The very first thing I had to consider when my husband and I separated was where to live. I had to move out because I couldn’t afford the house we owned together. He could. At first I thought I’d rent a two bedroom apartment that was simple. No yard to maintain, no broken faucets to fix. I visited a place that had a washer and dryer and was pet friendly. I almost put a security deposit down when this cute little cottage-like house came back on the market.
Take a look:
I called for a showing. At first, I was a little intimidated about owning my own home. I had never mowed a lawn before and it seemed like too much work. But then I started thinking about it. I realized that this little house might just be the perfect place for me to raise the boys on my own. I mean look at what was in the backyard:
A children’s playhouse! How perfect! I thought about what this would be like for the boys. Would they rather I raised them in an apartment with no yard, or would they rather I gave them their own house. I decided on the house.
Securing a Mortgage
That was the easy part. Securing a mortgage was difficult. I had to separate all assets with my husband in order to own it all on my own. At the time, our divorce wasn’t finalized, so I had to get a legal separation first. My husband had to refinance his house, give me my portion of the equity so that I could put down a down payment, and get my name off of his mortgage. Once that was done, my mortgage was approved. However, there was one more catch. The home inspector said my home had old knob and tube wiring. And no insurance company would insure it without that being replaced. No insurance means no mortgage. I told the sellers this and they agreed to fix it for me. I called the electrician that was doing the work one day to ask him to install new light fixtures in the bedrooms for me, and he told me he was only replacing the upstairs wiring, not the downstairs. This wouldn’t work. The sellers had lied to me. At this point I was renting the house from them until I closed. I confronted them. They told me they didn’t think the deal would work. I was already living in the house! So, I told them I would pay for the downstairs. However, when I got an estimate, I was told it would be $20,000. So, I had to draw the line. I asked the sellers how they got the house insured. Could they just transfer their policy to me? Plus, I didn’t want to put in that much money if I hadn’t closed. What if I lost the house and then lost all that money? The sellers called their insurance company, who agreed to give me 60 days past closing to get the work done. We called the seller’s electrician back again and he agreed to do the job for $9000 cash. I told the sellers we had a deal if they’d split the cost with me. They finally agreed. The deal was done. We closed, the electrical work was completed and inspected and I got insured. It was an incredibly stressful experience, but it all worked out in the end. I got the house.
Since then, I’ve done a lot of work on my little pride and joy. One day I came home from work and there was a leak coming through the kitchen ceiling. It was coming from the bathroom. My plumber inspected the leak and said he’d have to gut the bathroom to fix the leak. My home warranty would cover some of the cost, but I was looking at about $5000 out of pocket cost (Home warranties can be a waste of money, in my opinion, because they don’t ever want to cover anything. I’ve had to fight with them on several occasions.). I told him to fix the leak and give me a brand new bathroom, which was definitely needed, but not something I wanted to do right then. When the work was being done, the builders told me I should ask my homeowners insurance to cover it because it was a leak. I called them. A few days later, they agreed to cover the entire project! Another miracle! Check out my new bathroom:
Besides that, I replumbed the entire house, fenced in the backyard, replaced the furnace and air conditioning, replaced the lead pipe and sewer line, landscaped all the flower beds, and renovated the kitchen (as you know if you’ve been following this blog). I’ll add some pictures of some of these projects at the end of this blog. I also got a home security system, a must-have as a single woman home owner. I went with SimpliSafe.
I’ve done a lot of work on the house because I either had to or because I took pride in owning a home all by myself. I learned who to trust and who takes advantage of single women. I have a great electrician, a great plumber, a great heating and air conditioning guy, and many more. Every time I’ve had to replace something, there is a story about how the money was provided for me. I credit this to my faith. I feel like God has really taken care of me. It’s been a huge responsibility, but very worth it.
When I bought the house, I wanted to make it comfortable for my boys. I designed the inside just for them. I have a wall where I hung their framed art, I have a bookshelf for family games, I put their books on the shelves in their room, I set up their video games on their own TV, I have snacks in baskets in the pantry, and I stored their toys throughout the house.
And, I figured out how to mow the lawn. Every week, I mow, trim, and blow the sidewalks clean. I’ve built gardens throughout the backyard. My neighbors say the house has never looked so good. (I was beaming when they told me that.)
Deciding where to live was hard, but I fought for this little house. It’s mine. My house to give to the boys. The curtains in my bedroom and my bathroom towels are pink. Because I can. She’s mine. And I am proud of it.