closed on new home and freaking out now!

jiggreenAugust 20, 2010

I know I'm in an "adjustment period" right now...but I want to cry! We closed on our 1814 Federal style farmhouse on Wednesday and I'm so overwhelmed! An hour after closing, we were opening windows and I guess the house wanted to show us who is boss because the pipe to the clawfoot tub burst. I haven't had a shower in 3 days, and the plumber can't come until Monday. I have nowhere to put my kitchen we're tripping over boxes. We only have 3 grounded outlets in the whole house, the rest are ungrounded and not very many of them...but I haven't even got around to calling the electrician. My 11 year has been crying nonstop because she's "homesick". I have no laundry hookups, spiders freak me out and I have ocd and can't stand chaos and disorganization. I have mold in my downstairs bathroom because that pipe in the upstairs bath must have been leaking for a while, so we're going to completely demo that room and turn it into a powder room/laundry room. I know it all takes time..and that everything we're going through is par for the course and pretty minor compared to what could be still in store for us..but...I need some encouraging words. My hubby works out of town, so I'm kind of on my own and I'm exhausted and feeling a bit of buyer's remorse. I know one day I'll love my "new to me" home, but right now...I can't see beyond everything that needs to be done.

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Oh God, have we all been there and done that. I'm not going to lie and say this is going to be easy. The fact that you are alone there with the situation when your husband is working doesn't make it any easier because nobody is around to tell you it's going to be 'alright'.

I'm living in an 1820 (or I find out maybe even a bit earlier) farmhouse too. Most of the really bad grunt work had been done by my husband before I moved in, but I've also faced similar situations with chimneys, getting termites under a very expensive Italian imported tile floor installation, roof replacements, and after twenty five years here, still have to put stuff in boxes when working on rooms. Nobody (OCD or not) acclimates immediately to any new house, let alone taking a trip back in time. LOL.

I think the hardest part would be dealing with a homesick ten year old. Try to pick one little 'doable' project you can focus on and then do it. If you're really desperate for showers, take the child to a swimming pool and let her soak it out and shower off afterwards there. Promise you there won't be any complaints.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 10:14PM
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It gets better, really it does, and quickly too! We closed the end of June, so we're only a bit further along than you and it's already better.

Call the electrician first thing Monday! We had ours put GFCI outlets in most of our ungrounded outlets, so they're safer, and certain circuits we had grounded. We also had them add 4 outlets to our master bedroom (they ran circuit conduit above the base board and now we hardly notice it), and it only took 2 days of work for 3 of them, and was almost as cheap as us buying all the parts, tools and books we would have needed. So worth it. I'd advise having them do this before you try unpacking; you'll just have to move stuff for them to access the walls they need to.

Stack things out of the way of your main traffic flows so you can get through the house, and then focus on your bedroom and your daughter's; if you have one tranquil, "done" space to retreat to, I bet you'll all feel so much better!

Do you have a basement or outbuilding you can put some boxes in temporarily? That would help get them out of your way and allow you to organize the things you really need to get at now...

*hugs* Hang in there; I had buyer's remorse the first week, but I feel so much better now, and am back in love with the house all over again.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 10:25PM
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Yes, having one tranquil "done" place is very important...our old home didn't require much work when we moved in, but nonetheless, some stuff had to be done, and there was chaos in the house. But we slowly got things together...spreading from one room to another. First the family room was our tranquility, then the dining room, then the upstairs bedroom/study, then the kitchen, then the powder room, then the guest bedrooom...just be methodical about it and you will keep going. It's worth the effort :). You'll be OK. I know it's scary but it'll turn out ok!

A few weeks after we moved in, this huge crack busted open in the dining room wall. It was just from new drywall that had been put in improperly, but I panicked, so I know the feeling! I kept thinking, "OMG, what did I do? Did I buy a money pit? OMG OMG OMG". LOL My partner called me down.

