Last year, we moved to a new house about half the size of our old house. Our old house was a bit cluttered, and the garage, attic, and basement were full of stuff. That happens when you combine three households into one (David’s parents’, David’s, and mine). When we decided to move, we figured we’d buy the new house, spend a couple of weeks getting it ready, move in, and then spend a few more weeks sorting, clearing out, cleaning, and doing minor repairs at the old house before putting it on the market.
Instead, just after we’d had our offer on the new house accepted, our realtor called to ask if we’d be willing to have a couple walk through. They’d been set to buy a house in our neighborhood and the deal fell through on the day of closing because the sellers were carrying more debt on the house than they could pay off at the sale (our realtor said this kind of thing is happening more and more in this era of 120% mortgages, though in this particular case I think the sellers had somehow managed to get home equity loans from two different lenders who didn’t know about each other). I said they could walk through as long as they understood that we had done no cleaning or preparation to show the house.
They walked through. And then they sat in their realtor’s car in the street in front of our house and wrote us an offer. A good offer. A highly acceptable offer, especially given their willingness to take the house “as is.” We figure they saved us several thousand bucks in double mortgage payments, maintenance, and painting.
The only stitch: they needed to close in three weeks.
So we had three weeks to prep the new house, sort/clear/clean etc at the old house, and move. It was a busy and stressful three weeks, as you can imagine, and it came right down to the wire: on the day the buyers were to take possession at noon, I met rubbish haulers at the old house at seven in the morning to take the last of the junk out of the attic and basement, and then I left the back door unlocked for the cleaners to come at nine and swab everything down.
Much of the sorting/clearing etc fell by the wayside. We moved boxes and boxes of things to the new house that we knew we planned to get rid off. And we found more stuff to get rid of as we unpacked (did we really need four sets of mixing bowls? We thought not).
As we unpacked, all that stuff went into the garage, where it has sat for over a year waiting to be dealt with.
During much of that year, I was pregnant, which is my primary excuse.
But in recent weeks, I have cleared out the garage. I’ve taken three trunkloads to Goodwill (and there’s another sitting by the garage door now), a trunkload of books to recycling, another trunkload of books to the library as donations, and a trunkload of obsolete electronic equipment to recycling. I’ve also given away two futons, a cat cage, a punching bag, a baby gate, seven quarts of 10w30 motor oil, 24 pounds of charcoal, a dog crate, a leaf blower we hadn’t even known we owned, a four-drawer filing cabinet, an office chair, and assorted other perfectly good items via Freecycle.
My point is, it was just in time. Because on Sunday, our basement, like so many basements in mid-Michigan, flooded. Record-setting amounts of rain will do that. The cleanup begins tomorrow, and the first step the cleaning company will take is moving all the contents of the basement that aren’t obviously destined for the dumpster…to my garage.
So much for my cleared-out garage. But, on the bright side, by the time they’ve finished clearing everything out, taking up all the carpets, washing the floors, drying the place out with big drying machines, and hosing it all down with anti-microbial spray, the basement is going to be the epitome of uncluttered.
And the garage will be cleared out again soon enough, because we will have to go through everything very quickly. First, because anything that is wet or damp will rot if we don’t deal with it right away; second, because it will be good to get anything we want to throw away into the dumpster already being paid for as part of the cleanup effort; and third, because we have a limited time to submit our claim to the insurance company.
I was nervous about the cleanup process, but the company is ready to hold my hand all the way through. They even gave me a booklet called “Tips on Surviving an Insurance Restoration Project.” And tomorrow, we will be assisted throughout the packout process by a person called a “Contents Specialist,” who is an expert on things like whether the upholstered chairs can be cleaned or should just be pitched.
I love nothing better than getting rid of things, and have fantasized about saying, “Just pitch it all! Except the boxes labeled Baby Clothes. We’re gonna use those!” I figure anything we haven’t used or missed in over a year should just be carried quietly out of the house. But I can never convince David to sign on to a plan like that.Posted by Su Penn at May 26, 2004 05:45 PM | TrackBack