This post is brought to you by Finish
This will be the third Christmas we’ve spent in our current house. It’s the longest time I’ve spent in one place since I moved out of my Mum’s house 14 years ago. Son #1 lived in four different houses before he turned two.
A gift from my dearly departed Gran’s estate made up the deposit we needed to buy our first home three years ago. It’s hard to put into words how excited and relieved I was.
Renting with kids sucks
No more rent inspections every six months where I had to fill out a form and sign it to say that I had actually cleaned my own house, including the toilet. Really? You thought maybe I only cleaned my toilet every six months?
No more lying awake at night worrying about whether we were going to get kicked out with a couple of months notice, have our lease agreement not renewed or not be allowed to put fly wire screens on the bedroom windows. It took us six months to get them to install fly wires at our last rental, by which time summer in our unairconditioned bedrooms was over.
No more dodgy real estate agents trying to dodge contracts. Like telling us the house had heating then, as the removal truck is on it’s way to our new rental, telling us the gas heater no longer works, has been removed and will not be replaced. Yup, cos we have a real option to NOT sign the contract and take the keys at that stage. Not.
The little electric heater we bought did very little to raise the temperature of the house when Perth winters went down to zero overnight. Our newborn baby was nearly crushed by the blankets I stacked on him to stay warm. I moved the bathroom blow heater into the nursery so we didn’t turn into a mother-son ice sculpture during night feeds.
I was so excited that the house we finally bought in Melbourne has central heating.
Owning a house is awesome
We deliberately bought a house which had been recently renovated as neither Mr D nor I are the Renovation Rescue types.
The first thing I did, however, was get a dishwasher installed in the kitchen. It was heaven. I swear I bake more now because I can just throw the dishes in the dishwasher and push a button. Word from the wise though: get good quality dishwasher tablets. You’ll only create more work for yourself in the long run. Oh, and dishwasher cleaner is a must, as is rinse aid and cleaning out the filter from time to time.
And if I want to clean my oven every three years? I can. If I want to put a new picture on the wall? I don’t have to wait for written approval. Boys slam a hole in a wall? No problem, we’ll blu tack a nice picture over it until we get around to repairing it. Which will happen whenever the hell we feel like it.
If we want to stay in the same house ’til the day we die? So long as we keep paying the mortgage on time, it’s our call.
There is, however, a whole bunch of rain waiting in every cloud, despite the silver linings: owning a house will suck the life out of your savings account.
Maintaing a house is EXPENSIVE
We haven’t done anything particularly fancy to the house but over the past few years it has cost us dearly. It may have looked pretty but a sixty year old house needs maintenance.
Front deck repair – $1200
The boards were virtually rotten. The postie risked life and limb every time he tried to deliver us a parcel.
Worse still, when they pulled the planks off and looked more closely it turns out the deck wasn’t properly reinforced at all and could have literally fallen away from the house at any time.
Tree removal – $2000
The great thing about our area is there are massive leafy trees.
The bad thing about our area is there are massive leafy trees… Just waiting for the right moment to keel over and kill you.
One particularly sickly massive gum tree loomed precariously over the main backyard play area, so it really did have to go.
Because we live in a lovely leafy green suburb, this required council approval as well as the opinion of a qualified arborist. Which, in addition to the tree removal and stump removal people (who, believe it or not, are not the same) was trés expensive.
Roof revival – $6500
I blame the possums. They broke a roof tile while using our roof as a boxing ring. Then it rained and the study ceiling buckled.
We got someone in to fix the tile. He informed us our whole roof was in serious disrepair.
Rather than have the entire thing cave in on us during the next storm we got the experts in to clean it, replace tiles, seal it and paint it. It should be good for another 15 years or so.
Heater replacement – $1800
Our house has the perfect synergy of ducted heating and evaporative cooling.
Except in the dead of winter when you’ve got a new baby, a snotty toddler, a nasty cold and a dead heater.
Hot water service repair – $700
Fortunately the whole thing didn’t need replacing (yet), just some super duper expensive yet crucial pipe or something.
House rewiring – $2500
I knew there was something a little dodgy with the wiring but I’d learned to live with it. So long as we didn’t turn the dishwasher or the clothes dryer or the washing machine on at the same time it was ok. Sometimes we could turn the washing machine and the dishwasher on at the same time, as long as you didn’t want to make a cup of tea. Then the whole lot overloaded and the circuit board shorted or something. Which basically meant all the power points in that area stopped working.
We finally got an electrical assessment done.
Bad news – we could have been electrocuted at any time. None of the power points were earthed, we had no safety switch and the switchboard itself was about a thousand years old and no longer compliant with any electrical safety standards.
Good news – the whole house has now been rewired and I can turn on as many appliances as I like.
Bad news – we’re now in debt to our 4 year old son, from whose savings account we borrowed the money to pay for the rewiring!
Stability and control over our own home – priceless
Yes, it’s cost us a small fortune. But in 25 years or so it’ll be ours. Every time we pay the mortgage it’s mostly the bank’s interest that we’re paying at the moment but a few hundred also nudges us a little closer to ending our financial partnership.
It’s OURS. We can stay here and make our own history around this house or we can uproot ourselves and move to Tanzania (we won’t).
Either way, it’s our call because it’s our house. We’re no longer just someone else’s paying, seemingly unwelcome, guest.
What do you think – is it better to rent or own a house with kids? Have you rented with kids?