June 27, 2017

One year later

houseweb.jpgOne year ago today, we sat in a lawyer’s office in Christiansburg and closed the deal on purchase of our home in Floyd County. This wasn’t our first home purchase: We had bought and sold other properties in other towns and states but this would be our last home purchase. This, a rambling Cape Cod/Saltbox, 27-year-old house three-quarters the ways up a hill about five miles north of Floyd, is destined to be our home for the rest of our lives.

Didn’t start out that way: For years, we talked about building a new home on our farm in Carroll County – 105 acres tucked away along Burks Fork Creek near the Floyd County line. We looked at model homes, talked with architects, considered manufactured vs. stick-built and got estimates for site clearing. That remained the plan when we sold the condo in Arlington and started moving our belongings into storage units.

But the plan changed when we saw the house. Amy found it first while looking at properties for friends who also planned to leave Washington and move to the mountains. It was, she said, something we should look into. We did, loved it, and made an offer, singing a contract just days after accepting another one on sale of our home in Arlington.

On November 29, 2004, we left Arlington the last time as residents, our SUV packed to the roof rack with the remains of our belongings, and stopped at another lawyer’s office to close on the sale. Three days later, December 2, we completed the walk through of the home in Floyd. The next morning, we drove to Christiansburg for the closing, had breakfast, stopped at Lowe’s to order a washer and dryer, and then drove to our new home to take down the “For Sale” sign and celebrate with a bottle of sparkling cider.

Moving in would have to wait. First came new floors for the entrance, dining room and other areas – red cedar installed by Sam Hancock of Highland Hardwoods. Sam worked through December, finishing up on Christmas Eve. Jim Lemon upgraded the electric and I installed perimeter lighting along 450-foot long driveway that climbed the 35-degree hill. Craig Knapp took down an 85-foot poplar in the front yard after we found dry rot in the stump. New furniture arrived throughout the month and we finally began to move in at the beginning of the year. That move in continues a year later.

Furniture and belongings from our storage rooms in Arlington arrived at the end of January after a marathon day of packing, driving 300 miles and watching the movers destroy our driveway through ineptitude. About a third of the boxes they left stacked in our garage remain there, preventing parking by a car and waiting to be unpacked. We continue to pay rent on one storage room in Fairfax County, waiting for the day when we can pack that room into a U-Haul and bring the belongings home.

The past year brought adventure, headaches and more. The gas log fireplace in the living room didn’t work when we filled the propane tank and tried to fire it up. We replaced it. The water heater failed in the middle of winter and replacing it turned into nightmare. The dish washer died. Another replacement. A hot water pipe leading to the kitchen split. The smell of iron sulfate from the well required a whole-house water filtration system.

I discovered the difficulties that come with mowing a two-and-a-half acre front yard on a 35-degree slope, rolling the lawn tractor twice but escaping unhurt. Shooting Creek quarry brought a truckload of gravel to fix the driveway destroyed by the movers and their truck got stuck, leaving huge ruts that even our Jeeps had trouble traversing. So they brought over a grader to smooth out the driveway. It broke down and remained parked at the top of the driveway for nearly a month. Six weeks later, we finally had a new, smooth driveway but Shooting Creek’s grader broke down on the way back to the quarry and remained parked at the top of the hill on Sandy Flats Road for two months.

We added a gazebo to the front yard, a new utility shed to the back of the driveway and a hot tub to the back porch, along with two new cats and a dog – bringing the animal count to five and the animal defense status among them at DefCon two.

One year later, we have settled into our home even though the move-in continues. Some parts of the house look like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while other rooms come together. Boxes remain unpacked and the to-do list grows instead of shrinks. We’ve spent almost as much as we paid for it on changes and improvements and still plan others.

But this is home: Our home, our final home for the rest of our life.

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