True Adventures in Homeownership – The First Six Weeks

Recently I read that I should be saving 4.5% of the purchase price of my house for home maintenance and repairs. Since I live in California, that’s a fairly high number. But as my recent adventures in home ownership have revealed, it might not be that far from the truth.

Hurray for the Warranty

First off, let me say hurray for the home warranty we received as new homeowners. We’ve been in the house six weeks and this is our second warranty claim. The first was because we were idiots and didn’t turn the weird valve under the sink before filing a claim, so I basically spent $55 to learn how to better use my dishwasher. The second is a real claim though: odd moisture on the ceiling. We suspect it’s the AC, which is included in our warranty.

One Things Leads to Another

When we moved in, we knew we’d have to hire tree trimmers for the three large, really overgrown trees overhanging the roof. As we did some initial trimming on the yard, we realized two of those trees were dead and one of them was pushing on the side of the house, which could potentially damage the roof shingles. The cost to remove two trees and stumps and trim one tree was $565. Not too bad.

Then we made an interesting discovery a couple days later – water bubbling up from the ground where the tree used to be. A bit of digging revealed a broken pipe buried underground. With the tree gone, the water bubbled up into the sandy soil. Sandy soil runs downhill. We now have a bunch of sand on our patio, and a $275 bill to have the sprinkler system repaired.

You Always Go Over Budget

We budgeted $500 for the tree, so $565 wasn’t too far over, but the extra $275 for the sprinklers wasn’t in the budget. We’re getting a quote for roof repairs in the next few days, but our real estate agent also got a quote before we bought it, so hopefully the budget won’t be too far off. We’re also over budget on paint, and I way under-budgeted for all the furniture we had to buy.

DIY What You Can

We had a couple of repairs budgeted that we were able to do ourselves, and one it looks like our home inspector fixed while he was there. We’re also doing all the painting ourselves to save money and trimmed as much of the trees and bushes as we could ourselves.

Everything Takes Longer Than Planned

We got half the house painted before we moved in and I’d expected to be finished by now, but so far we’ve only painted the closets. We have to be finished by Thanksgiving, but our list of projects and shopping trips just keeps getting longer and longer.

There Is No Such Thing as a Quick Trip to Lowe’s

Our first trip to Lowe’s took three hours, and we didn’t complete our shopping list. My husband’s follow-up visit, the supposed “quick trip,” took an hour. It’s the same if you go to Home Depot, although we’ve found we prefer the service at Lowe’s. At the Home Depot we visited, one of the floor staffers actually said, “What’s a fireplace screen?”

Make a Plan, and Expect to Blow It

I have all of our major purchases and house projects mapped out in Excel. The purchases extend all the way to the end of 2010. The projects run through next summer, but most of the purchases and projects are scheduled for this year. That means I’ve got just about every weekend between now and Thanksgiving booked up for painting, shopping, and repairing. And here I thought I’d have more time now that we don’t have to spend every weekend looking for a house!

This Is All Fun

Even though some of these things are hassles, it really is fun and sort of an adventure. Last night when we detected the water on the ceiling, I dragged out the ladder and went up into the attic to check it out. I’d been meaning to check it out anyway, so that was an adventure. So was digging in the dirt to determine the source of the mysterious bubbling water. And that’s a good thing, because after everything we went through to buy and move into this house, my husband informed me that we’re never moving again. Right now, I’m okay with that.

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