Sunday, September 27, 2015

House (Part I) - Finding The Right Home

Long time no post!  I've neglected this blog for a while now as I got busy with life, work, and miscellaneous stuff.  This past year has been a hectic one at times.  The biggest change was that I bought my first home all by myself (and pugs).  It was an exciting, terrifying, and money-draining experience.  And, now that I'm nearing my one-year anniversary of my closing, I thought it would be fun to do some house posts.  So for this first one, I'll talk about finding the house and the first few days.

After spending my adult life living in apartments, I flirted with the idea of buying a house for the past few years.  But, surprisingly, the DC metro area is really expensive.  Plus, I had certain requirements for my future home:

  1. If I'm going to spend a ton of money, it better be for some LAND.  While condos are great and are usually more convenient location-wise, I just wouldn't feel right buying and having it feel so similar to an apartment.  And with two dogs, I definitely wanted a yard.  So I focused on single-family houses and townhouses.
  2. It would have to be a reasonable commuting distance from work.  Originally I looked for walking distance to the metro, but my bank accounts just laughed at me and so I accepted that I'd have to drive to a metro station.  
  3. At least 2 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms.  I'm a professional woman in my 30s and I'm tired of blowing up an aerobed for a guest.  And I wanted at least an extra .5 bathroom so that if something happened to one, I'd have another to use in the interim.  And preferably not one in the basement (which is a very common structure with townhouses in this area). 
  4. No major work to be done.  I wanted everything relatively move-in ready.  I knew that it would be unlikely for me to find a fully updated home, and I was fine with that.  I just didn't want any major repairs that would need to be done before moving in.
  5. Offstreet parking of some sort.  Since I'd now be driving for part of my daily commute, I didn't want to have to circle around to find a parking spot at the end of a long day.
  6. Central air/heating.  I mean have you experienced a Virginia summer?  Trust me, a/c is a necessity.
After searching for places in the same city as my apartment, I realized that I wouldn't be able to afford the kind of place I wanted.  The townhouses were cramped with tiny back porches that often sat right in parking lots, and even the small houses were super expensive.  I almost went with two houses that were beyond my budget, but I'm so glad I backed away from that ledge. 

I became a daily Zillow/Trulia/Redfin/etc stalker and as the fall season arrived I tried to come to terms with pushing my house hunting to spring.  

And then I saw my house.  It was in a little residential neighborhood further away from the city than I originally wanted, but still within the beltway.  And the house was a cute little Cape Cod style with 2 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, a not too big/not too small yard, and a screened porch.  I had to see it!

As soon as I walked through the house, I knew I had to have it.  It wasn't perfect of course.  The kitchen was seriously outdated.  And not even cute original retro.  We're talking the 80s.  And nothing good design- or fashion-wise ever came out of the 80s.  It was also pretty small and I cook a lot.  But, it was big enough, and even if it was outdated it was completely functional.

Ugh I hate those cabinets.  And those open shelves.  Open shelves are just asking for dirt and dust to collect there!

The upstairs rooms were small, with sloped ceilings typical of Cape Cod style houses, and the floors definitely needed refinishing.  But, since it's just me, I don't need that much space.
And there were some interesting paint choices.  Though this didn't bother me since paint is an easy fix.  Just wanted to point out that the dining room was painted in gold leaf.  It looks much more tame in this pic than it looked in real life.  In real life it was bright!
The red in the living room didn't bother me much and I would've kept it except it was old and in need of retouches and I already have a red couch and didn't want to buy a new one since I was going to need to buy a lot of furniture to fill the house.
The extra room on the ground level was fine, though I wasn't a fan of its neutral accent wall.
This old runner up the stairs may have been nice when it was first bought, but that was ages ago.  It was super old and dirty.
So, as you can see, the house was in overall good shape.  The upstairs full bathroom was original, but it was cute in a retro way as opposed to the 80s kitchen.  The .5 bathroom was the tiniest bathroom I'd ever seen in a house.  Like with the door closed, I have to carefully bend to sit on the toilet and my arm touches the sink to the side.  It's that tiny.  But, it's functional and I can always update and expand it when the time (and money) comes.

So after a few short days the house was under contract and I scrambled to complete all the paperwork and plan for moving in by the end of October.  

The day of closing, I took Sunny and Rosy to the house so that they could start to get familiar with their new home. 
They had a good time exploring at first, but were confused as to what we were doing in this strange new house.
And then I took them out to the yard.
I've only taken them to the dog park a couple of times because Rosy doesn't do well with many dogs.  So to be able to take off their leashes and let them roam free outdoors felt great!
Rosy was especially loving it!  She has so much energy to burn!
And then we sat inside, waiting for a contractor to arrive.  I wanted him to see the house and get his measurements asap so that he could begin work right away in time for my October 30th move-in date.

This is when the pugs started to get a bit restless.  There were no dog beds or toys and Sunny was not a fan of the slippery hardwood floors.
They were ready to go back home to our apartment.
Eventually they found a way to entertain themselves.
Finally the contractor and my mom arrived.  My mom was in charge of wrangling the pugs and keeping them on the ground level while I walked around the house with the contractor.  She failed.
So that's the end of this first post.  The next couple weeks were filled with the contractor repainting and refinishing the floors.  I had mixed results with the contractor and it was at times painful getting everything done.  I didn't do any major work on the house so as soon a the paint and floors were dry, we were ready to move in.

Up next, moving in and filling the house.


  1. Even with the best contractors, it never goes as planned. But the house is adorable!

  2. It was like I was there ! . Cute and funny and informative !