Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Old Houses Suck

Photo: OliBac, Flickr Creative Commons

I managed to piss off my dad this weekend by simply mentioning the fact that having moved into my grandparents' house has saved us exactly zero dollars. I'm still not exactly sure how what I said could have earned me the silent treatment. He's the only one in my family who takes things like that personally, so he's always been a little bit of an enigma to me. I've got a feeling that he got offended because he takes a lot of pride in his family history. The house I live in was built by his parents. He spent a portion of his childhood there. I understand that. I also take a lot of pride in the pair of houses and the land that has been in my family for at least 100 years now. Actually one house is just over 50 years old and the other house in only in its 90s, but the land has been in my family since the very beginning of the 1900s. What I don't understand is how a simple fact could be offensive.

When my wife and I moved down, we moved here for financial reasons. On our own we were fine in north Georgia. We were far enough from Atlanta that housing prices weren't ridiculous, but we weren't close to any family. Not only did we think we could save money on our mortgage here, we thought we could save money on daycare as well.

I wasn't stupid. I knew that moving into a house that was already 50 years old was going to cost more than just the up front costs for the house. I just didn't realize that I'd end up spending so much that the $47,000 in savings up front would go up in smoke within four years. Honestly, a few of the things we did to improve the house in the beginning we never should have done. I've never planned on staying here in the long term, so I should have focused more on functionality and less on things I just wanted like an office and a fence in the back yard. The housing market is so limited here that I can't expect to get much out any improvements I make, but a lot of the money went to fix problems I couldn't have foreseen, like having to pay several thousand dollars to dig a deeper well after the one that had been in use without problems for decades went dry or discovering that the bathrooms we had thought were just ugly were actually leaking and causing the structure beneath to rot.

Still, the comment that angered my dad wasn't a rant about how much I hate the house. I didn't even mention disliking the house. I just said that after all the problems we've had with the house we didn't save any money by moving down. After all, I was on my way to buy a new hot water heater to replace the old one that had rusted out and was currently leaking all over my utility room floor. Money was on my mind. It's not my fault the house was more expensive than I had thought. I just won't buy an old house next time.


Chris said...

Well, I don't have to worry about pissing off family members here... Meaghan and I have come to a similar conclusion about our house. We got a good deal on the purchase price, but then we've put a lot of money back into it -- not as much as you, it sounds like, but still quite possibly more than we can recoup in selling it.

As you said, many of our improvements were optional or cosmetic. But we also had to replace the old malfunctioning fuse box with a breaker box, replace the heat pump, repair parts of the auxiliary furnace/blower unit (several times), replace the roof, repaint badly peeling exterior trim, and so on. We're seriously considering a move in the near future, largely because we don't want to put anymore money into this house.

Here's hoping you've fixed all your major problems at the old homeplace...

Julie said...

I can share in the old house sentiments as we put at least $12k per year into the last house. Our mortgage payments are higher in the shiny new home but it doesn't need anything. All we've done are cosmetic changes or buy furnishings. It's lovely.

I can understand your dad's POV, though. I would probably take offense at the idea if I were a constant source of free babysitting and someone said I didn't save them any money. Plus, I figure that any money you put into the house will stay in the family since it would likely sell to another family member so he probably sees it more as an investment in the family than the traditional real estate view of recouping your expenses.

Courtney said...

$47K? Seriously?

Maybe your comment made your dad think that the only reason you moved down there was to save money, not to be closer to your folks, and he took that personally. Of course, I don't know your dad, so that could be way off. But I do have a lot of experience with family members giving me the silent treatment for comments that I would consider totally innocuous.