Guest Post – Why You Should Consider Buying a House

Today we have a guest post from Abandoned Cubicle.  It’s a great name, and a great blog.  He goes through all sorts of things, home ownership, bike commuting, general life annoyances.  His writing is funny and irreverent.  Go check him out… and in the meantime, enjoy: 

 

Why should you consider buying a house? If you’re a skeptic of the title, by the end of this post I’ll have you thoroughly convinced. You’ll see. The trials and tribulations of home ownership await. Take your front row seat to the sh*t-show of owning your own four walls, courtesy of this author’s wack adventures.

Owning a house can be a very rewarding experience. You can paint the walls whatever color and whenever you wish. You can install shag carpeting and hang thousands of pretty lights at Christmastime, without permission. Wallpaper your thing? How about mirrors on the ceiling, or mirrors covering the fireplace surround? Anything goes!

The intangibles are worth noting too. You never have to worry about a landlord kicking you and your family to the curb, or selling the house from under you. No worrying about rent increases either, just property tax extortion.

 

The Break-in

I was pretty excited when I bought our current house back in 2004. Here I was, a single guy just looking for a decent little place to call my own. The city neighborhood with its tall trees and sidewalks beckoned. No row houses, just a collection of early and mid 20th century single family homes. Still, it felt like Sesame Street to me.

Then Bert and Ernie decided to break into my house six months after I’d moved in. I blame Bert, but I know Ernie is the devil behind their little deeds. At any rate, I got a call at work from the police and at first I said, “This is a joke, right?” To which the officer responded dryly, “No sir. This is no joke.”

Dammit.

So home I went. And there, I discovered the door had been kicked in, and some of my schtuff had been swiped. The damage? One 50 pound personal laptop with all my digital files and photo archives (even the swimsuit collection). Those puppet bastards were cruel enough to make off with my mini-stereo that lit up blue when the CD spun.

 

Thugs…

 

That was everything of value I had that could be stolen in broad daylight. Remember, this was back in the day when televisions were monsters. Big, fat two-hundred pound boxes of cathode ray entertainment. So at least it wasn’t a total loss and I could watch TV that evening.

Though I might’ve played video games instead, since Bert opted not to swipe my X-Box 1st generation gaming console. God know why. That thing ROCKED! My only solace was that as a bachelor, I literally didn’t have much of value to steal. I’m not an idiot who leaves cash and fancy jewelry lying around. The fancy watch was on my wrist during the time of the break-in.

Home ownership? So far so good.

 

The Great Flood of 2007

Fast forward a couple of years to the summer of 2007. On the evening of National Night Out, chilling with the neighbors in our fine neighborhood (they had caught Bert soon after my break-in, but Ernie remains at-large), the skies opened up. It rained in sheets for a good couple of hours. We went home after the neighborhood wet tee-shirt contest to discover our finished basement had half flooded. Oy.

When you’ve got a sixty year old house, the foundation walls often form cracks. It’s normal. It’s not the end of the world, but you’ll have to deal with water intrusion from time to time. Or in our case, the occasional deluge.

That dandy storm wound up a string of events that I covered in gory detail in the post, The Hidden Costs of Owning a House. After failed attempts to keep future rain water away from the foundation, we ended up putting in drain tile. The drain tile freed-up radon to flow into our house, so we had to then add a radon mitigation system.

Shall I continue? Okay let’s.

The radon mitigation system created negative air so our fireplace smoked us out every time we tried to use it. Nevermind the fact that our hot water heater was releasing CO back into the basement thanks to the new backdraft we’d created. Jesus.

A new gas burning fireplace insert solved the fireplace issue. But the CO backflow from the water heater remained. Eventually, around 2013, we tamed that problem for good by installing double-walled B-vent exhaust ducting, and we had the house side-wall insulated. Voila! We’re done!

Nope. We’d simply managed to turn our house into a wine cellar. Cool, but damp, and loaded with stale air. Great for a tinyish 1500 square foot house with twin newborns. The windows would drip from the condensation. One option was to keep the windows cracked open all the time, which totally shot the energy savings’ premise of side wall insulation straight to hell. Or, we could invest in a Heat Recovery Ventilation system (HRV), to finally and fully vent that damn water heater right, and give us some breathable air.

