We bought our house, time to start remodeling!

Remodel journal 2005-05-13: We closed escrow on our “new” house today. It’s a 2-bedroom 1-bath ranch style house built in 1948. We are supposed to vacate our Galt home by 3:00 pm, and it’s Friday the 13th!

Even though the house we are buying has been vacant for almost six months, the seller will not let us move in until the day that we close escrow–no early occuancy, no rental, no contingency sale, nothing. It would be extremely painful for us to buy the house in Sacramento without selling our “old” house in Galt–technically possible, but my wife and I are not into that kind of financial torture. Fortunately, yesterday we sold our Galt home to a very nice couple, and they agreed to allow us to occupy the home until 3:00 pm on the day after they closed escrow.

We had reserved a 26-foot moving van from U-Haul, hoping that we could make one trip from Galt up to Sacramento; alas, they screwed us by “overbooking”, so we ended up with one of their mid-sized moving vans. 🙁 We got the van partially loaded on Thursday night and parked our cars in front of and behind the van. The following morning, my wife and I both woke up at about 3:00 am and resumed loading the van. My dad came down about 7:00 and helped us finish the first load. (I will find out later that many of my friends would have been willing to take Friday off to help me move. Doh!)

We’ve been waiting all morning for a phone call from our real estate agent–she’s supposed to call us when she gets the keys from the seller’s agent. Finally, at about 10:00 we’ve got the van as full as we can stuff it, so I call my agent up. It turns out that the seller’s agent still hasn’t delivered the keys, but since it will take us at least half an hour to drive up to Sacramento, I should come on up and the keys will probably be available when we get there. Hmm…

After arriving in Sacramento, we still don’t have a key to the “new” house. I’m starting to get frantic. Our agent suggests that we should start unloading onto the back porch and/or driveway while she tries to contact the seller’s agent. Since we have to unload the truck anyway, we agree to this. We have about 4 hours of “occupancy time” left on the clock, and we still need to unload the van, drive back to Galt, and load the van up again. Ack!

We’ve filled up the back porch, spilled over onto the grass, and even put a bunch of stuff on the driveway. As I’m unloading the very last item from the truck, the seller’s agent drives up with the key to our new house. I’m a good boy, I do not beat the crap out of the guy when he tries to make small talk. (MUST…CONTROL…FIST-OF-DEATH!!!) But he does seem to sense my negative waves, and he goes and chats with my wife for a bit.

So now we have to open up the house and garage, and take all of our junk off the driveway and move it inside. This doesn’t take as long as I fear, and we’re heading back down to Galt with a couple of hours left on the occupancy clock.

The second load isn’t going as well as the first. My wife and I are both pretty tired, and we already loaded most of the easy stuff on the first trip. Now we’re down to the nitty-gritty. At about 2:00 pm I call our agent in Galt and ask her to contact our buyers: can we have a few more hours? They are amenable, bless them! We manage to fill up the truck, but the house isn’t quite empty. Damn U-Haul! We contact our agent and give her the update–all but two rooms are empty and clean, so if the buyers want to start moving in they can. We call U-Haul and tell them we will need to keep the truck past closing time. They are not happy, but they give in after I vent some steam at them. I feel better, temporarily.

As we are unloading for the second time, our new neighbors bring over some dinner. We had met them while looking at the home, and we already had a good opinion of them, but they went up several dozen notches that evening! Either I was really hungry, or they are very good cooks (or probably both). Dinner is awesome, and presents us with the first break we’ve had since getting up this morning (almost 15 hours ago, groan!)

We finally finish unloading the second time, and it is now dark. We are exhausted, and still not finished moving out of our house. Time to call in any favors I have accumulated. My friends and family agree to meet us in Galt at 05:30 on Saturday morning–and I am now SERIOUSLY in favor-debt! We have to finish clearing out the house, drive the truck up to Sacramento, unload it, and return it to U-Haul in Lodi by 08:30 since it is booked to another customer. I don’t give a turd for U-Haul at this point, but I don’t want to screw over their customer.

We have about a half-dozen people helping us this morning, and most of the house is empty, so it seems possible that we can meet the deadline. This many on a crew makes the job go fast, and it gives me a chance to take care of loose ends, look for things we might have missed. Unfortunately I found several things. 🙁 We found a stack of papers that didn’t get packed up, and we are out of boxes. We still have some stuff in the back yard. A closet wasn’t emptied. Ugh, remember, we’re out of boxes? Damn!

Well, at 7:00 am the house is empty, and the moving van is packed to the gills. There is still a little bit of stuff in the garage, but everybody drove down in trucks or SUV’s, so they start loading into their vehicles. The schedule dictates that the moving van leave now, (it’s a diesel and drives pretty squirrelly at much over 60 mph), so I head north while everybody else takes care of the finishing touches.

After arriving in Sacramento, I get the van opened up and start unloading. A few minutes later, everybody else starts showing up. (They made much better time than I did!) The focus now is on unloading the van as quickly as possible, since I need to leave in less than 30 minutes! Amazingly, we make it on time. But I forgot to keep an eye open for gas stations in my new neighborhood which sell diesel. I don’t even have enough fuel to make it back to the rental yard, so I can’t just pay the refueling penalty. I have to pull into 4 stations before I find one which sells diesel, and I am now running late. After fueling up and getting on the freeway, I call U-Haul to tell them I will be 5-10 minutes late. They tell me that I was supposed to have the truck back the previous day–apparently nobody made a note that I had called. I vent A LOT of steam (think “ruptured boiler”), being sure to mention the name of the person I spoke with the previous evening. Something in the conversation gets them to back down.

The truck is returned, and our old house is finally empty. My wife and I are both physically exhausted, sweaty, dirty, and sleep-deprived. Time to stop for some coffee (at a place where we can sit some distance from other customers). Once we drive back up to Sacramento, we will finish unpacking and start remodeling our house!

NB: This was written exactly a month after-the-fact. My memory of the events is still fresh, but my anger has slowed morphed into wry amusement.

About Jim Vanderveen

I'm a bit of a Renaissance man, with far too many hobbies for my free time! But more important than any hobby is my family. My proudest accomplishment has been raising some great kids! And somehow convincing my wife to put up with me since 1988. ;)
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