Under Contract, With a Torn-Up Yard & a Wedding in Three Months!

Two weeks after my fiancé, Frank, and I were officially under contract on our fingers-crossed future home in New Jersey, we began the inspection process.  As a former real estate agent, Frank is familiar with the procedures, but everything is new to me. I’ve realized that winning the bidding war is actually the easy part!

There are so many formalities to undergo in order to buy a house. For one thing, an oil tank sweep is required since undetected leaks can cause health and environmental risks including respiratory distress, soil contamination and fires.  If there was an oil tank at the house it would be buried underground, which is common in our area. So the only way to check it would be to dig up the yard.

I’m a natural worrier, so as soon as I learned about the oil tank sweep, I began to have anxiety attacks. What if something went wrong and we had to withdraw our offer and end up back at square one, homeless before our October wedding?!


Our enchanted yard before the oil tank sweep. There’s even a white picket fence on one side.

The day of the sweep, I was busy snapping photos of every room in the home to use while pinning to my renovation boards. Frank did his man stuff and took measurements to see if the furniture we have our eye on will fit the space. Our dream of home ownership was in motion!

But in an instant, everything came to a halt.

The technician detected metal in a 4×8 area that ran about eight feet deep. (Of course!) The homeowners had to schedule a dig to unearth this material and determine if the mass was an oil tank or if there were any environmental hazards like soil contamination. Looking on the bright side, I decided to be happy that at least the cost of the dig wouldn’t be coming out of our worn out pockets.

Luckily, the metal object turned out to be a harmless old septic tank that will be filled with sand.

The bad news? Just look at what it did to our yard:


Fancy a mud bath? Skip the spa and soak in this DIY version. It’s free. And in our new backyard! Sigh.

The perfectly manicured lawn now has an eight-foot-deep muddy square in the middle of it capturing rainwater. I wanted a little pool for our dogs, but this is not what I had in mind. My dreams of setting up a quaint oasis– including archway, bench and colorful table and chair set inspired by Frank’s aunt and uncle’s backyard and the garden area of our favorite cafe (below)– temporarily disintegrated.


Every backyard should be bursting with color. Until we have our own, I’ll settle for sipping coffee at the Red Eye Cafe in Montclair, New Jersey.  I’m totally stealing the potted mug idea, too.

Fortunately, everything will be repaired before our scheduled July closing date.

So everything seems to be falling into place…all the little bumps in the home buying process have been overcome fairly easily. We’re praying this trend continues and the appraisal leans in our favor so we can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we won’t have to dip into our wedding fund to meet the difference in the mortgage.

With only three months before we say, “I do,” it’s crunch time and there is really no wiggle room. Can you imagine us having to revoke Save-the-Dates from people on our already super limited wedding guest list because we need to use those savings to pay for the house?

How embarrassing!

For now, we’ll think positive and envision a lawn free of holes, unless our digging dogs put them there.