Friday, November 12, 2010

You say asbestos, I say schmebestos.

This home ownership thing, it sure can be a bitch.  (And, to head off any "ingrate" or "you selfish turd" comments, yes I know that I am very, very lucky to have a comfortable roof over my head and a job to support such things.  I know.  I'm just also going to go ahead and spew my special brand of bullshit here anyways.)

I feel like we (as in, the Mr. and myself) spend most of our weekends either cleaning the house (lest the pet hair take over and slowly kill us, cocoon-style), securing provisions for the house and its' inhabitants (lest we run out of animal-specific food and they decide to go all "Donner Pass" on our asses), or attempting repairs on the house (lest the ceiling in the dining room cave in because of the the leaky toilet upstairs, again.)

Looking back at our (now) 11 years of possessing of a home, I can't say I'd do it all again the same way, given loads of cash and a step back in time.  For those of you considering such a stupid  well-thought out decision, here are a few of my Do's and Dont's when it comes to first time home purchasing with a nonexistent limited budget:
  • Do buy within your price range
  • Don't buy a house basically because you're tired of looking and like one architectural aspect of it- say, a "bridge" stairway between the entryway and the kitchen- and the thought of looking at even one more house makes you want to peel your own skin off to start a line of eco-friendly lamps.  
  • Don't forget to notice if the house has a washer and dryer hookup, because it turns out those things are sort of necessary if you want to wash your clothes at home rather than at the laundromat down the street that is frequented by white supremacists.  
  • On a related note:  don't assume that you can just have any old reputable electrician come and install said hookups without also having to re-wire the whole house, due to silly "codes" and "safety issues". 
  • Don't assume that you'll be able to afford to re-wire the house any sooner than 9 years after you purchase. Start stockpiling quarters and swastika temporary tattoos , baby.
  • Don't buy a house with no appliances in the kitchen when you move in, especially when said kitchen looks like it was last remodeled in the Spring of 1937.  This is what those fancypants literary folk call "foreshadowing".  Pay heed to the foreshadowing. PAY HEED!!!
  • Don't forget to check if the ugly pastel tiles covering 75% of the house (including, oddly enough, the entire upstairs) are made primarily of asbestos.  Oh well, at least you'll have a good time learning how to work the word "mesothelioma" into the story of how you decided to remove all of those pesky tiles yourself and just skip the "professionals". 
  • Don't forget to check if your potential new home has any insulation.  Any.  Even crumpled up newspapers/dead rats stuffed into the walls.  Just...something. 
  • Don't assume that one bathroom will suffice for two people.  Well, not unless you want to start thinking of the back yard or plastic grocery bags as a "half-bath"
  • Don't hire a plumber who will die in the middle of installing your new second bathroom. 
  • Don't assume that a bigger back yard is better, unless of course your idea of "fun" is spending 80% of your precious free time in the spring and summer doing things like "mulching" and "picking weeds".  While those words, when taken out of context, can sound pretty fun, I assure you that they aren't. 
  • Don't ever paint any room inhabited by humans a shade of green called "swamp fog" unless you really like painting...and repainting. 
  • Don't ever think it would be a good idea to spend actual dollars a paint CALLED "swamp fog"
  • Don't hire a handyman randomly off of Craigslist.  Well, not unless you like walls built without the aid of a level, in which case I say go ahead- you won't be disappointed. 
And finally- 
  • Don't buy a house that was built before your grandparents were born.  Ever.  Try to remember that this was a time when people still used leeches as "medicine" and thought tapeworms were a useful diet aid.  Would you really trust these people to build your house?  I think not.  
(On a side note: anyone know where one can buy pharmaceutical-grade tapeworms?  Cause, I've got a friend who was asking...)

So on that note- I don't know what you all will be doing this weekend, but I sure know what I'll be doing.  
Operation Fix This Fucking House, part two: the sledgehammer chronicles

Happy Friday, my plaster-covered, asbestos-inhaling bits of sweat equity.  Happy Friday. 



Brooke said...

Our house is definitely older than our grandparents. Except, probably the one that would be about 96 today. We have one bathroom and I have to say that in 3.5 years, it has only been a MAJOR (read:accident about to happen) problem a handful of times.

Though being pregnant and sleeping upstairs when the bathroom is downstairs certainly adds "falling down the steps at 3am and miscarrying" to my laundry list of worries.

So, I am guessing your house still isn't done ; )

Whiskeymarie said...

