I have now been a home owner for just over three years. So I want to share some of the things I have learned.
If you buy an older house, your home will be in a constant state of disrepair. Our house has built in 1963. It has clearly had some renovations, but they have definitely been pieced together over the years. It’s most apparent when we (my dad) have to do anything with the wiring. We quickly realized the fuse box labels do NOT apply. The label might say the switch turns off the electricity when, in reality, it turns off the electricity in the garage and the bathroom above it. Testing for ‘hot’ wires is key.
The problem is not the problem. A few months ago, I was positive we were going to have to replace our washer. Our washer isn’t very old, only 4.5 years. But it had started leaking. Or so we thought. The weird thing about the leak is that it happened even if we weren’t doing a load of wash. It took a while, but I finally realized it was not a problem with the washer. Through some trial and error, we (my dad) figured out there was actually a crack in a pipe BEHIND the washer. We (my dad) MacGyvered some new tubing and the problem was all fixed.
If something breaks, it will most definitely occur on a holiday weekend. Two years after we bought the house, I woke up sweating. I had kicked off all the covers which is unusual for my cold natured self. I quickly checked our Nest thermostat that showed our temperature was set to 66, BUT the actual temperature in the house was close to 80. It was the Saturday before Labor Day and our A/C had gone out. The soonest an A/C tech could come out was Tuesday. So we plugged in our handy window unit and had a very warm Labor Day weekend.
Home improvement stores are Nirvana. When I was younger, my dad used to drag me into Home Depot all the time. He loved just browsing through the store. I never understood why we went all the time, but I suffered through the trips because I was usually treated with candy or a frozen drink from Sonic afterward. Now I understand. Home Depot, Lowes, At Home. Any place that sells homewares really. Those places are where home owner’s dreams come true. Do you hate your light fixture? Are you door knobs so bold as to still be brass? Are you white walls mocking you? Home Depot/Lowes has a fix for you! Are you too poor to actually buy anything from them? It doesn’t matter! You can walk around for 30 minutes to an hour, just browsing and collecting ideas.
YouTube is your friend. This one is important. Just this month, I saved $200-300 by doing a repair by myself after watching about five YouTube videos. I would say total time invested was two hours. And that includes watching the YouTube videos. Several times. I ordered the necessary part for $35 on Amazon, replaced the old one and bam: I’ve saved Christmas. Or something like that. Doing a repair based on YouTube only requires a little determination and lot of fearlessness. With my most recent repair, worst case scenario was that I destroyed the appliance that was going to have to be replaced anyway and I was out $35. Best case scenario, I fixed the appliance for $35. I landed on the best case scenario.
Houses are expensive. Obviously, there are the upfront costs, ie. the mortgage. But believe you me, between repairs, renovations, appliances, and furniture, something is always popping up. I naively thought some of these things would wait to crop up. Until someone from the city knocked on our door the day we moved in and let us know we needed to install hard wired, interconnected smoke detectors on both floors. We were already broke from the down payment. Now we were extra broke from paying the electrician. Fast forward to a year later, we discovered that the electrician had accomplished his job by running one of the wires through the wall, through my desk, and into the floor to reach the first floor, resulting in my desk being affixed to that spot. One angry phone call later, my desk was freed and the wiring was fixed. But that pretty much sums up what it is like to be a home owner, in my humble experience.