Update in comments section.
Because I know you just can't get enough of all this home-buying and home-selling stuff — here's a little tale of woe from the other night. (It's only a little tale and only a little woe.)
Still, we're always worried about what might be going on under the house. (Maybe the ants are massing for a surprise attack.) We've never checked, though. I don't think Kris has even been in the crawlspace, and I hate it. I hate it because I'm mildly claustrophobic, and I hate it because I'm allergic to dust. Both are plentiful in our crawlspace.
The other night, I decided that I'd better check the crawlspace to make sure we weren't going to be hit with any surprises from a home inspection. I donned my grubbies, grabbed a flashlight and a hammer, and I dropped through the hole to the darkness beneath the house.
I had forgotten how hot, how dirty, how stinky that space is. There ground is covered with sheets of plastic. The plastic is covered with a layer of dirt and dust, and the remnants of construction from three decades ago: nails, brackets, ends of two-by-fours. Near the opening to the crawlspace there are several sticks of gum (who knows how old?) and one small playing card (the six of clubs). There are only about eighteen inches of clearance (maybe less?) between the ground and the floorboards.
I crawled from the circumference of the house, trying not to think about what I was doing. I concentrated on my mission. I was looking for moisture. I was looking for dry rot. I was looking for ants. Fortunately, I found no signs of any of these things. The twine holding up the insulation has broken for some reason in one corner of the house, so that one small section of insulation has dropped to the ground, but that's it. If that needs to be fixed, it's easy to do so.
As I crawled back toward the opening, I began to panic. The enclosed space seemed to grow smaller. Worse, my allergies erupted. My eyes began to water. My throat constricted. I had trouble breathing. I crawled as quickly as I could, but by the time I'd reached the opening — where Nemo was peering down at me, trying to figure out what the hell was going on — I was experiencing a minor panic attack.
I jumped out, stripped off the dirty clothes, took some allergy medicine, and then went outside to collapse on the lawn. I felt like crap.
When Kris came home, I was surly. I still felt awful. And then, later in the evening, I became very drowsy from the allergy medicine. This made me surly in a different way. I wanted to sleep, but Kris needed help moving things. I wasn't the best of company.
My allergies don't flare up very often, but when they do, they're annoying.
This is one of the most important days of my life, yet I have little control over its outcome. In the morning, we sign papers granting us a home equity line of credit on the Elm House. In the afternoon, we meet with the home inspector to learn what problems exist at the Lee House.
I don't expect anything to go wrong in the morning. The bank seems eager to extend a huge line of credit to us. We've been forthcoming about our intentions with this money, and though they generally aren't willing to extend a home equity line of credit if it's going to be paid off almost immediately, they've agreed to do so in this case. (This may have something to do with the fact that I explained that I intended to leave the bank due to my displeasure with past service, but I'd be happy to reconsider if they did this favor for us. Of course, it may have nothing to do with this, either.)
Though things look good for this transaction, I'm still wary. I'm afraid the bank will reconsider at the last moment. I'm afraid that we'll read through the documents and find some clause we can't live with. (I'm prepared to pay a $350 fee for closing the line of credit early, but I'm not prepared to forfeit the house if we try to sell it in the first year of the loan, for example.) We'll be reading the documents carefully.
Later, we're scheduled to meet the home inspector at the new house. He will have made a thorough examination of the place in the morning. His report, and the walk-through he takes with us, will determine whether or not we pull out of the deal. At this point we have no intention of pulling out — we realize that there will be problems with a century old house, and we're willing to deal with some of them — but I can anticipate situations that might make us change our minds. We talked last night, and we're both ready to walk away if something huge and unsuspected arises. It eases our minds that the current owner had a full inspection made in March, and that he corrected many of the problems found then.
By early afternoon, after both of these events, we'll know for sure whether this deal is going to happen. (And I'll post an update revealing the results of both events.)
It's a curious thing to buy a house. I feel as if I'm always preparing for the worst-case scenario in any given situation. How is this any different than being a pessimist? I'm not sure. I've always considered myself an optimist, but can that truly be the case if I'm bracing for the worst-case scenario in every instance?
Perhaps the difference is that although I operate under the assumption that the worst will happen, I hope for the best. Also, I make back-up plans for when the worst does happen.
For example, I've pursued three separate lines of financing for this deal, all at the same time. The home equity line of credit is the ideal source of financing: it gives us the most money the quickest at the lowest cost. (We have 50% equity in our current home; it'd be nice to access that for a down payment on a new home.) But I did not count on us qualifying for the home equity line of credit.
Instead, I pursued the worst-case financing scenario most vigorously. We've been operating under the assumption that we'd require a bridge loan to get into the new house. This is a more expensive option, and it would provide only a 10% down payment, but we know we can get the loan. By pursuing multiple options, I'm able to prepare for the worst while still allowing possibility for the best to happen.
Marcella, one of Kris' co-workers, has loaned us a video camera. I spent half an hour gaining a rudimentary understanding of its controls last night, and I'm ready to put it to use today. As we tour the home with the inspector, I'll be taping. I'd love to put footage up immediately, but it's not going to happen. We have so much to get done this weekend — and I still have to finish the book for book group tomorrow night — that I'm not going to have time to spend futzing with iMovie. I'll have something up next week, though.
On this day at foldedspace.org
2003 — I'll Take the Purple Pill In which I magically weave the simplicity movement together with The Matrix, forming an almost coherent whole. [A foldedspace.org Best Entry.]
2002 — A Desultory Day Kris popped Alien into the VCR and woke me up so that I could watch it. It's one of my favorite movies.