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Home Ownership Woes


The movie The Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks and Shelly Long, came out in 1986. I was, mmmm…yeah, 10 years old. I might have been older when I saw it on VHS or on television, but either way, I only remember that it was a funny movie. Seeing the couple fall through the floor or someone get whacked by a 2×4? That’s funny shit to a kid. But I, at the time, could not relate to the disasters running rampant in that fictional movie house. But now? Now I have a better idea. Not as bad as the movie, no, but a better idea.

I hate owning a house. Seriously. It’s just another one of those traps society has set for you. Like marriage, it’s the thing to do as a responsible, advancing adult in the modern world. This is the order of the Universe: Vary from it, and you will be cursed with snide judgments from all your friends and family who walked that straight line to oblivion. You are expected to follow suit.

Financial advisers and other money-smart people will tell you to buy a house instead of renting because it is an asset. Just like purchasing a vehicle instead of leasing. When you buy, you eventually end up with the thing itself as being yours. After the 30-year mortgage is paid. But you truly never OWN your home because even after the mortgage is paid off 100%, you still owe property taxes every year. The government can still take it all away if you don’t give them what they think they’re due. But don’t take my advice. Really. Buy a house, get sucked into never-ending suckiness.

Recenetly, I have seriously considered putting this place up for sale and going back to apartment living. Main reason? Home maintenance is a huge pain in the ass. In just a few short weeks, 1) the air conditioner went kaput, 2) the water softener malfunctioned and overflowed in the basement, and 3) I had to tear out all the carpet and padding in the basement due to ginormous penicillin cultures growing there, which had much to do with the high humidity brought on by both #1 and #2. The carpet was the worst. Mold. Lots of it. Seemed to be in places where the kids might have spilled who knows what and not cleaned it up or notified an adult so the adult could properly clean it. At first I used a steam vacuum filled with bleach water to attack the moldy areas, but the next day, at the suggestion of a woman who is much smarter than I and goes by the current title of “Wife,” I ripped all the carpet and padding up and disposed of it. There was no way to guarantee all the spores where neutralized by the bleach. And who knew that to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the first place, one should buy a dehumidifier for the basement? A homeowner more savvy than I might have known that.

One of the features of this house that the Wife and I liked six years ago when we became first-time homebuyers was the vertical redwood siding distinguishing it from the other brick and vinyl houses in the neighborhood. Yes, LOVELY. Such a natural look, and with the six or so black walnut trees in the back yard, we couldn’t go wrong because those straight, tall trees would be money come college tuition time for the kids. Then, enter onto the scene Picoides pubescens and Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, the Downey woodpecker and American red squirrel, respectively.

Red squirrel

Friggin’ nutjob.

Downy Woodpecker

Stupid pecker.

Ahhh….nature. We love animals and trees. All wonderful, wonderful. EXCEPT WHEN THEY ATTACK THE HOUSE. The red squirrels gnawed holes through the wood siding and got into the attack and down in the walls. We had to trap them and relocate them. They are agressive little shits, too. I had to wearing thick welding gloves when I handled the cage because that pint-sized nutjob was determined to chew through the wire cage and gnaw off my fingers. The look in his eyes scared me. Rage, but with the determination to hunt me down from wherever I was taking him and sink those teeth into my eyeballs while I slept. Upon release, he ran about five feet from the cage, stopped, turned to look at me as I got ready to run myself, then he bolted into the bushes. Then I went home and spent the next few hours patching holes in the house with metal flashing and caulk, sealing off any further intruders.

The woodpecker(s), unfortunately, aren’t so easy to catch, so they like to play the game of Peck and Fly, their jackass avian version of Knock and Run. From inside, it sounds like the house is being riddled by machine gun fire. Once outside, I grab the closest throwable obhect – rock, walnut, stick, chipmunk – and wing it at the pest up on the side of the house making holes. I always miss, and he flits off to a nearby tree, and he must be a cousin to the kookaburra because I swear I hear him laughing at me. I go back inside the house, and the moment I close the door, the machine gun pecking starts again. This time, I follow him to his tree and chuck walnuts at him there, chasing him further away before going back inside. This goes on for some time, until one of us gives up, sometimes the woodpecker quits, and sometimes I do. More patching follows.

And so – the gutters need cleaning. The deck on the back of the house needs replacing. The carpet on the first floor of the house needs replacing (but not until the kids are done making messes). The downstairs bathroom faucet leaks no matter how many different ways I try to fix or replace it. There is always a light bulb burned out. The roof is beginning to look worn. The siding needs to be restained or painted soon. The garage is so full of junk that neither car is parked therein. You know, all the routine chores that make owning a home miserable.

It will never end. If it’s not this house, it’ll be another. The first home builder to create a truly maintainance-free house will become a gazillionaire. And making it flood-, fire-, earthquake-, volcano-, termite-, animal-, and kid-proof would be a wonderful feature as well. But until then, home ownership can suck it.

Now where did my squirrel tranquilizer darts go?


2 Comments leave one →
  1. 2010/07/29 9:27 pm

    Great post! We once owned a house where the woodpeckers decided to nest inside the wall, right next to my son’s bed. We didnt realize they were there until they hatched, where upon the babies took to chirping nonstop so my (then) little boy couldn’t sleep.

  2. linda permalink
    2010/08/02 3:12 pm

    Kevin – regarding the carpet. Now you know, you probably pulled up the cure for something!!

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