Once I got the keys I couldn’t wait to get there. Sure I was young and I had signed a bunch of papers that I didn’t quite totally understand but who cares. I had closed on my first house and was driving over to enjoy it. As an Actuary I spend my time doing math for an insurance company, but I figured I was just as qualified to maintain a house as, say, a carpenter or electrician or plumber would be. However, once I pulled up I found out that the previous owners had left most of their junkiest earthly belongings still in the house. I wasn’t expecting that. I’m not qualified to be a mover, but that’s when the following lifetime of homeownership lessons began.
Boy did I have a great inspection done on my house. Everything from stem to stern was looked over and given a proper check mark in a box on the inspectors form. It’s great to kick the tires, but unlike a car, which has four tires, my house probably had a thousand and the inspector probably kicked a hundred. Within a year of buying my house everything, and I mean everything, broke down. Each time it was due to something nobody knew about. There was a loose fitting behind one of your walls, that’s why my one sink was spewing chocolate milk colored water. It’s an old house and was still settling, hence the crack the formed up one wall and broke the entire electrical system. The boiler was in great shape, but I couldn’t predict that a squirrel would somehow decide to crawl into the one inch diameter chimney pipe and burn itself alive in the boiler, and that squirrel ash would both smell like a rendering plant and break the boiler. You can’t kick all the tires and there are likely plenty of unknown problems that can’t be predicted until they happen.
You’ve Probably Been Fooled.
The grass was incredibly green when I was shopping my house out. In fact the yard was so beautifully done I had to buy the house on sight. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lawn, and neither did the previous owners. They simply put down some quick-grow grass seeds that will sprout in a month on anything from a slab of concrete to a pool of toxic waste. Oh and also the hedge wall in the back will need to be trimmed sometime and the power company periodically cuts a hole in it to get to the pole so watch out for that. No one in their right mind would show a completely honest house because they all have problems, another thing to beware of as a buyer.
Your House Knows When You Have Money
That’s great that I got that huge bonus that one year, it’s a good thing the furnace decided to blow and the kitchen lighting decided to fall out of the ceiling at the same time. I had just enough money to cover that! Now whenever I come into some money I go into the car and shut the door to talk about it because without fail every house I’ve had has somehow known when it was time to put me behind financially.
That Thing You Loved About Your House? You Will Hate It.
I used to love the tree in my back yard. It was a beautiful gum tree with red colored leaves in the fall, which I found out drop into the yard in the thousands in the winter and freeze into the ice and snow if they’re not raked. In the spring my tree sprouted beautiful pollen buds, which grew into large yellow pollen clusters and fell into the yard to explode into millions of pollen grains if not raked up. And in the fall my tree dropped gum balls, little golf ball sized spiky seeds, which drop into the yard and make it a death trap to walk on until you cut yourself up raking them. I loved that house and I loved that gum tree, and I loved my tree even more after I cut it down to the stump and then blew up the stump.
That Thing You Hated About Your House? You Will Hate It More.
I had a few reservations about the basement when I bought the house. You see the basement had a door leading out into the back yard up a few steps so I was concerned about flooding. Fortunately there was a French drain at the bottom of the basement steps to get rid of any large downpours that may collect outside the basement door. Unfortunately it was a seventy year old French drain that collapsed, I think, the day I moved in and could not be repaired. That’s ok because there was another French drain in the basement. The only problem was that it too collapsed after I moved in, so in the end you could film a scene from the movie “Jaws” in my basement after every big rainstorm. Though I disliked my basement before, I began to hate it with the fire of a thousand suns after a few months of bad rains. And so it was with everything I had an initial problem with.
If you want perfection it’s not a good idea to buy a house. If you are willing to accept that life is difficult and that you can still love something even though it’s hard than you will get a great deal of wonderful experience out of home ownership and improvement. Good luck.