Friday, August 23, 2013

What just happened?

Wow. What just happened?  A year and a half went by in the blink of an eye...I should have been fired a long time ago.  Almost a year and a half without an entry...shame on me.  I do have a pretty good excuse, though.  Let me tell you about it...

Oh, and this post will have nothing to do with Asperger's...aside from the fact that it's just a glimpse of "normal" family life (is there ever a normal?)...This one is just me filling in the blank year. (Ugh. Year. Where did the time go?)

As you may or may not know, we moved to North Carolina a while back (three years ago October 1st).  We had been renting a house and looking to purchase our own place.  Our lease on the rental was coming to an end and we were extremely anxious to get out of the "crap shack" as my son so eloquently put it one day.  He did not exaggerate either.  To be honest, he may have given it too much praise with his description.

At one time, it was a beautiful home, but the slum-lord, uh, I mean landlord, neglected the home so much the problems were not easily seen until we had moved in - things like, leaking windows, leaking roof, furnace not working, refrigerator dying on us the day before Christmas, and so on became apparent as the days went on.  This place is also where my wife fell down the steps and broke her ankle in three places four months after moving in - so the mojo/juju/lovely home-sweet-home feeling was definitely not there for her. In addition, this is where we first started the "steps" for our son, so he was not too thrilled with that place either.  Me?  Well, I had a garage to store my non-running Jeep, so I was happy there...more or less.

Needless to say, we were all anxious to find a place of our own.  Early in the year, we began our search.  We looked at homes five miles to fifty miles away from where the rental home was.  Our search led us to a mountain retreat setting smack dab in the middle of town to a home in the neighboring county.  The only home, in my opinion, that was in the running was the mountain retreat home...but there was a catch.

The mountain retreat home was, literally, walking distance from the shopping center and main thoroughfare.  It was 4000+ square feet (about 2000 more than what we need) of beautiful hardwood floors, five bedrooms, three levels, a bonus room, a huge kitchen, and a view that would knock your socks off.  Deer, horses, hawks, and a number of other furry creatures roamed the spacious back yard...which was plainly visible from every room in the house (except for those up front, of course). No other home could be seen from any was a bit of heaven. was a short sale...and it needed some work...okay, it needed A LOT of roof, new windows, new exterior everything.  The house was falling apart, but the inside was in good shape...except for the extreme need of updated appliances.  The asking price was within our budget and well below market value, so, we put in an offer...

When we did not hear anything for a few days, our agent called the listing agent and learned it would take six to eight weeks to hear back from the bank...huh?  Really?  And they wonder why they are having problems with all of the foreclosures and short-sales?  Really?  Come on, folks.

About the time we made an offer, we looked at another home.  This one was not as big (but still much bigger than we need) and did not have the scenery, but it had a large semi-flat yard, was in a beautiful neighborhood, and the investment opportunity was huge.  My wife loved it, I liked it, and my son...well, one day he liked it, the next he hated it (I think one of the reasons for the hate was because it has two sets of stairs), so his vote didn't count. :)  We went back a few times to look and each time, it felt more and more like home.  Yes, it needed some work, but not nearly as much as the mountain retreat home.  Well, that is what we thought, anyway...

When I told the real estate agent to be certain to include the John Deere riding mower in with the offer (there was NO way I was going to use my 19 inch push mower on almost an acre of land!), he looked at me like I had three heads. The offer was a bit low so we figured a counter offer would come in shortly. In the meantime, we had an inspection completed; which I was a part of since I was, at that time, attending class to become a licensed inspector. With my teacher performing the primary inspection, a trainee following along on his own, and my rookie eyes, we would know exactly what we were getting...or so we thought. 

The inspection came back with around 35 items that needed to be attended to.  Of those 35 items, only 5 were significant enough to cause a concern. Malfunctioning toilets were not on the list. This was exactly what I had hoped for - a list of silly items that were easy enough for me to fix, but sounded bad enough to decrease the purchase price, or, in other words, a bargaining chip, or 30.  So, we contacted the seller, explained the "problems" and went back to negotiating. Eventually, we all came to an agreement, and we were on our way to buying our "Forever Home" in North Carolina.

Being the easy-going guy that I am, there were only two things I specifically wanted...1. the riding mower, and 2. the settlement date could not, under any circumstances, be on April 13th (which happened to be a Friday that year). April 12th, no problem.  April 16th, sure.  April 9th, absolutely. As a matter of fact, the ninth was the chosen date and everyone was in agreement, except for the financial bozos - who, I might add, had almost six months to prepare for this.  Apparently, they needed six months and four days...

So, at 5:30 pm on April 13th, my wife, son, and I (no, our agent didn't make it) headed to the lawyer's office to sign the paperwork. I guess looking at it in baseball terms, I was doing pretty good batting 1 for 2, or .500 for an average. I will consider the mower a triple, but the settlement date was a strike-out turned into a triple play by the other team, so that .500 average is a bit inflated.  Perhaps you might notice I am sports oriented and therefore, by default, a bit superstitious.  Needless to say, I was not happy about settling on a "Forever House" on a Friday the 13th.  But, superstitions are just silly mental blocks, right?

At this point, one might assume all went know what happens when you assume things, right?  We found out the sellers had already signed the paperwork and, therefore, were not present.  Then we found out we did not receive almost $6,000 we were promised for repairs at settlement.  Think it stops here?  Not, we discovered if we did not sign the contract, we could be held liable and could be in big trouble.  We were stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, we might not ever see the 6k, on the other, we might lose the house and still have to pay for everything, and on yet another (yes, I know that makes three hands, silly), we did not really have a choice at this point.  But wait, there's more...

