So here we are, a year into home ownership! I’ve now paid (almost!) 12 mortgage payments, crossed a ton of things off the list, and have LOTS left to do. It’s been a relatively easy year, but I certainly learned a few things.
Lesson #1: Home Warranties are GREAT!
In August of last year, I noticed it was quite warm in the house. But it was August in Texas! It’s always warm! Well, it kept getting hotter and hotter, and we eventually realized we needed to call someone since our AC unit had died. Thankfully, we paid about $50 for the fix, and our home warranty covered the rest. Since the real bill was around $2,000 (or maybe even a bit more, I can’t really remember now) I was VERY happy we opted in for that one.
Lesson #2: Water your grass.
Our lawn used to look like this:
Now it’s a giant mud pit that I’m too scared to even go take a picture of. Unfortunately, that means we have to re-seed our entire lawn. When we moved in, it was BEAUTIFUL! Lush, green lawn with lots of thick grass. However, our water bills here are super high for some reason and I opted not to use our sprinkler system since I didn’t really know how. Growing up in Kentucky, we didn’t ever really have a need for sprinklers and so I had no experience with them. Lesson learned – we’re going to try to grow back our yard, but I sure wish I could go back and tell my penny-pinching self of last year to just turn the darn thing on.
Lesson #3: You will notice things that you wish you had realized when you were looking at the house.
I had no idea that we had a double shower head in our master bathroom until we moved in. I also didn’t know that the stove that they bought doesn’t fit in the space allotted, meaning you can’t open the spice drawer. At all – it opens about 3 inches if you are lucky. You have to take the knobs off of the stove and open the oven door to try to get to the spices. House quirks aren’t always apparent when you’re doing the walk through.
I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to look more closely. Every hot water handle on every sink in our house comes off with very little effort. The toilets all flush weird (or don’t flush at all). Our shower door only works on one side. The gate to our backyard is kind of broken. These are all things I should have asked to be addressed before we moved in, but I didn’t. Lesson learned for if we ever move again!
Lesson #4: Sometimes hiring out work is the right way to go, even if you are an avid DIY-er.
Home ownership is funny. Our living room has these GORGEOUS super tall ceilings, which are so nice and airy. I was so excited about that when we bought the house! It makes that room feel huge, and I’m so glad that we have them! However, while we were painting the first floor of the house over the course of the last year, I realized how tall they really are. Y’all, I’m kinda of afraid of heights. That ladder was WAY too far up for me. I was kind of regretting picking a house with such tall ceilings.
So we hired it out – something as simple as painting. And it was worth EVERY. PENNY. It took a crew of three men an entire day to paint our foyer (which also has tall ceilings) and our living room with just one coat, plus the ceilings. They are up on those ladders all the time and it was no big deal. I’ve never been so sure about a purchase in my life. If something scares you, hire it out!
Lesson #5: Paint does wonders for making a house feel like your own.
Speaking of paint, one of the first changes we made was to paint the World’s Most Hideous Room another color other than sponge painted metallic gold over WALLPAPER. Seriously, who thought that looked good? When we bought the house, I knew it would be one of the first rooms we changed, and it made such a huge impact. It no longer felt like we were living in someone else’s house – it was ours!
Lesson #6: Hang some art, already!
We spent almost a year before hanging a single piece of art in our bedroom, besides the ocean scene above our bed that I hang sideways to pretend it isn’t an ocean scene (but shh! don’t tell anyone!). The only reason we even hung that was because there was already a picture hanger there! Hanging some art above the baby’s bassinet and some on the bare wall on the opposite side of the room have really made a different in how ‘done’ our bedroom feels. We still have big plans in here, but I love the space so much more now.
Lesson #7: Big projects take lots of time.
We literally just finished the flooring today. (HOORAY!) We started on Thanksgiving Break, meaning it’s been 4 months of our house being torn apart. Luckily we just have to do trim, and then we can move the miter saw out of the eventual next baby’s room for good (until we do crown molding)! It took way longer than I thought that it would, and not really because we didn’t have time to work on it. I thought we would finish it all over Thanksgiving, but I was just mentally exhausted from the school year and needed to watch TV and do nothing. Ditto on Winter Break.
We had the time, but it was better used on other things. You can only measure and cut so many times in one day, and it’s ok if your project takes longer than you thought. Stay tuned for an update on the floors – I’m doing lots of sweeping right now!
Lesson #8: Once you move in, your goals become much more realistic.
I originally wanted to tear out the backsplash in the kitchen, concrete the countertops, etc. all within a few months of living here. I wanted to lay an entire level of our home in bamboo hardwoods in a weekend! HA! Well after those few months actually passed, I realized those goals weren’t completely realistic.
Just the budget for things sneaks up on you. Not only do you have to pay for the renovation aspect, but you have to pay for removal of construction debris. You’ll overbuy. You’ll realize how many HOURS you spend in the car driving to Home Depot and Lowes. And your goals become much smaller. The thought of a kitchen renovation right now scares the snot out of me – someday, but not anytime soon!
Lesson #9: Don’t be afraid to make big changes!
Yes, I know I just said I learned to be more realistic, but sometimes dreaming big DOES pay off. When we toured the house before we bought it, there was a weird curtain wall that just didn’t seem to belong. One evening, after a particularly hard day at school, I started ripping it out. To be honest, I’ve never looked back. Taking out that wall really opened up the upstairs and left us with a ton more living space. We have our own built-in office and a secondary living room now!
Lesson #10: Buying all the stuff you need to run a home is EXPENSIVE!
When we moved in, I was suddenly confronted with all the things you need to take care of a home. A lawnmower, edger, gardening tools, lawn waste bags, and organization for ALL. THE. THINGS. New locks for the doors. It really adds up. I would advise anybody that is getting ready to purchase a house to also be ready to spend some serious cash getting your home maintenance items picked out.