Half Way!

We are 14 days into the renovation and have 14 days left in our apartment. Let the countdown begin.

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Livingroom all drywalled and ready for the tapers!

The contractor came to spackle for the first time yesterday. They are super quick and are doing a great job. Only problem? They are very sketchy. I am almost positive the one guy has been in jail. Facial tattoos and a weird personality. I honestly don’t care as long as they do a good job and are done in the timeframe they promised!

I started packing up a bit more stuff. Anything I don’t think we will use in the next two weeks is going into boxes. Our apartment is a wreck with things pulled out from everywhere. It reminds me of the end of each year at college when I had to empty out my dorm room; this is only 100x worse. I think next time we move I am going to hire someone to do the packing and moving, even if it costs me a limb.

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Our apartment = disaster zone

One thing I have learned so far is that moving and renovating is messy. When you do both at the same time, it creates double the mess. I have learned to just toss my hands in the air and give up. I am learning to live in the chaos and the mess, even if it does kill a part of my soul. This process will make me appreciate an organized and clean house so much more. I can’t wait for that day. I just keep repeating, “soon, Jean, soon.”

This upcoming week’s goal is to start painting and finishing. I will be setting up “painting parties” for each night/day we are painting (AKA come help me paint and I will reward you with beer and food).

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Week 2 of Renovations

We are just about two weeks into our renovation, and things are starting to finally look like they are coming back together.

The electrical is all done, and the boys were able to figure out a way to mount the IMG_9052 2television above the wood stove without the ugly wires showing. They inserted a tube behind the wall for us to run the cable down and also gave us an outlet right where the television will mount. Presto! No visible wires hanging off of the wall and down to the plug! Last night the boys hung the last of the sheetrock! Huge progress!

Brian and I decided that we are going to hire someone to do the taping and spackle work. We could have done it ourselves, but it would have been a pain in the butt and it would have take too long. To save us the headache, we hired a local guy to come and do the work for us. I will keep everyone posted on how that goes. We are hoping to have him come Friday-Sunday so Monday I can start painting.

This weekend will be an off weekend for us as we let the guy do his work in the house. I will be packing up our apartment the best I can, maybe working on the house’s curb appeal. Living between two places has been crazy. Thank goodness they are only a few miles apart!

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First Weekend at the New House

IMG_8926This week has been a whirlwind of crazy. Friday we closed on the house and got the keys. Brian and I had a brief moment in the house to enjoy it before we decided that we HAD to start the renovations. Next thing you know our families are over helping us clean the kitchen and rip down sheetrock. As Brian’s brother put it, “Pilus Crew Assemble!” By the end of the night we were all exhausted, but excited at the possibilities that this home might have.

Saturday was clean up day. We cleaned up the wreckage that was our “home” and began to prep for the drywall that will be going in. I was able to clean up the back porch area so that Dilla has a nice safe place to stay while we work. I hate keeping him cooped up in the three season room, but it’s IMG_8898better than keeping him at the apartment. At least we can all be together and he wont be so lonely. By the end of Saturday, the only thing that is left to do before the dry wall goes in is replacing the outlets.

Since things moved faster than we expected we spent very little time indoors. We decided to clean up around the pool area and in the front of the house. Its amazing to see how a little goes a long way. Every night Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 2.39.09 PMI am going to bed absolutely exhausted, and every morning I am waking up sore; but I wake up with a smile. I am loving this project and every day I am falling more deeply in love with this house.

This week Brian and I are back to work. Electrical has to be finished and I will be working on sanding the window/door frames so that I can paint them. The goal is to get the drywall done this weekend and begin the taping. Lets hope we can keep on track with both of us working while we start the hard part of the renovation.

I will leave you with my favorite memory of the Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 2.38.57 PMweekend: Brian and I rushed in and opened the door. Once we were in the house after we closed, the feeling of ‘this is ours’ was so overwhelming. Brian and I just looked at each other in the living room and did a happy dance singing, “We did it, we did it!”

Oh, Brian also lost the only set of house keys within three hours of us closing on the house.

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Why Every Buyer Needs Their Own Realtor

When we went home shopping we were told by our friend that we should look into getting our own Realtor. Our friend suggested himself, obviously. I am so glad we listened to Ryan’s advice.

Ryan took the time to get to know what we wanted in a home. He steered us in the right direction both price and concept wise. He allowed us to stay focused and helped us find our home.

When we found the right home, he went to work. He sat us down and explained how putting an offer on a house worked. He told us realistically what the house was estimated to be worth and helped us come up with a “just right offer.” When the seller counter-offered he explained why and guided us in the right direction. Thanks to him we got a great deal on a house we absolutely love.

Then came the complicated stuff: From the bank, to the mortgage underwriters to the real estate attorneys: they all expect you to understand how the process works. There were so many times during this process that I would get a phone call from someone asking me if I had done this or that. Most of the time my answer was, “No. Was I suppose to do that?” They all talked in jargon that I didn’t understand and then sighed when I asked them to explain. I would constantly call for updates, and I would feel like I was being a bother.

The only one who took the time to explain things step by step and truly work for our best interest was Ryan. He was with us every step of the way and didn’t mind answering our questions. He pretty much held our hand from start to finish. Any time I had a question he was my first phone call. Whenever there was a bump in the road, he would call and ask how we were doing.

