I Might As Well Just Not Even Have Doors

For the second time in as many weeks, the doors had to come off the hinges in my house.

The washer and dryer were delivered today. Yes, I’ve lived in my house for two weeks sans clothing cleaners. I made sure all my clothes were clean before I moved because I knew the appliances needed to be purchased and delivered, and I didn’t know how long it would take me to find a deal I was happy about, since the credit card statement came before the machines were purchased and, um… wow.

It took until Monday. I got them at a great price from a scratch and dent place, but as is proving the case with almost everything I put in this house, the damned doors are narrow and stuff? Is really big.

Also I wish I spoke better Spanish because I’m pretty sure the delivery people were talking about me and my narrow doors. I can’t be certain, but from the tone, it seemed like something along the lines of, “Check out this chick. Did she realize we’d actually have to get these things inside and down the steps? Does she have any brain at all?”

Note to self: find delivery people who speak French.

The first order of business, after taking the front door off the hinges, was getting the first machine up the three front steps, into the house, up two more steps and through the whole first floor without cocking up the hardwood. I feel bad when I lift nothing, but watch the floor like a hawk while low-income men labor mightily to supply me with hundreds of dollars worth of goods. So while I tracked the wheels of the handtruck with my eyes, these two guys – neither of whom were terribly big – grunted, mused, tsked and talked to each other in a language I don’t know, trying to figure out how to round the corner to the basement stairs and then get the machine down them.

Made it by centimeters.

Also made it without fulfilling my second fear (after cocking up the floors): having a man crushed to death by a washing machine in my home.

Because as hard as it is to get the machine in, it’s even harder when there’s only one guy, who now has to get the machine over the dead guy.

Then they had to take the door to the laundry room off the hinges. Now, I ask you: who builds a house in which it’s difficult to get the laundry machines into the laundry room? The front and back doors have an excuse: the house is 100 years old on the outside. But the laundry room doorway is only three years old, and I see no reason for it being so narrow. Again, made it by centimeters. With the washer askew, the one guy started hooking up the hoses to the water lines. The hot water line leaked. I offered a helpful “uh-oh.” He muttered in his native tongue – which was not Spanish – and then said in English that he had to get another hose because this was no good.

And then they brought in the dryer. Oh my sweet baby Jesus did this terrify me. Though it appeared lighter than the washer, fairly mollifying my death-by-laundry fear, the guy had previously muttered that he didn’t think it would fit – either stacked, as I intended, or side-by-side. Well, it would in fact not have fit side-by-side, because the electrical panel was in the way. Stupid electricity, always messing things up and never doing any good at all for anybody.

Have I mentioned that I measured? Because I did. So I knew the machines would fit as a stacked set. But since I have also learned that my tape measure changes its stripes at will, I ran to get it and then scored the distance between the top of the washer and the ceiling. Then I ran up the steps and measured the height of the dryer while the guys were wheeling it in.

Phew. It would fit.

Want to see how close it was?

Super-close, people.

They had to unscrew the lightbulb there in the top left. I think there are 1.5 inches between the top of the dryer and the ceiling beams. Seriously, I can barely reach the buttons.

And I bet the guys really appreciated me taking pictures of them while they suffered likely permanent bodily injury from lifting the dryer up to put it on top of the washer. In the dark.

Holy crap. Somehow I had never thought of what it would take to stack a stackable washer and dryer.

But it’s in. I need a vent tube extender (I made up that term – it might be right, I dunno) because the builder’s crew, when they were forced to re-do the venting by the inspector, just yanked the tube out farther instead of extending it, so it’s now not long enough to reach the back of the dryer.

And also? There’s no room for anything else in that room now. The machines sort of lurk at you through the doorway, all imposing, facing off against the furnace and the hot water heater. Like, I can’t even get the laundry basket between the furnace and the washer.

I know.

I really hope they work, because those things are not coming out of there. Ever.

Building

The first thing I did in my house was cup my hands under a running faucet and slurp two mouthfuls of cold water.

In a day that felt like a week, I had gotten up early and met with HMcH and the seller at the house to go over what the seller did and did not want to do after Sandy rained her rain into my… not yet my… house. He would do almost everything I wanted, the seller. He had, already. He and… I don’t know, someone… had gotten up on the roof, found the source of the leak in the flashing around the old chimney erected five generations before I had set foot inside the door. The whole chimney had been re-tarred (suddenly, in my mind, the quick image of Dick VanDyke, sooty and techincolored, cheerful and singing above London). The wall was not ripped out like I wanted out of an abundance of caution. The seller (also the builder) had a perfectly reasonable explanation for why not, and I understood his point.

I debated the virtue of better-than-good-enough versus the ideal of perfection. Weighed it against the value of the deal.

Without question, he added a 12-month builder’s warranty. Top-to-bottom, everything including structural, roof, plumbing, systems and all problems short of fire, violence and volcanic eruption.

(To be clear: volcanic eruption was really listed in the things not covered by the warranty. And no. There are no volcanoes here.)

At 10:00am, HMcH told me that if we closed at 3pm, we would avoid the need to extend the mortgage contract.

Sitting in my car, I knew that the only reason to hold off was my own fear. Fear of the rain. So I called my dad, because all girls need their dads, even at 35. And I called my friend Mickey, who rehabs houses and has been an invaluable resource. Both of them heard the details of the meeting. Both gave the deal the green light.

