September 20, 2015 0 Comments Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield, Thoughts and Feelings Working in Alberta

Home Buying Blues

 It was my intention to buy my first home earlier this Spring- and have been having that goal in my mind all the way back in 2013. Up to now, which is fall of 2015, and it still hasn’t happened. I am getting closer, though.

For most homebuyers, the critical barriers are credit issues and coming up with the downpayment. For myself, it has been the former at first, but as for the latter, the bitter struggle hasn’t been coming up with the downpayment- rather, bitterly defending it- admist an industry where politics are commonplace, coupled with a streak of misfortunes (as typical with my experience in the past few years).

As I previously mentioned in a past blog entry, I was working at a Shutdown in Fort McMurray but unfortunately with a company that only liked to hire idiots, inexperienced workers, and/or out of province workers- especially those from one certain province, so they could underpay them and they couldn’t leave. I overheard management ask workers if they wanted to return home early as things were slowing down. Some of them didn’t like me, so I got the boot in mid-April when the shutdown season was supposed to end more so in late June. I got a call 3 days later for another job, but my trainer grew jealous of me for being a younger guy with more experience and money than him and made a bunch of lies to the foreman to render me out of work until mid-May. To summarize, I ended up with a few thousand dollars than I expected.

Then I discovered that Gold’s Gym sent my account to collections without notification because my Visa expired without my knowledge and they were unable to retrieve payment, dropping my credit score by 100 so that it was poor. It took 6 months for it to recover.

 In late July, I took a drive down to Vancouver to visit family, when I hit a high bump in the road in Surrey. The right lane I was in suddenly came to an end where the bump was. I tried to merge left, but the car beside me sped up so I couldn’t- so I sped up to merge, only a split second too late and ran over the bump with my passenger’s side. Immediately 2 of my rims were bent and one tire popped. I was able to get towed to a BMW dealer in Langley where I ordered a new rim and tire, but halfway the drive back to Alberta, I broke down in Clearwater. It took 4 days for the mechanics (3 at the one in Clearwater, and one in Kamloops as the first one couldn’t find the problem) to determine both the ECU and water pump were fried. To summarize, I lost :

  • $1100 in net wages (approximate)
  • $1000 to the insurance deductible for repairs
  • $1862 for water pump replacement as that was not covered through insurance
  • $352 to hotel stays
  • $258 to the flight back to Edmonton and $33 to a taxi ride to work the following morning
  • $200 dining out while waiting for an answer from the mechanics
  • $50 approx. of fuel in the rental to get to Kamloops

= $4822 loss

When time came around that my credit was repaired, then I learned that mortgage lenders calculate your income with one of 2 methods:

  • Your wage as described on your letter of employment
  • Averaged income from Notice of Assessments from the last 2 years’ tax returns

The problem is with the former, the lenders do not factor in overtime income in qualification unless your current employer guarantees it in their Letter of Employment. During steady work periods I work more OT hours than regular hours, so this dramatically reduces my income in their eyes. Our overtime hours are not always guaranteed, so naturally the employer can’t say we always work x OT hours. The hourly wage for my current employer is bad; based on regular hours on it my income is only a bit shy of $55000/year, so the pre-approval was good for an amount only suitable for a cheap 1 bedroom apartment rental property.

For the income calculation via Notice of Assessments, I only left school in May 2013, and the lenders do not care about this. So I only really had June – December 2013 to collect income, dramatically reducing the average income from 2013 and 2014.

At this stage I’m forced to wait until next tax-return season if I want better, as then my income for this year becomes useable.

Lastly, when I was hired for my current company, the hiring package mentioned our vacation and stat holiday pay being a strict 10% of our earnings. What they did not mention was that it was 10% of our regular hours pay, not all hours. So all OT was useless for that calculation and instead of a roughly $3300 cheque last week, it was only an about $1200 one.

Excluding the mass layoffs and early Spring Breakup earlier this year and the home equity I would have otherwise began building if the mortgage was successful, I am now about $12,000 behind schedule.

For the past few years, from the beginning of university to now in the construction and oilfield services industry, seemingly there has always been multiple things with the sole objective to crush my dreams. Society seemingly wants to breed everyone to an equal level, not some above others from merit. This is superficial logic of course, bred by emotional spinoffs from past experiences, but it is the last quote that is particularly notable- as there is a common consensus of life here that is socially expected to follow. It’s why I sometimes like to write these posts versus having a discussion with people, as those people often don’t think beyond that metric. My intentions have never changed, and I will not be stopped.