If you are thinking of looking for a home, find yourself a reputable Realtor that you click with. You will save yourself so much time and frustration. Without Ryan I would have gone through countless boxes of tissues and kept the local wineries in business.

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The Wonders of Mint.com

In our house I take care of the money managing. I guess its because I just love numbers more. For the past few years I have been using a finance website Mint.com. I just need to express how much I love it.

Before Brian and I had joint accounts I had been using Mint to help me budget for Graduate School. By gaining control of my finances I was able to budget my money accordingly and was able to go to Graduate School part time, graduating debt free.

Once my husband and I  joined accounts, I was able to track our spending. Because I was easily able to track our savings and spending, I was able to set up a goal for us to save for our wedding. By using the app and tracking our progression we were able to save over $30,000 in two years. Let me state that my husband and I don’t have high paying jobs and live in a pretty expensive area. The fact that we were able to do this blew me away.

Our next goal, down payment on a house. A few months after we were married we decided to look at houses. With Mint reminding us to keep our spending in check we saved enough for a small down payment and to cover all of our closing costs. We should be closing in a week or two on our first home.

So why do I love Mint? Well, on the home page you get a general overview to your finances with clickable tabs that let you easily dive deeper into your financial status. The website is very user friendly and self explanatory. It has been the easiest financial app to understand and much easier that reinventing the wheel on my own. The best part yet is that there are also mobile apps for iPhone and Android users.

Mint allows you to make monthly budgets for any category that you can think of and sends reminders when you are approaching your limit. If you pay by credit card it will automatically assign your transaction to a category/budget. Of course if it accidentally mislabels the transaction, it’s easy to manually change.

Mint helps you set savings goals and assists with timeline and budgeting to reach your goal. It also offers tips that will help you invest and save in ways you might not have expected, without being overbearing and in your face. It will also automatically update your credit score. There are also other features that I just haven’t taken advantage of yet such as automatic bill pay.

For someone who is very budget conscious but sucks at staying on track long term, Mint has been a Godsend. Mint allowed us to gain financial control of our lives and lets us stay on track. It is helping us achieve things I didn’t think were possible such as homeownership. Mint is the best financial app and I think that if you are looking to track your spending, Mint is the way to go.

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Richest woman, and all I have are shells.

This week Brian and I have been on vacation in South Carolina. My in-laws rented a house in the Litchfield by the Sea Estates right on the beach for two months and were kind enough to buy us plane tickets down to visit the for a week.

This vacation has been so needed. With the stress of home and the snowy weather, this week has bed a godsend. Today I took time to myself and took a 4 mile walk along the beach. As I walked I cleared my mind and just listened to the ocean. The tide was out so there were interesting shells that often drew my attention and I just had to pick up. Throughout the walk I was able to fight some of my demons that I have bee dealing with lately. It was much needed and by the end I was tired and mentally refreshed.

imageAs I walked back to the house my pockets were full of shells and I felt like the richest girl in the world. I wish life could feel like that forever. All I can do is hold onto this feeling for as long as possible so when I get back to New York (which is covered in snow) I can close my eyes and remember the sound of the ocean and a quite soul.

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Vocabulary for Buying a House

The hubs and I are currently looking to purchase a fixer-upper and I have learned that buying a house is the most stressful thing in the world. I wasn’t even this stressed out about planning a wedding or getting married. There is so much to know and there is such confusing language. If anyone is looking to buy a house, here are some of the terms you need to know.

Buyers Real Estate Agent – BFF4Eva! Seriously, get your own real estate agent. Ours has been amazing. I have a million questions and he has answered all of them. He has been my personal hand-holder throughout this entire thing. God bless his saint-like soul.

Sellers Real Estate Agent – The Devil. They have the power to sway the seller to accept/decline offers and essentially set the price for the house.

Accepted Offer – you made and offer and it was accepted!! This is just the starting line for all of the legal loopholes until the house is yours!

Mortgage Broker – The bearer of bad news. They will nicely explain to you all of the bank terms, including that you will be signing your soul over to them for the next 15 to 30 years.

Interest Rates – 3.8% may not seem like a lot until you start working with figures over 100k.

Principal – The part of the loan that is actually the house. Here’s a hint, its less than the interest you’ll be paying over the life of the loan.

Closing Costs – Vomit educing price that has to be paid before you can even buy the house. WTF is this? The reason I can’t afford a 20% down payment is because the closing costs cost more than 10%.

PMI – Extra money you have to pay every month if you cant put at least 20% down and cover you closing costs…this is a joke right?

Attorney – Wait, which one? Everyone has a freaking attorney in this process. The buyer, the bank and of course you. Oh, and they all get paid. The bank and your lawyer both get paid by you. Awesome.

Closing Date – The day where all sit down, sign paperwork and you get the keys to your new place. It feels like a day that will never ever come.

I hoped you found this amusing. I know it made me chuckle a bit. As of today we are still waiting on the seller to sign the contracts so that we can have the house appraised. Once it is appraised hopefully we can move forward. The caveat here is that the house must appraise for at least the purchase price. If it appraises for less, we can not get the mortgage and the deal falls through. Everyone says we should be fine, but that doesn’t help my stress much.

I will post an update when we get closer. Keep your fingers crossed in the meantime!!

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