Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's Always Something

Anybody who owns a house knows that there is always work to be done. It's always something--either something you planned on, like a room addition/renovation or tiling a mudroom or finishing a basement, or something you didn't, like a water heater giving up the ghost and flooding your basement with several inches of steamy hot water which you discover 30 minutes before your nearest home improvement store closes and you end up making a mad dash there in order to purchase a wet vac because being a newbie homeowner, you have never had occasion to need one until now. Whew! And yes, that totally happened to us in our first home. We happened to be painting a bedroom and couldn't figure out why the windows were steaming up. I mean, sure it was Minneapolis and sure, it was the dead of winter, and sure, we were young and smokin' hot, but steamed windows seemed strange. We thought, in our naivete, that the paint fumes might cause something of the sort, but it did seem a tad too much steam. It wasn't until my husband went down into the basement to clean the paint stuff and yelled that I realized what was wrong. Yep. blown water heater. Good times.

My point is, that when you own a home, there is always some sort of project from the simple to the more challenging to keep you occupied. And this home is no exception. In fact, this home seems to be the rule.

We bought this house a little over a year ago. We had sold our home, in a slow market, in a remarkable 60 days. The only problem was that we didn't have another home and we had a quick closing. We made an offer on an older home that we had been looking at for well over a year. It was roundly rejected. As were our counter offers. (Rest easy. Our bruised feelings were less bruised when we discovered that that house went for about what we paid for this house. And we wouldn't have gained a whole lot of equity with that house.) So we were in a dilemma. We had no home. Fortunately, while we were technically homeless, we weren't friendless. Good friends of ours let our whole family move in with them for about a month while we were waiting to get into our current house. Even better, we are still friends! But our new house? Oh. My. Word.

Our "new" house is about 8 years old. But those years should be counted like dog years. The home was a distressed property, owned by a bank and in some serious disrepair. From what we've gathered (from the neighbors who like us) the family that lived here went through a divorce. Then, they were upside down in their mortgage. The homeowner didn't pay his sewer bills and our city, in all it's wisdom, put a bubble block on the sewer pipe. This caused sewage to back up from the main floor toilet. Now, this mess was already cleaned up when we bought the home, but the hardwood floors were warped and there was mold. Also, because the power was turned off, the sump pumps didn't work so the basement flooded. Twice. They fixed it the first time. Or so they said. There was mold so bad in the basement that you couldn't walk into the house without a respirator on. My husband and his brother spent the better part of a week tearing out the nasty drywall and insulation from the basement and cleaning up the mold. Then we had to have it professionally cleaned and the smell removed. About 800 square feet of hardwood flooring on the first floor had to be removed. We lived with plywood subfloor for about a month before my husband and dad laid the new hardwood. We lived with plywood subfloor in the mudroom until last week. But now, the main floor is (except for the trim in the mudroom) finished. Well, except for painting the living room and dining room. Which will happen. Someday.

Still, with all that is left to do in this house--fix the drywall on the ceilings where the leaking roof damaged them, put flooring in the master bath, laundry room, and kids' bath because they put the vinyl down improperly and you can literally pick up a corner of the vinyl and stuff a small child under it like a rug, paint nearly every room, get new counter tops in the kitchen, work on the landscaping, and finish the basement--this home was meant for us. We gained equity the minute we moved in. I didn't have to change one thing about the family room. The colors were perfect for our furnishings. We doubled the space we used to have. I love this house and even though there are some crazy neighbors, I like the neighborhood as well. But my, oh my. Just looking at list of things to be done wears me out. Still, we're soldiering on. (Yes, I am a melodramatic dork.)

The next project is turning the loft into Mary's bedroom. This home has four bedrooms and a loft. The boys have been sharing a bedroom since we lived in the old house. One of the reasons we moved was because we wanted a home with a basement. The other was because we wanted both of our sons to live to adulthood. Something I grew to think might not happen if they continued to share a room. So my husband, fresh from his success with the mudroom, was gung-ho to start framing in the loft. (That's a total lie. My parents were here for Christmas and my dad was willing to help, so the timing was right. My dear husband tried his best to defer the project. Also, I told him that Mary's room came before the basement or I'd vote myself off this island and my husband really, really wants to finish the basement.)

So the last few days there has been hammering and sawing and pounding and a few words that if your mama heard you say them, she'd wash your mouth out with soap, and lo and behold, there is a room--or the beginning of a room--where once there was only a loft. Mary skips down the hall and says "Look! There's my room!" She has informed me that her new room will be pink. "Just PINK, mom!!!" James, who will occupy Mary's old room which is right across the hall from his current room, is full of ideas about how he wants his new room to look. So far I've heard that he'd like one wall done floor to ceiling in chalkboard paint and that he'd like either Purdue or Pittsburgh Steelers colors. (I know! This came as a total surprise to me, as he is as rabid a Colts fan as you are likely to find anywhere.)

There will be shuffling of rooms and moving of furniture in the future. There will be a lot of painting. There will be sorting of toys and all the detritus that seems to find it's way into my children's rooms. There will be wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth as I force them to give away things that they haven't looked at, let alone used, in months and they will suddenly swear that those things are their favorite things ever. There will be headaches.

But! In the end, everyone will have a room, and barring me dipping one of my boys in ketchup and eating them for a snack, they will survive until adulthood. And it will be good.

Until ________ breaks or needs repair.

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