True Adventures in Homeownership: Eleven Weeks and Counting

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It’s only been a few weeks since my last update on new homeownership, but somehow my math was really off last time. I don’t have a special time machine that allows me to zip through five weeks in a mere three. Still, a lot has happened in the last three weeks, including some important new lessons.

Contractors Sometimes Give Cash Discounts

We got our carport roof fixed three days before the first rain. However, we learned far more from this experience than that we might have fortuitous timing. We also learned about the cash discount, and about asking for little extras once the contractor is there.

As I mentioned in my last homeowner update, we discovered some odd moisture in one corner of our ceiling. Out came the AC guy. Nothing. Next they sent a plumber. Nothing. Since the roofer had offered to squeeze us in a couple days later, I asked him to take a look at it when he arrived. He said he couldn’t find anything in the attic, but there was a patch in the roof above that corner that might need sealing. He did it for free. Then while replacing the carport roof, he found rotting boards. I agreed to pay for the repairs.

The original quote was $1200. When he arrived, he said we could save $100 if we paid cash. The quote to fix the rotting boards was $150, bringing the total to $1350 by check/credit or $1250 cash. Yet, when we paid him, he only took $1200. So paying cash saved us $150!

Blinds Cost More than You’d Expect

After living in our house for a little over two months, we realized that we really, really need to order blinds. One of our cats will be saddened by the loss of her sunbeam, but our budget will thank us when it our power bill goes down. I didn’t really have a budget in mind, but for some reason I was thinking blinds would cost $600 or $700 for all our windows. WRONG!

The first quote was $2400 for eight blinds and two shutters. The second quote was $1800. I’d made appointments with an independent contractor and a major company, expecting the indie to be cheaper. WRONG again. The indie guy came down to $2200, but the major company was offering additional discounts that brought the price down even further. Even though we liked the independent guy, we can’t spend an extra $500 for good customer service.

Holy Power Bill, Batman

We finally got our first power bill, and it was way more than I was expecting. My husband wasn’t too shocked by the amount, but I immediately ran around the house hunting for any lights I could turn off. Then I realized that our power bill includes electricity and water (which I knew), but it also includes sewer and garbage. I didn’t realize how much the two of those would cost. I didn’t even know we had to pay for the sewer. Still, that high bill heightened my motivation to get blinds and install a ceiling fan in our family room before next summer.

Furniture Costs More, Too

I really don’t know what I was thinking when I budgeted $1500 for living room furniture and $1500 for family room furniture. After pre-shopping online, the living room is now up to $3000 and the family room is up to $2000. As I mentioned yesterday, we’ve also delayed those purchases into next year.

Yes, we could probably find really cheap furniture, but we’d rather pay for quality now than have to replace a cheap sofa in a few years. Frankly, I was just being an idiot when I came up with my ballpark figures. I spent $2200 for an oversized sofa and chair-and-a-half in 1998. I don’t know why I thought I’d be able to spend less for more furniture 12 years later.

Sometimes I can’t believe we’ve already owned our house for nearly three months. Other times, I wonder why we haven’t gotten more done! We’ve still got five rooms and two ceilings to paint, ducts to have cleaned, furniture to buy, and a million more things.

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