The Misadventures of Buying Our First House

This is an autobiographical post. The names of people and places may be changed.

We decided to write autobiographical posts about the colorful life we have lived. There will be tales of sleeping in a campervan on the beach, of defending a bird’s nest from a snake, and of running away from wolves while sick with bronchitis. There will be tales of diagnosis with PTSD and ADHD and how it changed our lives, of meeting biological family, and of job loss. It’s a tale of overcoming challenges, of finding out who we are, of love, hope, cats, and of a marriage that’s gotten stronger through it all.

Autobiography Post 8

“I don’t have you on the schedule today.”

We both stood there in the office to finalize our house purchase, perplexed. It was a busy area, with staff on the phones and crossing between rooms.

“We’re not on the schedule?” Dorian echoed slowly, not fully understanding. “We got a message from Branon, our loan officer. He said to come here on this date and at this time.”

The woman across the desk frowned. “That’s odd. Can I see the message?”

As Dorian passed over the phone to show the text, my mind raced. How could we not be scheduled? We’d been given this date two weeks ago and had planned around it. The contract with apartment was ending. We had everything packed in boxes. We’d taken off work for the next week. None of it made sense.

The woman stood up. “Okay. Let me go check with my manager.” She vanished through the door.

Dorian and I looked at each other nervously. Nearly a year ago, we’d signed a contract with a custom home builder to build our first house. We’d watched it through all phases of construction. We’d talked a handful of times to our usually unresponsive home builder. We’d hand-selected all the paint, the brick, the appliances, and more. At the time, we thought it was our perfect house on a corner acre lot. Our home builder wanted us to use his brother, Branon, for the loan. Our first meeting with Branon had gone well, but he rarely returned calls, emails, or texts which had been frustrating. We were ready to get the process over with and move in.

The woman came back with two other employees. “I am sorry, but we were never told you were coming. We have nothing prepared. You cannot close today. I have no idea why Branon would have sent you that message.”

We were baffled. We explained that everything was packed, what were we supposed to do? We called our home builder who didn’t pick up, so we left him a message. We obviously tried to call Branon with no result.

Our home builder texted back. “Wow! I had no idea Branon didn’t finish things up. Even though he’s my brother, he’ll get a stern talking to lol! We’ll get this rescheduled.”

When we returned home, we were furious. Our whole lives were in boxes around us. As I started unpacking the basics to get by, Dorian finally got a hold of our builder on the phone. A tense conversation was followed by our builder threatening to cancel everything and leave us with no house if we didn’t just accept this and wait for a new date.

What choice did we have?

Two weeks later we finally got to sign the documents and close on our house. It was a wonderful time! We loved our new place. There were still some things that our builder had to send contractors to do. The garage was never cleaned out of construction equipment. The hot water tank wasn’t turned on. And the attic still didn’t have insulation in it. But over the course of a month, it all got fixed.

Still, we had to know if this happened to other people. When we got the chance, we asked other people in this new neighborhood.

“Oh, yeah, he’s awful to work with!”

“He lied to me the entire time.”

“You can’t trust that guy.”

The story was the same over and over. And yet, this custom home builder was winning business-to-business awards and being honored by his church. It was enough to make me laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.

Three years later, we noticed a house that was in the process of being built seemed to just burn down overnight. We never knew what happened until older neighbors that had been there for over a decade told us an interesting story. As we stood on the street, in the middle of a spring sunset walk, we got an inside scoop.

“Our friend is a firefighter,” the couple told us. “He was sent to investigate what happened. It happened over night and got put out without anyone knowing. He said it wasn’t an accident. It’s clear someone deliberately burned it down.”

“Why would the builder do that?” we asked, intrigued.

“The house was built on land he didn’t own. He didn’t get the proper permits, but built it anyway. He got in trouble and has been barred from building houses in Collinsville now.”

Well, at least karma finally catches up to some people.

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