You'll get through it :).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 1:26AM
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Yes, been there done that too, and it will get better! I agree with the above posts. When I moved (alone) into my 1913 house the biggest issue was dirt: the place had sat empty for so long it was filthy: really disgusting. I felt "icky" for days on end as I methodically worked room by room to scrub the place, and then I did a second round. Only then did I start to feel a bit relaxed. Next I started to unpack/paint/decorate "room by room." It took about 6 months. It has been 3 years for me now and I remember those dark days (it was February in Minnesota) with dismay, but the finished house is lovely.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 6:25AM
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Thank you for understanding, but then again...I knew you all would! My hubby just got back into town, so hopefully he can get some stuff done this weekend. My first priority is being able to confine my dogs outside...right now I'm using odds and ends to block off exits from the porch..we have a dog run for them, but it's off the side of the rear porch and I need to gate those openings so they don't take off (the house fronts to a busy road) I think once I don't feel like I need to watch the dogs every second, I might be able to relax a little. Plus, the back door fell off the hinges, and they can just push the screen door open..there's no handle or latch. It just keeps getting! I vomited earlier because someone opened the door to the downstairs bathroom and the smell overwhelmed me. Hubby has a week of vacation time scheduled at the end of the month, so I'm going to have him demo that room down to the studs during that time to at least get rid of the mold and smell. I can't get my dresser up the stairs to my bedroom, so that's sitting in my summer kitchen...and the loveseat that was going into the sitting room off of my bedroom won't fit through the door, so that's sitting in the upstairs hallway! And to top things off...when we purchased this house, we did so for a family of my 19 year old has moved in with us, and he is currently living in the living room until we get the attic finished off! Calgon...take me away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh wait...I don't have a working tub............

I'm sure I'll be venting lots and lots more...but it sure as heck helps to hear everyone say they went through the same thing!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 2:55PM
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The first room I would work on, would be your daughter's room. Make it a safe haven for her, with maybe a comfy windowseat or chair, where you can visit, until some of the chaos is under control.

We moved a lot, when I was growing up (Air Force) and my mom always did my room and my brother's room, before anything else. We always felt much calmer and had a safe place to play...and stay out of her way, while she unpacked and fixed up the rest :)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 3:34PM
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Ah...the fun of furniture that will not fit! It's like tetris. Except sometimes it really actually won't fit! LOL. We would love a king sized mattress, but it just won't fit, so queen for us. Don't try to move heavy things all by yourself...don't want to get hurt.

And I know the feeling about the dogs...for the first month we were here we had to watch them all the time, and gate them off from certain rooms, and all that. It can get stressful.

I agree with lavender, a good place to start would be a children's room so they can feel at home and peaceful while chaos envelops the rest of the house.

How much renovation does the house need, out of curiosity? From what you're saying, I can't tell if it needs a lot, or a little, or medium?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 7:37PM
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Krycek, the house doesn't need major renovation, it most definitely needs updating (the kitchen is circa 1972)..and the electric is dated. The plumbing is just plain old WEIRD...our sinks and tub drain into cisterns, and the 2 toilets drain into the septic. The septic is undersized and needs to be replaced and the drains need to be routed to the new septic. Hopefully we'll be able to get the septic work done in the fall. We need a complete demo on the 1st floor bathroom, and some fairly minor plumbing work on the upstairs bath. The summer kitchen is going to be the biggest project, but the most rewarding. It is still in it's extremely primitive condition, but I have big plans for it. It's 1 1/2 stories, and the first floor will be a family room and the upstairs a studio apartment (you just never know when those grown kids are going to come back!). We also need a new roof and windows, but those aren't emergency situations (yet!). Oh, and we need some plaster work and painting. All put together, it's a bit overwhelming....but I know things could be a lot worse. I'm feeling better this evening..we were able to get gates up on the back porch and I decorated the porch and set up a nice bbq area for us. We even had our dinner outside and wow, it was so pleasant!
There is a lot of outside work that needs done, starting with the lawn mowing...but I'm going to hire a landscape company, hubby has too many things to do to worry about mowing 2+ acres. We also have a gazillion trees that need trimming and the house needs power washing and painting.
I keep telling myself Rome wasn't built in a day..but I sure wish I could fast forward time a little!


P.S. I took my 11 year old shopping and she feels much better now.....a little retail therapy works wonders! Plus, she had one of her friends come over tonight, which helped a lot. This coming week I will be working on her room, while she's at school.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 1:20AM
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You all are right....the bad feelings do go away pretty fast. I'm starting to love the house again (especially now that the plumber is here!!) We got rid of the (smelly) old curtains and have let the natural light into the house..probably for the first time in many, many years. We also took out the ancient window air conditioner that was blocking the whole window on the stair landing and wow, what a difference! Hubby just finished ripping up the 40+ year old carpeting on the staircase landings and exposed the original 200 year old hardwood...still in wonderful condition!! Yesterday we put a pantry in the kitchen, so now the kitchen is almost organized. All in all, it's been quite a productive weekend...and about 25 trips to Lowe's and/or Home Depot..LOL!

I'm sure I'll be posting lots of pictures soon :)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 12:20PM
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"We only have 3 grounded outlets in the whole house, the rest are ungrounded and not very many of them...but I haven't even got around to calling the electrician."

And 2-prong receptacles wound be a problem why?

