buying a home

The Handy-Dandy Guide to Owning a Home

Owning a home is no-joke. It's takes a routinely exhausting amount of work. From basic monthly tasks to serious upkeep, getting a handle on it all can be overwhelming. Danny and I are always forgetting to do something--and then days, weeks, or, um, months later, we'll remember and feel quite dumb. And often, that feeling of "quite dumb" is associated with some kind of repair because we forgot to, say, take the hoses off the outside hose bibs and it ruptured a pipe, causing the entryway to flood. (Yes, that happened.) 

We are not perfect home owners, that's for sure. We forget things; we mess up; and there are some things we just don't know until we mess up. Here are a few tips-and-tricks for those brand-new-homeowners who need a little leg up (and who can definitely learn from our mistakes). 

1. Weather-proofing is real

Remember that little anecdote about removing the hoses from the hose bibs? It honestly never occurred to me that you're not supposed to leave a hose attached. I mean, I can use a hose year-round, right? Yes, you can--but because of how most outdoor hose bibs and faucets work, the metal portion of a hose freezing can cause an interior pipe to rupture. Which won't be a huge deal until you try to use that hose and it floods underneath your house--and whatever room that hose bib shares a wall with. It can be a pretty expensive fix, so take my advice: weather-proof your house. Remove hoses from hose bibs and move them inside to keep the hoses from cracking; take down any patio furniture and outdoor decorations; and wrap any exposed pipes and faucets with pool noodles and duct tape to keep them from freezing. You'll thank me when you aren't paying a $500 plumbing bill. 

2. Keep a recurring calendar of bi-annual and annual events. 

Another task Danny and I routinely forget: changing the air filter in our heating and cooling system. It's supposed to be changed every 6 months and for the first 2 years, Danny and I kept it up like clockwork. Then I had a baby and I realized, with a shock, two weeks ago that we hadn't changed the air filter in at least 8 months, but probably longer. Recurring tasks like this I now keep on a calendar in my phone that sends me reminders of things I need to do, from changing the air filters to defrosting our freezers every year. 

3. Improvements happen a little at a time.

I occasionally get it in my head that I'm going to transform my home into a Pinterest-worthy exhibition home in one weekend. Guess what, guys? It's not going to happen. Danny and I have a goal of doing one thing every weekend: spraying the yard for weeds; sweeping the driveway and porch; putting up or taking down decorations; or painting. We don't overwhelm ourselves and do one thing at a time. I'm a big fan of this method because it helps me appreciate each task as I'm doing it. If I can fit more in, I do try; but otherwise, I take it slow. 

4. It's ok if it isn't perfect. 

My kitchen doesn't have a pantry, so I turned a hallway closet into a pantry. It's kind of weird because it's right next to the bathroom, but it could be worse. Our house is not perfect: all of our furniture is hand-me-downs, including all of our bookshelves and rugs, and excluding our kitchen table which I bought for about $100; we have dings on the walls and spots that have needed repainting for years; and I still haven't painted the banister in our house. It's ok for things to be left undone until you get a moment. No need to torture yourself. You'll get there. 

5. Mistakes happen.

Danny and I have done some truly stupid things regarding taking care of our home. We've let things go, we've forgotten to leave water running leading to frozen pipes, and we've forgotten to do pretty basic tasks. You make mistakes! You live, you learn. While they can be expensive mistakes, it's nothing worth beating yourself up over. No one has a perfect home and at first, no one is a perfect home owner.