 

HRV! I should mention it costs about $10 a month in electricity to run this bad-boy during winter months.

 

All that shiz, from replacing carpeting, to putting in drain tile, to the new fireplace insert, radon system, sidewall insulation, and HRV? I shudder to think, but it cost us north of $12,000. We could’ve remodeled our pink bathroom for that much money.

Home ownership? Sign me up, Dog!

A Weekend of Comedy

This episode would make a fine entry into one of the HGTV series, like Tragic Tales of Home Ownership: But at Least it’s not YOUR Home, Season 1. These weekends of misery start out with the best of intentions and wind up sucking you into the void of despair. Let’s begin our journey…

Do you own an Ikea bathroom sink? If so, my condolences. Piece of crap! Somehow this German-engineered contraption wound-up on the market and sucker consumers like yours truly get to deal with the proprietary drain system. A drain system that works best when the only thing going down the drain is 100% water.

The only thing that horizontal run does is free up a 2″ x 4″ amount of shelving. That’s all I had to cut-out for the replacement drain. Yeesh…

 

Look at that thing. It runs practically zero slope for a good 12 inches. Think “stuff” could collect over time in there, creating a never-ending cycle of clogs? Indeed. So my project was to replace this drain system from hell with a normal, straight-down drain. Something like this:

Voila! No more sludge clogging THIS sink!

 

Long story short, it took about twelve trips to the local hardware store, and a bit of re-education on how compression PVC fittings work, until I got it right. This project ran the course of three days with intermittent periods of focus, and the rest of the time chasing kids. Oh, and fixing other plumbing problems.

That’s right. The gods showed no mercy. As soon as I had taken apart the Ikea sink drain, I discovered the KITCHEN sink drain was leaking. WTF! Why NOW?!? GOTTDAMMIT!!!

That’s right. What timing. I had to get down under the disposal to see what the heck was going on. At least in this instance, the fix was clear and straightforward: The garbage disposal flange that keeps it snug to the sink had come completely loose. The ring was basically just sitting there.

Simple fix. But I had to completely remove the garbage disposal unit to re-seat it, and tighten the nuts. Chalk one up for Cubert. But the Ikea drain project, put on temporary hold, had us down one bathroom sink.

Nearing the completion of the Ikea drain swap a few days and an education in overflow prevention later, the ordeal was over. A new drain that drained beautifully. The kids could waste all the toothpaste their hearts desired (when we weren’t there to supervise anyhow).

Funny thing though, when I put away my spare plumbing parts, I noticed a puddle under our furnace. GOTTDAMMIT!!!

So yeah. The condensate drain tube for the central air had gotten clogged. Apparently, you’re supposed to dump bleach down that line every year to keep it clear of ooey-gooey mold slop that can clog up the line, sending water BACK into your furnace. Shit man. Kill me now.

No biggie I thought. I’ll just blow out the impediment. Nope. Okay, I’ll replace the dang thing! Check. Got the new braided drain tube after errand run #13. But when I pulled on the newly installed line to straighten it out, I managed to snap off the PVC drain assembly it connects to. GOTTDAMMIT!!!

Deep breathes. Center yourself, Grasshoppa… Errand run #14 to fetch PVC cement and new PVC connections. Finally, I’m done. Or so I think… I head outside to inspect the central air compressor, and I notice the insulation tubing on the coil is practically falling off from deterioration. That costs you some major coin, letting all that cold air escape into your BACKYARD. What the heck. Another trip to Menard’s for some closed-cell foam tubing. Dammit.

 

Conclusion: Is Home Ownership Worth the Hassle?

You’d think after reading that list of trials that we’d had enough. Time to sell this quaint mid-40’s rambler and move on up to a 2018 rental condo in the sky. Nah. We’re good.

