One for the Market, Two for the Show . . .

Philippians 4-13

I recited Philippians 4:13 every morning since January 1. But, I started praying it all day long once we went into high gear getting the house ready to put on the market. Bill and I needed as much strength as we could muster to finish the long list we had to tackle after meeting with the house stager.

At first I thought the list was daunting. But, each day I crossed off more and more items. I worked on whatever I could in the interior. Shrink wrap became my new friend when packing up stuff. 🙂 Bill alternated between cleaning the pole barn/making room to store our garage full of new house items and doing the many items on his list.

Here’s just a sampling of the 6 page list we had.

Sample of the To Do List

Sample of the To Do List

We had many exhausting days and evenings. In fact, one day Bill said he had never seen me work that hard. I quickly said, “Excuse me! What do you think I’ve done for over a year de-cluttering this place?” 😡 He laughed and said, “No I meant all this physically challenging work.” And, he was right. 🙂 My brain thought I was still in my 40s. My body sure reminded me that I was not. Bill lived on Aleve. I lived on Extra Strength Tylenol. The goal was to put the house on the market before I went down to Jill and Jim’s on April 21st.

Jill was going to Africa for her business, Karama. I was going to be down at their house for two weeks taking care of the grandkids and chauffeuring them to and from the bus stop each day and taking them to after-school activities. Anyways, I wanted to get the house ready for market and not worry about it when I was down at J&J’s. As the time got closer to April 21, I decided to just wait and list the house on Monday, May 6, after I returned into town. That way Bill would not have to worry about keeping the house spotless and have to leave on a whim’s notice if we had showings. Plus, I have a little control issue that I think I keep the house cleaner than Bill. 😉

I won’t bore you with everything we did on our to-do list, but here are some photos to show some of the progress we made.

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If I never paint again, I’ll be happy. Bill probably feels the same way. I did all the interior painting (except the fireplace) and Bill did all the exterior. I was very frustrated with our roofer who never came back to caulk the areas they didn’t caulk and re-paint. So guess who got up on the roof and spent most of one day up there caulking, priming and painting? Not me!!! But, Bill did. He will tell you that I hate him getting on the roof. I get especially anxious while he is on the roof. Scares me. 😯 So, to keep me occupied in-between holding the ladder when he climbed up and down, I decided to clean the garage. I was close by if he needed me, but not staring up at him praying every second. The garage never looked so good. I even vacuumed the floor. And, the best outcome . . . I got to park my car back in the garage after having it outside for months.

So, to update you, we have finished the house. It’s as ready as it is going to be. Our realtor is coming in the morning. His assistant took interior, pole barn, and pictures of the back exterior before I went down to Jill and Jim’s. She was supposed to have come back and taken pictures of the front exterior last week. Our realtor, Mike Puckett, is coming tomorrow morning to have us sign the contract. We’ve already filled out the disclosure form and given them all the other stuff they needed a couple of weeks ago. Mike is supposed to put the For Sale sign in our yard tomorrow and we should be up on the MLS tomorrow evening or Tuesday. Yay!!!

Now, some news on the new home front . . .

We struck water with the well drilling!!!!!!! We are so excited! And, it was in the spot where Bill’s willow rod went down. It is a slower producing well, but it’s plenty of water with deep storage in the well casing and the water is clear and the sodium taste can be filtered out with a reverse osmosis system. Here are some pics.

In addition to everything else that’s been going on in the last three weeks, Bill and I checked another thing off our new house list. We purchased our remaining appliances. We said we were not going to buy them until after we started building . . . but, famous last words. 🙄 Turned out Sears had a one-day sale of their Kenmore Elite appliances for a minimum of 30% off. We had never looked at Kenmore Elite stuff. So, I checked Consumer Reports and they were rated up there with the LG appliances I “thought” we were going to buy. We initially went to go look at their trash compactor as we said we thought it would be small enough to move. But, after checking out the appliances, taking a lunch break to think it over, and me praying about it, we bought them all. We got more off by opening a Sears charge card (which we will pay off as soon as we get the bill) and by having a Sears/K-Mart Rewards card, we racked up another $50 savings by buying some appliances first and then applying the $50 toward another appliance. We had a terrific saleswoman. So knowledgeable about all the products and how to save. And, the best part . . . they will hold the appliances and deliver down to our new place when we schedule it. We don’t have to move them!