How many lights do you have with more then a 2-prong polarized plug?

If the outlets are not even polarized (larger blade on the neutral side) that is a very simple homeowner fix.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 3:17PM
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Brickeye, I had a "look-see" and I see what you mean...I guess I don't need grounded outlets everywhere...but I still need quite a few more than we have. And our outlets are at least polarized. Most of the electronics we own are 3 prong...but perhaps I can just have an electrician do those specific outlets...and also add outlets where I need them (I only have one outlet above kitchen counter, and it's 2 pronged and non-gfci...which concerns me) Our bathrooms have no outlets. Then again, perhaps I should re-evaluate our electric consumption, and cut back.. and not concern myself that I don't have easy access to an outlet every few!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 7:56PM
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Welcome to old house electrics. :)
You really don't need outlets every few feet--my max number per room is four--which is an upgrade from the original two! Mine are a mix of floor and wall, two of each in the downstairs rooms, and upstairs, one of each in each bedroom. The floor ones are original, the wall ones are a bit later. One bedroom and the attic have wall-mounted wiring and outlets, so those rooms didn't have electric originally, though the attic has a combo gas/electric light fixture.
GFCI are only needed near water, such as kitchens, and you can switch out an existing outlet for a gfci. I'd wager your outlets are grounded, but just have the old tw0-prong sockets. To use a three-prong cord with those, they sell adapters to put on the ends of your cords--no electrician required and cost about $3 for two.
Hope this helps! Also, a power strip does wonders for the tangle of computer and tv/stereo cords!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 9:07PM
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I just use one of those adapters that makes it go from three prongs to two if I have a two-prong outlet but a three-prong electronics item.

I dunno if I'm supposed to but it works alright for me.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 10:58AM
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"I just use one of those adapters that makes it go from three prongs to two if I have a two-prong outlet but a three-prong electronics item.

I dunno if I'm supposed to but it works alright for me."

The little 'adapters' leave electronics very vulnerable to even static electricity discharges.

Without a ground there is no place to dump the current (and the high voltage it comes with).

If you have three prong electronics you need a surge strip and they need a ground to function well.

Have new receptacles placed as needed using new cabling back to the panel, and just use the old 2-prong ones for lighting.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 4:43PM
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I suggest going through your house and planning which electronics are going where, and think seriously about their replacement cost (not current value)-- as brickeyee says, you need surge strips, and the warranty that comes with them will not cover you if those surge strips aren't plugged into proper grounded outlets.

I'm a little overwhelmed this week too-the dead tree in the back yard is dropping branches at a scary rate, and we found some fuzzy white mold in the basement. On the other hand, my new oven works fine and I have chocolate chip cookies to show for it...I'm all about celebrating the little things :-)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 6:09PM
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Tricia, you have the right idea - one day at a time, or one cookie at a time. I think cookies solve everything.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 6:27PM
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Well..welcome to the world of owning a home! Here is a good one. I had a plumber install a faucet and he made his own hose connections "like the old days, better than that new stuff". Well...a few days later, 2 o'clock in the morning I heard this sound like they heard on the Titanic after it started to flood. Yup, that hose under the sink broke. Good thing we were home, but in the space of ten minutes I had a lot of water, I mean a whole lot of water to clean up.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 9:00PM
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"Krycek, the house doesn't need major renovation, it most definitely needs updating (the kitchen is circa 1972)..and the electric is dated. The plumbing is just plain old WEIRD...our sinks and tub drain into cisterns, and the 2 toilets drain into the septic."

Wow, you have a gray-water reclamation system? That's incredibly advanced. I wouldn't call it 'weird'.

In our climate such a system is really not worth the trouble, but anywhere that water is scarce, even some of the year, it'd be really handy.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:57AM
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"gray-water reclamation system" that's what it's called! I guess what's old is new again...because I've heard of people installing them in their new modern homes! Wow, we're ahead of our time..haha! Our gutters all drain into cisterns also (we have several), even one on the detached garage, as well as one built under the floor of the summer kitchen, and it's even hooked to a faucet and sink in there.

