What To Know About Owning a House

I’ve owned my own house for around six years now, and I have to say that I love it. Having a haven where I can try and escape the rest of the world is a tiny piece of heaven for me and I have never regretted buying a house for a minute.

OK. That’s not entirely true.

While owning a house is great, there are some things that I wish people had told me about before I signed the mortgage with the blood from my soul and a pen from the agent. I knew I would be spending a lot of money and that living alone, all the responsibility for things fell to me, but there are some things that I didn’t realize.

Everything is Expensive

The good news is that in the beginning after you cut the largest check of your life, everything else seems like pennies. A $300 countertop? What a deal! Only $2,000 for new shingles? Where can I send the check?

However, this excitement diminishes as the memory of that initial payment fades along with the $20/gallon paint that you put on your deck. You soon find yourself comparing the prices of weatherstripping because you’ll be damned if you’re overpaying for that stuff again.

Note: “Weatherstripping” is not as sexy as it sounds.

Also, owning a house makes you extra conscious of everything that happens in or around your house. Shoes are removed because you’re the one that has to clean up the floor, you become captain of the Light Patrol and make sure only the necessary ones are on and every creak and drip will freak you out because it will probably cost money to fix.

Note: Everything will eventually break or need to be replaced—usually all at the same time.

Let There Be Light

Speaking of electricity, every house has at least one switch that you have no idea what it does. You will find it, you will flip it on and off, and somewhere in Alaska an impromptu disco party will be initiated by your actions. But in your own house?

Not so much.

The people who previously owned my house were electrical freaks and had more lights installed than could be found on an airport runway. When I moved in I was gifted this code sheet and control box with eight switches for JUST the outdoor lights. Please note the warning on button 8:


Just Another Day in Suburbia

You eventually perfect the “suburban nod” to neighbors that will be used every time you see them outside for around the next 20 years. Most discussions will revolve around the weather or what week the recycling containers need to be put on the curb.

Note: Remembering to put out both the trash and recycling on time — and before the neighbors — warrants ALL the suburban medals!

You also become a repository of boring knowledge and get excited over weird things. For example, I couldn’t tell you my bust-hip-waist ratio but I know my furnace filters are 16-20-1.

Driving around you notice things like outdoor light fixtures and decorative mulch, and bringing home a new vacuum is like bringing home a new member of the family.

And no matter where you live, the people who owned the house before you left at least one weird thing when they moved. I’m not necessarily talking about a body buried in the yard, but there will something that makes you wonder what the heck those people were thinking.


Basements are Creepy

For as often as I go down there, a commune of hippies could be living in my basement and I wouldn’t know it. Aside from taking shelter in storms and changing the furnace filter (size 16-20-1), I avoid it at all costs.

Then again, maybe I should check. If somebody is living down there, maybe I could charge them their part of the rent.

After all, everything is expensive.

Your turn. What’s one weird thing about where you live?

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27 responses to “What To Know About Owning a House

  1. I don’t currently own a house, bit have done, and you brought back a few memories

  2. I’m already experiencing some of these symptoms and I only live in a rented flat in London as a student! £170 a week for a room that was previously the living room *sigh*

  3. Ugh, “everything will have to be replaced at the same time,” so true! We bought our house in May, and we had to dry up the basement (knew about this before closing…$6800), spray for wasps ($225) and fix the washer ($200). I eventually called my dad and cried about how I was fine with these things INDIVIDUALLY but why did they have to happen ALL AT ONCE?!

    • I had bees when I moved in six years ago, so I can relate on that front!

      • We saw the wasps floating around the house plus a bajillion old nests, it was nervewracking. Then the exterminator told us that we had carpenter bees which I’d never heard of but we still haven’t really dealt with. Not to mention all the mice…

  4. Yup. We’ve been in our house 20 years, and last fall EVERYTHING started to go. I wrote a post about my own suburban financial experiences (http://cordeliasmomstill.com/2013/12/05/houses-and-other-needy-things/ ). You’d think we’d be done after replacing all of that, but there are still items as old as the house (like the windows and those creaky old steps, and I just pray the steps don’t give out under me some day, necessitating a visit by six burly men who can pull me out of the basement from under the collapsed upper story woodwork). And just yesterday, the 15-year-old vacuum died. Ah well. Now that the kids are grown and gone, the next move will be into a rented senior apartment where somewhere else can make the repairs.

