Diner Diaries

Life and Times of a Patron of the King's Chef diner

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

House Poor

No one said that more than three years after buying the house we would still be living in chaos. We bought a thirty-year-old house that needed "cosmetic work." Well if replacing all the carpet and flooring ($4000+), replacing both bathrooms ($3000, with one to go), the screen door ($200), the garage door ($650), the hot water heater ($200), disposal($50), leaky windows ($2700 so far, with 4 more and a sliding glass door to go) qualify as "cosmetic work" okay, but I'm not done. I have invested $250 in interior paint, $660 in lighting, $250 in wallpaper and countless other "minor" items. The kicker, though, is the deck. Two inspectors said the deck was fine, but forced the seller to repaint it. Our insurance company came and inspected, telling us we must replace it within 30 days or they would cancel our coverage. Cost? $3600.

Did I mention the yard? Oh, do I have to? In three years we have been unable to run the sprinklers, though we've spent plenty of time and money fixing, repairing and adding to it. Just this summer, one of the inlaws helping us with the sidewalk poured the excess concrete into the control box. We spent a small fortune removing the juniper bushes which hid the house from sight, grew over the sidewalk and to which I am allergic. Dumping fees alone nearly bankrupted us. Removing the rock from the eyesore of a side yard cost over $400.

All of these items would have been far greater if we hadn't done some or all of the work ourselves. And we're not done. I still can't use the living room; the kitchen is a pit; the downstairs bathroom is closed off--unusable at the moment and we can't afford to replace it yet.

Still, I wouldn't go back to renting. No rental would have permitted me to have an "Opera House Red" living room or to wallpaper the dining room, or to paint the family room two different colors, just because I wanted to. The yard, such as it is, is mine. No one can tell me I can't run water through a rock in the side yard and create a fountain out of it.


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