So the paperwork is signed, the documents copied, and the lawyer says thank you for doing business with her and have a great weekend...wait a minute, don't we get keys, or something like that?  At 7:00 pm on Friday the 13th of April, the lawyer says, no, I do not have any keys to give you.  Lovely. 

Being the observant one, and one to ask a multitude of what appear to be silly and useless questions, I learned early on during the whole process what the combination to the key box was, so I was not terribly worried about getting in.  We had already decided to change the locks immediately after moving in so the lack of a key was not terribly significant.  At this point, it was just par for the course.

The first thing I did when I got to our new home was check the garage.  Okay, phew, the mower is still there!  Woohoo!  Maybe there is hope after all!  The three of us took our first tour in our new home (we didn't own it the first nine times we looked at it!  Geez, do I have to explain everything to you?  Come on, stick with the group!), excited to take possession, despite the near FUBAR we had just experienced.  One of us, and I honestly do not remember which one of us, decided to plant the flag, so to speak, in the upstairs bathroom.  Yes, this was truly OUR home now. 

About 45 minutes later, we decided we should get something to eat.  At dinner we each took turns discussing our plans, wish lists, and projects we planned to do with the house.  Pool, second garage/workshop/pool house, new roof, new deck, new windows, bump outs, painting, and many more ideas were thrown out there. Most were dreams, some were practical, some were necessities, others were pretty far-fetched. We had it all planned out...but we forgot it was Friday the 13th, and we didn't have the $6,000, nor did we have any keys...but we owned the house!

Saturday morning on the 14th, I rolled out of bed, way too early.  I was on my way to my inspection class at the local community college; yes, the same one I spoke about earlier with the home inspection.  Half way through the class, I realized I had a voice mail.  Since I did not have service inside the classroom, I have no idea when the actual call was made; but regardless of the time, I soon realized it was an urgent message.  My wife had called to say that she and Grant were at the house and the ceiling in the kitchen is leaking - get here quickly.  On a good day with no traffic, I would be 30 minutes away.  I immediately called her back, discovered the toilet (yes, the one we "planted the flag" in) was overflowing, and was coming through the ceiling in the kitchen, leaking all over the hardwood floors.  Actually, when I say leaking, I should say it looked like a waterfall after the winter's thaw in some northern territory's mountain range...yes, it was a steady pour, not a leak.  I tried to explain to my wife how to turn off the water to the toilet to minimize the damage but the old plumbing would not budge for her.  I told her to gather anything available (fortunately, the previous owners left a bunch of buckets - among other odds and ends) to catch the water and I would be there as soon as I could.  I made it home in 18 minutes that day.

After turning off the water upstairs, I cut an eight by eight foot section of saturated ceiling Sheetrock to help dry out the area. On a positive note, I learned which way the floor joists were laid...of course I could have figured that out without the leak, but I digress.  Apparently, the toilet, which did indeed (thank God!) flush the "flag" before it decided to malfunction, had met it's final flush and had been running since the previous night - yes, the previous night being Friday the 13th, I might add in case you forgot. 

At this point, I was flabbergasted.  Realizing this little issue was beyond my abilities (I have...errr, HAD no experience with hardwood floors other than refinishing a small room) I called the insurance company and submitted our first ever claim. After a $2,500 deductible, hours spent prepping - patching, 1990's era wallpaper removal, and more patching - and painting every one of the first floor walls since the entire first floor was going to be redone since it is all hardwood and a simple repair would not work correctly thus taking advantage of not worrying about spilling paint on the floors, a month and two weeks later we moved in. How was that for a run-on sentence!?!?! 

Now I realize that only covers about a month or two since my last post but if I tried to explain what happened after that little fiasco, I would probably qualify for a novella writer and not a blogger.  I am already pushing the limits, so for now, I will close, but I promise, my reasoning for not writing is justified...well, mostly justified, anyway.  Perhaps I will write more about the gap in later installments and I will certainly get back to writing about a pondering dad with an Aspie child, so until then, sorry for the delay and, as always, thanks for reading!

Oh, and yes, we did receive the money owed to us, but I think it was out of pity since they did not have to pay after we signed the paperwork...and one more thing...about the time the repairs were finishing up, I learned that we did not technically own the house on the 13th since the paperwork was not filed until the following Monday the 16th, which means we, again, technically, could have turned around on Saturday morning after witnessing the indoor pool, canceled the contract and left...yeah, even if I knew that at the time, I wasn't going to be the one to tell my wife she isn't getting her house...I ain't stupid!

Disclaimer...(Yes, its a repeat of the last one...but the blog above is new!) First, let me say that I am not a specialist in Asperger's Syndrome, nor do I play one on TV. What I write or say are strictly my own personal observations and beliefs, so please do not sue me because I said something that made you do something that caused a misdiagnosis, or created a problem, or made you do something stupid. Have accountability, go see a professional, and leave my finances alone...besides, you really wouldn't get much anyway, so its probably not worth your time to call the lawyer on the back of the phone book to see if you have a case. Spend that time more wisely, like figuring out how to subscribe to my blog...and don't ask me about that because I'm not even sure how it works! Seriously, though, if some of the things I say seem like they sound very familiar in your family, set up an appointment with a true professional. While you are waiting for their callback, please, continue reading and leave a note!