The 6 Scariest Things About Being a Homeowner
That feeling when something breaks and you can't call your landlord.
October brings out the ghosts and ghouls for Halloween, but I’m here to tell you they pale in comparison to the frightening thought of what’s lurking behind the walls of your home.
I’m talking about leaking pipes, bad electrical wiring, a broken HVAC unit and a host of other issues. When you rent, most of these problems can be taken care of by your landlord, but if you own your home it’s up to you to find a solution. The thought alone is enough to wake you up late at night in a cold sweat.
In the spirit of this frightening time of year, I’ve pulled together six of the scariest things I’ve experienced since becoming a homeowner. Read them below…if you dare!
The Dotted Line
You’re sitting in a sad conference room at a bank or your realtor’s office, and you look down at a stack of papers in front of you and your heart rate increases. The typical length of a mortgage is 30 years, and the average cost of a home in the United States is around $189,000. That’s not to mention the cash you need on hand for things like escrow and inspections. Suddenly, a chainsaw-wielding man in a hockey mask doesn’t seem so scary.
Water, Water Everywhere and It's Out to Destroy Your House
Water may be essential to life but make no mistake about it, water will cause serious damage to your home if you’re not careful. Whether you have standing water around your foundation or water leaking through your roof, if you don’t fix the problem immediately you’re looking at thousands of dollars in damages.
One thing I learned the hard way is to find out where the main water line to your house is. This will be helpful if you’re ever doing plumbing work and need to shut the water off to avoid it gushing out all over the bathroom. Purchase a shut-off key from any home improvement store to turn the water line off, unless you enjoy sticking your hand in a spider-infested hole in the ground.
Be Ready for Water Problems 01:00
Is the Air Conditioner On?
I would rate not having heating and air conditioning up there with a creepy clown holding balloons on a deserted street. Both are absolutely terrifying. Whether it’s a scorching hot summer day or a freezing winter night, your HVAC will make being in your home tolerable, and if it’s not working prepare to be miserable. There are things you can do to troubleshoot your HVAC if it’s not working, but if all else fails, be prepared to call in an expert. (And it won’t be cheap, either.)
Sure, curb appeal and a big backyard sound great at first, but after a few weeks in your home it will be time to tackle the landscaping before it looks like a scene from Jurassic Park. The least you’ll need to do is mow and trim your yard. If you want the greenest patch of grass in the neighborhood, you’ll want to look at seeding and potentially new sod.
Purchase a set of good hedge shears. You’ll use them to keep the bushes around your house looking uniform and to trim the branches of small trees that are growing uncontrollably. They’ll also save you from losing blood while maintaining your rose bushes as I learned one memorable summer day.
If there’s one thing you take away from this blog post, do not mess with your home’s wiring unless you know what you’re doing. If done improperly, shoddy electrical work can cause a fire or serious injury. Like the water tip above, you’ll want to turn off the power to whatever section you’re working on to avoid an electrical shock. When in doubt, though, call an electrician.
Bills, Bills, Bills
It may take about a month for all the costs of owning a home to arrive, but rest assured — they will come. And expect there to be a lot more than when you were renting or living with Mom and Dad. Mortgage, electric, water, insurance, property tax, internet, television, homeowner association dues — it adds up quickly, and you’ll soon shudder at the sound of the postal truck’s brakes as it screeches to a stop at your mailbox.