Stuff New Home Owners Never Think About…

My boy Clever Dude threw out a whopper of a post the other day, pretty much summarizing my biggest fears of home ownership ;)  (Besides getting stuck and not being able to move whenever you want to).  And I think it’s VERY important for people to know because a lot of us NEVER think about this stuff before we make these huge decisions of our lives. You can ignore it all you like, but if you think you’re invincible to doing any maintenance, think again.  Don’t go into it a moron like I did…

Take a look at all the biggies Clever Dude is facing here in the near future – I’m not an appliance kinda guy, but I reckon if all those things exploded all at once he’d be left a solid $30k or $35k bill.  Which I think is the point of his post (and also, I just went back to verify and I was right:  $30k-$40k worth of damage if all went to hell).

  • Water Heaters: Lasts 10-11 years. We have 2 water heaters. One (gas) is about 15 years old and the electric one is about 13. Both are well past their lifespan.
  • Dishwashers: Lasts 9-10 years. Ours is about 9 years old now.
  • Carpet: Lasts 10 years. We have 3 rooms where we haven’t replaced yet and all are at least 14 years old and have had pets and most likely smokers on them. Two rooms have original hardwood underneath, but we don’t know the quality and I’d rather just replace with the same Pergo floor as the rest of the house.
  • Fridge: Lasts about 13 years. Ours is about 9 years, but I’ve already replaced a lot of parts on it myself so I’m not sure how long it will last ultimately. I know it was an expensive fridge when they bought it based on the receipt, but that doesn’t mean it’s reliable.
  • Clothes washer: Lasts 10 years. Ours is probably 14 years or older. The knob broke off years ago, but we’ve been resourceful and use pliers to start it up.
  • Clothes dryer: Lasts 13 years. We’re actually on our 3rd dryer. The first came with the house and the next two (counting our current one) came for free from our friend.
  • Furnace and Air Conditioner: Lasts 15-20 years. Ours is about 16 years old, but it’s a high-efficiency unit. We’ve spent about $1000 over the years on repairs, but it just takes one crack in the heat exchange unit to jack up the cost of repair to the point of replacement.
  • Roof: It varies, but our shingles are 20 year warrantied. I was just up on our roof recently and the roof looks good, but there’s a bit of buckling in one spot (I noticed it a few years ago) and it appears they just put the new layer of shingles over the original on the old part of the house. That could cause problems.
  • Pool Plaster Lining: Ours is supposed to last 15-20 years, but we’re noticing it thinning and lots more “blue stuff” in the cleaner than 8 years ago. We spent $7000 just 2 years ago on brick and tile-work, and I expect to spend another $7000 on replastering the pool in the next 3-4 years (it’s quartz plaster, not the regular stuff that would cost $4-5k).

And here’s where we are – not *as* crappy, but still scary:

  • Water Heater: We have one, at about 6 years old – I think we’re okay for a few more years?
  • Carpet: Our entire main level needs to be done, but the rest is okay for now… could we go longer w/out anything updated? Sure, but eventually it gets gross.
  • Fridge: I think ours is a good 10-15 years old.  And every now and then it stops working for a few hours. DEF time to get a new one.
  • Clothes washer & Dryer: Were on our 4th opair, all of which we’ve gotten off Craigslist for $50-$100 each (which is probably why they keep puttering out, haha…)
  • Furnace and Air Conditioner: This one scares me the most as I’ve heard they can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, and our is at least 6 years old that I know, maybe more.  It stopped a few times in the past 5 years, but luckily each time it was something small like a fuse or bad wire or something that only cost $100 to fix.  But one day?  Not so lucky.
  • Roof: This is our best “win” w/ the house, we got the entire roof replaced as part of our buying contract – so it’s now about 4-5 years old. (The one smart thing we did when negotiating…)
  • Pool Plaster Lining: N/A – I’ll never own a pool for exactly this reason.  But maybe a hot tub one day (bow chicka wha wha!).

