Just four short weeks ago, I became a first-time homeowner. There have been a lot of emotional ups and downs since I decided to buy my first place, but I’m totally excited to finally be moving in in exactly one week. I’m currently still living in my old apartment, which is about halfway boxed up right now, and I’m getting pretty sick of living in a limbo state between two homes. It’ll be such a relief to finally have all my stuff in one place and start nesting in my new space.
However, just because I’m not currently living in my new home doesn’t mean I haven’t had any new homeowner experiences yet. Oh no, quite to the contrary. These are three valuable lessons I’ve learned so far from my four short weeks of homeownership:
1. Dealing with contractors is a royal pain in the ass, even if you have a good one
The day after I closed on my place, my first order of business was to get in touch with a contractor. I
needed wanted two simple (or so I thought) changes made to my place ASAP: a dishwasher added to the kitchen and the hardwood floors underneath the (hideous) carpeting in the living room/dining room area refinished. The contractor I hired came from the referral of a friend I trust, and he really did do a great job in the end. But getting to the great job was a royal pain in the ass.
First, the timeline. Originally, the whole shebang was supposed to take about 4-5 days. Initially, we got held up by the dishwasher, which arrived damaged (see below). Not the contractor’s fault, and he handled the delivery of the new one really well while I was out of town. But then getting started on the floors also got delayed because the contractor’s flooring “specialist” got really held up on the job before mine. Like, a week and a half held up, which he was very non-commital about, by the way – so basically every day I was just hoping this guy would show up.
All this wouldn’t have been such a problem had I not established a highly nuanced timeline of events that needed to occur in the condo (painting, the movers, the cable guy, etc.), so the floors taking longer than expected was a huge issue. Because, you know, you can’t walk around on the floors for several days after they’ve been refinished. Grrr.
Second pain in the ass was the price; the dishwasher installation ended up being more expensive than expected because there needed to be some rewiring done in the kitchen to avoid overloading the electric panel. Then, getting materials for the old-school floors was more difficult and expensive than expected, too. So all-in-all, the whole job went about $1,000 over the estimated cost. Cringe.
It could definitely have been a lot worse, but this was a stressful ordeal that I don’t want to deal with again anytime soon.
I also had to deal with finding affordable home security options, and a reliable contractor that could come out and install, which was another feat in itself.
2. A lot of stuff you order for your new home arrives broken, especially when it’s particularly inconvenient for you to not have the item you need
I order a lot of stuff online, and only once before in my life has something been damaged on arrival. Until I became a homeowner. Suddenly, everything’s arriving damaged. Why? WTF is it about goods for the home that make them so breakable?!
First, it was the dishwasher. I ended up saving about $100 on the dishwasher by purchasing it from Amazon (it was overpriced to begin with, but was waaaayyy overpriced at other retailers), but the downside to that strategy was that when it arrived banged up beyond recognition, the return wasn’t so simple. Amazon handled it well and my contractor handled it well, but it set the timeline for my mini-reno back by over a week.
Next was the dining room light fixture, which was totally shattered when I opened the box. As it turns out, I ended up changing my design plan (see below) so I had planned to return the fixture anyway, but what if I hadn’t? Again, this would have been a huge set-back. Luckily, the new fixture, which came from West Elm, was intact and arrived earlier than expected. Phew.
3. Making final decisions about design and decor is a first world problem, but it’s still stressful
I have this problem when it comes to the way stuff looks, a problem I’ve been trying to improve on: while I’m a super stressed out perfectionist in a lot of areas of my life, when it comes to the way things look (like my outfit, hair, a craft I’ve created, whatever) I have a tendency to say “eh, whatever” and settle for something that’s not really what I want because I don’t want to be difficult or hold people up or inconvenience anyone. It’s a bizarre habit that runs totally contrary to other aspects of my personality and stems from a childhood issue, but that’s a story for another day.
Determined not to fall into this pattern with my new home, I’ve been very demanding about getting stuff that’s exactly what I want and coming up with a design plan that I really, really like. This has involved a lot of research and planning, and I’ve changed my mind several times….which has meant a lot of trips out to return things I’d purchased based on another design idea. I think I’ve finally settled on paint colors, drapes, and light fixtures I’m happy with, but I really want this place to look good, so I’m not 100% committed to anything just yet – if I find a better set of drapes, watch out! I’ll share pictures when it’s all done, so stay tuned
So there you go, three things I’ve learned from my four short weeks of homeownership. I’ll leave you with a clip from one of my favorite movies, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, which I’ve always loved but never fully appreciated until now. The punchline comes at the end, so be sure to watch the whole thing