"So, I am guessing your house still isn't done"

Not even close. Not. Even. Close.

Johnson said...

To be fair to your fellow laundromat patrons, they're probably there so often because of how much stains show up on white robes. Heyo!

MommyLisa said...

Dude. My ceilings are still ripped apart from last spring. Dang husband.

Dr. MVM said...

Our was built in the '50's, updated in the '80's and it still needs work. Thank goodness we're too lazy/broke to do much of it right now though.

Dr. MVM said...

Please insert the word 'house' in the above sentence between the words 'Our' and 'was.' Thank you.

Gwen said...

Might I recommend adding Peter Gabriel to your playlist for the weekend? You could have a steam train, if you'd just lay down your tracks.

I kill me.

Jumble Mash said...

Its sounds terribly frustrating, but it was really funny to read. LOL. We are planning to get something of our own next year. I'll print out this post and carry it around with me :)

Jessica said...

DON'T MARRY A CONTRACTOR... lest you want to wait 20 years for him to get out of the business then decide that he (and therefore you) can redo your entire house, outside and in, bottom to top, IN HIS SPARE TIME. Oh yeah... we live in a 5-story semi-detached city row home built in 1860-something. Awesome.

Lisa said...

Sage advice.

And, renters, we're not excused from this kind of bullshittery either. Case in point: A friend of mine had her apartment catch fire because her insane landlord had insulated the walls with hay. HAY!

Much luck to you, love.

Scope said...

Then this wouldn't be the time to mention that I live in a new construction condo. Hard wood floors. Ganite counter tops. 2 bath. Master has one of them "carwash" kind of showers. Stainless steel in the kitchen.

Nope, not mentioning that I plan on using some touch-up paint to fix one tiny spot on the ceiling, and that will swell me with "handyman pride."

Nope, because that would be rubbing it in.

But tell me more about these hammers? Did you buy them at the "Maul of America"?

Mnmom said...

Elle and her landlord made me snort. And like Jessica said DON'T marry a contractor because, like they say, the cobbler's children have no shoes.

EXCEPT that he's really REALLY good at all the construction-estimating-consulting-project mgmt stuff.

Red Howard said...

I've found it always works best to let someone else buy the house, then move in for a while until you burn that bridge. Repeat ad nauseum

Idea #527 said...

I looked at 85 houses before I bought mine. I'm pretty happy. It was house 62 that I looked at. :)

I was lucky though because she did just redo a bunch of stuff. Of course, in the back of my head, I keep wondering if the stuff she redid downstairs is covering up other things! :)

Luckily my Dad is a home inspector and inspected the shit out of it. And he did make the comment that she took a lot of time to make it look nice, but maybe should have thought of actually paying an electrician or professional to fix things. Which she did have to pay an electrician to fix some things before I bought it.

Stacey said...

Our prior home was a nice throwback to the Bradys- complete with accent wallpaper that had some funky gold trees on it (palm maybe). And the piece de resistance the "popcorn" ceilings which on one lovely day I decided to scrape only later learning that I too might become all too familiar with the word mesothelioma.

After that experience I pretty much decided I was never ever going to do a home project. Ever.

domboy said...

Our house renovations are almost done ... I just need a couple more weeks ...

Glennis said...

"Don't hire Iraeli contractors who hire undocumented Iranian Jews for plumbers, just because they're interesting guys and you're fascinated by their culture." Believe me, this is a rule that my husband still violates from time to time.

The folly of this became clear when, six months after having them cap some pipes in the basement, the aluminum electrical conduit hardware they used on the copper plumbing pipes failed and our guest room filled with water.

Our house is just 7 years younger than I am, but it still feels like it's 100 years old. Oh, wait.

julochka said...

Bill sent me here and i'm so glad he did. i too am in the throes of a OFTFH and i will admit to having made pretty much every mistake that you outline on your list. where the hell were you with this list back in april or so when we were signing up for this little ride? the only real difference is that the white supremacist laundromat - tho' germany is only about 2 hours away...we do have actual plugs for the washer and dryer, we just can't use them at the same time as we boil water and/or run the dishwasher or leave the heater on for the rabbit.

please don't visit me 'til i can get a chance to write something funny - i've been decidedly unfunny lately, as i'm celebrating the recent demise of my career and it's made me all earnest and happy and shit. so wait a few days before you visit me, 'kay?

i will be back.

Venom said...

I was SO excited when I bought my very first house that I forgot to count the closets.

Zero is a number, right?