Thursday, September 10, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It was an unusual summer, one that I hope is not repeated again for a LONG time.
But in a good way. I've posted bits and bobs here already, and some of the saga on Facebook, but I thought this would be a good time to sit down and post the whole story.
When Rob and I got married October 1997, he had been working at Husky Injection Moulding in Bolton for six months. We found out the night before the wedding that we would have to find a new place to live after the honeymoon, so when we got back, we found a nice apartment in Orangeville. We immediately liked the town, although the first 5 weeks brought fog, freezing rain, a Christmas blizzard, and the great Ice Storm of Jan 98. In his early years at Husky, Rob kept hearing that most people don't make it to five years there. The joke was that the five year gift was a pink slip. But we bought a house anyway, knowing we couldn't rent for five years. It was a townhouse in a 'retro' backlane subdivision, on the emerging west end of town; the house was only 3 years old. (I'm moving things around and I have no idea how that all got underlined!)
Just before Lucy was born, the town decided to make changes to the 'guest' parking for our block and Rob decided we had to buy a 'real' house. That was late September 2002. He had passed the five year mark at Husky, although the threat of "lay off" (their nice way of saying 'fired') was always present. We started looking for a new house, but it wasn't until February 2006 that we found one! Meg was six months old when we moved in to our 'real' house. The kids immediately made friends, we loved the backyard and hot tub and our own driveway. We didn't like the distance to their school, but walking home became great exercise. I got involved with the school, made a great friend, and joined the newly formed Orangeville Community Band. Although Orangeville wasn't 'home' it had grown on us, even though Rob could not learn any street names, LOL.

In September 2008, Rob got a job interview at Bruce Nuclear Power Station, near Kincardine, Ontario. He had been applying for so many jobs with Ontario Power Generation, he was beginning to think there was something wrong with the on-line application process because he had never been offered an interview. We spent a day driving around the area, and although it was nice, and housing was affordable, I wasn't gung ho to uproot our family to move there--further away from the rest of the extended family. I would commit to three years in the hopes he could then get transferred. As it was, he didn't get the job, but his interest in working for OPG was refreshed and he kept applying. He ultimately wanted to get a position at Pickering Nuclear or Darlington, so we could re-locate to Durham Region again. Come home.
These pictures are all from that day.
In February, Rob was offered an interview for OPG, at their downtown Toronto location. Not being somewhere he had ever wanted to work, I was surprised he had even applied. In late March, they offered him the job. Although I was excited for him, I really wasn't keen on the job itself, and the location. It was 'supposed' to be moved to Pickering in a few years and he thought he could commit to commuting on the GO Train for 3 years, to downtown Toronto. There wasn't any practical way to live in Orangeville and commute to downtown. OPG sent out a pile of detailed forms for a thorough security check and the process began. We were aiming for a start date of early June.
There were some issues with the security clearance (their secretary, nothing about Rob, LOL). The start date kept getting pushed back. We decided to list our house in early June even though Rob had not yet 'passed' the security clearance. We were using the same agent we met in Sept 2002, and she thought it could take up to two months to sell our house in the current slow market. She was not optimistic about the selling price either, despite the work we had done in three years. The plan was for Rob to move to his parents once he started the job and he would be the preliminary house scouter, but we would wait for ours to sell before putting in any offers.
Well, we got our first offer in less than a week. The initial offer was low, but we worked through it to a better price. They had to sell their condo townhouse ("An easy sell") and wanted to close Sept 30. Perfect, I thought. The kids didn't want to be new on the first day of school, and having them in school would make packing SO much easier. We gave them two weeks to sell their home. Right before the two weeks were up, we got another offer. I think at this point, Rob still did not have a start date at OPG. The only 'problem' with this offer was that they needed to close on August 25 and that was not negotiable. We decided to take the offer, and the guy with the first offer declined to firm up. Our house was sold, and technically, Rob did not have a new job. LOL. Not only did we sell quicker than expected, we got quite a bit more than our agent thought we would!
So the new house got kicked up a notch. We had been down and gone through quite a few houses already, but nothing that we really wanted to put an offer on. We got a little less picky now that we had a date that was about 5 weeks away. However, houses were selling like hotcakes in Whitby! One sold firm in less than 12 hours. One fixer-upper had 7 offers (it was priced on the low side though, and did sell for quite a bit over asking, but only slightly lower than others in the area). One house looked great until Rob went back for a more detailed look, and was priced higher than we wanted. One was a great house, but we didn't like the neighbourhood. One was great, except for the hideous ceramic tiles throughout the house and the tiny kitchen and high taxes (Oshawa). We looked at an older (24 years old), larger house, very similiar to what we had in Orangeville. Rob wasn't impressed, compared to the new homes this one was SO dated, but he started talking crazy things about it, so I forced him to come take another look and show me all these 'issues'. It didn't seem so bad to him after the second visit, but still not what he had hoped for.
