Our First Home, the Ugly Duckling – the story of our house remodel

home3As you can tell by the title, I like to call our first home (Our current home) the ugly duckling. It was a long, treacherous journey of home remodeling, but we (I should say my Husby) did it.

I’m confident that we did the smart thing from the getgo. When we found out that we were pregnant with my first baby, the toddler, we went back and forth with the ideas of living at Husby’s parents’, living at my parents’, or spending money on an apartment. We went apartment hunting and one week we were moving in together into our first apartment, and the next we decided against it. Finally, we converted the upstairs of my parents’ house into a studio apartment with an extra small bedroom for…nope, not the baby, the Husby (Wife kudos are due here).

And those who didn’t know the technicality behind it all, scorned us. My mom’s nebby socialite friends asked their million questions and poked and pried because I guess we’re just that interesting, leaving my mom to constantly ask us about our future. We took it all in, and brushed it to the side – because we knew. We knew that God had something in store for us – for our little baby boy, and soon-after, our little baby girl.

So Husby was on a mission to find us a home. An apartment would not do for his pride after all smacktalk we endured. I let it be his mission, and had confidence that it was going to happen for us.

My husband even instilled the techniques of The Secret into his search, and started house hunting, even though he knew that we really didn’t have all the money saved up for a home yet. So during one of his nights driving around, imagining the future of our family in our own home, he came across a little red-brick home on a steep hill, in a neighborhood just a few miles from his parents’ house and my parents’ house. Actually it was right in the middle mile-ways between the two homes.

It had a for sale sign on it that indicated it had been foreclosed. The grass was over a foot high, the railings were rusty and wobbly, the roof was in shambles, and the old owners had installed a tree house and side shed that looked like they were out of a Paranormal State episode.

But through that, through the stains, and the weeds, and the tattered fragments of that little house, he was a home for us. He saw the cute bay window and imagined a small Christmas tree lighting through it for years to come. He saw the gravel drive way, where he’d one day hear the crackling sound coming from a child’s tricycle zipping around on it. He saw a large, grandfather tree, where we’d sit in the shade while watching our kids play in the backyard that is perfect for play time.

And that’s it. He didn’t even get to see the inside. He knew that the house number was 202 (2 loving parents, 2 adored children), and that the street name was named – wouldn’t you know it – the same as my name. He knew that this was it. And with the prospects of it being affordable with it being a foreclosure, he began to spin the wheels in his head to make it work. Every night, while baby boy and I were in bed, he’d leave with one of the kids and drive to the house, park in the drive way, and imagine it to be our home.

He began making phone calls to the bank who owned it (When a home is foreclosed, the bank who owned the mortgage the previous owner defaulted on, now owns the home). After days of runarounds, no callbacks, being redirected, and redirected, Husby finally got a hold of a woman who was in charge of the home’s account. She let us know that he house was no longer for sale, and that it had been packaged into a wholesale deal with 9 other houses for an investor to buy.

Now, there are a lot of reasons why I fell head to toe for Husby since the day I met him, but these reasons I believe will make him a very successful man someday soon: he does not take no for an answer, he’s able to reach people that are hard to reach, and he’s very convincing. He continued to pursue the prospects, and she was intrigued. Slowly but surely, she began calling our desire for this home “Mission Family Avenue.” She started to drop hints about how we could obtain the home, and talked to the man who was to buy it as a wholesale and told him our story. He agreed to let the house go.

But because of legal issues, she could not directly sell the house to us. She had to re-list it on the market. We panicked. This meant that if we did not act quick, someone was going to have a chance at it. She dropped more hints on how we could obtain it, who we should speak to, and nudged at how much we could offer. Husby, incredulous, told her what he was going to offer, which was a low-bargain for what the house promised. She replied with a subtle verbal wink over the phone, and Husby rushed to the closest real estate office, which happened to be where he once worked as a real estate agent.

An old coworker of his greeted him at the door, and talked him through the offer. Excited, Husby called me at work and told me to head over straight after work. We put in our offer. We spent the night excited, hopeful, but also scared. This was after the bank’s office had closed, so we had to wait until the next morning to find out whether our offer would be well-received.


The next morning, I was luckily off work. We were restless. Usually Michael likes to relax at home when I’m off, but he was eager to get out of the house as a family. We decided to drive to the house to look at it. As we pulled up, we noticed two cars out front. There were other buyers visiting the inside of the home. Keep in mind, we ourselves had never seen it inside.

We panicked. We’d still not heard back about our offer, and the house was up for anyone to put an offer in. What if they offered something higher than we did (Which didn’t take much, trust me). What if their offer goes in before ours? We kept driving back and forth in front of the house with our windows open trying to listen to any conversation we could catch. We heard the real estate agent who was showing the house motion to a buyer to meet him at the real estate office. Uh oh. Our hearts sank. We were frantic. It was out of our hands now. It was before lunch time, we’d put in our offer, all there was left to do was wait. We felt helpless.

We decided to try to get our minds off of things and head to lunch. During lunch, Husby and I did our regular routine: “You think we got our first home?” he’d ask. “Yep!’ I’d say with feigned confidence, trying to exercise the skills of The Secret. About mid-lunch, his phone rang. It was our real estate agent. We got the house. Our real estate agent was baffled. “You must’ve known someone at the bank, because they accepted that offer immediately.” We later heard that the people looking at the house that morning did submit an offer right after their visit to the house, and were quickly turned down because the house had just been sold to us. Their real estate agent was really disappointed because he thought he’d make an easy sale that day. God is funny.

