Buying my first home was one of the most exciting events in my life. I no longer had to listen to the three rowdy boys (who sounded more like baby elephants) play soccer above my head and I could paint the walls any color I wanted. While I still enjoy these things and other benefits that come from owning my own home, there were some lessons about home-ownership that I had to learn the hard way.
Plumbing Not Included
Due to the fact that we had lived in rented apartments our entire adult life, we had no idea (or need to have an idea) about simple plumbing fixes. When the toilet was running, we called maintenance. When the neighbor upstairs decided that her garbage disposal was a great place for paper napkins and our kitchen turned into a small pond, we called maintenance. So, when our toilet began to run water all through the night in our new home, we had some research to do. Fortunately, we had a friend in the plumbing business that came over and showed us how to replace “the guts” of a toilet. He showed us what a ball cock and a flapper was and how they made the toilet work. It was educational and something I have recently repeated in our second toilet. I could have called a plumber to come and fix the toilet for a hefty fee, but instead I can now replace parts for about twenty dollars.
No Hired Landscape Team
I used to complain when the landscaping crew would start mowing the lawn outside my newborn’s window during nap time. Didn’t they know we were sleeping? Now I miss that sound. The sound I hear now is the much louder as I am pushing the mower or weeding the rocks while my husband mows. Yard work is tough! I don’t have the money to hire someone to mow, pull weeds, or trim low tree branches, so I get to do it myself. I was 28 years old and had never operated a lawn mower. My mother had me convinced that I would cut my finger or my foot off. I had my husband show me how to use the mower and the weed whacker and about an hour of sweating and cursing later, my front and back lawns were mowed to city code. I spend a lot of time pulling weeds, fixing fences, and mowing lawns, and trimming rose bushes and trees, but that comes with the territory of owning a home.
How Much to Heat My Home?
Heating a four bedroom house costs far more than heating a smaller box-shaped apartment. The windows in most apartments are more effective at keeping heat in as well. Our electric bill jumped up almost $100 in an average month. We still need to get our windows replaced, but we have had to learn to monitor our energy usage. We keep the thermostat off unless the weather is bitter and we try to use blankets instead of smaller heating units. In the summer time, our small air conditioning units stay off unless we are home and sweating.
The first major project to our new home was the bathroom renovation. We had to learn to tear up tile, replace toilets, and hang medicine cabinets. It was tricky, but with some elbow grease and three days, we turned our bathroom from a foreclosure mess to a beautiful small space. We learned how to use paint sprayers and joint compound. We also learned how to fix appliances and ceiling fans. Youtube came in very handy for learning how to make our first house a home. Recently, we had to replace the draining lever in our bathtub which proves that we are still learning about home repair.
Living in an apartment meant that I could bug my husband to take the trash out at any time. The dumpster was in the parking lot. Living in our new home meant that we could only easily rid ourselves of the trash one day a week. We started by putting our trashcans in the store room off the kitchen as that was an easy place to store the large trash cans and reach them easily. This worked until the second bag of trash hit that can. Even with the lid, the store room began to smell like aging lettuce. We moved the cans outside where the smell wouldn’t bother us in the house. We didn’t think about the neighborhood squirrels, cats, and even coyotes dining on our leftovers and making a mess. Stronger lids were purchased and weighted with rocks. We had never put this much thought or effort into our trash management before. Now it is simply habit, but it took us a while to get used to not being able to take out the remains of our salmon dinner to a dumpster far away.