Assuming the money situation is decent (no massive debt and avoiding silly spending), here’s what I think separates content homeowners from the you-should-be renters:

  1. The market factor. My blogging friends the Waffles did a really nice job explaining how your local housing market can leave you with few options to own. And bonus, there’s some really useful math behind this you can apply to your own locale and money situation.
  2. The DIY factor. If you don’t enjoy learning about how a house functions as a system, and you don’t like to get your hands dirty, home ownership is NOT for you. Easy, right?

Now, not everyone is capable of all of the DIY tasks that may come up. But most of us able-bodied peeps can do this stuff. YouTube is a game changer, and as a landlord, I’ve been saved from repairman bills many times when an appliance broke down.

Owning a house is satisfying, despite the trials and tribulations. We love it. Most times.

Break-ins suck. And those couple of cascading maintenance problems described above were four-letter word heavy. Dammit.

We can have pets if we want. We can remodel if we want. And if we’re so daring again in the future, we can rent out our place on Airbnb. A home is an investment. It’s an asset. And it’s definitely a core part of your net worth.

Think about the one material possession people get the most emotional about in their lifetime. After tragic tornadoes, fires, or hurricanes wipe out a dwelling, we witness the tears. Don’t ever doubt the value of your home. There’s a lot more to it than what the MLS list prices reveal.

Now what’s that hissing sound coming from the AC??

34 Comments

  • Mrs. Groovy October 8, 2018 at 8:12 am

    We’re hoping to avoid some problems by building a home, but I don’t want to be naive about it. Break-ins, breakdowns, and bad weather happens. YouTube is definitely a game changer but it also takes a certain kind of patience, that you have, to self diagnose and DIY.

    Having grown up in an apartment, I much prefer home ownership. But I do feel you need a robust emergency fund if you’re going to buy property.
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…Building Groovy Ranch: Update 32

    Reply
    • Cubert October 8, 2018 at 11:40 am

      An emergency fund (or brand new credit card with bonus miles!) is a must. Couldn’t agree more. We’ve used our HELOC on a few occasions to absorb some of the follies noted in this post. But I tells ya, home ownership is a fine gateway to racking up bonus miles… 🙂

      Reply
  • The Frug October 8, 2018 at 8:17 am

    As a homeowner, I got a kick out of this. Thanks for the reminder on the central air condensation drain. I don’t think I’ve messed with that thing ever. My tips for buying a new home: buy it 20 years ago. When I look back, it was a stretch when we bought it, but I’m glad we did. Being in a great location makes up for all the adventures in homeownership over the years. Like other investments buy and hold seems to smooth out the bumps.
    The Frug recently posted…Creating a Freedom Plan

    Reply
    • Cubert October 8, 2018 at 11:42 am

      FRUG!!! (pronounced like “frooog” I’m assuming??)
      Lots of central air condensate lines drain into a pump, which kicks in (or is supposed to kick in) when the water gets to a certain level. I prefer gravity to those things. Just another failure point to worry about.
      Cubert recently posted…Why You Should Consider Buying a House

      Reply
  • Your Money Blueprint October 8, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    I think it was Bert – I can’t trust a monobrow

    Reply
  • Mr. r2e October 8, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    This was absolutely hilarious Cubert! It had me rolling on the ground I was laughing to hard.

    We have been there right with you. Three houses and countless minor and some major challenges. Our first house flooded ten days after we moved in. Our most recent house has been through four tropical storms/hurricanes.

    Even with the upkeep and disasters I would not trade home ownership for anything.

    Reply
    • Cubert October 9, 2018 at 9:43 am

      Well I’m glad YOU found all this entertaining… 😉

      Talk about hammering your thumbs time after time. But we ultimately come back to loving our four walls and the crap that entails.
      Cubert recently posted…Why You Should Consider Buying a House

      Reply
  • Weekend Warlock October 8, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Half-way through, had to scroll back up to the top thinking I misread the title. Nope!

    Agreed home ownership is still worth it after all the issues that pop up. After a number of years of learning how to fix everything that goes wrong, you end up with quite a vast skill set and become capable of maintaining this machine that we call a home all by yourself, at quite a cost-savings over the average outsourcer.

