Meeting with the architect

I feel so official and fancy just saying it.

“Oh, I have to leave work on time today, I’m meeting with our architect.”

“Oh the architect is going to stop by to take a look at the layout.”

“Oh, the architect needs to see the survey they did of the house (pictured above!).”


We get on a train and then on a bus to get to the office in the ass-end of queens (i.e. Fresh Meadows) and we arrive at the same time as our expediter. Luckily, we are both half an hour late (train to bus is brutal!).

We shake hands and she leads us upstairs.

The architect is casual and cool and knows a lot. Between him and the expediter, we get a good picture of how it’s going to go.

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So I kind of freaked out on my expediter today

Yep, I’m pretty nuts. No question.

So here’s what happened – I was checking my obsessively, as per usual, and I saw a check get cashed. I have probably written about 10 checks in the last two weeks so i didn’t think much of it.

Then I saw the amount and my jaw dropped. My expediter cashed her payment check and hadn’t even sent us proof that she cleared the fines??

After I had spent the last two days emailing her for a status update?

What am I supposed to think??

I left her a very pointed voicemail followed by a very pointed email with an extremely pointed subject line:

Subject (extra douchey for good measure): ECB fines – your payment was cashed but you did not clear our fines

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Staying up late, looking at other people’s light fixtures

So I think it’s settled. All modern light fixtures are pretty much ugly.

In an effort to let go of my control issues, I told my contractor I trust him to find us the architect and get the permits and all of that. We are probably going to use the same person who is helping us clear our ECB fines. So that’s almost settled I think. I going to hold myself back from emailing him on Monday and let him email me. On Tuesday, though, I’m back on.

In the meantime, we needed to keep our minds occupied with something house related. So, we stayed up late on Thursday night, obsessively looking through Basically, people just post pictures and descriptions of cool things they’ve done in their house and you can click a button to add to your “ideabook.” After a few hours, we determined the following:

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Hurry up and Wait… Again

Monday – got a call from my boyfriend that someone was cashing a check he wasn’t supposed to until Wednesday.

Um, what the fuck? The check is even dated for Wednesday! I yell into the phone.

I know I know. And he called me to tell me he already deposited it, not that he was going to.

All my transfers didn’t transfer yet! We had a deal! I’m going to call him right now and tell at him!

No no no. Let this one go. Now we know what his deal is.

Yeah, a lying scumbag who obviously didn’t actually trust me like he said he did! Will they even cash it if it’s future dated?? (spoiler alert: they will)

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Meeting with contractor, or, now the fun part begins

We met with our contractor yesterday afternoon to talk about how it is going to all go down. We won’t really have a full timeline until we actually get into the house and clear out the mess but our mini timeline is:

1. Get permit to do work on the house – 2-3 weeks depending on how quickly the expediter (person who deals with the city to get the permits) moves.

2. Demolish innards (walls etc.), clear out trash, exterminate – 3-4 days. My contractor jokingly said if we were having a bad day, to call him up and he would let us kick in a wall or two. I can’t say I won’t take him up on that.

And that’s really as far as we can go until the contractor takes a look at the electric and plumbing before we get any real concrete (or even imaginary) timelines. We go through our ideas on what we want the layout to look like in the basement and first floor and talk about sound-proofing the studio and putting in a laundry room.

We tell him we do have to start paying the mortgage on October 1 and he says he will do his best to work it out so we can move into the top floor unit as soon as possible while the bottom two floors are being worked on. This way, we can move into a fully equipped apartment and show potential tenants what the place is going to look like if they end up moving in. Double whammy.

Also, we tell him, we plan to go a little nuts on the first floor. We tell him about the marble toilet we’ve been eying (until we find out the price tag is $3,500, or the cost of 10 toilets) and he laughs out loud and at the same time tells us he totally gets it. We want the crazy crown molding and the old light fixtures and chandeliers, we want our friends to build our kitchen cabinets and paint a mural on the exterior side wall.

So now the fun begins.

He tells us about websites to look at for flooring and what to look for (handscraped wood floors for that old world, handmade look, wood-like laminate for the basement (which looks JUST LIKE wood!), do we want it dark or light, how is it going to coordinate with cabinets etc.).

Home Depot is a good go-to for just walking around and picking out tiles we like for the kitchen back splash, kitchen cabinet options, flooring, really anything.

Then he comes up with his best idea yet. If we really want our house to pop, we should consider focusing on getting really cool doors – you know, the kinds with crazy panels, glass door knobs, skeleton keys.

