One year later…
I can now reflect on what it means to own a house. It’s not easy, that’s for sure. It’s not for the weak of heart. It would have been so easy for us to stay where we were. 1Br apt in the outer Richmond of SF. Walking distance to Ocean Beach, GG Park, The Legion of Honor, stones throw away from the Presidio, GG Bridge, Haight. Laundry in the building (coin operated) and low rent with utilities included (that means never having to turn off anything in fear of a high electric bill). It was a very free way to live, no real responsibilities…no fear of losing your job and your house. We could just float along paying rent and living large spending our salaries any way we saw fit. We could take trips and play…and that would be that. But in the end, I figure we would have nothing but some good times to show for it. And I just didn’t think that would have made the best foundation for building our future. So, one year ago, on 04/20/2009, we signed that lifestyle away for this new one.
The new lifestyle. Owning is very different from renting. Our mortgage is much higher than our old rent Then there are utilities (gas, electric, water, trash), insurance, mip, taxes, etc, etc. And of course repairs, repairs, repairs. This blog is titled “fixer” with a view for some reason, right? Anything we saved while renting, went to closing costs and fixes. Any freelance work I could/can get, went right to fixes. What fixes? Ah, yes. Good question. I’m sure Cristina will elaborate, but here’s a general idea:
damaged floors get refinished and repaired, dirty stained old carpets get ripped out and replaced, stark white walls with too much gloss get softened by some touches of warmth, old plugs and plates are discarded for newer and cleaner ones, linoleum layers replaced by tile flooring, mold and water damaged walls get cleaned and rebuilt, broken old kitchen appliances get replaced with new shiny stainless ones, some old drafty noisy windows get ripped out and replaced, old broken fans and light fixtures get torn down and replaced with working ones, nasty pebbles gets hauled around and some juniper trees get chopped to make room for some cactus plants, a leaking and desperately sad tar and gravel roof finally gets replaced with a new shingle roof, an old inefficient floor heater gets gutted and turned into an intake for a new high efficiency central heater, kitchen cabinets are sanded and painted white, bedroom doors are in the works, curtains, rods, and shades are added throughout, many weeds are pulled (some still linger), broken and dilapidated bathroom vanity gets replaced by a new pedestal sink, vanity mirror gets replaced by a clean working one, toilet gets removed and reseated, shower head gets replaced, door frame to kitchen gets a frame, sliding doors inside house get turned into a framed clean doorway, chipped and nail ridden stone steps get repaired and painted brown, and some furniture is bought.
So, that’s most of it, at least the things I can recall of the top of my head late at night. There are still a lot of things to do; add laundry hook-ups, gut and rebuild master bathroom (currently empty) and drain (currently cracked), paint trim (someday), and maybe do some real landscaping. But, I guess some of those things are going to be left for year two. Although year two is officially “baby” year.
And that takes me back to the original questions (which I never asked). Why? Why bother? Why stop playing and take on this grand responsibility? Why spend all your time working, paying for and fixing this house. Is it the challenge? To see if I can do it? Maybe. Or it might be the long desire I’ve had to own a house and start building a future for myself instead of throwing money into someone else’ investment as a renter. Maybe. I don’t really have the answer, but I hope as I look back after another year on 04/20/11, it might make more sense.
For now I will look out my window and enjoy the twinkling lights of the city and the bay and enjoy the ride.