    And that drain. Oh man. Can we blame the Germans for Ikea stuff? I guess that setup is made there.

    Reply
    • Cubert October 9, 2018 at 9:46 am

      It’s definitely that “trial by fire” that either convinces you, “Yes, I can do this, and I enjoy the learning through it”, or, “ENOUGH! Honey, let’s go apartment shopping.”

      Glad you noticed that drain from Hades. What a piece of work.

      Reply
  • Dave @ Accidental FIRE October 9, 2018 at 3:31 am

    Funny stuff dude. After 17 years of home ownership myself I’ve got some funny stories too, and mine usually involve cutting myself with whatever tool and bleeding on things. That Ikea drain looks idiotic – do they understand how gravity works?
    Dave @ Accidental FIRE recently posted…Poverty, Bubbles, And The Line

    Reply
    • Cubert October 9, 2018 at 3:51 am

      Thanks, Dave!
      I’ve certainly had my share of cuts and scrapes from my projects too. I’m not a big fan of wearing gloves when working on stuff. And I hate safety goggles. Something’s bound to go wrong in my near future…
      Yeah – Avoid that Ikea drain engineering. It’s a hack job.

      Reply
  • [HCF] October 9, 2018 at 6:09 am

    Everything comes with a price and both homeownership and renting has its pros and cons. We bought our home three years ago and I had my share of such projects and the worst thing was that even in cases when I was more than happy to get someone to fix it you are not able to get a proper handyman in a reasonable time. So you are on your own. To be honest I enjoyed these small DIY projects, the ones which drive me insane are the things which you find out later and it is pretty hard/expensive or impossible to solve. We made the mistake that we moved to an area where there is no city water line. No problems, we had a dug well which provided running water without a problem for over a year. Then summer came with extreme drought, the water levels fell and our system dried out. Not to mention this was the same time when my wife returned home with our newborn younger daughter and I finished (re)planting our lawn a couple of weeks earlier. Fixing the well would have been possible. If only it was not in the cellar poured into concrete and surrounded by brick walls not to mention the complete building on top of it. We had to dig a new one and guess who was the guy who had to put down the pipes into the ground under freeze level (~80cm deep) at a 50m length alone… 😀 So you totally convinced me 😉

    Reply
  • Abigail @ipickuppennies October 9, 2018 at 9:20 am

    Yep, this sounds about right. We bought a foreclosure and spent the first three months putting out fires (thankfully, not literally). Things calmed down a little, so we bought a new dishwasher (the old one’s prongs were rusted and breaking off) and… Two days later the water heater died. Then there was getting an HVAC unit for the guest house ($4,000), extending the masonry wall and getting fence doors that lock (!!!), and so on and so forth.

    But I still prefer all of this to renting. No worries about rent going up, no worries about changing anything I want in the house (budget permitting) and eventually I’ll have no rent at all!

    Reply
    • Cubert October 9, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Hey there, Abigail! What kind of HVAC unit did you get for 4 G’s?? Wowzers. I’m guessing you had a split-duct system installed? Those are pretty nice…
      I’m with you. It’s certainly not cheap to deal with all this stuff, which makes it super important to buy a small house (less stuff to break) and be willing to roll up your sleeves, ask friends for help, and LEARN.
      Cubert recently posted…Why You Should Consider Buying a House

      Reply
      • Abigail @ipickuppennies October 9, 2018 at 1:16 pm

        Yep, a mini split was necessary for the guest house. Then mold grew in it and required such extensive cleanup that it was more than $1k to do. Then the mold grew back and we had to get a different head for the mini split to avoid further growth for another $2,500. Because such is homeowner luck, no?
        Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…Frugal fun on September 22nd

        Reply
  • Raina October 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Best. Post. Ever. 😂

    I probably I think so because we bought a house going into forclosure Jan 2017. You name it, it broke, leaked or burnt up the first six months after we moved in. Then, just the week after we replaced the HVAC, just as we thought we were getting caught up, Hurricane Harvey hit. You can’t make this crap up.
    But our house is post hurricane remodel as of last month and we love it. It’s just right for us. ☺️ Cheers to home ownership.
    Raina recently posted…How it Felt to Go to FinCon as a Brand New Blogger

    Reply
  • North Las Vegas HVAC system October 10, 2018 at 2:23 am

    A cooling system like an AC will work good if it is maintained properly and be check from time to time.
    North Las Vegas HVAC system recently posted…Does My Nevada Landlord Have To Fix my A/C?