I do want to check the condition of the cisterns, the previous owner said he used to climb down inside them and seal them....but that's a job I'd like to hire out....who would I hire to do something like that? Our local plumbers aren't familiar with cistern systems...and they all tell me that I should tie the drains into the septic system when I get it replaced.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 3:09PM
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What kind of price have they quoted for a new septic system and leach field?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 10:37PM
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pinch_me, the quotes were about $12,000.00 . I'd have to look at the plans (which I filed somewhere so safe that I forgot where they are!!) to see the specifics on it, but I believe a good bit of the cost would be the distance the septic field is from the has been sited to the rear of our property, which is about 400 feet from our house. We have our approval from the Township SEO, and our permit, which is good for 2 years....and are currently trying to figure out how to afford it!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:01PM
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Just having purchased an 1825 stone farmhouse in October, I found your post and can completely relate. My wife fell in love with this house and I agreed to come along for the ride but from the minute we moved in we began regretting it, feeling like we made a monumental mistake. We are feeling better these days but still have moments where we debate whether we should sink more money into this place or stick it out until spring and put it back on the market. I wish I had found your post when we first moved in because all of the advice given is sound and to some degree what we ended up doing to get through those first few nights.

My advice is similar to others, take one thing at a time and focus on the most important to you. We knew our house had lead paint in it so we didn't even bother having it tested. Everything we read and were told was that if you keep things freshly painted, removing any chipping paint, keep dust levels down and you aren't doing any renovations that it shouldn't be an issue. We bought into that argument until we moved in with our 9 month old and projected all of our other worries onto this one single issue. After crying together for hours we started cleaning and focussing on what would need to be done to make us feel comfortable. We got radiator covers for all of the radiators and had contractors in to give estimates to restore and remove lead paint from all the windows in the room we planned for our son. My wife scrubbed all the baseboards in the house with trisodium phosphate and we vaccuumed extensively. We had been in the house a month and his lead results just came back completely normal, we will have him tested again but are hopeful that we can handle this issue. Now onto all of the others.....the chimney sweep walked out of our house yesterday saying he couldn't help us and didn't want the job after looking up our chimney (there is a wood stove venting into the fireplace chimney which isn't safe). Not sure how we fix that one...

Definitely sharing your story and getting advice from people that have been through this is the best medicine!!! Good Luck

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 10:20AM
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I'm probably going to draw some fire for this, but I think the lead paint issue is somewhat overblown.

When something makes you literally cry with stress, it's an indication that you probably need to take a deep breath and try to get some perspective.

Try this: millions of people have grown up in houses painted with lead based paint and have come to no harm. I'm one of them.

I'm not saying that lead paint is innocuous. But IMO, unless the child is gnawing on the paint, or the paint is chipping and flaking so that it's easy for a toddler or crawler to pick up (you know their hands always go to their mouths!), the situation just isn't that dire. As I see it, in many or even most cases, you're better off just leaving it alone, or painting over it to seal it in.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 9:12PM
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--- (which I filed somewhere so safe that I forgot where they are!!) ----

You must be my long lost twin!
I had to do the septic/leach field this summer. Did you know there are loan programs available for it? It depends on the state but check at your local banks. Not all of them are doing it so keep asking until you find one who is. I think I can find the web sites again for the program in Iowa. I would think other state would have some sort of program. If you need some help with it, email me from my page here.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 10:33PM
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I found this one right away. It should give you enough information to search for what's available in your state.

Here is a link that might be useful: Iowa waste water loan program

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 10:35PM
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livingin1825, it definitely helps to know that someone else is going through the same issues, doesn't it? That is what I love about this forum.....I can vent, (cry!), laugh, scream, ponder or whatever about our choice to buy a 200 year old house, and people are understanding and supportive. In my "real life".....which is filled w/ mcmansion owners and friends/family who live in cookie cutter tract homes.......they would just say something like "well, what do you expect from a 200 year old house!" (like it's a bad thing!)

pinch_me, thank you so much for sharing that information regarding the septic loan...I had no idea such a thing existed! I live in Pennsylvania, and was able to find out about the program in our state. I will include the link in case any other Pennsylvanians out there need to repair/replace their septic and lack the funds to do so!

Here is a link that might be useful: PENNVEST Individual On-Lot Sewage System Repair Program

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 7:07AM
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@Davidr, I agree with you that I think the lead paint scare is no different than the asbestos scare. Yes its a concern but using some common sense will go a long way with preventing it from becoming an issue. I think the issue we had was that all of the things that we were feeling about the house and moving were projected onto this one issue of lead paint. We have since over come that worry but still are cognizant of it.

@jiggreen - We are in Pennsylvania too! Maybe you are my neighbor, we are in Montgomery County.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 2:43PM
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@ ~ livingin1825 (I love that nickname, and it pretty much describes my life too!) We are in Cumberland County (South Central Pa). I don't know where Montgomery County is, so it must be clear on the other side of the state from us. I'm thinking perhaps up North, closer to New York?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 9:33AM
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I just googled Montgomery are over by Philly? I'm a few counties west of you :)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 9:37AM
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