The homebuying can be expensive post

I’ve blocked out this dark chapter in our financial history from my memory.

We bought a house that’s too big.  It’s a wonderful beautiful house.  It was, of course, the nicest one we looked at and right on top of our affordability range.  But we didn’t (and don’t and won’t) need 3000 sq ft.  We will never need 4 bedrooms and a study unless I accidentally have triplets.  (Somehow I thought we would need separate offices, but it turns out we miss each other.)  We bought it just on my income, not expecting DH to get a job right away, and the mortgage was less expensive than our big-city graduate student rent, but we did not need a house this big!  We could have gotten a perfectly livable house away from students for at least 30K less and a reasonably decent house for almost 100K less.

I underestimated how much cash we’d need with moving and not getting paid etc.  I took an interest free loan from the credit card company to shore things up.  I did estimate the closing costs correctly but they still took a huge hit from our savings.  IIRC, the problem was I mis-estimated how long it would take the stocks I sold to get into a checking account combined with having to pay for the move first and be reimbursed (a long time) after.

Right after we moved in, the one part of our house not covered by the homeowners warranty– the gas line to the house– broke.  Expensive repair #1.  Though we love the plumbers and they were perfectly reasonable, still not fun.  The roof skylight also leaked, but fortunately that was covered and just cost the $50 copay to fix.

It took a few months to save up to be able to afford a washer and dryer.  We did the laundry at a local laundromat/sports bar (ah, college towns).

Then the 15 year old water heater went poof.  We decided to replace the other 15 year old water heater the next month when our emergency fund replenished, just in case.

Then there was the car.

The dishwasher died, flooding over into the guest bathroom on the other side of the wall.  Only mild staining…  The a/c went kaput and smoked up the house while it was dying.

The sprinkler system broke, taking a huge section of lawn with it before we noticed.  Many things have leaked and dripped and flowed over the years.  The toilets have all had their cloggages.

And OMG HOA + lawns = $$$$ + pain.  (So MANY things that are too painful to think about in this post.)

Weather got a big portion of the fence which had to be replaced.

Four years later we still haven’t bought any furniture for the great room.  We still have the same furniture from our small big-city apartment in our ginormous house.  Minus one old futon, plus one Amish chair, 6 bookcases, two beds, and an Amish filing cabinet.  (Bookcases are always a spending priority!)  We ended up splitting up our living room set and putting part of it in the great room.  It’s sparse, but no longer looks unintentionally blank.

We do love this house.  The kitties love it too.  But we’d probably have been *almost* as happy someplace a lot cheaper.

What have you learned from your home-buying experiences?

Videos on fixing things

We have had a SURPLUS of gremlins this year.  DH has been doing a lot of home repairs he’s never done before (successfully!  go DH!)

Our plumber is awesome, but finding other repair folk can sometimes be a gamble.  We’ve often found it safer and less time-consuming (not to mention cheaper) to do many of our own repairs.

The internet has been super-helpful in these home fixings that we normally would never attempt.

Here is a fantastic set of video podcasts on how to fix various things in your house.  (Grumpy rumblings takes no responsibility for your own home repair attempts.  We provide this link for informational purposes only.)

Our dishwasher is currently completely taken apart on the kitchen floor.  We will see what comes of that.  Who knew there were so many pieces?  (Update:  He fixed it!  He replaced the motor and now it works!  A ball bearing had broken.  Savings $160.  Cost $150 for motor.)

Do you try to fix your own stuff or just call in a professional right away?  How about routine maintenance like caulking?  (DH just did some of that too.  He’s so manly!)  What’s your line for calling a professional?  If you do it yourself, how do you figure out what to do?

p.s.  It’s writing week over at Lifehacker!  Go to and check out their numerous posts on how to hack your writing habits.

This is the electronic clothes washer panel area that DH took apart, fixed, and put back the other week. It was making weird random beeps and wouldn't do all cycles. A thing in the dial had been bent and he fixed it. (Savings: A LOT. Cost: Nothing but time.) Also note brilliance of taking a picture *before* taking everything completely apart.