We ended up getting a refrigerator with two bottom freezer drawers, washer, gas dryer, two pedestals, trash compactor, and an upright freezer. And, it turns out that LG makes the Kenmore Elite appliances! So, I have the same look I was going for, but actually liked some of the Kenmore Elite features better.

Next up: We got great news at the end of last week about our new build. Can’t wait to share it with you.

The Spring that Never Sprung!

Spring is the time of plans and projects. ~Leo Tolstoy

As soon as I flipped the calendar to March, I immediately started to panic. It was time! This is the month of spring . . . or NOT! Everything we had done since we purchased the property back in fall of 2008 lead to this very moment in time. And, now that it was here, the reality of it all smacked me right in the face. 😯

It was time to sell our present home. It was time to call the realtor. Bill and I had interviewed a couple of realtors last summer. We kind of clicked with one – Mike Puckett. Maybe it was his age. Maybe it was his business background. We had not talked to him since June of 2012. I gave him a call and we scheduled a meeting for March 12 after Bill got home from work.

As soon as I hung up the phone with Mike, I called our window guy so I could see when they would be able to repair those front windows. I refused to put the house on the market and have pictures taken before the windows were fixed and the house paint touched up around the windows. Steve (window guy) said there was one or two days later that week which were suppose to be warm enough but they were already booked to finish a job. Then, they were scheduled to be at the Indianapolis Home and Garden Show for 10 days. He asked if I could give them two weeks to get out here. That was March 4th. We are still waiting for them to come. 😦 Granted, this long winter has not been kind to us. But, we need those windows fixed! As I type this frustration, I wonder if this will be our life when we are building the new house with delays after more delays. I’m going to put Bill in charge of calling all the contractors for the new house. I think I’m too nice. 🙂

Our temps did reach low 50s two days that weekend. I itched to get outdoors, even if it was to pick up sticks/branches and clean out the flower pots on the back patio. At least it was a start. I remembered the year before having 80 degrees during March and I cut grass a lot during that month. Not this year. The grass is still brown, trees bare, and no new spring buds sprouting up. We still have a lot of work to do outdoors before selling the house. Unfortunately, it entails using the power washer. You can’t get that going until you can turn on the outside water. It’s been too cold for that, too.

Shifting gears to the new house, I had to do some more online ordering. With the change of the vault and the mirroring issue, we discovered we needed another light fixture (for the entry) and another door knob (for the pole barn). I was waiting to order the door knob when I had other materials to order so I could get free shipping. This was perfect timing because we had gotten our tax refund back. When we changed the vault orientation of the family room, Jim had lengthened the entryway of the house. The entry has a 9 foot ceiling. I had purchased two sconces for the entryway, but now that wasn’t going to give enough light. I actually let Bill have final say for the light fixture. Surprised? I think he was, too! Actually, I’m trying to be more open to listening to his reasons. I was looking at a chandelier fixture. He thought it would be too large and would hang too low. He was right. (I’m sure he will have a huge smile on his face when he reads that sentence!) Here is the light fixture we picked. It matches all our other interior light fixtures.

Entry light

Entry light

I found the light on sale at an online store for $50 cheaper. Build.com matched the price.

The other big purchase on this order was flood lights. Should we buy incandescent, halogen or LED lights? We determined that the LED flood lights were too expensive. Halogen lights cost less than LED but more than incandescent. Bill put me in charge of researching the difference between the incandescent and halogen.

Here’s what I found:

Halogen bulbs function similarly to incandescent bulbs, but with a few key differences: They’re composed of a small, pressurized, peanut-size bulb inside a larger outer shell. The gas inside this inner bulb is halogen. When tungsten evaporates from the filaments of these bulbs, the halogen combines with it, escorts it back to the filament where it’s redeposited, then heads out to round-up more escaped tungsten particles. Since there’s less soot on the bulb’s shell, light output remains strong, and since filaments are constantly being rebuilt, the bulbs last longer. But the key difference— and the quality that makes them useful and unique—is they emit a whiter, brighter and more easily focused beam of light, almost like real sunshine.

For outdoor use, halogen floodlights cast a brighter, easier-to-see-by light. And since they last twice as long as standard bulbs, you won’t need to struggle to reach hard-to-access outdoor fixtures as often. They have other benefits too. They’re 10 to 20 percent more energy-efficient and cheaper to operate. They burn brighter longer (a halogen bulb will still be cranking out 94 percent of its original light output near the end of its life, while a standard bulb diminishes to a measly 82 percent).