Clever Dude’s def. roughed up more than we are (sorry buddy!), but it just goes to show that this stuff is non-stop and always needs to be handled throughout the entire owning process.  Something which is never your problem when renting – even though yes, you are “throwing away” your money (or as I like to think of it, “buying peace of mind!” Haha…).

And then of course, there’s all the cosmetic stuff you’d be tempted to do too at some point. Things like upgrading counter tops, your cabinets, putting in hardwood floors or tiles, getting everything stainless steel, refinishing the basement, building out secret passages, etc etc ;) Not things you may want to do right away, especially as a new home buyer, but stuff nonetheless that will creep up on you once you’re nice and settled in. Until you’re ready to upgrade to a bigger, fancier house of course ;)

My point?  Just promise to consider all of this stuff when you’re out and about getting giddy home shopping.  I’m not trying to sway you from doing it, or telling you home ownership is bad – it’s not, even though it’s not my favorite thing in the world – but I do want you to know there’s a lot more to it than just a purchase price and low interest rate. And one way to really stay on the safe side is by buying a home WITHIN YOUR BUDGET.  Even if you can afford more, or bigger, it’s not necessarily the best move.

So just keep it all in mind for me, that’s all. If you’ve been diligently saving up, and found your dream house and are all ready to roll, go for it!  I’ll be nothing but supportive of you if you’re doing it consciously, and have a nice emergency fund saved up :)

What do you other home owners want to add?  Any biggies that you wish you knew more about when buying?  Or are all you happy little campers?

(Photo by David Locke1)

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  1. Becca January 9, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    Ones that spring to mind, from watching my parents deal with their house this summer/fall:

    Septic tanks can rack up a huge bill very quickly.

    Siding/bricks – just spent $7000 fixing bricks so that the house would stop leaking.

    Trees – Between Irene and the Halloween snowstorm, we had 3 trees that to be taken down professionally and very quickly when they were dangling onto power lines (and the power company didn’t care) or about to fall on the house, and several other fallen trees that needed to be cleared off the property. Invest in tree maintenance! Thankfully, this one is mostly covered by insurance.

  2. Edward Antrobus January 9, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    I think these numbers are averages, not expected lifespans. The refrigerator in my parent’s house is 21 years old and still going strong. The furnace is at least that old.

  3. Serena January 9, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Darn….Just posted a nice post about additional hidden costs, and I lost it.

    As I was saying, here are the other things to consider when buying a home:

    1. Get a home warranty! It can save you thousands of dollars when it comes to repairing broken appliances. Research “home warranty” and select a company. It’s like insurance for your appliances/plumbing/electrical.

    2. Consider small costs. Are you removing wallpaper? Re-painting a room? Think about the small things, like electrical socket covers. We had to replace all of them in our house (because they were dingy yellow) with crisp white ones. And in a large home, that can add up! We also had to buy new vent covers to replace the dingy metal ones. Those are about $8.00 a pop! Some rooms had 2 per room!

    3. Pest control. You might have just bought a house on an ant hill, and you had no idea! These extra fees you wouldn’t have considered.

    4. Supplies. Just painting a room involved costs of rollers, the paint, tape, plastic sheeting to cover your floor.

    5. Lawn care. Although you can do this yourself, be advised that it’s very time consuming, and if you choose to pay someone to do it, it can ring to the tune of hundreds or thousands!

    I could go on…..Take it from me. We bought a 1973 home that we have had to put a lot of work into in this last year. I’ve documented my progress in my own blog.

    From House to Home

  4. The Frugallery January 9, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    When we purchased our home and remodeled it, I received an awesome gift: The Black & Decker’s Home Improvement Guide. It teaches you how to fix just about anything. From minor pluming and electric, to using a jackhammer to take out a concrete patio, to how to insulate an attic. It is a step by step guide on how to do various things around the house. It saved us thousands of dollars and a lot of frustration!

