It’s only taken my four months to write this post, but The Love Nerds bought a house! We honestly didn’t know if this would ever happen and are so happy to be settling into our new home, even though it’s required a lot of work, money, and time! So I’m sharing what it was like buying our first home and how we decided this was it!
These Millennials Bought a House!
So I have been meaning to write this post for over FOUR months! Without a doubt, the last 7 months have been the most hectic, exciting, and stressful of our marriage and that includes the time we moved 5 times within a few months. Buying our first home after renting or living in on campus housing for over a decade was a learning curve but we could not be more excited to be settled in what we think will be our forever home.
But let me tell you, life has been coming at us fast and I have so many updates to share with you because I know I’ve been a bit quiet lately. For now though, I am sharing with you the house buying process for us, the projects we have tackled and all the original, unedited cell phone photos from move in day.
That’s right – cell phone photos! With the craziness of moving with a toddler, I did not have my stuff together so these are quick cell photos to give you the quick look at what we purchased. You can decide for yourself how crazy we were! haha
HOW DID WE DECIDE THIS WAS THE HOUSE FOR US?
We started the house search in February this year. Since Bryan’s current job is really far north (like almost to Wisconsin), we decided we wanted to stay close to our current apartment in terms of location. We liked the neighboring areas and really loved the schools one town over. The first day of looking was overwhelming. After looking at maybe 6 houses that first day, we experienced some panic – did we know what we want? did we agree about what we wanted? were we ever going to find something we both liked?
I’m pretty sure most couples experience this rush of feelings at least one time in their house search. Buying our first home required a lot of negotiation and with a lot of money in the mix, stress level rose.
After a few different days of house hunting, we realized that we had a big decision ahead of us: we could buy a smaller house that was more recently renovated in a school district we weren’t as happy about and move in a 5-10 years because of those two things or we could buy a house that had the space we ideally wanted in the school district we loved but that needed some major love. We chose the latter.
It was nerve wracking putting in the offer. While I am not completely unhandy, I wouldn’t say either of us are particularly skilled in DIY home projects ;). But we felt really confident in the space, the location, the schools and the potential.
HOW WAS THE PROCESS FOR BUYING OUR FIRST HOME?
I am very thankful for our amazing realtor – Holly Connors – and I recommend her to anyone in the Chicago area. She is smart, funny, professional and honest. She is someone you can have very candid conversations with, and we definitely did!
We went through weeks of negotiation that caused so much stress on us and our marriage. We were tired, nervous, anxious, stressed to the nth degree, etc. I would say we really secluded ourselves in those weeks to give ourselves space to navigate the decision with our professional team who were amazing. While we talked to our friends and parents, and definitely felt better after my dad thoroughly vetted the inspection report, it was our realtor, lawyer and inspection guy that we relied on as well as our own gut.
Now, has buying our first home been completely smooth? No. There is a hole in our ceiling currently that I discuss more below… but we don’t regret it. This is the home we will grow into as a family and will fit out life and needs, so yay to that but please keep your fingers crossed for no more holes or surprises for 2018.
SO WHAT DID WE BUY FOR OUR FIRST HOME?
The Love Nerds are now living in a 5 bedroom tri-level house with a pool! That’s right – a pool! We did not set out looking for a house with a pool but both Bryan and I were excited about the idea of it when this house came on the market. My parents have a pool, and we love it! When I lived there, I was constantly out in the pool during the summer, especially with my nieces when they were young.
As a work at home mom, I also feel really good about having a pool as we are just starting out as a family with kids because we have so many summer months ahead of us as a family to use it! It’s been such a good summer of swimming and look forward to many more, especially as we get the hang of caring for it.
WHAT HOUSE PROJECTS HAVE WE DONE SO FAR?
So I said this house needed some love … and I mean a lot of it. To be frank, it feels like the previous owners seemed to just stop putting care and work into the house. It just hadn’t been updated or refreshed in a really long time. We have a long list of projects we want to tackle – some of which probably won’t be done for years and years – but we have tackled so much in 4 months that it’s almost consumed our lives. Here is what we have tackled so far:
The windows in this house were original to the house (1966), or, as Bryan likes to phrase it, they were from the Johnson administration. Only two of them opened. We knew this going into the house, and it was part of the negotiation process. Still – the estimate process for new windows was eye opening and since we needed and ideally wanted new construction windows, they ended up costing about 10K more than we had originally estimated. It was a hell of a first bill for the house.
However, we could not be happier with them and are super excited about the transformation it has had on the house. We especially love the huge window in our bedroom!
So besides a pool in the backyard, the previous owners also had a run down putting green with weeds growing through the holes and huge, overgrown bushes that blocked off the walk out from the rest of the yard. At first, we weren’t going to do anything with the landscaping this year but we quickly realized that the backyard was actually a priority for both of us.
The overgrown bushes was basically a mosquito haven, and it made the walk out patio feel very claustrophobic. Plus, there was no actual back yard for Liam to play. We bit the bullet and hired landscapers to help us with this project and are so thankful we did. It makes a huge difference both in functionality and in looks.
NEW LIGHT FIXTURES
So not every light fixtures has been switched, but most thanks to my dad. None of the bedrooms had ceiling fans which is a big must for me, so we did that. Plus we switched out the dining room and kitchen lights as well to better match our style.
NEW DINING ROOM FURNTURE
As far as furniture goes, we knew we’d mostly be keeping everything we have at the moment and making it work except for two rooms – the living room that will need furniture as it’s currently empty and the dining room. Our previous table and chairs have gotten pretty beat up over time, and we both were leaning to a lower table (vs our previous bar height table) so that Liam could more safely climb on and off chairs. Plus, my style has changed over the years and I don’t love all the dark wood as much as I used to.
We have a new white/off-white table with black chairs and a rug that I am in love with all from Wayfair.
NEW WASHER AND DRYER
This was another expense we knew about before we bought the house. If I had to guess, their previous units were from the 90s and had buttons missing.
NEW CLOSET SYSTEMS
They had very simple closets installed in the house with just one shelf and very thick hanging rods that our hangers barely fit on. They were also very thick and clunky and just overall not user friendly, so we have switched every closet in the house over to the IKEA Algot System. I will have a whole entire post about this in the future and am loving the functionality and storage space we have created since tackling this project.
The closet project has also included the removal of all the gold mirrored doors. They felt very outdated, and who can possibly keep those clean with a toddler in the house? We have all open storage until closet doors make it on our list.
We are painting almost every single surface in the house. Picking out paint colors was extremely stressful and I can’t say that we might not regret a choice here or there in the next couple of years, but the house as bought was dingy and hadn’t been painted in years. In fact, there were rooms with original wall paper on the walls from 1966. All the doors, trims, ceilings and walls needed a fresh coat of paint and that project has been completed, except for a hole we now have in our ceiling downstairs because of a leak from the fridge upstairs. Once the hole is patched, I will be taking the updated photos for you to see what the house looks like now.
Really I just wanted a chance to pop in and share some of the very big that have been going on in our lives! I am going to get after photos taken for you asap because it looks so much better! Not done. But better! Plus, as projects have settled down and my office has been unpacked, you will hopefully be hearing from me again. As someone who works from home, I have a hard time ignoring all the very big house projects that were surrounding me every moment of every day. Thankfully they’re slowing down and my focus can get back to work split with Liam, of course!