We decided on the halogen flood lights. I had to find a really good deal because we decided on the twin lights and wanted the motion feature. I finally found one that would match the house colors. The lighting manufacturer had the lights on sale for just about 1/2 off. I couldn’t believe it. That made the price just a little over what the incandescent lights would have cost. The sales rep at build.com said they could not match the price because it was too low. When I said I’d buy them elsewhere, he quickly said he’d match it since we had purchased so much from them. 😀 Here are what they look like:

Halogen motion flood lights

Halogen motion flood lights

The realtor called us on Sunday, March 10, and apologized that he now had a conflict for March 12. He said he could meet with us the next evening, March 11. Before I could change my mind, I said, Yes. I went into cleaning mode the next morning.

When Mike arrived he asked for another tour of the house. Then we settled down at the dining table and talked about comparisons of houses around the area. He came up with a listing price. We were happy with that price. I provided him with a list of all the improvements we had made to the place in the last several years. He said I must have read his mind. We talked about how we would be contacted when someone wanted to see the house. He said he would write-up the contract and email to me within a couple of days. Mike pays to have a home stager meet with his clients to go over suggestions before taking pictures and putting the house on the market. We decided to leave the listing date open until after we met with the home stager and see how much more he/she might suggest we do.

Two days later I got a called from Gary Barnett at Home Matters to set up an appointment with one of their Property Stylists. Bill wanted to be here when the home stager came. We made an appointment with Gregory Henry for Tuesday afternoon, March 19.

I’m a HGTV addict and watch all the shows – House Hunters, Property Brothers, Kitchen Cousins, Love it or List it, Income Property, Candice Tells All . . . I’ve watched them all over the years. I knew that de-cluttering was a big thing. I thought I had done a pretty good job so far. However, I knew I had to go back and re-organize the kitchen cabinets that held food items. And, since Mike suggested that we sell our refrigerator with the house, I needed to clean that, too. I wanted to get that done before Greg came.

Here is how I go about my de-cluttering. I take everything out. It forces me to do something with all that mess after I get it out of a shelve, closet, or room. Then I clean the empty space. After that I categorize whether to pitch or keep. Last, I place the keep items back into cabinets, closet or room in a way that will work for us.

Before

Before

Here are after pictures.

It got to be a crazy week and weekend between the realtor and the arrival of the home stager. I shifted gears again and focused on Medicare medigap insurance plans, drug plans, and dental and vision plans. We finally got word from the retirement specialist that I would have health insurance after Bill retired, but neither one of us would have dental and vision insurance after the end of March. We had worked for several months with a Medicare insurance broker, Matthew Frankic of Crosspointe Insurance Advisors. He was helping Bill and me understand all the different supplement plans and the ones that would fit Bill’s needs in health care and prescription drug coverage.

Bill asked if I could do research on all the dental/vision plans that Matthew had sent us via email. Going through all this Medicare stuff the first time isn’t easy. I ended up pricing out the 4 or 5 options and creating a spreadsheet so Bill and I could sit down and compare the plans. My head was spinning. I had reached a point where I didn’t even know how to compare what we would spend each year. Unfortunately, Bill and I spend a lot of time in the dentist chair. 😦 We were a little anxious not having insurance. We ended up sitting down together on Saturday, March 16, to study the plans and make a decision. After much discussion and I think only one flare-up 🙂 we decided we would self-insure ourselves. Meaning, we decided that we would be paying so much money out of our pocket for the insurance premiums that during a good dental year, we would not get our money’s worth. Decision was no dental or vision insurance. It was a risk we thought we’d take. Then we settled on which medigap supplement plan and drug plan for Bill. Whew! We had a phone meeting with Matthew on Monday, the 18th, to sign up for those. Glad that was done.

Bill spent the rest of the weekend out in the pole barn re-working the cabinets and trying to straighten up the pole barn as best he could before the stager arrived.

