Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On the joys of home ownership....

     This morning, as the dawn  breaks, my home will be swarmed by men in pickup trucks with ladders attached.  In a few short hours, they'll tear the roof off my 100 year old house, and start replacing it with a new one.  I'll be thousands of dollars poorer by the time they get done and I wouldn't have it any other way.....

     We have both types of folks in our families, people who rent their homes and domiciles, and people who purchase them, and I've never had any interest in doing the former, when I had the ability
and financing to do the latter.  I'm a home owner and always suspected that I would be.  I'll not stake the claim that my home is an investment, because if it is, it's a poor one.  I can show receipts for tax bills, insurance, additions, home repairs and maintenance that when added to my mortgage, clearly will show a net loss from my current assessed value, but for me, it's not about investing my money wisely, it's about the quality of life and freedoms you have while you are in your prime years, and I gladly will swap that for the pile of money I could have had sitting in a bank at the end of my life.

     We were renters first.  My wife and I rented 3 different apartments in Canandaigua NY over a period of 6-7 years. The first one was an older house, split into two apartments, one atop the other.  It
had huge ceilings that were so big we had to buy a kerosene heater just to supplement the furnace that was in it, to help with heating it.  We had great neighbors at first, a policeman and his wife, but then they purchased a home and a mother with a couple of kids moved in.  I was studying one day downstairs and kept hearing a hellacious noise above me, only to discern that her kids were roller skating on the hardwood floors above me.  We were evicted from that home when it sold, so that the new owners could live in our apartment.  In the next apartment, we were the upstairs neighbors and the nice older couple, a brother and sister, happily heated our apartment for us, by turning up their heat so high in the winter.  We'd keep ours off and sometimes still have to open a window to cool down.  In our last rental place, we went back to being the lower renters and had a great couple as upstairs neighbors, until they moved out and were replaced by a less
considerate couple.  For years we shared a driveway with the first folks, seamlessly placing our 4 cars in it, with no hassles.  With the next couple it was always a fight to ask one or the other to move a car so that we could get ours in and out of the driveway.  So you can see through our experiences, what we gained from home ownership over our rental time, no roller skating kids (except our own which were much cuter when they did it), we control the temperature in the home, we can't get evicted if we pay our mortgage, we pick who we share a house with and we can put our cars anywhere in the driveway we damn well please.  Priceless.  
      We looked at many, many, houses before we purchased this home, but we were so anxious to have our own place that we overlooked some serious flaws in some, and had to have people that weren't emotionally invested in the process, point them out for us.  The most memorable one, was when describing a place to my brother Ace, that we were considering making an offer on, he quickly pointed out that it was directly across the street from the Ontario County Fair and Racetrack where every Saturday they race stock cars.   We lived several miles away from there at the time, and could clearly hear
when the races started from there, so being race-adjacent would have been horrible.  We still drive by another house, that we had come close to buying, and it looks so small and unappealing that we can't even recall what we liked about it.  Our eventual home, in the sleepy little hamlet of Hall NY turned out to be exactly what we needed, but that's not to say that it was perfect from the beginning or that we've made it into anything but our own.

     This house had an outbuilding kinda garage when we moved in, but the floors were rotted and it barely fit one car in it.  We knocked it down, leveled the area, and a few years later, put up our version of a garage (See - The Garaj-Mahal) and fitting our cars in it, is no longer an issue.  The house had clapboard two-tone siding when we moved in, and we had grand ideas about painting one
side of the house each summer to maintain it.  After 5 years, we hadn't gotten to painting even one side and they all were peeling, so vinyl siding seemed the way to go.  An enclosed front porch was replaced by an open-railing one, a lopsided back deck was replaced by a green composite one with a sunken hot tub, and the driveway was replaced with stone, and then blacktop just last year.  The property has seen horseshoe pits built, dilapidated, and then dug under.  It's seen swing-sets built, expanded and then demolished (The former owners had different priorities, I'm told that there is an in-ground pool that is buried in my back yard somewhere).  5 of the rooms inside have been redone, and a couple could probably use it again.  The furnace was replaced, we've seen a few hot water heaters come and go, we added electric outlets and overhead lights to most of the rooms, which necessitated an electrical panel upgrade.  I try and think these things through so when we did that, I
 set up an outside plug to run the house with a generator, but we don't even own a generator yet.  We buried all our electric lines to and from the house and while we were at it, put down some drainage pipes to keep the water flowing away from the home.  We expanded the septic system and found a crushed pipe while doing it, which quickly explained the odor we used to get in the house after a heavy rain.  Most of the windows in the house have been replaced but we've still got a few that need it.  The attic was better insulated a while ago, and my wife never forgave me for ruining a storage space for her to hoard in.  I've been using the word "We" pretty freely in these paragraphs, so I'd better come clean and tell you that all of this was done by more qualified people, my brother Ace, my brother in law Frank, and a bunch of skilled laborers.  Although I own most tools known to man, I long ago figured out the best tool for me to use, was my checkbook.  You see, I have to protect this home that we bought, it's an investment after all. 


Anonymous said...

We have great memories of renting in Canandaigua with you and Char in the downstairs apt. You were nice enough to share your washer and dryer with us, and the driveway was never a problem. We missed you when we moved away.

cdyarger said...

I do miss some of my old neighbors too! I love owning my own home though. Oh, and by the way, anyone who knows me well will know that I NEVER hoarded in the attic! I like to think I am very far from being a hoarder. In fact, in previous blogs you might note that Bill complains about me throwing too much away, lol!! Good blog though, or what I could read of it with all the roof noise over my head!!

Anonymous said...

Important to own your own home so when your family members who are renters retire they'll have a place to live

Anonymous said...

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