Before I bought my house I watched a lot of real estate-type shows, I was familiar with the buying process as I had witnessed it in my family a few times and I had a general idea of what was involved in home ownership.
I did a bit of research and after my offer on the house was accepted and closing day came I thought I had a bit of an idea of what I was in for.

Well I wasn’t.

These are a few of the things I learned and dealt with my first few months into home ownership. This is not what it’s like for everyone, especially not when you buy a new house, but since I bought an 80-year old antique there’s been some interesting experiences and lessons. I wanted to write about this because there are some people that dive in head first and really have no clue. Home ownership is fantastic and I don’t regret it one bit but you must realize that this is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. I love my house and don’t regret buying it but in the first 6 months of my home ownership a lot of things happened that let me qualify November 2008 – June 2009 the worst time of my life. I’m not kidding. This is why;

When I bought the house I knew the roof would need to be replaced within 5 years, I did NOT know that it would spring a leak one week after taking possession! The leak was repaired, the drywall was fixed up and repainted and on we went. Soon after that incident, I woke up one morning after it had rained a bit to discover about a foot and a half of water in my crawlspace/basement. Not a big deal really… could happen to anyone and since the floor in there is clay there wasn’t really any damage. In the span of 15 minutes I learned how to get the sump pump working and how to set it up properly so this wouldn’t happen again. My dad had a good laugh when I called him in panic as I waded through the basement in rubber boots, he said “Yeah, so? Turn on the sump pump!” I have not had any issues since and any water that does come in down there is swiftly drained to the pump which pumps it back outside.
I am working on drainage outside and plan to install gutters (no gutters=more water in basement!) By next spring I should have little to no water issues.

The next thing that happened wasn’t an easy fix like the previous two. As winter progressed (we) started getting a lot of headaches, being tired a lot and being angry a lot. I didn’t connect this with anything house related as we didn’t smell anything and I wasn’t familiar with carbon monoxide poisoning. Then one day things started smelling really funny, I turned off the furnace and called in a repairman to come take a look. It turns out we could have died from carbon monoxide poisoning because a pipe had come loose on the furnace. The furnace was supposed to be in working condition when I bought the house but we then found out it was at the end of its life, not much I could do about that since I’d already bought the house. I installed a carbon monoxide alarm the same day. After the repair I chose to use up the remaining oil in our tank and laid the ole furnace to rest in April. Not having ever owned a home before, and never having really learned anything about a furnace and how it really works I had no idea that it could be this dangerous! I was also not familiar with the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning; it’s an odourless gas that slowly kills you. You go to sleep and never wake up. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills people every year. Very scary to think back on how tired we were and how much more we were sleeping… how close to death did we get? Afterwards it did take a while to get our energy back, it never really sank in how dangerous the situation was until months after the fact. We probably should have visited the hospital at the time but didn’t. Neither one of us suffered any long-term health effects thankfully but that could have been very different.

Other things I discovered in the house were unresolved plumbing problems (a slow leak under the kitchen sink) dry rot in the kitchen during a kitchen gut (I gutted 75% of the kitchen and reno’d it) a rotted out sill under the front door while renovating that wall and electric wiring that leads to nowhere… to name a few. Most of these issues were thankfully discovered during planned renovations and have been easy to deal with for the most part. I didn’t expect anything glamorous and knew that this house needed a lot of work, which has helped curb the disappointment when discovering unknown and unresolved issues in the house. It’s still not easy, but these are the things that come with home ownership that not many people talk about: The stress, disappointment, financial set-backs and the hard work involved in maintaining your own place make it hard, but totally worth it.

For more information on Carbon Monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it please visit http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/yohoyohe/inaiqu/inaiqu_002.cfm

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