Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Oh the many joys of home ownership. I much prefer it to renting, but...

We've been in our house for just over three years now. I think we bought at the right time and the right price for us, and in general. The thing I like most about the house is the layout. Lots of big rooms that are easy to navigate, the tree in the front yard and the trees lining the backyard, my desk in front of the window. I like that Noah and I can spend all day upstairs and we don't have to Noah-proof downstairs.

Things I don't like about the house, the small downstairs - therefore master - bathroom, the cheap flooring beneath the carpeting, the very bad drywall/paint job throughout the house, and the unfinished room that is our laundry/storage room.

The house cost us $50,000 less than we had budgeted. And then, because of the appraisal, we paid $20,000 less than we offered. So using government math, we've got a $20,000 to $50,000 surplus! If only.

I'd say we've put about $10,000 into the house so far. We made some improvements to the kitchen, the backyard, insulation, curtains, things like that.

This week I've got people coming to give me an estimate on cleaning the carpets, fixing our refrigerator, and trimming some trees. If we can get all three done for under $1500 I'll be happy - well, not happy, but... (When people talk about the cost of living, I'm not sure they understand that because people like plumbers and electricians and such also pay that high cost of living, they charge more for services - it's a vicious cycle.)

About a year ago, the motor that pushes the ice out of the ice maker into your glass stopped. Fine, at least it was still making ice. Then the flap that lets the ice come down into your glass warped and so frost kept building up inside the freezer (solution - a rag pushed up in there to keep that flap closed). Yesterday, we were changing out the water filter on the refrigerator and it all went wrong. So, we've lost our ice maker and our filtered drinking water. We actually priced new refrigerators today. We decided that as long as the repairs are 1/3 the cost of a new fridge or less, we'll just get this one fixed. Or, if we're feeling cheap, we'll stick with our temporary solution of a britta water thingy and ice trays.

We also know that in the spring we have to replace our deck - there are one or two rotted boards already and if we get the cold/wet winter I think we will, it'll be a replace not repair job.

So, we've talked a lot this weekend about the house, about all the things we'd love to fix, about how we're probably never going to know just how much longer we're going to live here, and how do we decide where to live next, and if it's better to sort of "duct tape" things until we're ready to move, or invest in improvements. (We'd invest more for our own comfort than for any theoretical ROI.

I keep day dreaming about a custom built house near a lake, maybe in Tennessee, maybe back in Texas. One story, huge kitchen, huge master bath, huge master bedroom, huge living room with fireplace, and two good sized other bedrooms - Noah's and guest, and bathrooms, a two-car garage and a shed. What I really hate about most houses is all the wasted space of small rooms you don't have a real use for.

Sigh. Until then...

I asked Nerdstar what one thing we could do that would make her really like the house more. She said a true master bath - with the tub and the separate enclosed stand up shower, the two sink vanity, heck, maybe even heated floors! Now, the current unfinished laundry/storage room is adjacent to our current bedroom and small bathroom. I think it would be fairly easy to take out the current tub/sink and put the washer and dryer in the bathroom, then convert the laundry to a really nice master bath/walk-in closet.

One expense built into just about any improvement to this house is having to replace the electric box - about $2,000. (I got an estimate a year or so ago.)

I'll probably get a couple of estimates in a few weeks for that project - just so we'll know.

As for money, we've been really good about building up a savings account, partly because her job is never that secure, and partly because we know we'll need money to move one day. We could do some of this stuff and then just rebuild our savings. This house wouldn't be worth taking out a HELOC for, and I'd hate to make payments and interest and stuff for these projects.

Anyway, today we didn't buy a sleep number bed or a new refrigerator. Too bad we can't use government math and be happy about spending that money elsewhere.

We know we're lucky to have a house we like, and that we're not underwater on, we just want it a little bit better.

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