    Reply
  • Mr. Groovy October 10, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    What a cautionary post. Homeownership is great as long as you have a healthy emergency fund. If Ernie and Burt don’t get you, the god’s of shiz will. But if you have a healthy emergency fund, the freedom to adorn your master bedroom with shag carpet, mirrors on the ceiling, and a velvet Elvis painting makes homeownership worth it. Great post, my friend.
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…Building Groovy Ranch: Update 32

    Reply
    • Cubert October 12, 2018 at 9:01 am

      Indeed, Mr. G.! An emergency fund and a big bottle of Rolaids….
      Shag carpeting — the dawn of asthma? Don’t forget the lava lamp and 30 lb. quartz ashtrays!

      Reply
  • David Barkstedt - Hamptons Luxury Real Estate October 12, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    I just found your website and enjoy your content. Homeownership can be rewarding for sure. I always encourage people to buy considering interest rates are low yet at the same time compare the cost to carry the property when you rent vs own and analyze what makes sense for you. Look forward to more of your posts.

    Reply
  • New Year Wishes October 13, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Loved it.

    Reply
  • concrete suppliers Brisbane October 17, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Save time by hiring contractors with already good supplies on their back for their services.

    Reply
  • Kyra Rodriguez October 24, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    I enjoyed reading your blog! We’re planning to buy a house and I think we should learn now how to fix the sink and everything! Haha!
    Kyra Rodriguez recently posted…Most Commonly Used Steel Products for Construction

    Reply
    • Mr WoW October 25, 2018 at 7:10 am

      Knowing some basic maintenance is a must for buying a house!!

      Reply
  • toppointproperties November 6, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Great article! Learned a lot by reading this article! And, I think AC will work best if it is inspected on a regular basis!

    Reply
  • Richard November 7, 2018 at 4:26 am

    Obviously, you should consider buying a house of your own. Who wants to pay monthly rent man!
    Richard recently posted…The A-Z of Relocating to Italy

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 7, 2018 at 6:17 am

      I think it depends on how much is the house vs how much is the rent. There’s lots of places that renting is considerably cheaper than buying.

      Reply
  • Jon November 7, 2018 at 8:46 am

    This is great! Having been involved in real estate investing for the past 15 years, I can argue both sides of the “buy or rent” pretty well. 😉 This year, I have been telling most people not to buy, but that’s me and that’s specific to the markets where I work (that are ALL overheated right now). This article does a good job of arguing one side. Enjoy! https://thesterlingreport.com/buy-a-house/

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 13, 2018 at 6:12 am

      Looking at things from both sides certainly is a good way to go about it. I agree with you, there are plenty of overheated markets at the moment, but I’m not smart enough to know when is the right time. So, we’ll wait until it makes financial sense, then pull the trigger if we want to.

      Reply
  • Leonard November 9, 2018 at 4:09 am

    I have been considering to buy a house for a while but haven’t been able to make a final decision. I can’t say that your article has been very encouraging:) It is immensely entertaining, though:) It made me realize I should practice on my DIY skills before carrying on with the idea, otherwise, I will probably end up spending far more money on hiring a plumber or an electrician… Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 13, 2018 at 6:10 am

      DIY skills are a must for anyone looking into home ownership. I think that is most definitely an imperative thing to learn.

      Reply
  • Adrian Crisostomo November 13, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    That was one hell of a story!

    My father was always reminding me when I was a kid that I should be handy and all men should now a thing or two when it comes to DIYs. Its when my wife and I moved to our own house until I realized what my father said was so important.
    Adrian Crisostomo recently posted…5 Reasons Why a BGC Fort Condo for Sale is a Millennial’s Dream Address

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