I went to the chiropractor.

I called HMcH.

“Let’s go,” I said.

Then I went to the therapist. Coincidentally, but not unnecessarily.

To the bank after that, to re-draw the cashier’s check for $200 less than two days before, a difference in pro-rating with fees and closing costs. It got cheaper for me to buy a house. At the teller’s window, I got a text from Joey. “At bank, drawing ridiculously large check,” I replied. “On way to close on house. Will talk to you later,” I said.

The phone beeped “Yay!!”

After, somehow, fewer signatures than I expected, fewer initials and far less tedium and tension… after a lifetime of thinking, years of saving… after months of looking and months of anxiety… after weeks of packing and days of worrying… I bought a house.

My first house.

It’s not a lot. But it’s brickfront and soffit, marble stoop and hardwood floor, granite counters and glowing light.

And it’s mine.

Just mine.

With all the pride, and all the fears, and all the hope, and all the potential.

Packed full with my life, even though there’s not a single thing in it yet.

My house.

And may peace be upon it.

I Don’t Have Multiple Personalities And Neither Do I

I think I scared Hottie McHousehunter.

This morning I had a face-to-face with him about the absolute shenanigans (I learned how to spell it since last time) going on with the house. Alright, not necessarily absolute. In reality, the seller has been very obliging to my requests. But as I pointed out to HMcH, I see a pattern. The compressor was missing from the property even at the point that I made an offer on the house, which he didn’t disclose. The furnace was a disaster and the heat didn’t work at inspection. The house wasn’t even ready for inspection, in fact. And the roof certification wasn’t done, eight days past the original closing date.

Last night, after a lot of thinking, and then some deliberate not-thinking, and some bouncing of ideas off some other people, some whiny self-pity and also some wine, I figured out what had to happen in order for me to be comfortable with the deal going through in light of the water damage brought on by Sandy and the fact that I have trust issues (example: Crap, what if the problem isn’t actually with the roof? What if a roofing cert does absolutely no good because the water is getting in somewhere else and then I’m completely screwed? What if this guy just gets his buddy to sign off on the roof with some sort of deal under the table? WHAT IF EUROPE COLLAPSES?).

You see what I’m saying.

Then I texted (yes, this is how we do business now) Hottie McHousehunter and asked him for a meeting.

I think he knew what was coming as we walked to a table outside a deli, but it was time for me to put on my I’m Not F*&!king Around face. He did not see that coming. He tried to get words in edgewise to sort of diminish the likely surprising amount of intensity I was showing, but I told him to let me finish. Ha. He was smart enough to do so.

“I want that wall ripped out and redone. I want the electrical certified. I want the leak found and fixed – permanently. I want the roof re-certified. I want a 12-month home warranty. I want the seller to pay for all the expenses associated with extending the contract, including any further appraisals or inspections that happen because of the repair, and including the charge got from the appraiser for going back out a second time when the work wasn’t done on the house the first time. If he doesn’t agree to all of that, I’m out.”

Hottie seemed to think all this was reasonable and doable. And possibly that I didn’t need to be quite so forceful about it. “Well, let’s not start saying he’s shady or anything, because he’s been really good about doing what you asked for.”

“I’m not accusing him of being shady,” I said. “I’m just saying I see a pattern.”

“…Okay.”

And that’s when I got to this part:

“Now, there’s one more thing we need to talk about, because it’s really bothering me.”

“…Okay…” (This guy must have felt like he was being blindsided by an upset girlfriend, all, “Um, we need to talk.”)

“Last week you told me that the house was fine after the storm, no problems. Yesterday you said you saw a piece of drywall had fallen and you told them to fix it. Why didn’t you tell me about that last week?”

He took the hint. It was a crack, and he thought he’d missed it before. He didn’t know it was related to the storm – the lights weren’t on and he wasn’t seeing any water damage. Now, of course, he knows it was probably water-related, but at the time he thought it was cosmetic.

“I would absolutely never lie to a client or try to cover something up. Ever.”

Good.

Good, because all this I’m Not F*&!ing Around business is making me cry a little, which is embarrassing and also undercuts my intentions, which is why I’m wearing sunglasses.

Note to self: talk with Ali Velshi about why being firm with a housebuying deal makes me cry. Possible explanation: Hottie McHousehunter is hot > I want him to like me > I am pathetic/sad.

Actually there’s probably a good dose of I don’t like being forceful because it makes me the “aggressive, assertive, sometimes bitchy” person other people assume forceful women to be, and I don’t want to be seen that way, because it’s not entirely true, and people like that are not loved. Even though society is all “Rah rah! You go girl!” Because that’s crap at least half the time, and what they actually think is, “You are a total high-maintenance bitch.”

Yep. All that because of water damage in a bedroom wall.

Welcome to my head.

In a personal victory, though, I did manage to hold back the vestiges of my maternal grandmother, and refrain from any kind of Germanic pointing during my whole I Can Do Homebuying All By Myself… thing.

But my fingers were twitching on the table.

Hottie and I are meeting with the seller at the house tomorrow morning to go over everything. I’m hoping the seller is amenable. I really do think the demands are reasonable… even though they’re… well… demands. But I need a plan for if he says no to something that shouldn’t really be a dealbreaker.

What do we think of pointing and crying?