  5. Too Funny January 9, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    Get ready for your heart to skip a beat:

    This year:

    1. Re-did all the duct work and HVAC units with Geothermal + insulation & air-sealng: 8 tons
    2. New roof: Synthetic Slate and Copper Gutters: 51 squares
    3. New Fridg: We have space for a 48″ built in. Check the prices on those things.
    4. New landscaping, complete with stone work and a Koi Pond. Most expensive project yet.
    5. Cost of general maintenance? A LOT.
    6. Also small stuff like water heater, dish washer, etc….

    I also recommend the Black & Decker Home Improvement Guide and use it all the time.

    Mortgages? That’s the least expensive aspect of owning a home in my experience.

  6. Brendan January 9, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    I live in a condo, so a percentage of the repair costs are wrapped up into the HOA fee (I am on the hook for appliances, HVAC, and the water heater when they crap out though!)

    However, I’ve learned that the “not fun” things to replace (roofs, HVAC, etc.) usually decide to break right when you’ve saved up enough and committed to replacing the “fun” stuff (countertops, hardwoods, etc.)

  7. Joy January 9, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    My husband and I own and rent. We see positives in both:

    We love renting because:
    1) We don’t have to worry about appliances breaking! This is a huge plus.
    2) Lawn care is done for us!
    We do worry that our landlords will decide to sell or increase rent. Moving is expensive!

    We like owning because:
    1) Our hard-earned money is invested (Our mortgage is covered by a renter).
    That being said, our housing value dropped due to this economy!

    I have heard that ac units only last 10-12 years. I hope your estimation is correct as our unit is getting up there in years!

  8. Daisy January 9, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    I’m probably crazy, but this stuff doesn’t scare me as much as renting forever would. There are always options – second hand, almost free refrigerators from Craigslist, etc.

    The one thing I’ve always hated about renting is that even if the appliances break, it’s great if you don’t have to pay for them but you have to wait for landlords who couldn’t care less that you have to haul yourself to the laundromat to do your laundry. Our washer broke and our landlord took three weeks to fix it. At least if it were mine, I wouldn’t have done that

    I do like renting for the fact that we can up and move if rent becomes too high or we get sick of our asshole neighbors.

  9. jack foley January 9, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    yea, there is way more flexibility in renting and now for example is not a bad time to rent..

    save what you can and when the market bottoms, start buying..

  10. Sustainable PF January 9, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    I think outdoor tool/items get overlooked. Lawnmower, snow blower, shed, deck, porch, eaves, brick work …

  11. Maria Nedeva January 9, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    Tell me about it! Houses are like black holes for money. The bigger the house the worse it is – by the time we manage to sort out one part of it, another one needs work. Last year we had to completely re-do the bathrooms (two on the first floor) because they were leaking in the kirchen. Oh, yes – parts of the kitchen as well. The real killer in all senses was the ceiling.

    We are very tempted to rent particualrly given that we will be left with quite a bit of equity. Then again, renting has a different sets of problems; particularly in the UK where we have no culture of renting.

  12. Kandace January 9, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Within 2 months of moving into our house, our dishwasher and water heater died and had to be replaced. Within 3 years, we had replaced the HVAC, oven, refrigerator, and had completely gutted a bathroom due to a leak. Nightmarish, but we had known since our inspection that all of the appliances were at the end of their design life or beyond. And we planned accordingly. Being a homeowner requires a hefty savings account/emergency fund.

  13. Stephanie January 9, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    File me under the happy camper category. Buying our house will probably cost us less over the long run than renting a comparable property.

    The best advice I could give is to not sink ALL your savings into the downpayment. If you don’t have enough cash to cover a downpayment, the repairs/maintenance you need to do right away, and still have a decent amount of cash left over, you’re not ready to buy.