Jim called me on Sunday in the middle of de-cluttering and asked if I had time to go over house plan changes I had emailed him a week ago. Told you we’d have more! 😆 There really weren’t many changes: switched two closets; made closet door 36 versus 32; added bi-fold doors to the garage utilities area; added notation where gas cooktop and wall oven would be located; verified where 8 ft soffit was located in master bathroom; eliminated the shower window; added back a wooden front door with sidelites (see picture below); corrected the window schedule with which windows had grids and which did not; added the exact flooring we wanted for the laundry room; and added lights in the attic to the electrical plan. See, that wasn’t that much, was it? 🙄

The two things Bill and I have struggled with the most on choosing for the new house are flooring and the front door. I’m hoping we get the flooring settled this weekend when we go to a couple of flooring stores down south. We saw the fiberglass front door we originally picked out (not cheap) at the Indy Home Show in January. We thought it was too lightweight. Neither one of us wanted to install it on our house. So, we went back to looking at wooden entry doors. This is the one we think we are going to buy. But, we are waiting to order it after we move south.

Wooden Entry Door

Wooden Entry Door

Monday and Tuesday, March 18 & 19, I cleaned house. That’s all I seem to do these days. We were ready for  Greg, the house stager Tuesday afternoon at 1:00. When he arrived, he said we would start outside and then come back inside the house and go room by room while I took notes the whole time. We started out front and the first thing he talked about was the paint around the windows – you know, the windows that were damaged! We shook our heads and said that would all be fixed. He mentioned something about cleaning up the front landscaping when the weather ever got warmer. It was really cold and windy that day. Then we went back to the three-season porch and he suggested getting rid of the metal table and suggested a way to place the furniture we had on the porch. Next, we headed out to the patio area. He said to pulled the patio furniture out and place it around. When we got to the pole barn, he was intrigued with Bill’s cabinet building. He loved it. Honestly, he looked around and said, “Bill, just straighten up the best you can.”

When we got back to the house we started in the kitchen. He opened my cabinets and grinned. Then he said, “I could blog all day how good this looks!” He told us what things to put away during showings (like trash can, my utensil crock, my knife caddy, and paper towel holder). And, he staged some of the items I had – I took pictures so I wouldn’t forget.

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He suggested we paint the dark burgundy walls in the dining/family room. 😦 Suggested we move out our sofa table, take out the TV and stand in the dining area, and take out my large L-shape desk in the family room. He suggested purchasing some lighter colored pillows for the burgundy sofa and love seat in the family room and some solid color ones for the living room couch. No surprise, they want us to store all items for the new house somewhere other than the garage. And, the list went on and on and on. I had four pages of notes by the time he was done. He kept saying how nice the house looked and the great job I had done and what we had to do was not bad at all. But I still had this long list. By the time he left, I was depressed. 😥

So, folks, this is where we are now – working our butts off trying to get as much done as we can. I thinned out silverware and utensil drawers and packed a bin of stuff. I cleaned out the coat closet. Want to see what three down coats, two long winter coats, one heavy leather coat, two pair of insulated over-alls, and a slew of other jackets look like in those space bags? They work!

Compressed winter coats

Compressed winter coats

I emptied my shoes from the rack that is installed on the inside of our bedroom closet and put them in under-bed containers. I need to take the rack down. I bought three different size candles for the coffee table, a small silk flower arrangement for the dining table, new pillows for the sofas, and storage boxes for the closets to store loose things. I made another trip to Goodwill with a trunk full.

I’m crossing off the list as I go. The biggest thing now is getting the stuff out of the garage and deciding if we are going to paint. Bill thinks he can find room in the pole barn to store our new house items. He doesn’t want to spend money on a storage unit or a pod yet. I have two closets to pack up and I think I will be ready to start painting. We are hoping Bill can work on some of the outside stuff next week/weekend if we ever get a break in this cold weather.

Bill’s last day to work is tomorrow – March 28!!!! He will be officially retired! Friday, we are going down to Jill and Jim’s for a long weekend. Monday, April 1, we drill for the well. We can use all the prayers you can spare that we hit water! We plan to meet with a couple of vendors while we are down there. We are changing our stone choice. Surprise!!!! We hope to pick out our hardwood floors and carpet and tile. And, we plan to meet with the pole barn builder again and see about other options. I’m sure I’ll be taking lots of pictures while we are down there.

From here on out, I hope that my posts are current and short. They probably will be because I won’t have time to ramble on like this any longer. Our adventure has been on an upswing all these years. Now, I think we are approaching the summit and heading down.

I hope it’s smooth sailing . . . 🙂