One year ago on August 29th we were nervously waiting in our fancy Oakville lawyer’s office to hand over the biggest cheque we’d ever written and to sign the final paperwork for our house. I still maintain that you can get really far into the home-buying process before you have to pay any actual money; aside from our deposit, nobody asked for anything until we were ready to pick up the keys. Paperwork signed, we hit the road for Marmora, where we picked up the keys (and some delicious tomatoes and cucumbers) from our real estate agent. We drove into town, buzzing with excitement: this was our town, our house, our home.
And once we opened the door, we totally deflated. The place was a DUMP. The previous owners hadn’t cleaned a thing before leaving. The kitchen cupboards were sticky, the greasy walls full of holes, the upstairs carpet covered in mysterious stains. The floors were more crooked, the wallpaper peeling more than we remembered. The ceiling tiles in the living and dining rooms were nicotine-stained. The downstairs toilet wasn’t even working. We wandered through the house in shock. I cried, sitting on the big old desk left behind in one of the dining room’s bay windows, convinced we’d made a horrible mistake that we couldn’t take back.
So we walked downtown, ordered a pizza and picked up a six-pack of Muskoka Weiss from the LCBO. We ate the pizza and drank the beer sitting on the desk (the only piece of furniture in the house aside from our blow-up air mattress). The initial shock wore off. This house was our house, albeit a very dirty house. Fact: pizza and beer can solve anything.
Later, we sat on our back porch and drank the bottle of Veuve Cliquot given to us at our wedding, and listened to the live music drifting over from the Marmora fair. We schemed and wandered in and out the house, marvelling about how much space we had (both inside and out), picturing our condo-sized couch in the living room, planning which improvement projects we’d do first: paint (over the wallpaper, because it was holding up the plaster walls underneath), get rid of the oil tank, find a way to un-caulk the sealed windows on the first floor. Clean everything very, very well.
What have we done, one year in? We’ve painted most of the house. We’ve replaced the oil tank and furnace, first with propane and now with natural gas. We’ve refinished our kitchen cupboards and bought shiny new appliances. We’ve torn out most of the carpeting upstairs and painted the floors. We’re upgrading our fuse box to breakers next week (cross your fingers) and we’ve finally found a contractor to close up all the holes in our basement and roof, install some operational windows on the main floor and put up eavestrough so our basement ceases to be a swimming pool. It’s only a little bit, but it’s progress, and having these things lined up has really made this house feel like a home. So here’s to year one: it’s had its lows, but we’re pretty optimistic about year two over here already.