I’m a little bit nervous about doing this post. Almost like I’ll be jinxing us…But here it goes!
We started looking for housing in September right after Lars got the job with the NRCS. Our plan was to just find someplace to rent for the first year or so while we made a decision about where to buy a home. We were really disappointed to discover that the rental situation in the Uinta Basin is not good. The cheapest place we could find was a 3-bedroom apartment for $900 a month. This was fine with us – it was more square footage than what we’re in now – but the manager said that we had too many kids. I guess legally they can’t allow more than 2 people per room. That’s okay. It wasn’t ideal for us either. We’d have to get rid of the chickens and we’d have to find a place for the camper or sell it. Plus there would be no yard – that’s hard with five rowdy kids.
The house rentals were pretty much a no-go from the start. We couldn’t find anything for under $1300 per month (for a 3-bedroom). Four and five bedroom rentals were between $1600 and $2100 per month. Um. No.
We eventually found out that with interest rates being so low and the houses being priced the way they are, we could actually BUY a home for cheaper than we could rent. So we set out for Vernal together as a family the second weekend of October armed with a huge list of homes we would go look at. We met our realtor, Lori, and spent Friday afternoon going through house after house.
We found The Perfect House on Friday evening. It was a cute little brick rambler located just a block from Lars’s office. It was in an older neighborhood, but well-kept. The house was the ugly duckling – it would need some work – but we’re fine with that. We’d done it twice before and there really isn’t much we’re afraid of at this point. The home had a reverse mortgage on it. The owner had passed away and now the investors needed to sell it. We went back and forth with the sellers for a while – offers and counter-offers. In the end, our final offer was full price, they pay closing costs. They rejected it. They informed us that they would not be paying a dime toward the selling of the house. We had to walk away. We simply couldn’t justify paying full price plus closing costs for a house that needed so much work. We were also nervous about dealing with sellers that felt they couldn’t compromise on anything.
By the time we were done with all the back and forth, it was November and time for Lars to move to Vernal and start his new job. Without us. We had talked about a worse-case scenario when it looked like our offer on the house wouldn’t be accepted. We decided to have Lars take the trailer and rent out a spot at an RV Park that would allow long-term residency. He would work Monday-Friday and come home on the weekends. We thought it would be for a month or so until we could find something. He spent the next couple of weeks looking at houses after work.
Oh, this house was The Perfect House for sure! Five bedrooms, a big family room, a good-sized yard, 2 minutes from Lars’s work, and super close to a park. We made our offer at just below asking price and it was accepted! Everything was moving along fast until the appraisal. We learned that the house wasn’t worth what we had offered. The appraisal came back about $8000 under our offer. We didn’t panic. We just filled out an addendum with the new offer and sent it to them to sign. That’s when it fell apart. They came out punching – the seller’s realtor called up our realtor and threw a fit. Then she called our lender and threw a fit and sent some pretty nasty e-mails. She told our lender that she had talked to Lars and that he had agreed to pay the full original asking price on the house. A total lie. She was a real piece of work. They also wanted to keep our earnest money. It was a nightmare. We got out of that as fast as possible.
By this time, winter had fully arrived in Vernal and the living-in-a-trailer situation wasn’t working anymore. Our trailer was not made for winter. Lars was having to fix something every single weekend. Not little fixes, but big (expensive) fixes that required tools and extra people. Lars was frustrated because he was there and we were here. He’s such a home-body and this situation was awful and really hard on him.
Lars found a beautiful home in a brand new neighborhood. In fact, the house was not even finished when he went to look at it. It was a 4-bedroom rambler with a garage. The yard was teeny tiny, but we decided to make an offer anyway. We offered just below asking price, but they countered with full price. Lars and I had made the decision before we started looking that we would not go above a certain amount. We didn’t want to go from the pot to the frying pan – or whatever the expression is. We hate our living situation right now, but we don’t want to hurry up and get into a house we can’t afford. And even though full price on this beautiful home would be CHEAPER than the rental homes, we still couldn’t bring ourselves to go over the amount. We had drawn the line. So we kept looking.
About a week later, the builders of House #3 contacted us. They told us they had another house they were building, but that it wasn’t in a neighborhood. It’s outside of Vernal in the “country”. It’s only a 3-bedroom, but the rooms are huge and there’s a bonus room above the garage. The yard is big, too! We’ll be able to have animals – goats and chickens! The price tag for it was right under our cut-off. At this point, I was pretty numb. I wasn’t excited. I wasn’t interested really. I wasn’t anything. I told Lars to go ahead and submit an official offer, but that we shouldn’t get our hopes up. Since the house is still being built, they want us to pick everything out. We’ve never built a house before and I’m finding this part of it to be very stressful. I’d rather come in to a house and then fix stuff as we live in it and know better what we want.
So this is where we are right now! We’re building a house. I feel like writing about it or talking about it will jinx it. Something’s just bound to go wrong, I’m sure of it.
I have a few pictures of the progress. I haven’t actually seen it in person yet. Lars has been taking pictures on his cell phone for me.
Since this picture was taken, all of the siding has been put on and the driveway has been poured.
This is the entry. The sheet rock, trim, and paint – all done . Tile is scheduled for next week.
This is the bonus room. It’s also painted and the trim is done.
This is part of the yard. The house sits on .69 of an acre.
Right after New Year’s, we had a big shock. We found out the true cost of having Lars live out there. It was not good. We were sinking financially and we didn’t know what to do. We wanted our savings for the house – not for helping to supplement this horrible living arrangement! Gah! I called him in a panic as soon as I realized our situation. We talked for a really long time, trying to figure out what to do next. His supervisor suggested contacting HR to find out what his options were. Everyone was really helpful and willing to work with him. They suggested telecommuting as a temporary fix until the house is done in February. This all went down on a Thursday, and by Friday afternoon, he had the paperwork done and all the approvals he needed so he could start telecommuting on Monday. He packed up and winterized the trailer so it could be stored. Then he threw all his stuff in the car and headed home. He’s now working from Coalville for all but 4 days a pay period.
And we are a happier family!