Mize: Homebuyer, did they tell you about the list?
EDMOND — Dear Prospective New Homeowner: My house and I are not on speaking terms. It will happen to you.
It's been 33 days since the Halloween night plumbing leak UNDER THE SLAB set loose a conspiracy of household goblins, giving me the flustered gulps and bitter guffaws. It has sparked criminations and recriminations between me and various places and parts of the house.
And appliances, including the blinked-out fridge, now on its 16th day of blinked-outedness. Sixteen days, with an extended warranty. The part came yesterday. The repair person is supposed to come between 1 and 5 p.m. Thursday. I've not had the best of luck with such blocks of time during this ordeal, so we will see.
Oh, the tense phone calls I could relate. In the meantime, since this saga is not over, and my house and I are giving each other the silent treatment, I will wait to see how it turns out before telling you much else about it.
Not to worry, dear Prospective Homeowner! I have pulled something of mine from the archives to tide you over: "Surely, home buyer, they told you about the list," which ran a dozen years ago on April 7, 2007, when my house, built in 1987, was only 40 in people years (now it's 64). For your convenience, again I have italicized certain technical terms you will need to know.
A look back
So, you just bought a house? Pull up a chair, son, and try not to scratch the floor.
It's new to you, but "seasoned”? Surely, they warned y'all to keep some money back for repairs. Surely you have some cash somewhere.
You don't? Hooooo boy.
See that stain in the ceiling? It's 6 years old.
Storm blew through. Hail dinged the roof. It leaked. Wind took out some fence.
Insurance fixed the roof. Fixed the fence myself, for $50. Never got around to the ceiling. No time, less money.
Times were tight. We used up every spare dollar to get in this place. Somebody told us it was the smart thing to do since the more house you have the bigger the return — since houses always appreciate. Oh, the value's gone up, but now there's a second mortgage, taken to pay down some bills.
Speaking of the fence: Look out back. Looks pretty bad, doesn't it? You can't even tell the "new” section, it's been so long now. See that dog? Pretty hefty for a weenie dog (RIP, Bailey the Wonderdog. — rm). We keep him fat so he can't slip through the holes in the fence. It's cheaper that way.
Get up, son, and come in here. See that bathtub? It was a big selling point when we were looking at this house. It's got jets. Very cool. It's never worked. Same with the central vacuum system. Very cool, but it didn't work right. It sucked — no wait, it didn't. We've been meaning to replace them both for years.
But then the kid needed a car. Then we had some medical bills. Then the kid went to college. It was one thing after another. Those fancy tubs, especially, don't come cheap.
Come in the kitchen. Look here under the sink. See where the water filtration system used to be? Dang thing blew up just before Christmas. But it's fixed now, minus the filters, since I broke the housing on the new system trying to put it in.
Fixed the water lines myself, after three trips to a big home center, once to get a refund on the broken filtration system, and three trips to a hardware store, first for a stretch of tubing, then for a doohickey, then for a thingamajig.
We went a week without kitchen sink water, since we both work for a living, long hours sometimes, and it took more time than we had to deal with it. They told you it takes time to keep a house in shape, didn't they?
It helps to be handy with tools, too. They told you that, didn't they?
The other day, the mail lady quit leaving mail until we fixed the mailbox. Dang lid was broken. Could you fix it? You got the tools? Some young guys can't and don't these days.
Come outside. See that flower bed? Used to be flowers in it. Look under that tree. See that red dirt? Used to be grass under there. Bermuda grass. The tree's grown since we moved in, and last summer the shade finally killed the grass. Fixing the yard is on the list.
The list — the never-ending list of things that need done around a house. Surely, they told you about it. Didn't they?
You can email Real Estate Editor Richard Mize at firstname.lastname@example.org .