The Reluctant Homeowner

Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash

“This problem is the result of temperature changes and the soil you have here,” he said, pointing at the gap that had opened between the house and the porch, “I’d be willing to bet your foundation issues are extensive.”  Extensive is contractor-speak for expensive.

Silly us, carelessly leaving our house outdoors.  But ultimately this Pangea-like drifting was caused by us trying to be something we are not – dedicated homeowners.   Managing a house is an endeavor many people navigate happily and well. We are not those people.

We did it because our elders told us to. “It’s a great investment,” they said. “You can’t be good parents without it,” they said. “Misery loves company and you must join us,” they implied. And how do you argue with people called The Greatest Generation?

They failed to tell us a home needs constant attention and handyman skills – not our strong suits – so this had disaster written on it from the start. Between the two of us we can barely figure out which end of a paintbrush to hold.

“Not handy” is probably the kindest way to describe us. “So hire helpers,” we were advised and I’d be hard pressed to choose my fave.  There was the guy who came to fix the ceiling and left a big drippy mess. “Just leave that tarp on the floor a day or two” he advised, tucking our check in his pocket.

The current “helper” always talks about the previous worker who did everything wrong and what calamity is imminent. “See here?” they’ll say, pointing to an invisible crack in the chimney, “This wasn’t anchored right. The whole thing will come down in about six months.”

We actually sold the foundationally-challenged house to some friends from church and later heard they had tiles popping off the floor on a daily basis. We don’t go to that church anymore.

The next home developed a sink hole beside the inground pool. Trees had been buried during construction and were now decomposing, leading to cracking concrete and a leak nobody could find. With the money we were spending on pool chemicals, it was costing us roughly $167 per dip.

When I asked if we could hold the builder responsible, the pool guy had a good laugh: “Ha ha!  On a house this old?  You’d never find him.  These outfits change their names about every 5 years to avoid people like you!” 

So we retired from home ownership and it’s been great. Bird poop on the siding? Not my problem. Cracked walkway that might cause someone to fall and sue the homeowner? That’s not me. Water that doesn’t meet EPA standards? OK, that one did get our attention.

Overall it’s been a vacation from adulting. No more weekends spent fretting over drywall or performing euthanasia on a tree we forgot to water. Best of all, we’re no longer arguing about home maintenance. It wouldn’t be polite to tell you how we’ve filled that time but let’s just say it’s been a lot more fun (wink, wink).

We hit the jackpot with this rental too. When they wanted $2200 a month I got them down to $2000. That “poor retired teacher” card works wonders.

The owner said he would rent to us for the year and then take it back to use as his weekend house. We only half believed this because everyone thinks they’ll have more money next year, right? Most of us couldn’t get out of bed without that delusion.

We’re in a mountain community with private hiking trails and other resort-type features. It’s a sobering lesson in economics that my dream home is someone else’s golf getaway.

A few months ago we asked about renewing for another year. “No,” the landlord informed us, “I’m going to sell. Would you like to buy it?” This is the moment in the movie where the protagonist travels a bittersweet montage of carefree life that’s about to end.

There’s little out there to rent and my standards have risen considerably.  So here I am, signing contracts and scheduling inspections. “Home-Maintenance For Dummies” is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

We’d love to have you come visit.  Just let us know your food preferences and whether you prefer painting or landscaping.