What Happens on the First Day?

Story #3

As first-time homebuyers, we didn’t know what to expect on our closing day. We didn’t even know that “closing day” was the name for the day you officially buy your house. Luckily, our loan officer, Jessica Nicolella, and realtor, Laura Gray, explained the timeline and guided us through all the steps from pre-qualifying for a loan to getting the keys to our first home. (More about these incredible professionals and the home buying process in future stories.)

    We were emotional on our closing day — excited, nervous, proud, and eager to get started. Here are the highlights from that day.

    1. The first big thing we did was give the title company a cashier’s check for a lot of money — the downpayment and other closing costs— to buy the house. Because of the rules to slow the spread of the coronavirus rules, we and the escrow officer (a neutral third party who facilitates the real estate transaction) wore masks at the closing table and our realtor, Laura, could only join us at the end (in a mask, too, of course). We left with a stack of official documents and the keys to our new home.
    2. We drove directly to the house and immediately changed the locks on the front and back doors, as well as the keypad code for the garage door. The sellers seemed trustworthy, but they may have lost track of people who had keys to their house or not even known about copies made by neighbors, dogwalkers, cleaners, or other people who may have checked on the property. This quick step gave us instant peace of mind that we can control access to our house, now.
    3. Hardwood floors are very popular and expensive, so we hoped to find original oak floors beneath the carpet and tile. Watch the video for the reveal of what we found


      As general contractors, we’re responsible for planning ahead for our projects. This is true for our own home renovation, too. Although your first day may look different from ours, especially if you’re not remodeling, we wanted to share what we brought with us to be prepared.

        1. List of Projects on my clipboard to organize notes & questions
        2. 100-FT Tape Measure to take measurements for our remodel plans and whether our furniture will fit in rooms 
        3. Purse with personal things like my ID (needed for closing), wallet, phone, & keys to the house we’re still living in
        4. Downpayment Check with closing costs in secure funds like a cashier’s check, made out to the Title company
        5. Lamp, Lightbulbs, & Long Extension Cords to make sure we can still have lights and power as we remodel
        6. New Door Locks & Wi-Fi Cameras to make our new home secure
        7. First Aid Kit 
        8. Toilet Paper (Ahem! Lady on the jobsite)
        9. Cleaning Supplies, Trash Bags, & Sanitizer are useful no matter what condition the house is in when you move in
        10. 2 Bandanas for Emergency Masks for unplanned meetings with contractors during COVID-19 (in case we don’t have our masks)
        11. Work Gloves to protect my hands during the remodeling projects & moving in
        12. Pens, Markers, & Notepads for endless lists & labeling materials
        13. Bluetooth Headphones for music & podcasts without wires getting caught on everything
        14. Duct Tape to fix everything!
        15. Camping Kitchen Supplies for eating until we unpack our kitchen


        It’s great to save money by doing projects yourself, but you may have to pay for the materials, like paints and brushes.

        Revealing Hidden Costs of Remodeling

        We accounted for the big-ticket items, like countertops and subcontractors, but it also felt like we were always adding things to our rehab budget. Little changes can add up quickly!

        IN PROGRESS We covered this countertop with contact paper to match the new combination bathroom/laundry room in the basement.

        Reuse As Much As Possible When Remodeling

        To protect the environment & our budget, we reused many of the original materials in our first house even though we completely remodeled it.

        You don’t need any construction knowledge or even a ladder to notice these warped, wooden shingles and the white patches in the brick.

        Homebuyers, Look for These Clues to Potential Costly Repairs

        Homebuyers, you don’t need any construction knowledge to spot these clues to potential, costly repairs.

        IN PROGRESS Everett installed snap-together, floating engineered hardwood floors on the main level of our new house.

        What the Heck are Floating Floors?

        Our flooring services are only for snap-together products that can be installed as a floating floor. We explain what that means and why we chose it for our first home.

        BEFORE Josh & the home inspector both noticed that the basement floors were attached directly to the concrete slab, instead of being floated.

        What the Heck are Floating Walls?

        Building codes in Colorado require floating basement walls, but you don’t need magic to make that happen.

        AFTER You don’t need to know anything about building to know that this doesn’t look right! The concrete company shouldn’t have filled the window well with dirt and rocks.

        Some Things Didn’t Go Smoothly

        Even though we regularly work with other contractors on clients’ projects, we still had issues with some of the new-to-us contractors & vendors we used to remodel our first home.

        We made LOTS of drawings, lists, and plans to completely remodel our first home.

        The Best-Laid Plans…

        If you expect your plans to change, you may be able to roll with the design changes without freaking out.

        BEFORE When you walked in the front door, these wood-topped pony walls made the entryway feel cramped and the living room feel smaller.

        When a Wall Has Got to Go

        You don’t have to live with a wall you hate! See what a HUGE improvement we made by removing walls in our main living area.

        BEFORE: The stairs came down in the middle of the basement, awkwardly cutting up the space and limiting our layout options for finishing the basement.

        Moving the Stairs Maximized Our Space

        We knew the first time we saw the house that we wanted to move the stairs, but it took longer to come up with the best new spot for them.

        AFTER: Foam insulation fills gaps between the egress window and foundation to keep insects and moisture out, while keeping in heat or air conditioning.

        Digging into Egress Windows & Legal Basement Bedrooms

        With “Basements” in our company name and window installation as an expertise, we are asked to add egress windows a lot. Let’s dig into what an egress window is and why it matters.

        Beams to Basements Contractors logo with top of home & saw blade