Home ownership: the One-Year-In report!

Well, I’ve been a homeowner for One Full Year now!!!  Holy cow that’s crazy, but crazy good.  If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be tapping this out through a wi-fi system in my very own home?  I’d tell you you needed to stay off the meth.

Now?  Cozied up with one of my kitties, in my family room (aka the ManCave) listening to my washer and dryer spin stuff around (multitasking, that’s moi).  Wow.

So what have I accomplished?  Let me fill you in:

* Painted the whole pad (okay, a bit of the upper stairwell isn’t done, but otherwise it’s totally done!)

* Put in closet systems in all three closets

* Picked out and purchased a fridge and washer/dryer

* Sucked up fixes on the roof and put siding on the back and rear sides of the house

* Actually made decisions on furniture, bought ’em and put them in the house: sectionals for the ManCave, sofa, recliner and tables for the front room

* Figured out how to store stuff in the teensy storage areas of the SwampRoom and furnace room (hint: IKEA’s Ivar can be your bff if you let it)

* Set up an herb garden and tomato container that produced tons of basil, sage, parsley, Thai peppers and tomatoes

* Adopted two kitties and after having what can best be described as “a wee bit of a problem” now have two pretty decently adjusted kitties (knock wood!)

* Hung a mirror!  Yeah I did bay-bee!:

Me.  Hung.  Mirror!
Me. Hung. Mirror!

And so much more, but that’s why I’ve got a blog; that way I don’t have to dredge through the brain.  It’s crowded in there.

Tips?  Let me show you them:

TIP 1: It’s your money.  Spend it how and when you want, and don’t let anyone talk you into anything you’re not comfortable with! Whether that’s a real estate agent that tells you “no short sales” (or who — horrors! — pushes you into a house you can’t afford) a contractor that tries to get you into a contract before you’ve had a chance to do your research, or a store employee that hovers too much.  These people aren’t your friends, they work for you (or may end up working for you).  Be nice, be professional, but make no mistake, this decision?  YOURS.  If you don’t feel comfortable with the way someone pushes (or doesn’t push enough)?  Hasta!  You won’t miss out on anything, if anything you’ll end up with something better!

TIP 2: Get everything in writing. If you want to make sure something a salesperson/contractor/realtor or seller says is actually gonna happen?  Have them write it into whatever it is you’re signing.  Or, write it in yourself and have them initial it.  Worried a contractor won’t charge you more than his/her initial good-faith estimate?  Make ’em put in that this is the final cost.  Double-check with an attorney if you want to make sure the wording is tight.  If a person or business won’t back up what they’ve told you with putting it in writing, MOVE ON.  Speaking of attorneys,

TIP 3: Attorneys.  They’re not just for Law&Order anymore!  Get one to double-check any house purchase you’ll be making before signing anything.  As with Tip 1, don’t get pressured into signing anything you’re not comfortable with.  Even if you’re feeling good about something as big as a home purchase, get a real estate attorney to look over your contract before signing anything.  A real estate attorney will be looking out for your best interest, something that your typical boilerplate home purchase contract realtors have.  Your realtor may be a fantastic person, but he or she is working with many other folks and the goal is to get your John Hancock onto a piece of paper.  Once everything is signed, sealed and closed on, you’re on your own.  So get someone who knows the deal in on your process.  You’ll sleep easier.  And maybe even dodge a bullet!

TIP 4: Do as much as you can yourself to save money, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. You can hang a mirror (heck, I did!), paint your own walls, patch drywall and even repair carpet patches, all without any prior experience with anything more than your average on/off lightswitch.  But if you get worried that you’ll botch up a larger project, like rewiring a GFCI, drilling something into the brick & mortar of your house or caulking your tub, hire a pro, at least for the first go-round.  That way you can watch as s/he does the job, and you can figure out if it’s something you’d be willing and able to tackle the next time it needs to be done.  It’s worth getting the job done right by someone else if you could possibly end up spending even more trying to fix your fubar.  Don’t forget free workshops at the “big box” hardware stores that can give you great how-to info for the low-low cost of a bit of your time!

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for now.  My first year in — phew!  (Wow, that just doesn’t get old.)  Off to tear off another chunk of gingerbread house.  This time?  It’s getting dunked in peppermint cocoa!


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