    Also, don’t let the bank tell you how much house you can buy. It will probably be more house than you can realistically afford. I calculated how much of a monthly payment I was comfortable paying, and then figured out about how much the purchase price would be. That was the price range I told the realtor I wanted to look at, that was what I told the bank I wanted a pre-approval for, and to this day I still don’t know (or care) how much house I COULD have bought. ;-)

  14. J. Money January 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    @Becca – Ouch. Def. good things to keep in mind!
    @Edward Antrobus – Yeah, for sure… some of these things last forever, but you need something to compare ’em to ;)
    @Serena – Awesome!! GREAT tips, thank you so much Serena :) Gonna go click over to your blog shortly… sorry for you having to re-post this a cple times (I saw them in my “pending” queue but not till just now). When there are a few links in the comments, it’ll auto. get flagged for me to review. Glad you were able to share these though! Very smart things to keep in mind as a new home owner (or any home owner for that matter!).
    @The Frugallery – Cool! Never heard of it, but from the look of the comment below yours, it seems to be a popular one! :) Will add to my list.
    @Too Funny – Well, you forget to mention there how big/expensive your house is, good sir ;) Def. not the “average.” Which reminds me, we still gotta link up some time!
    @Brendan – Oh man, ain’t that right. So frustrating too!
    @Joy – Lots of pros to renting and owninng for sure :) As long as people keep everything in mind though before jumping in, I think they’ll be fine. But that’s the hard part I feel like – at least back in the day. Now everyone knows of the dangers of home owning if you’re not careful!
    @Daisy – Yeah, I can see that. Landlords aren’t usually the quickest :)
    @jack foley – Not a bad way to do it. As long as you are READY to buy when that happens though, and consider all these variables. I know people (like the old ME) that would just buy cuz everyone said it was a good time, even if I wasn’t home owner material ;) Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you should still buy it – at least that’s my theory on it.
    @Sustainable PF – Yup! I had to tack on a lot of crap once the seasons started changing, totally didn’t think about it when buying!
    @Maria Nedeva – Oh wow, really? Renting isn’t that common in the UK? Weird…
    @Kandace – DANG! Def. good thing you all knew, and more importantly, PLANNED for it. That’s the key to all this – knowing whta you’re getting into, and then having a good game plan. Good job!
    @Stephanie – Damn right on that ;) They want you to buy big, baby! Good for you on sticking to your realistic numbers. And you’re right on needing cash on hand too, very very important!

  15. PKamp3 January 9, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    I think that furnaces last a little longer than A/Cs – I’ve heard as long as thirty years. Of course, they still have minor issues – relays break, fuses burn out – but furnaces last a long time. When I was touring most furnaces were from the 90s… which I gathered was around halfway through their useful life.

  16. Nick January 9, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Believe it or not, I have a 90-year-old boiler in my rental property. We pray a lot and get it serviced every year….

  17. Erin S January 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Something to keep in mind for first time home owners or even buyers upgrading to bigger and better digs is furniture! Ever notice all the mcmansions that sat around half furnished because after spending all their money on a huge house, they couldn’t afford to furnish them.

  18. Andi B. January 9, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I actually calculated a total remodel of our home and estimated the material cost at $25,000. Luckily we have friends and family in the industry who will work for pizza, beer, babysitting, and future labor. Of course, my dream remodel is far more expensive, but I’m trying to be realistic with our first home. Also, I find a lot of things inexpensively because I’m willing to buy things as I see them on craigslist or builder closeouts and stockpile the materials until we have everything for the project. We just moved into our first home six months ago and we bought a high efficiency washer, dryer & refrigerator, and a refrigerator for our studio apartment and spent less than $1400 not including the energy tax rebates. When we bought our pellet stove I used a coupon for the stove and kit, and got a $400 hearth pad for $30 at the Habitat for Humanity Restore saving almost $500 on that project. There’s so much opportunity to save money I just think some people get in a mindset that they have to pay more because it’s a house. And you don’t always have to!

  19. Dana January 9, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    This is exactly why – after owning an older home with “lots of character” and spending money on new AC units, new windows, new siding, etc. etc. and never feeling like it was “complete”, I bought a new build this last time. I am A LOT more relaxed when I come home in the evening, not staring at all of the things I still need to do to make it home.

