New Houses

We bought our house, the house we live in now, just before our second kid was born. At the time, it was a completely new house – a new build on a new street. We wanted more space and to live in a specific school district and this new street they were putting in was a perfect fit.

At the time, though, I got kind of frustrated at the money pit that is a new build. First of all, there’s all the fixtures – you go to a big design centre to pick out tile, cupboards, and flooring, and everything other than the most basic thing costs extra. It felt like we were nickel-and-diming ourselves into the poorhouse.

After we moved in, it was one additional cost after another as well. We had to paid for air conditioning, eavestroughing, and a ton of landscaping. We put in a fence and built a shed and, after a couple of years, finished the basement. Every room needed new furniture and art, and it was just one trip to Home Depot after another.

That was almost 13 years ago, and I’m just now realizing the true benefit of having bought a new build – the fact that our house needed very little maintenance while our kids were very young.

It turns out that right around now is when everything goes to pot. We had to replace our roof last fall. We got a new water heater. Our driveway is heaving and we have some broken siding to replace and our foundation has cracks. It’s all small jobs – not the kind of jobs where you’re throwing money at it, but rather, the kind of jobs where you’re throwing time at it.

It seems now that every weekend we have a to-do list a mile long. Clean out the work room. Repaint everything. Top up the river rock in the gardens. Fix the broken eavestroughing spouts. Repair the fence. Replace every single light bulb ever.

I remember when the kids were little. Almost every weekend was about going somewhere. I used to have an Ottawa Events newsletter, and we’d actually DO something from that list every week – we’d hit a museum, or we’d visit a local festival, or we’d tour a cool boutique shopping area. We’d go to all the major events and we’d see shows at the NAC and we’d catch The Wiggles when they played the Canadian Tire Centre. We were OUT of our house, because our house was doing just fine.

But now we spend our weekends in maintenance mode. I’m hoping this is a life cycle kind of thing – we’ll spend this year doing a massive amount of repairs, and then we’ll be good for another decade or so.

(Stop laughing. It could happen.)

Ah, home ownership. It’s like having a fourth kid. A really whiny, needy, expensive fourth kid. There’s no place like home.

5 thoughts on “New Houses

  1. Marianne Tilton

    Our home was 14 years old when we bought it, and virtually no man tendance had been done to it. (The previous owners didn’t mow their lawn, let alone paint rotting wooden window frames, tighten cabinet hinges, or replace broken tiles.) We’ve done a lot of projects in the 9 years we’ve been in this home as we had catching up to do plus the usual maintenance jobs. We made a lot of trips to home improvement stores with our kids as babies and toddlers that were sur I’ve only due to race cart shaped shopping carts and a supply of kid snacks for bribes.

  2. smothermother

    our house was built in 1948. I’ve got a constant will-the-shore-drop kind feeling. the roof was the latest cash cow. and we have a sink drain the main bathroom that hasn’t drained since before Christmas. but we are petrified to bring in a plumber for fear they will tell us that the whole plumbing system needs to be replaced. there is nothing wrong with brushing my teeth in the kitchen for the next decade, right?

    home ownership is grand!

  3. I’m so glad you wrote this because my husband’s always muttering about “old house!” on the weekends when things go wrong. I, for one, am convinced all houses have things go wrong with them and, in some ways, our old house is better because whatever’s wrong hasn’t actually brought it tumbling down yet, despite it being nearly 100 years old. So, yeah, just thanks for writing it – I may be waving it under his nose the next time he complains about our old house.

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