  5. Window treatments. I think buying blinds for an entire house cost more than the house, itself. What IS UP with that??

  6. So funny how you put it, and so true! Oh, the mysterious light switch!! Still don’t know why one we have has to be flipped up, but it does, and we had to put tape under it so it don’t get turned off! We’ve lived here probably 20 years, and still wonder about some of the things the former owners did here! 🙂

  7. Our pencil sharpener is located in the basement, in a closet under the stairs.

  8. I can empathize. Have lived in houses since 1960. I call them “sponges” because they are always soaking up your money. I’m still trying to figure out if I will save money if I were renting instead. Then, of course, I wouldn’t have things the way I like them. Re: old pencil sharpener – I had one in one of my previous homes, and yes, it was in the closet off the kitchen, screwed into the wall! After all, who wants to look at a pencil sharpener screwed into one of the kitchen cabinets?

  9. We have a VERY creepy life-size clown mural in our basement. We actually didn’t know it was there until after we moved in as it was covered with boxes. And the strangest part? I refuse to paint over it as I plan to “re-gift” it to the next owners!

  10. I do not own a home, but I’m beginning to think that I’d get more done if I did. Landlords are only handy when they’re responsible. Ours has been telling us for months he’s going to put up an awning on one side of the house but until he does every time it rains our living room floods.

  11. When we moved into our house, there was a Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs complete with a doorknob set to lock someone IN (not out). We found that intensely creepy and swapped the knob immediately.

  12. A disaster averted! When our house was being built, the original plan called for a small laundry room between the kitchen and the dining room .Like I’m having a dinner party and I say, right this way with your china and crystal ,don’t mind my undies on the floor in the pile to be washed…. I don’t think so. I moved the laundry to the third car garage, added a walk in pantry and a mud room with a door to the outside sidewalk for the swimmers to use. The butler’s pantry, now a coffee bar makes entirely more sense.

  13. My legacy… When we got our tiny toy poodle she was the size of a beanie-baby. I heard that they could learn too ring a bell with their nose if mounted on the wall. So, beside the back door 6″ from the ground, hangs a 3’bell on a beautiful mounted holder. Terrified of it, she won’t go near it, but if I take it down it will leave screw holes in the wall that will have to be filled and painted. Someday someone will wonder, WTH?

  14. I’ve owned a house, or sit a house owned me? You tell truth in a humorous way!

  15. OMG! We have a light switch that doesn’t go to anything! It’s in our living room and we both flip it from time to time.

    There’s actually a funny case from years ago out of California. A couple bought this house and had a switch they didn’t know what it went to. It was in their bedroom, which was at the end of a long haul. One night the guy got up to go the restroom down the hall and accidentally hit the switch. A hole opened up and he fell down into a landing that was covered in rocks.

    His wife soon came looking for him and eventually did the same thing. She was a very large woman and fell on top of the guy who was on top of the rocks. It took forever for authorities to find them. They lived and sued the crap out of the former homeowner for failure to disclose.

    Apparently he was a war vet and was paranoid someone would get him in the middle of the night, so he set up that switch.

    Bottom line: if you have a switch to a torture chamber, label that shit for the new homeowner.

  16. I have two light switches that I have no idea what they control. Alaskan disco party is as good of an idea as any.
    Speaking of light switches, the one on the way down to the scary basement has started making a weird snap, crackle, pop noise when you use it. Therefore, I have covered the light switch with electric tape. That’s my short term fix. We’ve got a lot of those.

  17. I’m going to join the ranks of “homeowner” pretty soon myself. I guess I have more to worry about than I thought.

  18. When we were remodeling our ca.1927 house I was putting in some quality time with a sledgehammer and under-the-stairs lath and plaster when I pulled out a BANK BAG FULL OF MONEY. I am not even kidding. It turned out to be mostly small denominations so it wasn’t like it paid for the remodel (see also: Money Pit) but it certainly put a lilt into my sledgehammer action for the rest of the day.

  19. I would have to try that switch just once to see what happens. We bought the house I grew up in so everything is very weird always 🙂

  20. Will you please stop using that mystery switch? It’s turning my garbage disposal on and off.

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