  20. Alexson January 9, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    I’ll add: What if the basement floods?

    We bought our house knowing that it and a few neighbors had seen “some” water during major flooding a few years back. Well, proper water-proofing never happened and lo and behold: it flooded again, leaving us with a non-insurance covered formerly finished basement WITH black mold. OY.

    (Insurance doesn’t cover seepage that happens when a sump pump keeps working, and since ours never crapped out, but rather the water was just too much – we were left to refinish the basement on our own dime.)

    We chose to refinish because we wanted the usable space and with proper water-proofing, we felt we could recoup the most value from our home.

    Check out our war stories here:

    Was the the best financial choice we have made? Probably not. Did we make the best with the situation we put ourselves in? I think so. Next time we buy a house will we run screaming from one that has had “some” water in the basement? HELL YES.

  21. Lindy Mint January 9, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Our house is 17 years old. I’m crossing fingers and toes our A/C unit doesn’t choose to go out any time soon.

    In the past five years we’ve replaced a hot water heater (which wasn’t too expensive), a garage door and garage door opener ($800 for both), and the irrigation system in the back yard ($500). Overall, I think we’ve fared okay, as long as that A/C keeps kickin’.

  22. Lizzie January 9, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Oddly we seem to have different costs in the UK. Not very many pools obviously. Same with air conditioning, it just doesn’t get hot enough to worry about it. Also we have a boiler which is for both hot water and heating. All the white goods (fridge/freezer/dishwasher/washing machine/tumble dryer) seem to last the same amount of time, so if you bought them all close together then they all die pretty much together too. On the bright side our roofs last a minimum of 50 years. My house is over 100 years old and was about 75 before it needed a new roof.
    Pros and cons.

  23. LB January 9, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    I agree with Alexson, run far away from anything with a little water damage. Too much time and effort.

    I am a happy camper. I can do anything I want to my home (within HOA rules of course), and it is still cheaper than renting. If it weren’t for my decision to buy a smaller and less expensive home I wouldn’t be heading back to school this month.

    Fixing a home can turn into to huge issues, but have an emergency fund, learn all you can about fixing homes, and know what you can fix yourself and when you should call a professional. :)

  24. Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life January 9, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    So, funny story about home ownership…

    My husband and I rent right now, and plan to do so until we can build our own house in 5-10 years. My mom, who thinks that the only right way to do things is what she did, totally did not understand this, because she and my dad bought a house the first year they were married. For the first year we were married, whenever this came up she would argue with me or my husband about what a good investment a house is, how they never made as much money as they did on their houses, how I shouldn’t be afraid of having a mortgage, etc. etc.

    Fast-forward to a few months ago, when she found out and was telling me that my cousin and her husband are way underwater on their mortgages (plural) and are basically in huge financial trouble because of their house. She then proceeds to go off about how bad the housing market is and how you can’t bet on making money nowadays on your home like you could when she was that age, and what a bad investment it is, and blah blah blah. I am proud to say that I didn’t say a WORD, just nodded and smiled :)

  25. Nicole January 9, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    When we just bought our house 18 months ago, we negotiated hardcore, knowing EVERYTHING would need replaced. The house was built in 1983 and everything was original. SO, that meant a 27 year old furnace, air conditioner, roof, cabinets, carpet, windows, etc. The furnace and roof were the very first things we did as we saw those are major safety issues. We’ve also torn down all the old original wallpaper (which required major repair to the drywall as the glue was so old), removed paneling, got new carpet throughout half of the house, replaced all the gutters, laid porcelain tile in the sunroom, laid tile and replaced the cabinet in the powder room, changed out several outdated light fixtures, and removed hideous ponds from our landscaping.
    Our next round of major improvements is more painting and carpet, a master bath remodel, guest bath remodel, kitchen remodel (thats the doozy, expecting about $50,000 at least), new driveway, more landscaping to correct the grading, and new windows throughout (another whopper, probably $15,000).

