Tag Archives: house

The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 2)

When my partner first suggested moving to the country some time ago, it really didn’t stir up any apprehensions on my part.

I grew up in a suburb of Ottawa in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, at a time when it had a small town feel to it. In its infancy, our tiny subdivision offered the best of both worlds: the amenities of city living as well as the space for young families to grow and thrive. At the time, it was small enough to have its own sense of community and identity, separate from the city a short drive away.

Even though my memories of “village” life are from the perspective of a young boy, I have often entertained the idea of returning to that calmer, quieter, gentler pace as I got older and as life got more rushed and complicated.

Today, my forehead is chronically bruised from the number of times I smack my palm to my forehead for the idiotic things city dwellers do, whether on the commute to or from work, to deal with the daily reality that common sense is not so common anymore, or for the need to repeatedly set boundaries with certain neighbours (i.e., “No, your dog poop in my yard is not acceptable!”)

This is not to say that moving to the country will completely eradicate these problems, but with less density in population, I’d like to think that my forehead bruises will get a decent chance to heal.

When we went to look at the house in the country that seemed to check most of the boxes of what my partner and I were looking for, I admit that my heart started to flutter.

Upon noticing that reaction, I did my very best to regain a business-like, Teflon-coating to view this objectively as a property we are evaluating. Falling in love with a house too quickly can be the rose-coloured glasses to miss something glaringly wrong.

Just the same, I felt giggles inside, with visions of becoming the next Erma Bombeck with an updated version of “The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank”. And for some reason, the theme song from the TV show “Green Acres” was the ear worm playing over and over in my head.

After a very thorough look through the house and asking our agent an endless stream of questions, with no showstoppers that we could see, we decided to put in a conditional offer. This would give us the opportunity to bring in some inspectors to check out the aspects of a country home for which these city boys needed expert opinions.

That was when the learning curve began. In preparation for the inspections, we were directed to a series of videos to understand the basics of septic systems, as my Erma Bombeck gleeful giggles started again.

And truly, if they identified a problem with the “baffles” or the “effluent”, wouldn’t it be better that I know what they are talking about and have a point of reference to ask more questions, rather than freaking out inside? After about half an hour of instructional videos, I realized that the septic system isn’t that complicated. I felt much more in tune with knowing what to do for preventative maintenance and for troubleshooting.

And after our inspections, I enthusiastically performed research on sump pumps, wells, electric furnaces and generators just to get a better idea of how they work. My pride of ownership was already kicking in and I was really getting into it!

It was in that moment that I realized how fortunate we were to have all this information at our finger tips through the Internet. And with retirement just around the corner, the time and headspace will be there to get better acquainted with each individual component, in the same way that I gradually learned about the “infrastructure” pieces in my condo townhome over the last twenty years.

By the end of our week to waive the conditions on the property, we were both satisfied that the house was in good shape. There were things we would need to monitor over time, but that would be the case even if we lived in a house in the city.

There will be work to be done, but it’s not like the to-do list will need to be accomplished overnight. Plus, along the way, we had established contacts with trusted, knowledgeable professionals who could provide technical assistance should a situation arise.

With all of the expert opinions on the table, we were confident that there was really nothing scary about the prospect of moving to this country property. Sure, there were things to learn, but I was proud to see that I wasn’t remotely overwhelmed (as I might have been as a first time homeowner). I was wholeheartedly happy with the new journey before us.

When the deal was signed, sealed and delivered and the house was officially ours, my partner and I were thrilled.

But we were only half way there.

The next step in our transition from city life to country life was to buckle up and to quickly prepare our own houses for sale.

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Have a great day,
André

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Filed under 50+, home, Humour

The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 1)

My sincere apologies to my readers for the break between blog posts. It wasn’t exactly planned, but it was one of those unavoidable cases of life getting in the way of writing.

As much as under normal circumstances, my little writing voice always seems to be talking to me, the little writing voice just seemed muffled by the sudden spurt of activity recently.

While I like to think of my writing as a way to feel grounded and a way to feel a sense of balance when things get crazy, there was simply no time nor headspace to work on a blog post, even if just to edit one that was close to finished.

The big event that ended up being the centre of my universe for a few weeks was the process of buying a home, and then selling the one I currently live in.

Regular readers might recall that there have been a number of posts in the last year about my (mis)adventures in home renovations: “Fixing the Eyesore Door”, “Don’t Touch the Walls!”, “Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun”, among others. Those posts were no accident. For the last year, I have hit the fast forward button on home renovations in preparation for this very moment.

Even though I knew it was coming eventually, the moment my partner sent me the link to a house for sale out in the country in an email saying simply “OH!”, something started to percolate in the pit of my stomach. Something told me that this was the one and it was time to pull the trigger on the process.

The housing market is pretty tight these days. To see a charming Hallmark-movie style home out in the country that checked most of the boxes on the list of what we were looking for meant jumping into action. Continue reading

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Don’t Touch the Walls!

After the completion of numerous home improvement projects over the years, it was time to redirect my attention to the walls.

When I first moved in, the paint was in good shape, and therefore wasn’t a huge priority. But as the years rolled by, I may have painted a room here and there, to freshen things up. If it wasn’t specifically with the intent to redecorate, it was usually the room that got on my nerves the worst from scuffs that would no longer scrub out.

