When we were finally able to buy this house, I was so grateful. It's been a bittersweet thing, because what made it possible was a generous inheritance we got when my dear mother-in-law passed away. She would have loved this place! I get sad sometimes when I think about all the fun we could have had, sitting on my screened porch, drinking wine and watching the bird feeders. I wish we could have bought this place before she died, but such is life.
Since becoming homeowners, we've been very preoccupied with proper care and maintenance of the house. Our last rental home had grown so shabby (thanks to our cheap ass landlord) that I was embarrassed to have people over by the last year we were there. Things wear out and break down over time, and he always, always found the cheapest possible option to repair and/or replace things. We swore that we would never look for the cheap option over the quality one in a home we own, and not only that, we're looking to improve the place. Not for resale, because we hope to live here forever, but for our own comfort and happiness.
Still, I've discovered the one downside of homeownership: there's never any end to the maintaining/repairing/replacing one must do, especially with an older house like ours.
We've done pretty well so far, though. First off, we had to replace the 36 year old HVAC that was here when we bought the place. It kept breaking our first summer here, and in a place as hot as South Carolina that's a ticket to misery. Of course, it took a large chunk out of our savings but it's been so worth it. Not only are we super comfortable, but our power bill has gone down dramatically thanks to the new, much more energy efficient unit. We added a door to the half bathroom off the master bedroom. The previous owners only had a curtain up, which was just bizarre. Along with a few other small repairs, that was all we did the first year.
In the last month we came into some extra money (an actual tax return for the first time in years and then our stimulus payments) and decided to save part of it, but to put the rest into the house. First I called an HVAC company and paid a yearly fee that includes twice a year servicing of our new unit. They came out on Monday morning and did their pre-summer maintenance, and they'll be back in 6 months to do the same thing to prepare for the winter. I paid for the year all at once, in advance. Hopefully this will make our new unit work better and last longer than it would otherwise, so I consider it protecting the investment we made. Money well spent.
Then we had decided we needed some plumbing work done. The shower drain clogged regularly and putting chemicals into it was making me nervous and wasn't resolving the issue. There was a tiny, intermittent leak under the kitchen sink. Most importantly, we have a tankless hot water heater and had heard that they need periodic flushing and maintenance to continue working properly. I looked around online and contacted a combination plumbing and electrical company that has years' worth of excellent customer reviews. They came out Tuesday morning, looked at those three things, and quoted us a price....
Over $800!!!! We were aghast.
It was $300 to service the tankless water heater....$200 to add a new drain to the bathroom tub that would work better....and the tiny, almost insignificant leak under the kitchen sink was the result of a poor, "rigged together" piece of plumbing that wasn't "up to code" and had to be redone...another $250. Also the initial assessment of the issues involved a $65 service fee.
We went ahead and had the work done, but weren't happy about it. I'll admit that the technicians were very professional, prompt, and thorough. But they should have been for the $870 we ended up spending after taxes were added in! If any of you reading this are homeowners and live in the states, do you think that's excessive? It seemed so to me, but what do I know? I do know this, however: whenever we go to have plumbing or electrical work done in the future, we'll try a different company to see if we can get better rates!
At the end of the day, though, we've had some nagging worries put to rest and that's a little more peace of mind. Our a/c is getting regular service now, our tub drains, our kitchen sink is "up to code" and won't be leaking anymore, and our tankless water heater has had really important maintenance done.
Time to move on down the list and onto the next thing.....as soon as our bank account recovers!