    But, while I get frustrated sometimes and wonder what I got myself into, I remember that I knew all thise going in. We bought the house for its size, generous room size, neighborhood, school district, and layout. We paid $295,000 for a 3800 square foot (not counting the finished basement) home. That is roughly $78/square foot. New houses being built on our street are going for $160/square foot. So, we paid about half what we would pay for a new home our size. So, while its frustrating at time, and it stinks it cant be all beautiful right now, we will just continue doing one or two projects a year remembering how we would have never gotten a home our size for the price if everything were already ‘new’.

  26. Good Cents Savings January 9, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Another cost to consider – increased utilities. When you move from a cramped little apartment into that big beautiful home with vaulted ceilings and huge gorgeous windows it’s going to cost more, maybe a lot more, to heat in the winter and cool in the summer. If there’s an HOA you also need to think about monthly or annual dues and the possibility of assessments – ask about the financial health of the HOA to try to figure out how likely that is to happen.

    BUT – I would still take owning over renting as long as I can afford it. I love my home and the sense of security (though I feel a whole lot less secure after reading this post!)

  27. Donna Freedman January 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Roofs. All hope abandon.
    Water in the basement: This could be a very, very pricey fix.
    Assessments: If you’re a condo owner you might get hit up for your share of a major fix to the building.
    A relative had a year that she called “The Revolt of the Appliances.” Within a 12-month span she and her husband had to replace the stove, fridge and water heater, and also do a hellishly expensive plumbing fix (tree roots in sewer pipe). This is the kind of thing that new homeowners never consider because really, would something like that happen all in the same year? (Yup.)
    Quick aside: Why do people say “hot water heater”? “Water heater” is sort of self-explanatory. There’s no such thing as a cold-water heater.

  28. Matt, Tao of Unfear January 9, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    I know I want to own someday, because of the whole forest gardening thing, but I’m seriously considering just buying property and building my own “small home”. (Search for Tumbleweed Tiny House Company). If I built the house myself, I’d have a much better understanding of how everything worked, and I would be able to do most of the repairs myself.

    Also, I also dream of having a root cellar, and just about everything I keep in the fridge right now is stuff that could be kept in a root cellar just fine. I could likely get away with just a mini fridge, if I even needed that. I’d use passive heating and cooling, and possibly a rocket stove for additional heating in the winter, if it proves necessary.

    Really, a lot of the appliances on this list could be downsized or eliminated altogether with more efficient home designs, and most of the non-appliance maintenance could be done for relatively cheap if you learn how to do it yourself.

    Some people are going to view some of those things as necessities (a huge fridge and freezer versus a root cellar), and some people find it’s a better use of their time and money to pay someone else to do different repairs, etc., but I’d rather work harder to make quality things with my own hands than work harder to earn a paycheck to pay for those things. To each their own, though.