Also, I don’t understand how previous owners could screw up patch jobs by putting matte paint over a wall finished in glossy, and vice versa. Funny enough, they took the time to match the colour perfectly (which, to me, would have been the greater challenge), but missed completely on selecting the right paint finish. Thankfully, I had enough artwork to distract the eye away from those shabby spots until I could have those rooms painted and consistently covered in the same finish.

It was only in recent years, when chasing Ivy the Wonder Cat around with the camera and taking pictures for her Instagram account, that in seeing things at her eye level, I started noticing scuffs more.

For one picture in particular, I spent a solid hour in Microsoft Paint replacing pixels to cover up a truly excellent picture of Ivy but a horrible one of a baseboard in a high traffic area.
With the help of a fantastic professional painting crew over three visits, not only did I catch up quickly but it also inspired me to finish some walls myself. It really is true how a coat of paint can quickly freshen up a place. Continue reading

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Fixing the Eyesore Door

When I first visited this house 18 years ago, I remember saying to my real estate agent that “this thing has got to go”. I was referring to the ugly interior door that separated the entry hall from the rest of the house. And yet, it’s still here and referred to as the “Eyesore Door”.

The thing is that over the years, life got in the way. Between the time and energy required to build a career, to enjoy a social life, and to tend to other priorities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, running, writing this blog and raising a cat, the years escaped on me.

Plus, there was a priority list of other home renovations that needed to get done, because of fixtures running their course or other corners of the house that got on my nerves worse than the door.

Despite being a relentless eyesore, it faded from my radar. But this was the year to finally do something about it.

While the door was probably cute when it made its first appearance, it was made of a soft, honey-coloured wood which was prone to scuffs and scratches. Located in the most high traffic area of the house, it picked up scars from anything and everything that brushed by. The door was also my clear evidence that pets lived here before Ivy and I moved in.

What I couldn’t figure out was how and why this particular door was here, when it didn’t match any other fixture or finish in the house.

Either way, a light sanding would never have sufficed to correct the imperfections covering pretty much every square inch of its surface. Continue reading

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Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun

Much like most people, over the years, I have indeed used the expression “it’s like watching paint dry” to describe an event that might be considered boring. But based upon my recent experience, I might reconsider my use of the phrase. I just don’t agree with its accuracy anymore.

In this year’s round of spring cleaning and home projects, I decided to get some painting done.

As much as I love the whole ceremony of painting, in recent years, time and energy have been in short supply.

Plus, my body just doesn’t seem to respond well to weekend paint jobs without complaining in the days that follow. Between working muscles that don’t usually get used in that way and with arthritis starting to drop in unexpectedly, it was time for me to (reluctantly) look into hiring a painting company.

Upon finding a highly recommended team of painters, I decided to put their professional expertise to the best possible use. The first project was one set of walls I haven’t done since I moved in: the walls around the staircase.

I don’t know what the actual height of that area is but I do recall that the few times I tried to dust the lighting fixture or to try to grab the cobwebs in the corners, I felt like the Roadrunner’s archenemy, Wile E Coyote, trying device after device to extend my reach to get the job done.

When I was finally successful in completing the task, it was usually followed by a visit to the medicine cabinet for some internal and/or external approaches to pain relief.

I decided that for this paint job, the extent of my involvement would be to tidy up before, to remove my personal effects from the painting area, to set up the cat in another part of the house with food, water, litter and favourite toys, and then for me to sit and relax. Continue reading

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When Vacation Time Becomes Home Maintenance Time

Maybe it’s a product of having a busy life and many interests, but I long for the day when I can take a vacation and for it to be entirely made up of time to put my feet up, read a good book and just relax in well-earned peace and tranquility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a home owner. I also love taking care of my investment. The problem is that through a normal work week, when you factor in time for social activities, writing, cooking, cleaning and laundry, there isn’t much time or energy left to bring out the power tools and the paint cans to knock things off my home maintenance to-do list.

And even when I do set aside time for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, I want it done right the first time. I don’t want to rush the project and risk making a mess. For that reason, it needs a generous time allotment.

It would be one thing if I had no natural inclination for DIY projects or if I hated them, but I don’t. I actually think they are a joy and a privilege.

The worst part is that I am responsible for the to-do list and I tend to expect a lot of myself, so the list does get a little ambitious.

That being the case, the list of projects often get deferred to the only time where time and patience are in good supply: vacations… or should I say, stay-cations. Continue reading

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How I Conquered the Most Stubborn Stain in the House

Ever since I moved in to this house, I have been in a never-ending hunt for ways to clean my tub.

If I remember correctly, scrubbing the tub (and the entire main bathroom, for that matter) was one of the first things I did the day I got the keys to the place. That and eradicating a trail of ants from the kitchen counter from a sticky sweet mess left behind, as well as a load of laundry for a proud first-time owner of a laundry centre.

But for some reason, no matter how much I scrubbed with my trusty scouring powder with bleach, there were patches of darker shades of beige throughout that didn’t seem to want to come off. Technically, I knew it was clean, but it looked stained.

I don’t know much about the previous owners and occupants, but for a fifteen-year-old house, there were some signs of premature aging. There were some pieces in the house showing more wear and tear than my first apartment that was twice that age, including chips in the enamel of a sink, knife marks on the kitchen counter and some carpeting that absorbed the fallout of a kitty cat with an unfortunate bladder issue.

In the months that followed, whenever I had a few minutes, I was back at the tub, trying to clean it with the same tenacity as the Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner. I tried every product on the market and had to hold myself back from using anything deliberately abrasive, in my frustration for the stains that would not come out. Continue reading

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