True Adventures in Homeownership: 17 Weeks Down

It feels almost like a pregnancy, except it won’t be over in nine months. Maybe I’ll just stop counting by the time nine months have passed! This last month has presented us with several more challenges, but what some of my homeowner friends are going through is much, much, much worse.

Don’t Buy New Construction

This isn’t my lesson, this is my friend’s lesson. So far he’s discovered that his brand new condo was improperly plumbed (found courtesy of a major leak) and improperly wired (found courtesy of sparks shooting out of the wall after he plugged something in.) Those aren’t minor issues. Meanwhile most of the problems in my 60-year-old home have been minor, or are at least big things that can wait and that are to be expected in an older home. If you’re thinking of buying a condo, do not buy new. Buy one that’s at least five years old. True, it may not have of-the-moment fixtures, but you also won’t be the one to discover the bad wiring, plumbing, etc.

Even the Simple Things Go Wrong

So, in my last homeownership update, I talked about the surprising cost of blinds and shutters. Now a new problem has developed. The major company we went with screwed up our order. I discovered it during the installation. I immediately called and was assured that the replacement shutters would be ordered. Fast forward a week and I haven’t been able to get confirmation of the order. Finally I called the shutter company – they have no order. I called the company’s local office – no order. I was assured that they’ll contact the consultant to sort it out and then call me tomorrow about fixing it. I’m not hopeful. Meanwhile I’ve got a wrong set of shutters that are only half installed.

Eventually the Warranty Has to Cover Something

My friends who recently bought have had nothing but good things to say about their warranty. This morning was my fifth claim, and the first thing to get covered. I think my warranty sort-of sucks.

Claim 1:

Leak next to the dishwasher. It turned out the leak was from a disconnected tube under the faucet. Dishwasher guy didn’t fix it – I found a valve and turned it the other way to see what would happen.

Claim 2: 

Mysterious damp spot on the upper corner of the wall that forms nightly. They sent an AC guy – nothing. They sent a plumber – nothing. Finally our roofer went up there and patched it. It’s not entirely gone, but it’s better. I’m considering going up into the attic and poking at the insulation to see if that’s the problem.

Claim 3:

Inadequate heat in the back bedrooms and a weird rattle in one register. The heater guy adjusted some registers to balance the heat, and determined that it was too cold in the back because the “standard-sized” ducts are too big for the rooms next to the furnace, and too small for the rest of the house. New ducts: not covered, but not in dire need of replacing. Meanwhile it’s 5-8 degrees cooler in the back part of my house.

Claim 4: 

Circuit breaker trips when we use more than one kitchen appliance at a time and some of the breakers are wiggly. The appliance issue is insufficient wiring: not covered. He said the wiggling was normal. Except that he knocked out power to whole house before he left and then the bathroom didn’t come back on because of that wiggly circuit. Once again we had to go out there and jiggle it until it came on. I called warranty, and the electrician insisted the bathroom problem was from the kitchen wiring and refuses to see if it might be unrelated unless we either a. fix the wiring in the kitchen, or b. have our own technician diagnose the problem. If he deems it’s not related, warranty will consider covering it.

Claim 5: 

Plumbing stoppage this weekend. Warranty called to warn me that if my cleanout was outside the foundation of the house, they wouldn’t cover it. Fortunately, the plumber snaked it and they did cover it. Finally, we got one thing covered. And it only cost us $260 in claims to get there. Sigh.

Make Sure You Buy the Right Paint

We had to paint one of our ceilings. I went to the paint store and asked for “flat white for the ceiling.” What I got was the pastel base with no color mixed in. We discovered this after applying the first coat late Saturday night. It was splotchy and uneven. We scoured the internet for a paint store that was open Sunday, thinking we needed the same paint for a second coat. That’s when we found out the base looks white, but can be transparent. And it’s not meant for ceilings. My husband came home with a can labeled “ceiling paint” that had been tinted “ceiling white.” Problem solved, but we wasted money and three hours on that first can.

Isn’t home ownership grand?

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