So we got to look at our home for the first time that day. We took my parents to see it, and they said it was beautiful as soon as they pulled up. Despite all the obvious issues. Our toddler was still doing the monkey dance as a walk, so he wobbled around the back yard with a ball we had brought for him to play outside.

The inside needed a lot of work. It had hard wood floor all around a majority of the house, which was a plus, and we are considering linoleum flooring as well as option. But it was speckled with stains of what smelled like animal accidents. There was claw marks from what seemed the marks of a big dog on the bay window framing, and around the door knobs of pretty much all the doors and we were thinking about getting a dog from Dogs on the Loose but we didn’t have him yet. The old owners had glued green wallpaper lining with retro flowers pretty much all over the house. There were crayon drawings all over the walls. The lighting fixtures and fan were pretty much all broken. The kitchen was outdated, with the floor all scuffed up. The supposed two bathrooms were actually one bathroom and just a single toilet hanging out by itself in a room in the basement, with a homemade shower across the hall from the lonely toilet. We later also discovered we needed all new plumbing and electric, and that we’re going to be remodeling our bathroom with a design by Home Spa Select.

But all was not lost. We were lucky to have the opportunity to apply for a 503k, a loan which allowed us to incorporate remodel costs into our mortgage. Now for the down payment, that was more elbow grease for Husby. I’ve never told you this, but Husby and I met back when he was an aspiring musicians that get the best guitars for the money. Yep, he rocked out with his guitar and even wrote me a few songs, which he would dedicate to me on stage from time to time. Well, he sold a majority of his equipment to pay for the down payment and then some. He does not miss the equipment one bit.

On January 15th, we closed on the house and picked a contractor. Now I was still pregnant, so I did not endure the suffering and stress that goes into remodeling a home. That was all Husby’s job. For the next 5 months, with the help of a great friend who taught Husby many things in remodeling, Husby was at the house day and night painting, redoing hardwood floors, tearing out carpets, redoing tile work, installing new doors, new trim, new wayne’s coating, everything. He literally (With the help of friends and family) redid the whole upstairs of our home. He also took care of the junk that was left outside, and tried to re-landscape our yard (That’s still a work in progress). I mean every single little detail. And he wouldn’t let us move in until it was all perfect. The contractor took care of the big stuff like the roof, the kitchen, plumbing, electric, ecc.

Well about 5 months after the closing on our home, the day before Mother’s day, I was growing restless. I needed to nest – bad. I met up with a few friends that were helping us redo our house and contemplated the idea of painting the little details Husby wasn’t happy with myself. Well, wouldn’t you know it, baby girl, right then and there, decided she was going to start making her presence into the outside world. As my water slowly broke, I was admitted into the hospital, and hours and hours later, baby girl was born on Mother’s day. Uh oh. The house was still not painted to Husby’s standards. While in labor, I got a text from my brother asking me for my address. Weird, but okay. Some more hours later, one of my close friends texted me: “Your house is fully painted. You are ready to move in.” God bless them.

So sure enough, a few days after Baby Girl and I were released, we made our move – again, with lots of help from friends and family. And I was free to nest.

Now, thanks to Husby, we’ve got a great starter home, with everything new (Except for literally just the shower in the upstairs bathroom) — well with a few new crayon drawings of our own. Okay more than a few. Toddlers are productive! But I walk into my home every day after work and think of how blessed I am. Each room is painted to the colors I chose, the floor is nice and shiny, the bathroom and kitchen adorned with brand new fixtures (Again, minus the shower). Each room is entered through a brand new detail-ornamented white door. Our clothes are kept behind brand new white wooden doors. Our hallways are lined with bright white wayne’s coating (I guess you can tell I like wood painted white). New trimming around our beloved bay window and all the walls. The windows are new, and I’ve added my own details – pictures of our children in every corner, photos of travels from young years (Lol I talk like I’m so old), matching curtains in every room.

Every morning I eat breakfast in my brand new kitchen, and as I feed my babies, I look out at the large window that lets light in and portrays a view on our leafy tree in our front yard, and cute little antique homes across the street.

When you are doing home renovation or a business advertisement, it is best to use magnet signs.

And best of all, as a lot of you probably know, if you purchased a home in 2009, you get a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost of your home. So we’re already planning the remodel of our basement to add an office, bonus room and extra bathroom. Now that Husby is kinda handy, we can dream big. Ha ha.

So if you feel like your first dream home is too far for you to reach, just remember our house remodel story. Because, not to sound like a cheesy Disney channel infomercial, as long as you believe in yourself and those around you, you can make things happen. That’s how we got our first home – our ugly duckling.

5 Comments on Our First Home, the Ugly Duckling – the story of our house remodel

  1. In My Pink Heels
    January 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm (8 years ago)

    Awesome inspiration here….I absolutely HATE being a homeowner, however somewhere deep in my soul, I have faith. Just as I have faith in the fact that I will find my prince charming one day. Wonderful post and I cant wait to keep reading.

  2. Mamma-M
    January 5, 2010 at 11:11 pm (8 years ago)

    thanks! haha yeah I’ve definately realized the workload that comes with it.

  3. Nenkaila
    February 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm (6 years ago)

    I fainlly decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

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