Today is our 2 year anniversary of when we closed on our house! Wow, cannot believe it’s been that long since we made the biggest purchasing decision of our lives thus far. In honor of that, we wanted to share 4 things we’ve learned as homeowners with you.
We started building our home in February 2016 and it was completed by July and we moved in right away. We had been married for 2 and a half years and had been living in an apartment and dreamed of the day we would buy our first home. When we were about ready to make the investment, we started researching building a house vs purchasing a pre-owned house. We started with pro and cons and ultimately decided that we wanted to build our first home and live in it for a while rather than have pricey renovations.
From beginning to end, the building process took about 6 months. It was so fun to be able to build our dream first home and pick out all the interior finishes like floors, paint, cabinets, carpet, granite etc. but man it was also very stressful. If you already own a home, you know exactly what I am talking about. The endless amount of paperwork, verifications, appraisals, inspections, and set backs were all very overwhelming to be completely honest.
Nonetheless, we absolutely love our house to death! I still cannot believe this is my house. You’re going to think I am so silly, but every morning when I leave for work, as I am waiting for the garage door to close, I always say, “I love you house”. It is extremely rewarding to see the fruit of your labor in a physical form. It is also a great responsibility to own something that is so valuable that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This past weekend Raymond and I made a trip to Lowe’s to purchase a new water filter for our fridge. The filter needs to be replaced every 6 months and is about $75. I was saying that before we bought our house I never ever thought about these things! Then it hit me that over the past 2 years of homeownership we have learned so much and thought we should share it with you. Maybe you already own a home and will be saying “amen” to all the points below, but our hope is that if you are thinking about purchasing a house soon you count on these things. Not to discourage you or anything like that because I would do it all over again if need be and in fact we will do it all over again in the next couples of years, but to just give you some additional information in a new way that maybe you haven’t heard before.
4 Things We’ve Learned as Homeowners
1. You will turn into your parents (Karen)
This is a funny one but oh so true! Remember when you were a kid and your parents would tell you things like, “Don’t leave the faucet running!”, “Stop opening and closing the fridge!”, “You’re taking too long in the shower!”, “Turn off the lights, do you think electricity is free?”etc? Well it turns out they had a purpose for that. Owning a home has given us such respect for our parents and now we know how irresponsible and terrible we were as children about our house. We take care of our things so well now because it has cost us money (don’t get me started about knowing the value of a dollar because I learned that lesson as soon as I moved out of my house at 18 and it was eye opening).
In all seriousness though, having a house has taught us how to be good stewards of what the Lord has entrusted us with. When you have put in blood, sweat and tears into purchasing a house and make the largest monthly payment out of your budget, things get real serious. I remember how excited I was to go shopping for a fridge and a washer and dryer prior to moving in. It was one of the most exciting purchases for me to research! The excitement quickly came to an end when I saw the prices for these appliances. I clearly remember thinking, “$1800 for a fridge! What it the world!”. Very rude awakening to say the least. Our poor parents man. I found myself signing up for all the email lists to get notified of future sales for these because there was no way I was paying full price for a fridge. See what I mean? I’ve turned into my parents.
2. There is always a new project (Raymond)
We were so blessed to have the opportunity to build our first home from the ground up. We thought having a brand new home meant ZERO projects. Not the case. Even with a brand new house we always have little projects here and there.
Touch up paint on scuffed walls is a monthly thing in our household. If you know Karen, you know that she loves interior design and home decor and she’s really good at it. It’s one of her passions. One weekend Karen and I were strolling through the aisles of Lowe’s (yes we sometimes just “stroll” the aisles of Home Depot/Lowe’s and we always end up buying something), and Karen got the great idea of replacing the kitchen faucet. I had never replaced a faucet before but we were determined to figure it out and not pay someone to do it because you know, after all that’s what homeowners do. After watching a few YouTube videos and a little common sense, I removed our original faucet and replaced it with the new one all within 30 minutes.
After doing some research I found out we saved ourselves $100-$200 for doing the work ourselves. Learning to fix or replace things around your own will save you so much money in the long run. YouTube has pretty much any training video you can think of for all your DIY projects. There are so many other things that I could tell you about like, flower beds, accent walls, building shelves, replacing light fixtures etc. that are not large projects but they are projects that you end up tackling in a house eventually.
3. House expenses are way beyond your mortgage (Raymond)
When doing the math on how much you can afford to spend on your monthly mortgage payment, don’t forget to keep these things in mind: property taxes, home insurance, utility bills, cable/internet, pest control, alarm systems etc. These expenses usually get overlooked in the excitement of purchasing a home.
Property taxes depend on where you live so consult with your real estate agent to get your market’s percentage. Home insurance also depends on what type of loan you got and how much coverage you are required to have, but could average anywhere from $100-$200 per month. Utility bills can add up quickly. Water bills can average $75-$200 per month while electricity bills can average $100-$200 per month, all depending on your family size/age of home. Alarm systems can average $20-$100 a month. Cable/Internet can average $75-$150 a month. Pest control can average $30-$50 a month and so on and so forth.
On the low end of the spectrum you are looking at $400 +/- per month on added house expenses. On the high end you are looking at $900 +/-.
Wow, thats a lot of money! Expenses like pest control, cable/internet and alarm systems are luxuries and can easily be omitted from your monthly spending but they are additional cost to consider when coming up with a comfortable house budget.
4. Maintenance (Raymond)
Keeping up with all the little details that a home brings can seem like a lot at work. The key is to plan out exactly what needs to be done and start scratching them off your list. Maintenance also brings added expenses. When Karen and I lived in our apartment it was great to have the maintenance crew come in and fix every little issue free of charge, from changing lightbulbs to servicing the washer/dryer. I take great pride in our home and it truly is an honor to maintain it.
Now, I am human and who wouldn’t procrastinate a little when its 110 degrees outside and the flower bed needs weeding. Eventually the work gets done and a feeling of accomplishment and adulting comes over you. Throughout the months and years things will eventually need attention and it is so important to fix the issues before they escalate. A minor fix one month could be a major repair the next. Do not procrastinate when your appliances, HVAC, or foundation seem out of wack. Fix them or get someone to fix the issue as soon as possible.
Last summer I noticed our air condition wasn’t blowing cool air. In Texas, this is a huge deal! Just the other day we reached 111 degrees F or 43.88 C (if you are reading from anywhere other than the US). Since our home was a new build, all of our major appliances including the HVAC are under warranty through the home builder. I contacted the builder and filled out a warranty request and they took a look the next day. They quickly found the issue. At this time we didn’t have neighbors to our left so an empty lot was our view. This lot was an eye sore and it was the home of all sorts of critters. It turned out that a nest of mice made the outside A/C unit their home and chewed through most of the wiring. They easily rewired the A/C unit and I applied some mice poison and the problem was solved. They informed me that the mice didn’t chew through one cable which would have been an even bigger issue and would have cost us a lot of money. If I had waited any longer they could have made more damage and we would’ve been without A/C for a few more days and out hundreds of dollars. Always take care of a problem the first time it catches your attention to avoid unnecessary expenses.
Thank you so much for stopping by today! We hope that this post helps you in some way if you are thinking of purchasing your first home soon. We would love to answer any questions you may have about home ownership or about building a house so please leave us a comment.
Have a great day!
Raymond & Karen