Yes! Cool doors!

We part ways with some homework assignments and I end up spending my Saturday evening and night looking up flooring, like, zebra bamboo floors!

and crazy doors! (what if every door had stained glass in it, if ever so subtle?)

(or not so subtle!)

After meeting up with some friends at Bushwick Kitchen today (their hollandaise sauce is the best I’ve ever had, I have no idea what they do or what other people don’t do, but wow), we walk past the house again. Strangely, the 24-hour laundromat is, well, closed. We note a large pile of trash bags up against the fence leading to our backyard.

In front of the house for a few minutes, I notice how run down the siding is and how many windows are boarded up. The chimney on the side of the house seems to lose more bricks every time we walk by and I’ve lost track of the new graffiti and old graffiti on the side wall. The pest control sign is swinging in the wind. There is a faint smell coming from the house that you may not notice if you don’t already know the smell.

This is going to be a transformation of epic proportions.

House-y type things to do today:

1. Check account balance to see which checks have cleared and which money has transferred.

2. Send one more check to our attorney for an expense that was actually ours (we were so busy paying all the seller’s stuff that we forgot).

3. Compulsively update the spreadsheet I created with all the outstanding checks and account balances we have floating around.

4. Set up a time to meet with our contractor this weekend to go over next steps (and possibly talk about building out the top apartment first so we can move in while the rest of the house is being finished – have I mentioned how awesome and a genius this guy is??)

5. Break the cardinal rule of retirement planning and take a (small) loan from my 401k to tide us over for the month while we cover some residual closing costs and held checks, ugh. No one takes credit cards around here! Money is going straight back in as soon as we get it back.

6. Go to my friend’s moving/goodbye party and shamelessly loot her apartment via the spreadsheet she created of all the stuff she is giving away.

7. Fantasize about the type of bathtub I want in each bathroom. Definitely ones with feet.

Hooray for Homeownership!

All right, let’s start with the fact that I woke up on my bed sideways with all my pillows and blankets shoved to the side yesterday morning because I quite possibly had a bit of trouble sleeping the night before.

That kind of set the tone for the rest of the day.

Butterflies in my stomach on the train and all morning.

I get a call from our attorney around 10 am and she goes though the final
numbers with me. Not too bad. I’m covering a few things I wasn’t anticipating but nothing unexpected.

Boyfriend picks me up around 1 pm and we go get the cashiers check and have lunch and try to calm my nerves.

It’s an hour and a half before closing and it takes 25 minutes to get to the office. We try to kill time by walking to the farthest point we can in Manhattan until we have to get on the train. We decide to get on and just hang out in Queens somewhere until 4.

We spot a Starbucks across the street and spend the next forty minutes nervously checking watches and phones. We try to take care of some administrative stuff while we wait but I’m mostly just staring at my Facebook newsfeed hoping for a distraction.

Finally it’s 3:45 and we decide that’s just early enough to show up at the office.

We are soon followed by the seller’s agent, who we last saw with a pea coat and much more hair. A few minutes later the seller walks in and we all just sit quietly and wait to be called in.

We are brought into a conference room that overlooks the borough with authority. Being on the 15th floor of a building in Queens actually means something.

The title closer sits at the head of the table. She has been sick for the last few days she says. She ends up being funny and cracking jokes between business.

The stand-in for the sellers attorney is already in the room, a kind-looking older gentleman who turns out is doing this as a favor for the actual attorney.

The bank attorney is situated at the other head of the table. He and the title closer have the final word on what will fly.

The meeting begins with a flurry of signing. That seems to be going smoothly until we start looking at when we have to start making mortgage payments.

October 1st? I thought we put that off until the renovations were done.

Patch in a call to my mortgage lender. Turns out talking about the option is not the same as actually working it into the loan.

We look at each other and cringe a bit. All right. Noted. Already crafting an email in my head to the contractor about getting the house done ASAP, now with more reason than ever.

Title closer is going through the title.

Pest control charges – who is handling?

Our attorney looks at me and she gives me the look. The look I’ve heard over the phone. The look that the seller is not going to pay anything.

We will pay them, I say.

Tax lien?

We got it.

Title closer pauses. Wait, this letter expired today at 2 pm.

I thought the sellers attorneys assistant was sending an updated one?

They try calling her a few times hoping she is for some reason in the office after office hours.

Title closer hangs up the phone. Okay so here’s what we have to do. You give me a $250 extra buffer on top of what the amount is on this letter. We get the right letter from the attorney. We mail you back a check for the difference.

