Like I’ve said before here on the blog, buying and selling a home is almost never quite like how they show it on HGTV, and my mom and dad’s experience was most definitely not as seamless and straightforward as they portray on television.
First, I should explain that my parents were selling their home of more than 20 years, and they were also moving about an hour and a half away from the town in which they had built their lives for more than 30 years. Under normal circumstances, this move was bound to be a hard one, but things took more than a few unexpected turns along the way.
Keep scrolling for as short a version of this tale as I can manage, plus photos of their new home here in Waynesboro, Virginia, which were taken during inspection when we were in the thick of it all.
I’ve been sitting here trying to decide just how far back to take this story, and I think I’ll settle on the day my parents’ existing home went under contract. As soon as the offer came in and was later accepted after a bit of negotiating, my parents went into overdrive with the hunt for their new place. Like I mentioned, they were coming from out of town, so that meant they were having to drive for hours in the hopes of finding the right house.
The offer on their original home came in February, which, admittedly, isn’t the best time to be looking for a new house, so there weren’t a ton of options to look at. That said, Mom and Dad came and looked at absolutely anything that might have fit the bill. I’m not entirely sure how many they saw or how often they came to look at houses, but if I look back at the calendar, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came up once a week for more than a month. That’s a lot of driving, a lot of big hopes, and, ultimately, a lot of discouragement when the houses weren’t right.
Despite the extra hard efforts of their realtors (the same team John and I used when we moved here from out of town ourselves!), the market just wasn’t at its best. The houses they toured were either too big, too small, not in the best areas, or needed too much work.
Toward the end when more things started popping up on the market with the spring rush, it turned into a matter of just being too slow. The houses were scooped up by other buyers within hours, so my parents felt like they were scrambling. There was talk of having to move into a rental home there for a while, and putting their things in storage, which really just wasn’t realistic seeing as they have three huge labs who would make finding a rental nearly impossible.
It was around this time that Dad came up for a last-ditch effort before their old home was officially sold to look at a couple of other houses. They had previously been looking at single level ranches, but they decided at the last minute to check out a two-story Dutch Colonial that had been on the market for almost a year.
The main draw of his visit was actually a renovated 1960s ranch that was a new listing, so when Dad and I walked through the Dutch Colonial, I could tell that he wasn’t all that interested in it. But when we went through the ’60s ranch later that day and it turned out not to be a great fit in person, I gently tried convincing Dad to give the Colonial another look.
This time, he and I poured over every corner of the house, and it was easy to see that the home was well-built and well-loved by the previous homeowners (who had already moved away to be closer to their kids). Mom, of course, wasn’t there but she gave it her blessing sight-unseen, saying that she trusted Dad and me to keep her opinion top of mind.
The two of them eventually talked it over after Dad drove back, and they ultimately put in an offer that was accepted after a bit more negotiation—and just in time to give them a place to move into since their old house was scheduled to close weeks later in mid-April.
You’d think things would stop there and that the worst part would have been the struggle of finding a new place before being forced into homelessness, but no! Just a few days before the entire family was set to descend on the area to help Mom and Dad move, they got a call from their realtors here in Waynesboro explaining that a water pipe had burst in the house (which, if you remember, was vacant), and that it had flooded the basement.
When I got the call from Dad relaying the news, my heart melted into the floor. I knew the two of them were at their whit’s end, but they gathered what was left of their resolve to come see the damage in person. I came along for moral support, and I can’t even begin to describe to you how bad a day that was. It was just devastating to see the house they had fallen in love with in utter shambles. The burst pipe had ruined most of the finished side of the basement, and we also found out that most of the floors in the living room and entry upstairs needed to be ripped out and replaced, too.
At this point, my aunt and sister were already planning to come from out of town to help with the move, moving trucks and movers had been reserved, and utilities were scheduled to change over into my parents’ names in three days time. When I toured the damages with my parents that day, I knew the entire deal was in jeopardy.
I’ll go ahead and skip to the happy ending now, not least of which because reliving these memories is, honestly, pretty hard for me so soon after the fact (this was the week of my birthday, April 17, for context). My parents’ realtors at KK Homes put on their super hero capes and managed to have the immediate flood damage remediated in time for the move to stay on track, and the previous homeowners also swooped in to save the day by agreeing to pay for every inch of repair.
Several days of hand-wringing and contract-tweaking later, my parents moved and officially closed on the house. To say that we are grateful to the previous homeowners and the realtors my family worked with would be a gross understatement. We all love this home so much, and can’t thank everyone enough for coming together to make this dream space a realty. Home sweet home, indeed!
Now, you might be wondering where that leaves us today, two weeks after the move. Well, the basement has since been pulled down to the studs, and the floors in both the living room and entry are exposed to the subfloor, where we can still see remnants of the water damage. The contractors are scheduled to come in and start repairs on Wednesday, and my parents haven’t been able to use their new basement, living room or entryway, but it doesn’t matter. They’re home.
The photos you see in this post, as I said, were all taken during inspection (consequently, the first time my mom got to see the house in person!), so you won’t spot any of the actual damage here. This is as the house was back in late March/early April before the burst water pipe. The entry still had its pretty slate floors, the basement (as you’ll see if you scroll down a bit more) was drywalled in, and the living room still sports its nice hardwood flooring.
The plan now is to rip up all the floors in the living room and entry, and they’ll lay down all new hardwood in both spaces. The basement will be built back to much the way it looks below. I’ll be sure to share before and after photos of the renovation as soon as it’s done—hopefully in June!
I hope you enjoyed the tour of my parents’ new house, and I’m so excited to start taking you along with us on the DIY décor projects we tackle as I help them through the process, room by room. Speaking of which, if you missed the makeover of their master bedroom, click back here, and I’ll be back soon with mood boards and reveals of other spaces as they come together. My parents’ style is obviously more traditional than my own, but I thought it might be fun for you guys to see a new type of look here on the blog. Stay tuned because we’ve got lots of work to do!