A little over six months ago Keith and I started looking for a new place to live. Our apartment lease was set to end in April of this year and we were considered buying a house instead of renting again. We spent some time looking at houses online, never really finding any that caught our eye. If we found one that looked nice, it either wasn’t anywhere near us or was way out of our price range. I finally found a builder that was a little outside the area we had been looking at, but was a great house for an affordable price, so we went to take a look at what would be involved to build a house instead of just buying one. Little did we know that this would start the most stressful, frustrating, and expensive 6 months of our lives.
Things started going wrong from the very beginning. Paperwork was signed by mid-December to get the process started, but because it was so close to the holidays we were unable to schedule any appointments with the design studio for a number of weeks. Without being able to pick out the options for the house, this put the build process on hold for almost a month. Once the choices were picked out we found out the lot we owned was pre-zoned and permitted for a house with a covered patio in the back (the exact opposite of what we’d been told during the sales meetings), but we weren’t including that in our design; this meant having to wait for the permit to be revised which took over a month. Yes, that’s right, over a month for a revision. Turns out that the city office that handles permit revisions only processes them on Mondays and Fridays, so if yours doesn’t get done on one of those days it just sits in the pile for the rest of the week. Bureaucracy at its finest.
Due to already being well into February, we had to sign and extend our apartment lease by a little over a month to ensure we were covered with a place to live through the end of May. This one month extension cost us an extra $400 on top of the rent we already paid monthly, so we were not at all pleased with the money these delays were costing us. By extending this extra month and a half we were giving KB Home ample time to finish the house by May 11th as they were planning with plenty leftover for us to schedule closing and a move date. Or so we thought.
We put in the required 60 days notice at the apartment complex at the end of March, and less than one week later the house was vandalized and the copper wiring was all stripped and stolen. We were devastated. I went out the next morning to see the damage and it was all I could do not to cry in front of the builder. Holes in the walls and ceiling, wires hanging from the support beams, and any feeling of safety and security stripped away. It was at that point that we began to give serious consideration to abandoning the build process and looking elsewhere. Our builder assured us the vandalism would only set us back a few days. Fast forward 2 weeks and the copper was still not in. We received a voicemail on April 18th that the copper was going in and being inspected and that we were “on schedule” for completion the last day of May. Again, our hearts sank and we weren’t sure what to do. We had to be out of the apartment by the last day of May, there was no budge room on that. If the house wasn’t even completed until May 31st we would have no time to close on the mortgage, let alone get moved out.
After a very angry phone call back to the sales staff and builder at KB Home, they were magically able to condense the schedule to complete the house by May 20th and closing set for the 27th. This didn’t give us much room at all for any further delays since the following Monday would be a national holiday, but we decided to try and hold onto hope that something might go right for us finally, and we plowed ahead. As the deadline got closer and closer, calls were ignored and emails went unanswered. We went to the house every weekend to check progress, and sometimes during the week, and noticed many things done wrong or not done at all, yet nobody at KB would communicate with us what was going on. I took matters into my own hands at this point and sent a lengthy email to KB Home’s corporate office explaining the situation and everything that had happened so far in the process, and all of a sudden phone calls were returned and emails started getting replied to. When we finally got a hold of someone, the update we were given was that they were a week behind schedule again and that the house would be completed on the 27th. This meant that closing would absolutely have to be the next business day, the following Tuesday and we would have to move the same day or else we’d be in violation of our apartment lease agreement.
Fast forward again and the 27th arrived with the house not being complete. All the major work was done, but cosmetic fixes were still being applied, and cleaning had yet to take place to get all the trash out and the counters and windows clean. That weekend of last minute packing was the culmination of all the stress of the whole build process, waiting for something else to fall apart and ruin everything. By some miracle, it didn’t. We inspected the house a final time on Tuesday morning and then closing immediately followed. Complications caused the process to take almost 4 hours, but when it was finally done keys were handed over and we owned our house. Huge sigh of relief that it was all over, right? Not quite.
The movers were 3 hours late that afternoon, and then took 4 hours to move everything, breaking quite a few items in the process (still waiting to be compensated for that, thanks a lot AB Moving). By the time they left is was 11 o’clock at night and Keith and I were physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. But the fun of home ownership had just begun. We spent the next few days running all over the place making appointments for various service installs at the house, getting utilities turned on in our name, ordering furniture (which was delayed 2 weeks and then still arrived damaged just this past weekend, thanks a lot Rooms To Go), etc. By the end of the first week, I don’t know how we still had the ability to string two sentences together. I wanted to crawl under a rock and never come back out.
We’ve been in the house for a few weeks now and are getting adjusted. We still find things here and there that need to be fixed, but we’re making our own changes and improvements along the way. I’m responsible for watering the lawn, and as much of a pain as it is to do so, I do get a feeling of satisfaction in knowing that I’m keeping the lawn alive (or more to the point, revitalizing what has been almost dead since we moved in), and I like that. We still have a lot to learn and a lot to do, but we’re getting there and we’re doing so together. For the first time, we have a home, not just a place we rent from someone and know that eventually we’ll be moving out of. This has a more solid and stable feeling to it, and that means a lot to me. Was it worth the 6 months of stress and frustration? I honestly don’t know how to answer that. But I do know that I’m glad it’s over with and I’m glad we’re getting settled into our first house – our home.