Monday, April 30, 2012

The Joys of Home Ownership

You know the definition of a house: a hole in the ground into which you pour money.

We’ve recently been trying to help our daughter purchase her first home. The ones she likes in the area where she wants to live are too expensive. The ones she can afford are much too small, in bad areas, or would require an exorcism and resurrection to make them habitable.

We’ve owned two houses plus a townhouse in our lives.

The first was supposed to be a ‘starter home.‘ We owned it for seventeen years, during which time we structurally changed all but one room. And we did all the work ourselves. We defined DIY long before it became popular.

While we owned that place, we also bought the townhouse. We used it on the weekends, and our daughter lived there while in college. We did nothing in the way of changes to it, even though I hated the electric stove and kept threatening to replace it.

Instead, we sold both the first place and the condo and bought a larger house near the beach. Our daughter was grown, so no one could understand why, instead of downsizing, we upsized. The answer was simple: we loved the house, location, and proximity to the ocean. (Since Larry is an avid surfer, our priorities were clear.)

We also bought this particular house because it was only about seven years old and had just been completely refurbished: new carpet, fresh paint, new plantation shutters. The yard was lovely and already landscaped. It required nothing in the way of repairs and little maintenance.

Twenty-five years later, however, we’ve replaced the roof, all the windows and most of the doors, survived four broken pipes and a cracked shower pan, relocated all the piping, added another breaker panel, re-landscaped both the front and back yards, remodeled all the bathrooms as well as the kitchen. We’ve also re-carpeted the whole house and replaced some of that.

Now that we’ve retired, we hope nothing major will be required since the house is in better-than-new condition. But we’re not counting on it.

I’ve also been thinking about home upkeep since Nan Burton, my protagonist in the new book Ghost Writer, to be published this summer by Oak Tree Press, inherits a beach cottage and soon discovers the questionable joys of home ownership.

How about you? Do you have any horror stories about how your house self-destructed? Or are you one of the few blessed souls who never seem to have houses turn against you? I’d like to know.


  1. Our first house we kept adding on and adding on until we had very little backyard.

    The house we're in now is our second. We've added to it too, changed rooms around, but it's old and so something is always going wrong.

    By the way, love your house, the location and all you've done with it.

    1. Thanks! Can't wait until we getup there to see you!

  2. Lorna, love your blogs even though I don't respond to them all. They speak directly to me bringing up cherished memories, and some not so cherished memories. I continue to live in my "starter home" after 40 years of ownership. This almost 100 year old home has been a money pit as well as a home full of wonderful memories. It has welcomed new family members, hosted family gatherings and seen me through Tom's death.
    And yet, it welcomes me home in all it's glory whether I have made a trip to the store or gone on a vacation. The thanks it is requesting at this time is a new roof! Let the bids begin.

    1. We just read Friday's entry in the wonderful book "Simple Abundance". it talks about how our homes are reflections on who we are, but they are not who we are. Nearly every time I walk into mine, I remind myself how much I love it. So when are "the girls" coming down for a spa weekend - or few days - or a week?