Buying Our Charlottesville Home, Part 4 (Temporary Digs)

In the last installment, I wrote about the home and septic inspections at the house we wanted to buy. There was a hole in the [original to the house] septic tank and a water line laying over the tank that seemed to point to the system not having been serviced in a very long time.

Because of how insurance is tied to getting a mortgage, the seller had to fix the septic. We couldn't take over. Nothing happened for a month and with the sale of our condo pending, we were forced to spend a good bit of money on subletting an apartment.

The Sublet
The community in which the sublet was located looked very nice. A friend of mine had lived there a year or two ago and her place was great. We thought this would be a good temporary spot for us to hang out while we waited for the septic system at the house to be fixed.

We signed a six week sublet agreement and convinced ourselves that we'd be closing on the house soon and be able to move at a leisurely pace.

We're lucky that we were moving from a 785 square foot condo and didn't have many things. This place was 877 square feet, but had much higher ceilings, so the floorspace was probably pretty similar.

There was a sunny living room...

A very small kitchen with almost no counter space...

A dining alcove with lots of storage into which we shoved most of our things...

A bathroom with stacking laundry machines in it...

And a dark bedroom with a nice, large closet...

Despite the frustrating situation with the house, we were okay with the sublet...until we started seeing bugs. I didn't see more than the occasional spider in the nine years that I lived in the condo, but the sublet definitely had a problem with bugs. The beetles weren't so bad, but the cockroaches freaked us both out.

One day, I saw the largest bug I have ever seen (bigger than what I've seen at the Smithsonian and zoo). Marc thought I was joking, but when he saw it, he admitted that it was the biggest thing he's ever seen, too. It was an Eastern Hercules Beetle. That link goes to a video of some children holding one. You've been warned.

Needless to say, I soured on the sublet very quickly.

The House
Over at the house, our seller called in his own septic guys after what we think was a month of inaction. I Googled the company and found three Better Business Bureau complaints about them. One of the local papers also had two "consumer advocate" columns in which they were the subject of readers' problems. But we weren't in charge of fixing the septic, so there was nothing we could do.

Marc went to the house when he knew the septic company would be there and talked to them about our predicament. The company name the seller's real estate agent used didn't match the name on the truck that was there that first day, which puzzled us, but the excavating equipment that showed up later did match the name we were given. The septic company worker was super nice and compassionate about our difficult situation. We thought that meant things would progress quickly. We were wrong.

We started to stalk the house. One of us would drive by every weekday to see if something was happening and we'd go by together on the weekends to check in. Finally, equipment showed up and we saw a big hole in the yard.

And a septic tank appeared! The neighbors allowed the crew to access the backyard through their driveway so only one tree was lost. The tree was a pretty dogwood that was planted almost on top of the old tank, so it shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Then a funny thing happened. Things stopped moving around. I was pretty sure that days were going by without any new work happening. Below are pictures taken several days apart. Though I took them from slightly different angles, I'm pretty sure they show that the backhoe didn't move between the first and second picture.

All the while, realtor Jim Duncan was peppering the seller's agent with questions about what was going on. No one seemed to know the timeline. We probably knew more about the progress of the project than the seller's agent. There was actually a point where the seller's agent said something like "I don't want your buyers to be homeless." I wanted to rage. We were homeless back in May! Did anyone understand how horrible this entire situation was for us? We had to move once already and were living among boxes at our bug-infested, expensive sublet.

The day that we arrived to find the septic tank actually in the ground, we thought we were just days away from closing.Well, I stink at foreshadowing, but enjoy these pictures...

No one has ever been as excited to see a septic tank then we were when I took these pictures.

If you've been following along since this process began, then you know it couldn't all wrap up so smoothly. You'd be right.

This is the point when the septic guys disappeared for a week and I wound up curled up into the fetal position while clutching a box of Franzia.

Writing this all out has me reliving the process. I've written this last installment with the aid of some Blanc de Blanc. I'm in agony. Part 5 will be it. I promise.


  1. Aimee @ the Functional SpaceAugust 5, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Jeannine, the husband and I had a not so great selling experience a few years ago when we sold my townhouse after our wedding. Like you we had a great realtor but had to deal with a lot of craziness. Reading your posts this week have stressed me out!!! I can't wait for the conclusion and hope you and Mark have both survived without being too traumatized!! I know you will create a beautiful home in the end, wherever that might be!

  2. Once is enough. I never want to see one again!

  3. Touche! Maybe if I had gotten into Marc's bourbon stash, I would have weathered the storm better.

    I was stunned that there were two expensive pieces of equipment just sitting in the backyard of the house for weeks. Did the crew just wake up each day and decide not to work? I don't think the company is a big one, but maybe they had other pieces of equipment.

  4. Those beetles are terrifying. I have only seen one once, but I kept imagining it human sized and deadly.

  5. Oh man, I'm stressed just reading this, you poor thing! I would have been spazzing and pulling out my hair. The seller's agent is a joke. And having to move and rent in between is a huge pain, but now I can't wait to hear the conclusion! So glad you broke it down into parts. :)

  6. Seriously! I didn't expect "top of the line" anything, but you'd think that they would want to get the job done and get their equipment out of there.

  7. The great one will be when this entire debacle comes to an end tomorrow! :)

  8. Aw, thanks. I normally write without snark, but I couldn't resist. This whole thing was so frustrating!

  9. I guess companies stay in business because some people don't research online before hiring?

  10. Only one box of Franzia? I'm pretty sure I would have pulled out the hard stuff about 3 posts ago. Goodness.

    I have to wonder if the seller struck a "deal" with the septic company to get it done as cheaply as possible, using as few people as they could in their "down time" on the job. That, or they figured since nobody was currently living there it didn't matter how it got done since nobody was around to supervise. It definitely seems to point to sketchy business practices, though. How sad for their other customers.

  11. By the way, I have enjoyed your posts in this immensely. I may have laughed out loud in my cube over the Franzia comment and picture.

  12. Who are these people???? I have never heard of anyone having this much trouble buying a house!

  13. ughhhhh It's infuriating when people don't do their jobs.


Post a Comment

This comment format is not supported. Please refresh and use the Disqus box!

Popular Posts