Tuesday, July 8, 2008

the money pit

Jparks and I are quickly rounding the corner on one year of home ownership and I wish I could say it's been easy and fun, and YAY OWNING A HOME RULES! but seriously it stresses me out. Like a lot. As much as I love our little townhouse, I know this is our starter house and I can't help but look at all the little nicks and dings we are causing a think "Holy crap, there goes our resale value"

Like last night I discovered this growing behind my bathroom mirror: ick! I promptly freaked out and made jparks get out of bed to look at it. Then I proceeded to lecture him about how the resale value is gone! We are going to take a hit on this house and will be forced to live here forever. And that would be the end of the world. And then I'll die. The end.

I really want to enjoy my house but I just can't. I look at my hardwood floors and I see all the scratches that my furniture leaves. I look at my carpets and only see the stains on them. I have a problem and I can't stop.

So how do you other home owners get over the fact that living in your house is killing it? Should I just sign up for the prozac now since having kids is going to make the destruction of my house happen that much quicker? Can kids really tear the house apart worse than jparks? I mean, the other night the boy was doing handstands in the bedroom. With his feet up on the walls. Seriously, how much more damage can kids do? Do I just need to accept that when we are ready to sell I'll have to sink a large quantity of money into fixing the house that I no longer want and will therefore have less money to sink into the house I want to buy? Or am I just over-thinking this whole house thing?

Help! I've fallen into my own neurotic mind and I can't get up!


  1. I have had my (first) house for about 8 months. I worry about the same things you do.

    Then I worry about the things I want to replace. I don't like the light fixtures. But what would a buyer want? Do I get what I want or what I think would attract the most sellers? The carpet is getting dirty (darn dog), buyers like hardwood floors, right? Should I replace them now? Or wait until I am going to sell so they are in great condition? Then I further torment myself by watching all those shows on TV about people fixing up their house to sell it, and listen (obsessively) to all the advice they get.

    I think in the end, you just have to LIVE in your house, and when the time comes to sell, clean it and stage it and let your real estate agent do the rest.

  2. We're in a similar situation, except our house was already broken and it's a matter of choosing what to fix first. Some things are trivial (new paint), others are more involved (kitchens), others are ridiculous (is that beam twisting?).

    I'm a goal-oriented perfectionist, but I've realized that there probably won't be some magic point where the house is "done". You know that they're always painting the Golden Gate, because by the time you get to the other side the wind, salt, and tourists have ruined the side you started 18 months ago. So the way I've come to deal with it is to set "landings"...I'll fix the living room, but won't worry about the back bedrooms yet...I'll get the electrics fixed, but the backyard can wait. This is assisted by the lack of infinite funds, but I think it's a healthy attitude anyway...it's certainly more realistic. It sets the expectation that the house will never be perfect, but I'll be happier over time.

    Now since you're working backwards (from relatively new stuff to relatively aged stuff) I can offer some reassurance...things like scratched floors, scuffed paint, and even the occasional broken thing are reasonably trivial when it comes to resale value (this is coming from a person who paid full price for a house that had 3 non-functional air conditioners, asbestos floors hidden beneath poorly installed Pergo, and a floor that sags 1" around the periphery). Now, if you tore out a bathroom and took the toilet with you, that might ding the value a bit. But the reality is that all of the little things can be fixed/staged/etc. for about $10K, which is justifiable when you're selling an asset that large, or even if you just have some extra cash and want to spruce things up.

  3. I'm the same way about cars. That's why I like the fact that our van is several years old and already had some dings and scratches when we bought it a year ago. If I ding it up a little more, who cares?!

    As for the house issue, Chris is right. Cosmetic issues are nothing compared to structural or layout problems. You can't "break" your house except through extreme neglect.

  4. I'm pretty sure there's no way that a kid can do more damage than Jason. I suspect that a kid with half of Jason's genes might come close, though.

  5. i feel that way too. When we moved in the house was pristine, and now there are marks on the walls, gouges in the floor and threads coming up in the carpet (thanks Bonsai!).
    I try to breathe and then I breathe too much and proceed on with my freak out. 'Cause isn't that the mature way of dealing with things?

  6. I used to do handstands against my bedroom walls too! I think my parents house survived?

  7. um. Kids can do some crazy damage dude. But usually nothing a little paint can't cover. Or new dry wall.

    and yes, I think most people will have to put money into their house to get it sold. I think the trick is to keep with maintaining as you go along so it's not this crazy mess later on.