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Building a home, week 18: Closing the deal

The view from the foyer through the barn door into my new office.
The view from the foyer through the barn door into my new office.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

This week the house is ours. It took 18 weeks to go from deciding to buy to being new homeowners, but does that mean the house is complete? No, we have a lengthy punch list that includes everything from installing the basement ceiling and bookcase to installing the carpet for the staircase, sink in the powder room to a dozen or so other items.

It looks finished, but is it? It is ours but work continues before we can officially call it finished.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

The process is ongoing. Here’s how it all played out in this installment of “Building a home.”

July 28: There was no activity at the house over the weekend so when Monday morning came the place was buzzing with workers. Inside and out workers were tackling all the last minute jobs. Outside, landscaping continued. Inside, dozens of workers were buttoning up projects from lighting to the basement bookcase.

I had a morning meeting with TTS Granite (Mokena, Ill.) to adjust our plans for the master backsplash. Due to the size of the medicine cabinet, our original plan to have a shelf and a tall backsplash had to be revised. In the meantime, the workers from the closet installation company, Don’s Shelving (Frankfort, Ill.) were busy installing closet organizers when they hit a major snafu. The master bedroom closet covers the ceiling fixture. It was disappointing to realize we have to come up with a major fix. Simultaneously, carpenters continued work on the bookcase in the basement; the electrician worked at finishing up his job and the air ducts were cleaned.

July 29: Today, we were scheduled to do the walk through to compile a list of things still needing completion. There were quite a few, so the walk through was postponed until tomorrow. Workers continued throughout the house inside just like on Monday and the final inspections took place and then we received the certificate of occupancy, which signaled that we could close the deal.

Outdoors, Beary Landscaping (Homer Glen, Ill.) continued planting while three skilled contractors/carpenters tackled assembling the DIY shed. It took them a full day and then some to assemble the shed, which makes me wonder how the average do-it-yourselfer could do it with the idea he or she could knock it out in a weekend project. Everyone agreed that the materials were less than optimal quality and there are many "extras" you need to be prepared to buy, including roofing shingles and, if you want it to last very long, gutters. We will add those items on later and paint it to match the house.

As the day started to wrap up, back at our current home, we received an offer on our house even though it isn’t yet on the market. It was a superior day all around.

July 30: Time for the walk-through. We compile a lengthy list, which as mentioned, includes installing the suspended ceiling in the basement, the screen door off the back porch and even four appliances. The Marvel wine fridge we ordered arrived damaged and had to be returned. The AGA stove we ordered back on May 7 is no where to be found and the washer and dryer are sitting in the laundry room but are not installed. Lorenz Appliances (Homewood, Ill.) says the AGA is en route from Michigan to Iowa and there’s no pinpointed installation date. We are getting a little frustrated with the entire process.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the hole drilled in our Craft-Art wood countertop in the powder room for the vessel sink isn’t large enough. We have to have them come back and drill a larger drain hole. The balance of the punch list continues with other minor and some major items. With that, we head to the closing at Chicago Title in Orland Park.

Three times during the arduous two-and-a-half hour closing we thought the deal would be aborted, due in part to problems with the survey. First, the initial survey brought to the table was outside the acceptable six month window. Once we had a more recent survey, it showed an encroachment on the neighbors property that we knew was clearly an error. The neighbor has a fence and so do we; neither one of us strays over it, yet the survey shows our patio sitting two feed into the neighbor’s yard. With the closing nearly derailed, finally, there’s an agreement where a new survey will be provided and we write that into the deal.

Later that evening, we go back to the house to celebrate and drop off our first load of possessions. That’s when we find that the landscapers have spread mulch throughout the planting beds in the front and the back. They’ve put it in areas where we wanted weed barrier and rock, especially in the back where the goal was to have a mud-free backyard for the dogs. Immediate calls to the Beary Landscaping result in voice mail, so we leave a few urgent messages.

July 31: We start moving some of the items in that we don’t want the movers to handle in the big move next week. That’s when we see the landscapers adding more mulch to the planting beds instead of removing it. It seems that set the tone for the day, with one mistake happening after another. As they say, welcome to home ownership.

August 1: The Countertop Factory (Addison, Ill.) sends an installer back out to re-drill the drain hole in the powder room black walnut countertop. Immediately, he sees a problem. He’s an installer of granite countertops; he doesn’t specialize in wood and doesn’t feel comfortable cutting it. On top of that, the company doesn’t have a three-inch drill bit to make the cut. That needs to be ordered and they’ll need to send someone else out.

Rather than focusing on the negative, we look ahead and keep moving small items while lining kitchen and bathroom cabinets and getting set up so that the actual move won’t be so traumatic.

All in all, the process has been a fast and enjoyable one. Steve Lecas of Gander Builders (Frankfort, Ill.) has done an amazing job delivering on all of our wishes as has his subcontractors, all of which have been extremely professional and courteous. It has hard to believe that so much has happened in just 18 weeks. We are very proud to be owners of a Gander Home.

There will be an update to this column once we’re all moved in. In the meantime, to read this saga from the beginning, click here.

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