I guess that’s happening.

About halfway through, I realize the seller and I are just observers in the middle of a frenzy. It feels like we are awake at an operating table and are hearing the surgeons joking around while they connect the aorta back to the central valve.

I am taken out of my haze by our attorney asking my boyfriend and me to come outside.

She tells me this is literally one of the sloppiest short sales she has ever seen. On top of everything else, she says that the seller’s side is normally responsible for paying the title closer. Guess who forgot to add it to the HUD?

Our attorney heads back into the conference room. My boyfriend and I hug for a few minutes and take deep breaths before heading back inside.

We are back and pens are flying and calculators are whirring (or whatever they do). There is some complicated math going on that we just walked into the middle of and my attorney is orchestrating. She said at the beginning of this closing that we were closing – in a way that implied nomatterwhat – so I just hold my boyfriend’s knee and let go of trying to even understand what is going on because everyone else in the room clearly knows and you know what, I’m really okay with not knowing anymore.

I know it’s near the end when I start writing checks and our attorney tells me she is an hour late to meet another client (and just sign anything they put in front of you at this point). Final signatures are captured, hands are shaken, copies passed out, and, well, it’s over.

The seller’s agent gives us the code to the lock box for the keys. We run down the hall to wave goodbye to our attorney and thank her profusely. She was truly a miracle worker in that room. This would not have happened without her, I can say that much.

We walk down to the elevator, trying to decide what we should send her as a thank you.

As we head out of the building, it really hits me. This is it. The house is ours.

Final Freaky Out-y Phone Call

Got a call from my attorney this afternoon. She put me on speaker so she could talk to me and the bank attorney at the same time.

She called to tell me the loan amount i told her (that I was told by my bank) was about $7,000 shy. She just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.


She wanted to know about the water bill.

Oh, the sellers bank is taking care of most of that and we will pay the difference.

Okay, do you want to pay at closing or take the house subject to?

Subject to what?

Subject to the water bill.

Oh. Um. I guess whichever way I don’t have to pay now. … What do you recommend actually?

Well if you pay it now and take it up with the water company and they do a proper reading, you will just get credited back the difference…


What do you want to do about the pest control charges?

What pest control charges?

The ones in your title report.

Had they always been there? I don’t remember seeing them there.

Yes, there are three of them. They have always been there. I believe you have a copy of the report.

Okay… how much is it?

She gives me a number. Then tells me I can pay it now or take it subject to. As long as your bank is okay with that.

Panic. Why wouldn’t they be?? Um, okay, how will we know?

Hold on hold on i’m talking to you and the bank attorney at the same time. Uh huh. Okay. Yeah but this is… Hey are you still on the line? Good, hold on I’m just going over something with him.

So will the bank accept me taking the house subject to?

Hold on. Okay. The bank attorney is going to find out and get back to us.


All right I’m going to run the final numbers. You know you won’t be able to get the certified check until tomorrow right?

Yes, I planned for that (by opening a new fucking bank account because I fucking had to give everyone the third degree on what I would actually need to bring to the closing and how close to the day we would actually get the final numbers!).

All right, I will call or email you with the numbers. It’s too complicated to explain by phone right now.

Okay, can you email them to me? I’m going to be underground in the next half an hour.

Uhh, yeah, sure. I’ll email you.

Okay thanks, bye.

Two minutes later, I get an email forwarded to me from the sellers agent that the short sale bank did, in fact, approve the final HUD and we can “proceed with the closing.” Woohoo that i am finding out now that final approval wasn’t the case a month ago when I thought the final HUD was approved???

Honestly, thank goodness no one told me this was another condition to closing as towels would have maybe been thrown in.

Thoughts running through my head with 25.5 hours to closing

Tomorrow is the day. At  4 pm, we will walk into our attorney’s office and walk out homeowners. The only thing we are waiting on is the amount to make the final checks for. Closing documents have been sent to the attorney.

Leaving work at 12:30 pm tomorrow, partly to run last-minute errands, partly because I don’t know how much I will actually be able to focus tomorrow, mostly to calm my nerves and prevent myself from hyperventilating in the middle of the cubicle floor. Better to get all that out in the privacy of Fifth Avenue, where tourists are too busy looking up to look around and catch me vacillating between sheer joy and sheer panic. A bout of bipolarism.

Now it’s 25.1 hours until closing. I just have to make sure I don’t lose my mind completely between now and then.


This is the biggest, craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Ever.