The Ugly Truth | About Building Our First Home

A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.” – Unknown

The Ugly Truth | About building our first homeWhen I started this blog the thought behind it was to share cooking experiments and construction updates. Over the past several months my foodie shares have increased and construction updates have diminished. Recently after having a very candid conversation with a friend, I was re inspired to share updates about the house – the good, the bad, and the oh so very ugly.

The mendhi (henna) on my hands had not even faded when HD started his obsession with house hunting. Soon after we returned home from our wedding festivities HD caught the house hunting bug. He would spend all hours of the night searching for the perfect house (in his .25 mile radius). After a few months of searching and deciding to stay in Jersey City, we decided to dream a little big (sometimes I get worried, a little too big) and build our first home. We purchased a 130 + year old house in the Van Vorst Park neighborhood of Jersey City. It was the oldest (and ugliest) house on the newest and quaintest street. Our plan: demolish & build from scratch. Read more about that story here.

The Ugly Truth | About building our first home
Over the past two years we have been through so many ups and downs with the construction of the house, I do not even know where to start. At times things have become so difficult and frustrating we question if all this trouble will be worth the end result. After our first second contractor walked off the job with our money (yes this happens in real life and not just on HGTV), we had to go through the intense process of permit approvals, architectural reviews, and city inspections. Our demolition permit was approved in Spring 2011 and Big Blue Bertha aka the old house was finally demolished. Once demolished we had to submit for construction permits which took an additional four months. After months of delays the bank that approved our construction loan needed an explanation as to why construction had not started and what the hold up was (oh because I know exactly why the city takes so long in approving construction permit approvals). This inquiry and the  “green go flag” from the bank took another few months. Once everyone was on board, Winter was upon us. For anyone that has ever worked in construction or with concrete, you know that the weather can not be below a certain temperature, the ground can’t be too wet, the temperatures can’t fluctuate too much, etc, etc… To make a long story short, the ACTUAL construction of the house did not start until FEBRUARY 2012. February 2012, a year and a half after the purchase of the house, a year and a half of paying rent, a mortgage, and bridging construction costs. Sigh.

The Ugly Truth | About building our first homeI have noticed my enthusiasm over the last year decrease significantly. The kitchen, bathroom, and roof garden planning that would once make me research on the internet for hours has exhausted. The spark in my eyes when friends and family would ask me about construction has faded. Exhausted is what we are, just mentally and emotionally exhausted. When we first told friends and family about our house everyone would tell us how amazing it was, or how smart we were for doing this at such a young age. Now at times I reflect and wonder why didn’t anyone warn us or why didn’t anyone tell us the worst case scenario? Sometimes you just need a dose of the truth, the ugly truth, to warn you, prepare you and maybe even scare you. Living through this long, tiresome construction process we have been broken, grown, and built back up. Things that we eagerly looked forward to (designing the kitchen, selecting the bathroom) have now merely become tasks. Tasks that we need to complete by a certain deadline so that we can move on to the next process. It’s heart breaking and at times I wish we were aware of the things we know now going into this commitment, so that we would have been better prepared.

The Ugly Truth | About building our first home

Some of the things I wish we knew going into this process:

What construction will do to you as a person:

Break you down and rebuild you. Patience will become your mantra and you will question every ones intentions, even those who seem so trusting. You will also gain a second job, your every free moment will be consumed with research. Research about piles, insulation, concrete, lumber, running pipe lines, things you knew nothing about will now become part of your everyday worries.

What construction will do to you finances:

Uh, well this is obvious. Deplete you. Goodbye honeymoon, fun money and random splurges. Your priorities do a 180. The girl who didn’t even question how much she spent on a random shopping spree now thinks what would that same money buy in the house. I suppose its like becoming a parent, you think what would you rather buy for your child. Your priorities change overnight.

What construction will do to your marriage:

You will truly get to know your spouse. How they react in stressful situations, how much drive they have, what really pushes their limits. These might seem like “obvious” things, however they were all new to us. Hubby Darling and I have seen each other break down, pick up the pieces, cope and pushed each other to continue on. I have often thought of renaming this blog “Marriage Under Construction” during this “discovery” process. We have also established that Home Depot is the mistress that HD is having an affair with, since he is ALWAYS there. 😛

What construction will do to your faith:

Question. Question why things happen/don’t happen, question why people are deceitful, question why you are being tried. Many a times you will not be able to do anything at all and just have faith, faith that whatever is happening will happen for the best.
The Ugly Truth | About building our first home

Despite all of the above, I still can’t help my heart melt when I see our future home going up, floor by floor. As each wall rises higher and higher, my heart goes afloat with all the dreams that we dreamt when purchasing our first home. I don’t think anything or anyone can prepare you for the trials and tribulations you will face when constructing a home, it’s just something you have to learn and grow with. I am so proud and excited to share the latest construction updates. The finish line seems so near and we are beyond ready to get our lives started in our new home.

18 thoughts on “The Ugly Truth | About Building Our First Home

  1. Seriously Nisha, this brought tears to my eyes. It isn’t just about building a house its about building a home and future. And I’m right there with you, when anyone of us is about to embark on something new our family and friends shouldn’t hesitate to warn us about what is looming.

    Cannot wait to see your home!

  2. We recently remodeled a bathroom and that was tough! You two are brave for tackling such a large project. In the end, you will be sitting in your new living room and thinking “we did it” w/ a sense of accomplishment. It’ll be worth it. Good luck!

  3. Great article/blog Nisha, I don’t really think anyone can really warn you of the road ahead. it is a bit like having a baby, only when it’s arrived can the true impact be felt!(and each one is so different) The light at the end of the tunnel is visable and getting brighter. Try to enjoy the rest of the experience, I’m really proud of you and Suraj and can’t wait to see the finished home that you are creating…

  4. Love your honesty in this blog. This is your test. For both of you. It WILL be worth it. I absolutely love the bay window and finished pic. Cannot wait to see it completed! I’m coming over for pakoras when it is!

    1. Thanks Sheba 🙂 I thought it was time to share it, all of it, not just the frills and dreams. Ugh can’t wait – I’ll have chai, cupcakes, & pakoras waiting!

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