10 Things I Learned In My First Year As A Homeowner
Chad and I were planning on starting out in an apartment and then at some point during our engagement his dad mentioned that if we can afford to rent then we can afford to buy. I’d always loved the idea of owning a home and realizing it was a possibility changed the direction of our search. It wasn’t easy and we were about to throw in the towel as our wedding date was getting closer and closer. Then one day when I was at work, Chad texted me and asked if he could put an offer in on a house and I was so badly wanted a place to call home at that point that I gave him the green light. And to our surprise, that whim of an offer soon turned us into homeowners. It’s been quite the adventure and we’ve learned a lot along the way!
- It’s a lot of work, but rewarding. When you buy a house, it turns out there’s more to it then just picking out paint colors and hanging up all your fun decor. As you sign the mile high stack of documents that take you from I’m A College Graduate Living In My Parent’s Basement to I’ll Walk Around In My Underwear If I Want To Because I Own This Place, you’re signing up for an exponential increase in responsibility. Sink getting grimey? Yeah you have to clean that. Broken dishwasher? Better learn how to fix it or find someone who can. And the grass certainly isn’t going to cut itself (thanks Chad:)). Not to mention all the bills and services you have to keep track of! There’s the mortgage, insurance, gas, water, electricity, trash and recycling, internet. But all this being said, there’s something about owning a house and making your own rules that just rocks. We have the freedom to make it our own and at the same time build equity so that when we decide to sell someday, the time and money we’ve invested becomes even more worth it.
- You can’t do everything at once. Initially when we bought our house I was really excited about all the potential it had. But when we started our first couple projects and then took months to see them through to the end, I soon realized we had to be a little more realistic with our timeline. Especially since we both have full-time jobs, a puppy and super busy schedules! We’re just two people and even with our handy dandy dads there’s only so much we can do at one time.
- Live in a space before you decide to change it. Before you go all Chip and Jo and start demolition, it can sometimes be helpful to live in a space and think about how the renovations would best serve you and the function of the space. If you give it some time and thought, you might notice things that frustrate you that you can include in the renovation to make it the most functional. Or maybe you have some lavish makeover in mind but after living in the space for awhile you may find that it’s not the most practical – maybe the room is fine as is and could just use some paint or small fixes!
- Take opportunities to DIY and learn. Okay, I have to admit Chad has been way better at this than I have. Although I was really proud of myself for figuring out how to install a keyless lock pad on our back door, I’ve mostly just learned how to paint and have had a lot of fun learning how to decorate a home. But Chad has taught himself how to reboard a deck, replace a storm door, landscape, install a bathtub and so much more. His toolkit is growing and he’s become quite the handyman just in this short time.
- Put your money where you spend the most time. With a long list of projects, we had to start somewhere. The bathroom needed a lot of love as it had zero storage and no shower, only a bathtub. Besides that, we put the majority of our initial efforts into the living room (which I’ll be making a post on in the future!). We bought cozy couches, put up some fun artwork, and my dad made these incredible built ins that I decorated and topped off with a cute custom bench cushion! It’s easily my favorite room in the house and it’s definitely where we spend the majority of our time when we’re home. It’s so comfy and cozy it just makes you want to snuggle up with some wine and a good movie!
- Plan on things breaking. Things are prone to breaking, especially when you buy a house that’s just about a hundred years old (98 when we bought it). Although our adorable puppy is responsible for some of the destruction in our house, a lot of it is just because our house is old. We’ve had issues with nearly all our major appliances, our gutters need to be replaced and a handful of other things have broken down. This can be discouraging no matter how mentally prepared you are, but it still helps to be ready for these types of events.
- It’s okay to ask for help. I haven’t struggled with this as much as Chad has because he’s a little stubborn. He doesn’t like asking for help because he feels bad and wants to be able to figure things out on his own. But there were just some things we couldn’t do without the help of others. When we first bought our house we got some pizza and beer and had a few friends come over and help us paint, and both of our dads have been especially helpful with our various projects!
- Assess your life before you start a project. There are a lot of fun projects and additions we could do to our house, but we have to think realistically and take into account how long we want to live here, as well as if we would actually get that money back when we sell. If we were planning on staying here for another ten years, we have a long list of things we would want to do like rebuilding the garage, designing our dream kitchen and even adding another bathroom! But these are costly projects and while we want to make our house a home and create a space we love spending time in, we have to find a practical balance.
- Learn how to take breaks. There’s always something to do, but sometimes you just have to take a break and relax. The projects pile up and sometimes it feels like you’re always working on the house. At some point you just have to find a balance between getting stuff done and spending quality time together. This is something I wish we’d been better at but I know we’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice it more in the future.
- Love your home for what it is. This isn’t our dream home by any means and I’ll admit I have a running list of things I get frustrated with or would change about it. It’s almost 100 years old so it’s going to have weird little quirks like the drawer that you can’t access unless you open the oven or kitchen floors that aren’t level or the stairs that are so steep they feel more like a ladder. But it’s our first home and sometimes I forget that! I’m sure someday when our driveway is big enough to turn around in and we have more than one bathroom we’ll think back on this first little house of ours and smile:) Enjoy the stage you’e in!
Owning a home has certainly had it’s challenges but it’s taught us so much. Although it was intimidating to a couple of newlywed college grads, it’s a step we were ready to take and I’m so glad that we did!
What have you guys learned in your experience so far? Or what are you most looking forward to in owning a home someday?