a bike but there were no sidewalks in the condo community and our backyard consisted of a “green space” that we shared with 12 other neighbors. One particular neighbor that lived directly behind us (his back patio faced our deck) spent every nice weather day outside on his back patio sun-tanning in only a pair of black skimpy shorts. Lets just say it was always a little awkward when we were out there at the same time which seemed to be often as the boys got older and wanted to be outside playing.
Five years had always been our financial plan to stay in the condo so when I got the almost 4 year itch I decided to just start looking in order to get a sense of what was out there, nothing serious. I just wanted to study the market so I would be ready for when the time came.;-)
Unfortunately, after a month or so of looking around I found one that really captured my interest. It was double the space we already had (I was pregnant with my 3rd at the time so space really sounded good) and was on the end of a cul-de-sac with a half an acre ( good for the kids to be able to run around). It was just as close to my husbands work and lots of shopping and in an even better school system. And the big kicker was that it was in our price range and a great deal at only $77 a square feet.
Sure, it wasn’t the prettiest home but I knew I could improve it with some TLC (aka DIY). But, aaaagghhh, the timing was terrible! There were 2 major factors that made this new relationship impossible. 1. Financially we needed to secure an end of the year bonus for a sound deposit and 2. I was uncomfortably pregnant (REALLY not in any shape to get the condo on the market)!
Oh, just look at those tired eyes!
So what did I do? I stalked it. That’s what any infatuated person does, right? I checked on it regularly hoping somehow it would stay on the market for a year. The market is slow, people won’t notice it’s hidden potential and the great deal it is, I tried to convince myself. Well, it did stay on market for a few months and after about 4 months I began to think it was destiny after all. I decided it was time to meet my future house “in person” so I called the realtor who listed the house and asked for a showing. She kindly told me that the house was in contract and was expected to close in just a few weeks.
I got off the phone in dismay. I had kept my eyes open and no other house had the square footage we desired in our price range! This was the only one! So on the way home from a friend’s house I drove by the house to say my goodbyes. As I drove back home I said a prayer in my heart that went something like this–Heavenly Father, I know that you are all knowing, and I know that you know what is best for me and my family. I really wanted that house to be ours someday and I listed to Him the reasons why. I ended with the statement if its your will please let it be. I immediately felt a weight taken off my shoulder and moved on.
So fast forward 4 months. I had had my baby and had survived her first 3 months of borderline colicky newborn behavior as well as the transition to 3 children.
After that I felt like I could do anything! So, I began looking for a new home again. As I began looking through the singles ads (aka listings). Almost right away I spotted another great catch! A builder was looking for a buyer to build a specific 3200 sqft floor plan for again only $77 a sqft. It was in our desired area so I quickly called to get more info. Surprisingly, it was for real but the builder’s rep hesitantly invited me to drive by the lot. Hmmm, something must be fishy about this lot I thought.
Sure enough as I turned the corner to get to the lot I saw it–the most humongous power tower that I have ever seen.
So of course that’s why it was such a good deal! Well, I wasn’t immediately detoured. I really wanted that square footage and I wasn’t finding it in our price range elsewhere. So I did some research on power towers and my findings were that there was no concrete evidence that having a power tower close to your home would pose health problems. Although there were some antedontal stories I decided to visit the lot again and to actually go outside on the property and to hear the sizzling of the electric power lines and too see how close the property line was to it. While I was there I noticed the lot next to it was for sale by a different builder. It was one lot further away from the tower which I definitely preferred!
I went home and got online to see what floor plans this builder offered. I immediately fell in love with this home and floor plan. I called the builder right away to see what it’s price was. The starting price (without upgrades) was at the very top of our budget price range. But the home was even more sqft than we had hoped for and was a great deal too, at $85 a sqft. We are a prayerful family. We had started praying long ago that we would find a good home for our family when the 5 year term was up.
We prayed about this bigger, newer, but more expensive builder home and both got the feeling that we should move forward with it. The builders were willing to do a contract contingent on the sale of our condo. We could end the contract at anytime if the condo did not sell but if the condo sold then we would be legally binded to build. With a lot of work on my part we got the condo ready to put on the market within a week or so. The builders wanted us to have everything picked out for our new home within the month even though we only had a contingent contract. They wanted to be ready to get a permit right after we sold (closed on)the condo.
