Home & Style

Diary of a Fixer-Upper: Getting Settled

My first two months of home ownership were completely chaotic. Right away, there was the whirlwind of the huge renovation projects—the heating system and the floors. Then there were the two minor disasters with the flood and the broken water heater. Now

I certainly wasn’t done with the house. Kitchen and bathroom renovations were still a must, but those big-ticket projects require saving up cash (not to mention, the thought of ripping up the only shower did not appeal much). I spent the first week unpacking. After living in studios and shared apartments, it was very exciting to spread out and fill every nook in my new two-bedroom home.  

As I got settled, I had time to do an inventory on the house. I already knew that there were lots of little tasks that  would give me the opportunity to break out hammer and nails and do a little fixing myself, finally. And yet, the size of my list shocked me. Some repairs fell into the “uh, that’s probably some kind of code violation” category, while others were “who would DO that?” decorating no-nos.  My inspector assured me that the electrical system was in good shape, but there were a few disconcerting things. Maybe two . . . maybe three of the switches and outlets in the house had faceplates—the rest were exposed, if they even had a switch or outlet installed. I didn’t discover until I’d installed a light fixture in the second bedroom that—ha!—there’s no switch. I had to remove the bulb to turn it off.  

This isn’t a house for curious kids and puppies. In the master bedroom, an outlet box stuck three inches out of the wall. It’s always “fun” to discover a loose stair-rail pole or to look up from the sink to find no grout in the tile in half the upstairs bathroom. Yeah, just half.  It wasn’t until after I moved in that I noticed the molding around the door in the second bedroom was almost completely unattached.  

My list is still growing and includes such gems as the hideous, mismatching 1970s gold door handles throughout the house and the dripping around an upstairs window coming through the drywall.

When people ask if you’re ready to buy a home, this, I think, is what they mean. It’s not just the terrifying new mortgage that makes you start brown-bagging for the first time since elementary school. Nor is it the terrifying realization that you are, in fact, an adult now, and that can only mean wrinkles and Social Security checks are imminent. Buying a home means having the resources—and will power—to invest in the tiny things you didn’t even know were there until you lived it.  No doubt that’s true in any house, and even more true when you choose to put down your roots in a house previously “renovated” by, I don’t know, crazy people?  

To read Heather's home adventures from the beginning, click here.   

To read more posts on real estate and home design, click here.