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December 30, 2011

“Our house was somehow able to find money we didn’t know we had, and suck it from it’s hiding place before we’d had a chance to recognize it as ours. You buy a house for more than you can afford; then, almost immediately, the house forces you to spend even more money, generally on parts of it you didn’t know it had. As my friend Jim, who also owns an old house, told me once, “If I’d know I could afford to spend this much on a house, I’d have bought a nice one to begin with.”Sheetrock & Shellac: David Owen

This was the exact scenairo when the old galvanized radiator pipes were jostled during the basement demolition and began to spray water all over the basement floor. Since the house is old there were never any valves installed, and so, to fix the problem the boiler and all of the radiators had to be drained. Even though I called for a plumber at 2:30pm ( I reached out to 6 different companies) only 2 were available that day, and not until after hours. All said and done I’m out $200 for 1 hour worth of work.

When I came across this passage it was as though I had been caught in that Will Ferrell movie ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ and someone was writing about my life….I’m just waiting for the narration to begin!

All of us, unfortunately, have been smacked by the unexpected open hand our home extends whenever the current ailment rises to the surface.  In addtion, owners of old homes also get a sucker punch to the chest, knocking them flat on their backs while trying to catch a breath. The fist delivering the damage is normally in the form of a failing foundation, asbestos, water anywhere it’s not supposed to be, fraying electrical, obscene heating/cooling bills or unwanted pests – you know, just the big things. So many times have I been with my palm to my forehead slowly shaking my head after finding out what has gone wrong and wondering how much it will cost.

You may be broke, and down to your last dollar but when the furnace goes out in December, or the basement floods, you find the money somewhere to nurse your home back to a reasonable state of health. Which, depending on how ambitious you were when you bought it could be seasonal allergies, the flu or the black plague. Our how floats somewhere in between the sniffles and a slight fever.

Even after all of that I still say “Thank goodness I found this house, and this house found me”. Who knows what renovation attrocities another owner would have commited – painting the woodwork, ripping out the windows, removing the original light fixtures? I shudder at the thought. Now, I will say that if I didn’t own this home I probably would eat out all the time, dress really well and probably travel a bit more. When I think about it though, meals last a few hours and fashion changes with the minute. This house has been around for 80+ years and with my help it should be around for another 80 years, hopefully more… and that is something I can feel really good about.

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