We were just about to put an offer on one house we quite liked, until we realized we were in the same neighbourhood as another one we also really liked, but had a bigger garage and the kids would have to be bussed. We set up a viewing for in a couple hours, with the kids this time. We headed out, disappointed, to see what the drive to the GO station would be like, and to check out that older house's neighbourhood again. We let the kids play at the park there, and it felt like home. Sure, the house needed work, but it had a finished basement and 4 bedrooms.
So we went back to the newer one, but this time with the kids. OMG, suddenly the house was WAY too small. While standing there in the mayhem of 3 kids running through the open concept living room/kitchen, Rob announced we'll put an offer in on the older house.
The owners were away for the weekend, so we had to wait a couple days. We got stalled on a $2000 difference and Rob was ready to walk away....but to what else? So he came around, and here we are!
Shortly after we got the offer on our house, Rob did get a start date, August 13--six months after the interview. He moved out to his parents, while I took care of much of the packing. We were using PODS---Portable, On Demand, Storage units. Sort of like shipping containers. The first one came August 8. In the evening of August 9, we had a horrible August thunderstorm, and Rob discovered in the morning that there was a slash in the roof of the POD and it had leaked. You can see pictures at Facebook, even if not a member. We didn't have a lot of stuff in it yet, and it appears there wasn't any damage, but we had to unload it and they came with a new one. Rob left to start his new job and I kept packing. My neice Allie came to stay, to help out and to visit, and before long, it was closing day.
However, during all this, we kept having issues with the mortgage lady at the bank. She would tell us one thing, then later, claim she hadn't known that it couldn't be done that way. This happened several times, despite us double checking and thoroughly questioning her. It was SO fustrating, and it didn't end with closing day. One thing after another, and Rob spent a while on the phone with her yesterday and just about lost it. How can you 'sell' mortgages and not even know how your own products work?!
On closing day, we knew we wouldn't get our new keys too early, the lawyer figured not until at least 2pm. Our house was being bought by the Perruzzo's, who had sold their house to "Idiots" (not their real name, LOL, we'll never know their real names). We were all closing on the same day. Our PODS left at 11:45am for the two hour trip, but we had to wait around for the key. At 2pm we called our lawyer to see if they had any idea of things were coming along. All they knew at this time, was that the Perruzzo's still did not have the money from the "Idiots"! At 4:30 Wendy, from our lawyer's, called. The Idiots, first time homebuyers, could not get their money in order and needed an extension by one day. The people we were buying from were fine with this, they had already moved out.
However, the problem was, our PODS were now at the new house, which we still did not own. ALL our stuff. We had a few snacks, a colouring book, and that's about it. Rob had to work the next day, and his work clothes were in Oshawa at his parents. We asked if a key could be left at the McNair's lawyers in Brooklin so that we could get on the road since we had no reason to stay in Orangeville with three extremely bored kids.
At 5:00, Wendy phoned to say the Perruzzo's were driving up with a bank draft, so we decided to wait around as there wasn't any point in rushing, only to get stuck in rush hour traffic through Toronto. At 6:15 Wendy called back to say they hadn't made it, and the office wasnt' going to wait any longer. She wouldn't be able to register the purchase anyway at that point. We headed out to Oshawa, making a stop in Whitby to check on the PODS and see if we could get anything useful out. Not even pajamas. Rob had left good clothes at his parents, so we spent the night there and he went to work in the morning.
Around 10am, the Peruzzo's money came through and our house was officially sold, and around noon, we had officially bought our new house. We (Rob's parents and the kids) headed over to the new house, and to get the keys. Not the homecoming I was expecting. If anyone knows Rob, they can only imagine how stressed he was about this whole ordeal. We really had no idea when we headed out the night before, if any of the deals would actually go through. The Idiots might not be able to get their money at all. Now, with the Perruzzo's having a bank draft, we were pretty much fine, but they could have gotten screwed. Not our issue, but who could tell how this would all turn out at that point. No one knew anything except that we were sleeping in our clothes somewhere other than our new house, LOL.
Pictures of the new house can also be seen on Facebook. The roof is in pretty rough shape, and was the first priority, especially after Rob poked a hole in it. The kids started school this week, Meg starts next week, and we are settling in. Went hot tub shopping last night. LOL.
We are quite happy to be back in Durham, although it's really odd being here as returning residents, but we're also very much newcomers. We need new doctors, vet, dentists, etc. Whitby has grown so much in 12 years, we're almost strangers in our own town! But that's okay. I am just so thrilled to be back 'home'.