Making selections for our new build was both fun and stressful. The fun part was creating spaces that I could envision my family living in for years to come. The stressful part was realizing that with each upgrade (like a fireplace being an upgrade, shouldn’t that be a standard feature to a home?) we were getting closer and closer to having a home we couldn’t afford.
As expected with the market being so bad at the time our condo didn’t sell right away. In fact it took four months until we had a buyer. We were hoping that we would close 30 days from the contract origination but our buyer desired to use a certain type of loan that required an extensive (it ended up being 4 months!) waiting period. We decided to go ahead and sign the contract with our buyer since we weren’t sure when another buyer would come along. The builder was willing to wait since they were hurting for buyers at the time too.
About a month after we got our buyer my husband received the end of the year bonus that we had been waiting on. It had been the same every year for the past 5 years so we were expecting it to be the same. We were alarmed when it was half the amount as normal (not due to his performance). We continued to pray for direction. As time went on I began to start feeling uneasy about the financial stretch we would be putting ourselves in with building the home that I loved. Sure we could probably do it but it would be tight and most likely stressful.
One day as I was feeling distressed about what we should do I thought why not go ahead and look to see what existing homes are on the market. As I was scrolling through the homes in the area we had pinpointed and in price range we were comfortable I came across a home I had seen before. It was the home I had seen and sadly said goodbye to 11 months previous! Why in the world was it on the market again. I quickly called my realtor and asked to her if we could have a showing and if she would find out for me why the seller’s were moving so soon after they bought it (I was afraid there might be something wrong with the house). My realtor got back to me saying that the owner had gotten a job offer in another state that was too good to turn down.
Could this be our answer to our prayers and ultimately the quiet pleading for God to intercede if it was His will? I knew the answer. It was.
If our buyer would have had a normal loan we would have already closed on our condo and had already been building the new home. The timing of our buyer’s loan application (4 months!) allowed the time needed for the home to come back on the market, for us to be able to leave our contract with the builder, and to move into a home once our condo closed. Unbeknownst to me the timing was being perfectly orchestrated.
Now I have to be very honest despite that it will shine a very unfavorable light on me. Even though I knew in my heart that this was an answer to our prayers and that He had blessed me with my desire it was SO very hard to let go of the beautiful builder home I had created in the selections contract. It had hardwood floors, corian countertops, white kitchen cabinets, and a walk-in pantry. A gorgeous 2 story great room, a mudroom, 4 bathrooms, and a 3 car garage. I had spent the past 7 months planning what I was going to do (decorating wise) with each room and had pictured my family living there for a very long time.
So when we came to the showing and saw this I was SO disappointed!
I have to say for a good week that I mourned the loss of my “dream home”. I know it sounds so superficial of me but hey I’m human. And to be even more transparent I’ll tell you that throughout the first year of living in our new home I yearned to have the builder home we almost had. And I know this was SO ungrateful of me but sometimes I even felt bitter about being where I was and all the work I “had” to do to make my house how I wanted.
But you know what they say about the first year of marriage–it is always the hardest!:-) And yes my first year in our new house was the hardest and the second year has been SO much better! Why? Mostly because through DIY projects GALORE I have gotten our home to where it feels like, well, our home.
(to view more Before & After Photos of our house, Click Here)
Is this where God wants me to be right now? Yes. Is this a home we can afford and not have to stress about paying for? Yes. Is there anything of more worth or value than the peace that comes from knowing you are following God’s will and from living within your financial means? A resounding no!
Now, I realize that there will be some who will think this story has nothing to do with the love or hand of God and that’s okay, we can still be friends.:-) But I can’t help but celebrate my home’s two year anniversary without thanking my Father in Heaven for His love, His foresight, His patience, and His hand in blessing me with this home, imperfections and all! Thank you for reading our story! I love happy endings and this is one of them!:-)
Family Photo taken in our Backyard 2012
(4th child not pictured because he wasn’t conceived yet)