Monday, April 4, 2011

A Drain on the Pocketbook

Shelley Long and Tom Hanks had nothing on us.
It's been 25 years since Shelley and Tom had us laughing at the trials and tribulations of home ownership. When the movie came out, Steve and I were newlyweds, still renting our homes. I don't think we even saw the movie at the time as it didn't relate to anything in our lives.


Here we are, living the dream, er, the nightmare. Chez Sibbald IS The Money Pit.

I don't remember much of the movie, but I do recall that when the couple moved in, the house had been stripped of all fixtures - even the ones that were nailed down. Similarly, when we moved in, we found that the house lacked any of the following:
  • towel bars or hooks
  • toilet-paper holders
  • mirrors
Not as bad as their situation (I believe they didn't even have doors), but humorous nevertheless.

Our house inspection had warned us:
  • the roof was on its last legs (or shingles)
  • the fireplace had no flue (I'm not even sure what that is)
  • the chimney needed a new liner and repointing of the bricks
  • the furnace was old and tired
  • the air conditioner was ready for replacement
  • several of the windows were old (including two single-glazed)
So what did we do? Why, we set about making improvements!
    I think our house deserves one of these!
  • an inground pool! (Oh, sweet mercy, will I some day regret that decision?)
  • landscaping to correct the grade in the backyard in order to put in the pool!
  • upgraded wiring to allow for hooking up the pool!
  • gas line in order to heat the pool!
  • double the number of cabinets in the kitchen!
  • new chandelier! (small potatoes, but still)
  • built-in shelving in the living room!
  • new furnace!
  • new air conditioner!
And then, the money ran out. Truth be told, the money ran out well before these were done. We're still paying off the landscaping. And, um, the furnace was on a one-year deferred payment plan, so it comes due in July.

This is the fifth house we've owned, so it's not like we're completely new to this. But we'd spent the previous five years in a rental home which was only six or seven years old and needed no improvements (though if we'd been the owners, I'm sure we'd have found places to spend money - not least of which would be getting rid of the beige carpet and all the brass light fixtures).

The home-improvement cycle is like childbirth: you swear you'll never do it again, but then you fall in love with the results.

You'll note that we have not yet tackled the following from the inspector's list:
  • the roof was on its last legs (or shingles)
  • the fireplace had no flue (I'm not even sure what that is)
  • the chimney needed a new liner and repointing of the bricks
  • several of the windows were old (including two single-glazed)
Those are on the agenda for this summer and fall. Along with finishing the landscaping around the pool (it currently is little more than a gorgeous pool, a beautiful patio and a great deal of mud surrounded by a lovely fence).
The paint is right at the base of the maple.
Click picture for larger view.

Plus, we still have to deal with the surprises, like the sewage drain from our house to the main sewer line. Said drain has been crushed by a very mature tree (presumably planted by the city) on city property. While it is almost certainly City responsibility to pay for the repair, there will likely be some collateral costs to us as well.

Or like the surprise ant infestation. Latest word is that they are carpenter ants - so not to be taken lightly. We'll have them exterminated soon. Ka-ching!

And, the city is "rehabilitating" the sewer system on our street this summer, which means they'll be ripping up the bottom third of our driveway. Our driveway is in dreadful condition as it is, so now would seem a good time to get the whole thing regraded and repaved. Right?

Part of me regrets doing the pool before we'd done the other more sensible improvements, but a pool is really a long-term lifestyle purchase (I won't call it an investment, because it's not). Ten years from now we'll be empty-nesters and the pool will see much less use, so we seized the moment.

I fully anticipate a comment along the lines of Anonymous, who wrote, "You are so lucky to be able to afford it! You are certainly not living in poverty. :) ," which is true, and I am grateful. But I also know there are others who consider our two professional incomes and mutter to themselves (or to others, but never to us), "What do they do with all that money?" The answer? Possibly not what you would do with it, but it's certainly not burning a hole in our pockets.


  1. Oh, I have been there! And we have no home improvement skills of our own so it has always involved hiring and money. That was a funny movie, but yes, not so funny in real life. Ugh! Hope it feels more under control for you...soon! :)

  2. Thanks, Julie. And thanks for the "follow" too!


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