  29. J. Money January 10, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    @PKamp3 – I’ll take your word on that, I have no idea about that stuff :)
    @Nick – Wowwww, that is awesome!! You pray a lot, haha… keep doing it, it’s working!
    @Erin S – Yes! Great point indeed – the bigger rooms you have, the more stuff you need to furnish it (unless you’re a hardcore minimalist, but then again you prob. wouldn’t be buying that house to begin with ;))
    @Andi B. – Very true! I wish I could put you in my pocket and show me places around where I live, though, as I can’t seem to find any good bargain areas except for The Salvation Army ;) Though I’ve never really put a LOT of searching into it either… glad you’re so smart w/ this stuff!
    @Dana – Interesting… I’ve always wanted an old house with “character” too, but yeah – I can’t even imagine the work and money that has to go into those places, bleh. Glad you’re more relaxed now! (Which reminds me, have you ever seen that movie, “Money Pit?” I remember loooooving it as a kid. I think I should re-watch it again, it’s all about home stuff and money spending ;))
    @Alexson – OUCH! That’s a great story for any of us who think it’ll never happen to us! Thanks for sharing that with us, and glad you’re water-free right now! :)
    @Lindy Mint – Not too shabby, for sure. I’ll send positive vibes your way :)
    @Lizzie – Wow, that’s kinda cool. I miss the UK – been a few years since I was last there, say hello to it for me!
    @LB – Amen! Nicely put.
    @Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life – HAH! Good for you on keeping your mout shut, I don’t know if I would have been able to do that, haha… keep sticking to your guns, young lady!
    @Nicole – That’s true! It def. seems like you got a great bargain on that place, but boy – lots of sweat and hard work. It’s a good thing you like it so much and you’re handy w/ tools! :) I gotta get a little dirtier over here on this side – my patience for alot of re-doing stuff is kinda low. But if I had a partner helping me, I feel like it could be a lotta fun too.
    @Good Cents Savings – Yup! Utilities almost always go way up, good addition. And that stuff’s recurring too, no fun. You’ll like a future post I have coming up where I have an epiphany about what happens when you pay off your mortgage ;) That should make you feel better again! haha…
    @Donna Freedman – HAH! That’s a good point – maybe cuz we’re all weird? ;) Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
    @Matt, Tao of Unfear – YES! I loooooooove Tumbleweed Homes!!! I’m always on their site gtting motivated ;) I think the idea of buying land and building it yourself is just perfect – it’s a dream of mine to help build a home from scratch, actually (with people who know what they’re doing, of course), and this project would be a fun one :) I hope you get it one day!

  30. J.O. January 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    I’m a very happy camper. My husband and I bought a foreclosure. We searched for the perfect home for nearly 2 years. We’re south of Atlanta and the home prices here have fallen…and fallen… and fallen. We were able to purchase a move-in ready, all new appliances & flooring, 1300 sqft 3bd/2ba ranch home on 2 acres. The home was built in 2002. It’s a smaller house but it’s typically just the two of us. Our mortgage payment is only $526.00 including taxes and insurance. A two bedroom apartment in our area would run about $850.00+. The utilities are much cheaper as well — the home is insulated much better than our previous apartment. We’re able to put more into savings by owning our home and are able to be somewhat prepared for any “mishaps”. But, we took out a mortgage for about 33% of the amount we were approved for.

  31. J.O. January 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    PS: The purchase price of our home was $72,100. I know that nice homes are not available for that price in other parts of the country,

  32. Nicole January 10, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Oh, J. Money, Neither me nor my husband are good with tools at all. Sorry, if I implied we’ve been doing the work. Oh no, we just know how to write checks very well!

  33. Courtney January 10, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    I’m with Dana – older homes might have “character,” but that also means that everything is… well… OLD. My house was built in 1940, and in my first year I’ve replaced the furnace and A/C (thank you and goodbye, tax credit!), wood-rotted siding that required repainting the whole house, and now I’m looking at replacing the windows that are no doubt coated in several layers of lead paint. All major expenses that you might get out of if you buy a newer house.

    And speaking of windows, what a major expense! My parents just replaced all of theirs, and it cost them more than I make in a YEAR.

  34. Dannielle @ Odd Cents January 11, 2012 at 5:41 AM

    Water Heaters: Solar water heater can last a very long time with a few minor repairs in between. I would say the lifespan could be upwards of 20-25 years.

    Clothes washer: My mother bought a washing machine in 1993 and it’s only now starting to sound like a chain saw. And she’s been using that thing almost ever week for the last nineteen years.

    Roof: When you have to replace a roof, you should be prepared to spend some money. Currently, our roof has shingles, but a little high wind (tropical storm etc.) can rip them off like nothing and you’re stuck with some DIY repairs. The life span on a roof is between 20-25 years as well, but a new one could easily set you back 10-20 K (USD).

