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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday Homeowner Series: Singlutionary's House

Every Wednesday I'll be posting on a topic related to homeownership. Sometimes I'll write about buying a home and sometimes I'll write about fixing a home and sometimes I'll just tell stories about owning a home. If you have a specific question you'd like me to try and address please email me or comment.

Homeownership isn't for everyone. There is nothing wrong with being a life-long renter. I am not of the opinion that people who rent are not "grown-up". You can be a Singlutionary and live in a tent or an apartment or a hotel penthouse. Whether you rent or own does not affect your awesomeness.

I have a house. And I am single. So that is what I am going to write about right here, every Wednesday: Homeownership from a single woman's perspective.

I've been slowly coming into my own in the past two years as a homeowner. I always wanted to have my own house, am fascinated with real estate, with buildings and with the spaces people live in. Basically, I love home. I'm a homebody.

Two and a half years ago I finally bought a house. The funny thing about buying a house is that it seems like this great accomplishment. I felt like I had made it. I had joined the ranks of the land holders.

But the real work had just begun.

Owning a home is a responsibility and a commitment and an ongoing learning experience. And it is a big one. A big huge one. Traditionally, couples bought a house when they were ready to start a family. My parents went that route. But somehow I never got the memo. I never thought that it was strange that I, a single woman in my 20s, would buy a four bedroom single family home all on my own. I didn't stop to think that it might be easier to keep up a house and a garden if there are TWO people instead of just one. I just new what I wanted. And I knew that had always wanted it.

Shortly after I bought the house I became so overwhelmed that I became emotionally paralysed. I remember going over to a friend's house with my sister and staring at the TV, feeling totally incapable of moving or making any decisions about what to do next. I felt literally frozen in place. I was completely overwhelmed but I couldn't even articulate what was wrong. I wasn't depressed. I was just terrified.

When I bought the house, I thought I'd have it in the shape I wanted it to be in within a few months. I knew everything I wanted to do and in my mind's eye, I could see how beautiful it would all be when done. It has taken two and a half years to accomplish 75% of my original to-do list. Two and a half grueling, no-time-to-socialize, paint-splattered clothes, project cluttered years that I wouldn't give back for the world.

Unless you move into a place and have a TON of money and about a month off work to go shopping, meet with contractors and have your entire life turned upside down, it is going to take a while.

Unless your house is brand new. But even then . . . .

Even if you buy a condo . . .

And then, when you get your house into that perfect condition that you've always dreamed of, something goes wrong. And it usually costs a heck of a lot of money to fix it.

For me, a house is not only a home but a sanctuary. It is also a work of art. I consider myself a homemaker. It just so happens that I make a home for myself, my dog and my roommates instead of for my spouse and children. Still, the amount of time and thought and energy and grace that I put into creating a home is immense.

My home is an extension of me. It is an expression of myself. I want it to be clean and beautiful and peaceful because I want to bring clarity and beauty and peace into the world.

I am also very critical of my house. I see everything that is wrong with it. I see the tiny spots where the paint isn't perfect and I see the lack of landscaping in the front yard and I see the books, unceremoniously dumped on the bookshelf and the old aluminum windows that are SO inefficient. There are so so so so so so so many of these imperfections that others don't even notice but which nag at me every day. When I first moved in, there were so many things that needed to be done that I simply couldn't pick which one to start with.

But somehow I got through my new homeowner stupor. And I got down to business. I needed to learn fast and be strong if I was going to figure this all out.

So I started learning. Something broke and I figured out how to fix it. I learned to start thinking about how the plumbing works and how the air conditioner works and how screen doors work and which things can be fixed by a quick trip to Lowe's and which things need more than one set of hands to fix and who to call for what. A big part of owning a home is problem solving. And for me, it was also problem solving on the cheap.

I'm still learning-- often the hard way. There is no "done" when it comes to life or home ownership. If the building is still standing, there is work to be done.

This house, and all that is represents, and the people it shelters is a big part of my life.

So on Wednesdays I'll be sharing my struggles and my triumphs and my frustrations. And answering any question you might have to the best of my ability!


Steve said...

Hey good on you!

Home ownership is the best investment you can make. Property typically trebles in price every 20 years or so. It is great to own your own home. I bought my first house when I was 18. You are right in your observations though. Little things nag at you all the time but the sense of achievement and the feeling of security is worth all the trouble.
Good post!


Welsh Girl said...

you summed up exactly how I feel about my house (well, not the air conditioning bit of course) but I am with you a 100%. In some ways I get less joy than I should from my house because I see the flaws more than I see the good bits. Today it is raining inside my conservatory (ha - that's a misnomer if ever there was one) as the snow on the roof melts through into the room.. It is things like this, that require other people and money that I find hard. The rest is a labour of love.

Sixty and single in Seattle said...

I remember when I bought my B&B inn in Inverness, CA, feeling that same catatonia initially. You just have to start somewhere, don't you? And I love your analogy of home to life, flaws and all.

Stevi said...

Someday I would like to own a home. When that day comes I will need your help!! :)