For the past seven and a half years, my partner and I have worked in higher ed. Not knowing what our jobs will be once we move to Oregon, we mark this coming week as our last official Spring Break. Our last opportunity to have a week off of work at the onset of spring.
It also marks the last time we will have a considerable amount of time off with weather nice enough to open our windows to finish painting the bathrooms and kitchen, and replace carpets, and finish putting up the gutters and a million other projects before we put the house on the market.
Perhaps I should back up a little. Four years and one week ago we bought our first house. We didn’t know it was falling apart and we were naive kids that got sucked into “what a great deal it was for the location.” Don’t get me wrong, the location is great – I’m a bicycle ride from work and it’s in a cul-de-sac that backs up to an old golf course. However, since we moved in, literally everything in the house has broken, frozen over, flooded, burned or burst.
We were newlyweds that had paid out of pocket for our wedding and honeymoon when we moved in so we were really short on cash and couldn’t bring in contractors every time something went on the fritz. The first week the deadbolt lock corroded and we had to break into our house. Our first month living there we went two weeks without running water with a flooded sunken living room. Our first summer (a heat record for the state) the AC broke.
I know what you’re thinking. “Why didn’t you kids have a home warranty?”
We did. We called them. A lot.
We went two weeks without running water because the home warranty company kept sending complete idiots to our house that didn’t actually fix a thing but kept returning day after day. We finally called our own plumber and it was fixed within the hour. We went three days in 108 F heat without AC because of our warranty company and the unqualified technicians they kept sending. Again, once we called our own contractor, it was fixed within the hour. By the third month we lived there, we had learned the home warranty was a worthless piece of paper and if we wanted anything repaired we were on our own.
I bet next you might ask “why would you buy a house without getting it inspected?”
We didn’t. We actually had two separate inspectors tell us the house was in great shape.
Steadily for the past four years, bit by bit, night by night, weekend by weekend, vacation by vacation, blood, sweat, tears, wine, rum and muscle cramps we have practically rebuilt our house from the ground up. In addition to just getting things to operate like they should, we have made a number of improvements. Perhaps our greatest claim to fame is a completely remodeled master bathroom that would put the bathrooms in Better Homes and Gardens to shame.
So, this spring break, for the very last time, we will give up what could have been a week in the Caribbean for a week of painting, and faucet changing, and cabinet refinishing, and toilet sealing, and tearing out twenty-five-year-old carpet and all of the finishing touches a house like ours needs to be “market ready” so it can sell for the same price as the three bed, two bath down the street whose owners have not made a single improvement to since 1981.
I leave my first experience of home ownership with the knowledge of how to build a house but no desire to ever live in one again. After this spring break, hopefully, it will finally be ready to sell and become someone else’s problem. God help them if they ask for a single concession.