    I’m kinda scared to become a landlord, because I’ve heard of horror stories where renters totally destroyed a living space. How do you deal with having to replace everything????

  35. Heather January 11, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    My parents are pretty frugal (yay!) and while my dad makes six figures (his annual bonus is as much as the average yearly income for one person), they hardly ever upgrade appliances. Their fridge is 20+ years old, their microwave must be pushing 30 years old since they had it before I was born and I’m 26 now, and their washer and dryer are also 25+ years old. They did replace their dishwasher about 3 or 4 years ago since the original one crapped out. The carpet in their house desperately needs to be replaced, it’s the original carpet that came when the house was built in 1991 (they bought the house in 1995), so it’s now over 20 years old.

    My dad also drives a very beat up (but paid off) mini van thats a good 10 years old, if not older. They do have a 2006 Toyota Tacoma that will be paid off this summer and probably only 15 years left on their mortgage.

    While I do not own a home (my husband and I live on a military base and the only thing we had to purchase was our washer and dryer), I’ve learned from my parents that I will keep my appliances until they die!

  36. J. Money January 11, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    @J.O. – Woahhhhhh – that is incredible! The cost of some peoples’ cars! Haha… I love it. Well done, my friend. Well done :)
    @Nicole – Haha, hey – I’m right there with you ;) No shame!
    @Courtney – Wow. That is scary. I can’t even imagine how much those things cost, and hopefully I don’t have to anytime soon! Sorry to hear, my friend :( That’s not fun.
    @Dannielle @ Odd Cents – I know, that freaks me out too :( I guess you have to do a damn good job of vetting the right people? Or hiring a company that knows how to do it. I’d totally go that route if we ever become landlords – paying 10% or whatever to a company to handle everything from getting them in there, to contracts, breaks, etc etc. Cost some money, but maybe it’s worth the peace of mind?
    @Heather – Awesome, go for it! I totally miss military bases too – I grew up on them my entire kid life! You’re bringing out some good memories over here for me, thanks ;)

  37. storm January 12, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Circumstances can change and screw it all up even if you think you are prepared. a series of circumstances has led me to having to let go of my house because the city is going to put me in jail if I don’t paint my house. I’m on a fixed income, yet there aren’t any programs to help me. Sounds like a crazy reason to have to leave my home. But all to true.

    I used to be a real estate investor. got sick. and now i’m facing being homeless. Everybody should seriously consider all possibilities when deciding to rent or own.

    You made a great point about “being stuck”, as far as it not being easy to pick up and move. What you think is where you want to stay can quickly change.

  38. J. Money January 12, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Oh man, sorry to hear Storm – that sucks :( I hope things get better soon for you! Crazy what life throws us sometimes, hang in there. Sending positive vibes over! :)

  39. Leigh January 28, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Thanks for this article, J. Money! I’m just buying my first place (a condo) and this was super helpful to create a home maintenance estimate :)

  40. J. Money January 28, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    GOOD!! That’s smart of you to be searching around online for tips, proud of you already! :)

  41. Lori March 11, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    That stinks for your friend! I think I’ll rent a bit longer. Thanks for the piece!

  42. J. Money March 13, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    I’d go back in time and rent too if I could ;)

  43. The Money Mail March 14, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    I had no idea what I was in for when I bought my first house. Even though I was the property’s first owner, I still ended up paying over $15,000 for repairs during my first three years. I tried to collect from the builder, but the company filed for bankruptcy so I had no recourse. I feel like I paid for the place twice at least.

    – I am including a summary of this article for our readers at

  44. J. Money March 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Ouch! Def. scary stuff, sorry to hear :(

  45. save. spend. splurge. October 15, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    General maintenance crap from shoddy workmanship.

    Both houses in my family have had shoddy workmanship where they didn’t put the valve properly on the toilet to make it watertight, and it leaked onto the base floor over time, whereby the entire second floor collapsed.


    1. J. Money October 15, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      WHAT THE HELL??? I’d give up and never own again! Freaky!