Army Life, The Army Life Journey, The Personal Journey

This Old House

I’ve always liked watching home improvement shows.   I also liked watching shows in which people were looking for a new home.  I enjoyed the interactive aspect of it; and I often had an opinion about which homes were the best.  I never really fancied myself buying a house that needed work; I always said that painting would be the most I would be willing to do.  Turns out, I had a common misconception of what home ownership entails and I was taught a valuable lesson regarding this after my husband and I moved into our first home last year.

If you are new to my blog or just haven’t heard from me in a while, you will be surprised to learn that yes, my husband and I bought our first home last June.  We went the rather unconventional route as well.  We were stationed in Hawaii when we received orders to Fort Carson.  As excited as I was about our impending adventure amidst the Colorado mountains, I had a major concern about housing here.  The housing on post is notoriously bad… not building wise per say but management wise.  Most military housing is privatized which means they are managed by private companies.  Some companies are excellent, like Lend Lease who managed our house in Hawaii, and then there are some like good old Balfour Beatty.  Balfour Beatty has been at the forefront of privatized military housing and unfortunately, there reputation is not a good one.  I wanted to do my research after applying for housing so see what others’ experiences has been in these homes.  And what I found was not good.  Folks often complained of maintenance issues and the lack of communication and care from the housing offices.  They also complained of Balfour Beatty nickel and diming residents during move outs, often charging for damages that weren’t there or were simply wear and tear from people living in the houses.   The house we were offered was a nice one, but it lacked a backyard which I knew would be problematic since we wanted to get a dog.  I also scoured the renter’s market here which turned out to be a nightmare.  Rent is very very expensive and homes go very very quickly.  Also, I didn’t want to be in a rental and then be forced to move because the owner is selling the property, a common thing here because a lot of military buy homes.  And then we found a realtor who educated us about the buying market.  We were nervous about buying a home when we weren’t even in the area; we really didn’t know the area as well.  But as crazy as it sounds, and as crazy as it was, we decided to take a risk and buy a home here.  We knew that Norman would be here at least four years and with the way the market is, it was favorable for us to make such a huge investment.  During our home search, we made a total of three offers, with the first two being beat out by higher bids.  The third home had some issues but we figured it was a good price and we could do a little work to make it our own and to add more value.  I couldn’t believe where my mind was!  Do a little work?  What happened to just painting?  

 Now, please believe we painted… oh we painted and painted and painted some more!  In fact, I really wouldn’t mind not seeing another paintbrush ever again.  When we got to the house, we were amazed at how much actually needed to be done.  We were told that the home was move-in ready and maybe in realtor’s talk it was move-ready but it definitely wasn’t up to the standards I was used to.  

Some of the house was updated… there was new carpet, some new light fixtures, and new appliances.  But the rest of it was up to us. The first thing we did was paint.  We painted focal walls in the living room, dining room and the master bedroom.  I just finished another focal wall in the den.  Norman painted both kids’ rooms and I painted all the trim in the house white. I also painted the fireplace and its mantel.  We are in the process of staining both bathroom cabinet fixtures as we speak. We ordered new flooring for the living and dining room as I was not fond of the idea of eating on carpeting.  We bought new light fixtures for the front of the house and for the main bath.  Last summer, we had some flooding in the den which warranted part of the back wall to be removed and reinstalled, something that was done by our inspection team free of charge. 

Upstairs bath before:

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Upstairs bath after:  (pardon the mess… people do live here :))

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Living room before: (not the best picture I know)

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Living room after:

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Den before:

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Den after:

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 The damage to the den was due to a good number of hail storms which ravaged our area shortly after we moved here.  We sustained damage to the roof as well as parts of the house.  Our insurance paid for a brand new roof with new gutters and downspouts and we got new paint as well.  Originally, the house was to be painted gray with white trim.  But when the color was applied to the house, it turned out to be much lighter than the sample I received.  We decided to stick with the light silver color and to change the trim to a darker gray.  The hail also damaged the shutters and shortly after the roof was completed, one of the shutters fell to its long-awaited death.  We bought new shutters that matched the trim and them installed. 

Outside Before:Victory house 003

 

Outside after:

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 Most recently, we finished our kitchen, which was in need of some major help. 

Kitchen before:

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Kitchen after:

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As you can see, we replaced all the counters with granite and installed new custom cabinetry with the soft-close drawers.  We also did a back splash and had a new sink and faucet installed as well.  I am loving the new look.  It makes the kitchen look, and feel a lot cleaner. 

We still have much to do to get the house to where we know it can be at its best.  Because it was a rental, the house was not taken care of how it should’ve been.  But there are good bones there and I intend to do the best I can to bring back its original beauty.  We were blessed though; we are only two doors from my kids’ school and we are in a highly desired area.  The neighborhood is established with people still living there who have been there since the housing was built in the late 80s.  And because it’s a smaller home, renovations have been relatively affordable. In doing work to our home, we have learned new skills and have been able to see a project through to its completion.  There’s a pride about maintaining and fixing up your home; in wiping away the dirt and seeing the jewel that lies beneath.   And all this coming from someone who only wanted to paint.

 

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