Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Day I Almost Divorced My House

I knew my house was “the one” before I ever stepped foot inside.  It was perfect: stone exterior, attached garage, hardwood floors throughout, updated bathroom, a private landscaped backyard complete with a swing, and charm galore.  I made an offer the next day and the house was mine a month later.  This was true love, I just knew it.

And then, much like the harsh reality that sets in once the initial phases of love begins to wane, I was faced with the proverbial skeletons in my house’s closet.  One week into homeownership, I turned on the kitchen faucet only to find a small trickle of water coming out.  So I did what any independent woman would do, I called my daddy:
“Oh, Holly, just wait a few hours and see if it comes back on.  If you call a plumber every time you think some little thing might be wrong, you’ll stay broke.”
“Well, I’m pretty sure I hear water running in the bathroom wall.  I don’t think this is a little thing."
“Oh, that’s not good.”
Indeed.  A huge hole in the wall later, my handyman discovered that the water was not running in the wall, but into my crawlspace.  The main waterline coming into my home had burst and the space below was filling with hundreds of gallons of water at rapid speed. 
A certified plumber came to my house that day and gave me an estimate of $4,000 to repair the waterline.  Yes, that’s right, $4,000.  I had just spent my life’s savings on buying this house a week prior and I was suddenly expected to pay thousands of dollars to fix a pipe?  I was devastated.

“Is this what homeownership is going to be like?” I tearfully asked my mother.

“Yes,” she replied, half chuckling, “but at least it’s yours.  It won’t always be this expensive or troubling, but there is constantly something that needs to be repaired when you own a home.”

“Great.  Just great.”
I called a few more plumbers and prayed that someone would take pity on me and offer a lower rate.  I eventually found a plumber with a great reputation to fix the pipe for $2,300.  A week and a half later, my pipes were repaired and I was left with this:    
I felt as though my house and I had just suffered a horrible breakup and I was being forced back into the relationship.  This was not at all the fairytale I had imagined.
The following Saturday, I spent a couple hours in the afternoon picking up sticks.  As I bent and broke them into smaller pieces, my dog Piper pranced around the yard and fetched smaller twigs.  Once the yard was free of litter, I sat on my swing and observed my winter lawn—so many types of flowers and bushes just waiting for the first signs of spring to blossom.  In that moment, I began to reconnect with my house, picturing summer barbeques and friends gathered around the fire pit I intend to make.  I remembered why I fell in love.
So, my friends, please learn from my experience and keep these things in mind when buying a home:
·         Investigate the plumbing pre-purchase.  I had no idea that galvanized plumbing could burst at any second once it ages.  Had I known this, I would have reconsidered the price I was paying for the home.  If you find that you do have old galvanized plumbing, get it replaced as soon as you can afford it.  Although it may not be a fun way to spend your money, it is necessary—trust me.
·         Have a financial cushion.  When you buy your house, make sure you have some money left over for emergencies.  I am so thankful I did this.

·         Get more than one estimate.  Should you find yourself in a home improvement pickle, make sure you get more than one estimate.  It can be the difference of thousands of dollars.  And don’t forget to check references!

·         Say “no” to slab.  While my home has a crawlspace, there is a small portion that is on slab.  Unfortunately for me, this is where the waterline entered the house, making it an expensive repair.  Save yourself the headache and search for a home with at least a crawlspace.

No comments:

Post a Comment