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Welcome to your first home purchase! Congratulations! Wow, it must feel so great to finally have a place of your own. I’m sure you have lots of plans for the place. Fixing it up, adding your style… man, it’s going to be so great.
All those people who warned you about homeownership? They’ve gotta be wrong, right? I mean, that’s because they purchased poorly. They didn’t do their due diligence. If they had a decent home inspector, they wouldn’t have had so many surprises. Right?
WRONG! So, very, very wrong. Ah, First Home Owner, you are going to learn so many things about owning your own home. Here are some fun things you’re going to learn:
1.Every fix has its consequence.
Wow. Why phrase it that way? That seems a bit overly dramatic, right? I promise you, it isn’t. Whatever you touch in that house/condo/co-op/whatever is going to have an impact on something else. Does your garbage disposal need to be replaced? Great. Go in there to install the new one and you will discover a myriad of things: the cabinets are rotting from the old leaky one, the plumbing is non-standard now and you can’t find pipes that will actually accommodate your new equipment, underneath the counter there’s water damage and the sink won’t likely be well supported for too much longer, the contractor who built the house didn’t count on the size of your arms and there’s no way to reach behind the plumbing…
2. Opening a wall is something you must resist with all your power.
Trust me on this one. There are bad things in your walls. There are things you will not want to see because #1. There are things you will not want to see because they’re dead (sorry). It’s just not fun. Try not to do it, even if you’re a big do-it-yourselfer. Even if your place is a completely new build. It’s just not a great idea.
3. Whatever your estimate is on any fix or project, it’ll probably end up costing 20% more.
This isn’t because you’re bad at estimating. It’s because of #1 and #2. Also, as a new homeowner, you’re going to discover that you don’t have things like your own drain snake or a pipe wrench. Any project will cost you more than you expect. If it doesn’t, put that money away into a fund for your later projects that definitely will.
4. Surprises are not fun.
You may think you like surprises. You don’t. Trust me on this one.
5. The movie “The Money Pit” and others are going to be referenced any time you talk about your roof, your basement, your foundation, or any other major renovation.
Sorry. Learn to love it. People think it’s funny.
6. Other new homeowners are a golden opportunity for support and ideas.
They’re in the same boat as you. Unlike people who have owned for a long, long time (hi, many of Rico’s members!) and don’t always remember what it is like, they are going through the same sort of stuff. They wanted to renovate and came upon a surprise. They just wanted to fix a leak and then opened the wall… There will be stories. It’s a little bit like war. Your brothers/sisters in arms are going to be there for you in ways you never thought you’d want (“OMG! You have the best rooter! He just does clogs and doesn’t mess with your plumbing?!? And he’s cheap!”) and will be a good support when you need it.
7. Homeownership is a huge responsibility filled with stuff you never really had to think about before.
This isn’t a bad thing at all; in many ways, it’s really nice to have that kind of control. It’s a lot of independence and a lot of control over minute details. You might even find yourself fixating over the type of baseboard molding you have. It’s fun to think about the little things and to know that it is all yours.
8. People will have opinions on everything you do with your place.
If you didn’t know it already, your friends, neighbors, and family members will all have an opinion and many will volunteer it the moment you start talking about your new place. Resist the urge to tell all of them off. They’re excited for you. Eventually, though, be prepared to tell your loved ones that while you know they mean well, it’s your house. By then, it won’t be too difficult.
9. There’s a lot of pressure to maintain.
Yep. I am going to go there. There’s a lot of pressure to maintain a certain status on the property, whether it is HOA or not, people don’t love too much change. There’ll be pressure not to change too much of the front of the property. But there’s also the pressure to maintain the property from yourself. It’s kinda new. Renting has benefits; a lot of the problems aren’t your responsibility. With home-owning, you start to feel internal pressure about maintaining the property, paying the mortgage, getting the best insurance rates, adding things to your policy… There’s a lot of pressure that develops because you’re basically an adult now. It’s not just about maintaining the property. it’s about maintaining your sanity. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to maintain calm, even while the house is falling apart, the roof is leaking, the foundation is cracked, and termites have eaten your carpet (true story). In the eyes of most of the world, you’re now an adult. It’s a bit scary.
10. YouTube tutorials and “Dummy’s Guide To…” books are your friend.
We all laugh at these people on YT with their various fixes and tutorials for basic things. But guess what? Most of us haven’t built a house. Most of us haven’t wired a house. Most of us haven’t worked plumbing. Most of us haven’t had to re-caulk our showers. It seems self-explanatory until you’re elbow-deep in it and those simple instructions aren’t working out so well. The YT videos are great places to start for basic homeowning needs and there are fantastic books that help guide you on what’s an easy fix and what might need to be outsourced to a professional. Some of them will even introduce you to the tools you might need, where to find them, and how to not feel weird when you start trying to do your own home maintenance and the people at the hardware store treat you like an idiot. These are treasures. You won’t need them as much in 10 years, but for now, they’re gold because they teach you how things should, ideally, be. This way, you can also see when they’re not. That, my friends, is also golden.
In any case, congratulations on your first house. Know that I’m right there with you, making mistakes, opening walls (why did I ever do that?!?), and learning all about my county building codes.
It’s going to be fun.Published in