Fuck People Who Don’t Take Care of Their God Damned House

What started out as a minor project to replace a few rotted deck boards has now turned into me starting a bonfire and burning piles of cash I don’t have. Apparently the shit for brains who owned this house used untreated 2×10’s all across the midsection of the deck and now I have to rip up the entire god damned midsection of my deck and replace all of the infrastructure. We thought we had all of it last year.

This is not a fucking website rebuild metaphor.

Buy a house they said. You’ll build equity, they said. In ten months I have replaced a fucking $5,000 central air unit, the fucking hot water heater for another cool grand, and now who knows how much on this fucking deck. And it’s a deck I can’t even fucking use for three months in the summer because there is no shade and it is like sitting on the surface of the fucking sun.

Motherfucker. Buy a fucking house and hemorrhage cash. Probably time for one of the fucking dogs to get sick and cost me another fortune. Cocksucker.

111 replies
  1. 1
    BubbaDave says:

    Have you considered… arson?

  2. 2
    Immanentize says:

    John. Poor a cool drink. Go sit on your shady front porch. Listen to the birds….

  3. 3
    Cermet says:

    As a home owner of a house that has a core structure dated 1840’s and a major addition 1954 (all with major differences – try a part stone/dirt foundation that semi-cut trees’ are vertical beams and cross beams using wood dowels, horse hair filled plaster on hand cut wood slates using black smith made nails) and I have spent years gutting and rebuilding.) Now half of the structure requires a new roof and I’m talking all new wood! I’m doing it so the cost isn’t terrible but old houses aren’t for the faint of heart John – lol.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    henrythefifth says:

    As a fellow inheritor of a large and rotting deck, I empathize. I f%cking hate decks and will never have one again. Rip it out and put in a stone patio (easier said than done, I know).

  6. 6
    marklar says:

    Haul the deck’s rotten boughs and holler, fa la la la la, la la la la,

  7. 7
    Mike in NC says:

    Ten years ago we owned a 1970s vintage townhouse in Alexandria, VA and needed to replace the back fence at one point. The contractor used green wood and within six months it was all warping and buckling. Caveat emptor, as they say.

  8. 8
    Kelly says:

    Our deck with a beautiful, south facing river view is uninhabitable from noon till evening in the summer and too wet most of the winter. Yesterday I poured footings for a clear polycarbonate roof. We expect it to be a dry sunny spot on moderate winter days and we’ll lay stick blinds on the rafter ties for summer shade.

    As far as fixing bad workmanship on our previous house some moron screwed the deck ledger directly over the siding into the outermost joist. No flashing, a little bit of calk. I had to tear the deck off, prop up the the wall and replace the outermost joist. Since the kitchen and a bath were on that wall wiring and plumbing runs were a constant annoyance.

    Much sympathy.

  9. 9
    WhatsMyName says:

    Large decks are expensive, for ever and ever. Even the newest type of treated lumber can rot over time and you have to use expensive fasteners and brackets that won’t corrode.

  10. 10
    Kay says:

    The next owner will hate you for the willow roots. Also, why are there all these birds nesting on his porch?

    We all hate the prior owner.

  11. 11
    Another Scott says:

    Patience, grasshopper. Imagine how much better you’ll feel when the mortgage is paid off.

    When you have a few dollars to spare, get one of these.

    In the meantime, plant an ornamental shade tree close to, but not too close to, the deck. In 5-10 years you’ll have a nice tree and shade and you’ll be much happier. Not a Bradford Pear, though.

    Hang in there.


  12. 12
    trollhattan says:

    Been in our ’20s vintage home sufficiently long to now facing do-overs of major “one-time” projects. Not to mention reaching the lifespans of key “high-end” appliances. Blech. Paired with the April 15 savagery brought by the Republican tax bill and coincident hammering of all retirement accounts, 2019 is a year of major financial retreat. And we are now in possession of a letter from the city informing us of impending sidewalk repairs for which they will be dunning us $3k.

    BTW, the trick re. decks in our area is to NOT attach them to the house. Loan broker spouse has stories. Dozens upon dozens.

  13. 13

    This is one of the dangers of buying a foreclosure. If the previous owner could afford maintenance, he probably would have put the money into keeping his mortgage current.

  14. 14
    cmorenc says:

    If you really want homeowner-hell-in-paradise, own a beach house on a barrier island. Any improperly caulked areas around windows, screw-holes where e.g. storm shutters are attached, and so on – which can potentially cause leakage and dry-rot problems inland, are amped-up on steroids in a marine environment. Anything that can possibly corrode, will. Anything that can possibly leak, eventually will, and sooner. And if you don’t with vigorous, near-obnoxious insistence enforce no-shoes in house and always wash sand off feet outside before coming in, and making guests coming back from the beach use the *outside* showers – the inside of your house will swiftly become the annex to the sand dunes and grainy sand will be on the couches, chairs, beds, etc..

    And we haven’t even talked about the vulnerability of your house to hurricanes and island overwash during storm surges (which is why they should be built raised on pilings, which ours is).

  15. 15
    Aurona says:

    I had the same thing when I moved in to a 1942 “airplane worker house” near Boeing Field in Seattle. Heat on the patio (ripped it out) and we bought a patio table with umbrella and a patio swing with cover from Walmart. The pups will love the covered swing, everybody comes and sits on it. Think of how happy you will make them while you reconstruct the patio. I just buy a new cover for the swing every few years.

  16. 16
    trollhattan says:

    @Another Scott:
    Problem trees in our metroplex include Modesto ash, silver maple, liquidamber, birch, fruitless mulberry. They all provide “quick” shade and then either succumb to the heat, ruin sidewalks and drains, and/or squash cars and people when they suddenly fail. Special shoutout to Mexican fan palms, which become vermin factories and after (expensive) removal keep one occupied removing their offspring for an unknown period that’s definitely longer than one decade.

  17. 17
    dnfree says:

    Not to cheer you up any further, but in many parts of the country “building equity” doesn’t happen. My brothers in northern California have built equity like crazy. Those of us living in rural northern Illinois just watch the money we put into our houses go up in a bonfire much like you are having. We made money on a house once. That was back in 1979.

    A co-worker told me in the 1960s that his father had told him (so presumably at an earlier point) not to look at a house as an investment. Look at it as a place to live. That was good advice then and it remains good advice for most of us outside of major metropolitan areas (and even in parts of those).

  18. 18
    Ohio Mom says:

    After owning this crappy ticky-tacky 70’s suburban ranch purchased 17 years ago to get Ohio Son into the area school district with the best special ed program —and it was a fabulous program and it did change the trajectory of his life, but Son took his diploma two years ago — I’m about done pouring good money after bad (the bad money would be the original down payment).

    I’m looking into chewing gum solutions now. Let the next owner deal with what’s still broken.

    I second the proposal that John just tear out the half of the deck furthest from the house. He’d still have plenty of space for the grill, which is the main use of the deck, and as an added bonus, the willow would automatically be further from the house.

  19. 19
    low-tech cyclist says:


    We all hate the prior owner.

    I don’t. Of course they bought the house new, and sold it to us 6 years later when they realized they needed something bigger. And Joe took great care of his lawn, and planted some excellent shrubbery. My only qualm is that he underestimated how much some bushes would grow, and planted them too close to the driveway and front walk. But that’s a pretty minuscule issue, in the overall scope of things.

    If you’re buying a house, get an inspection done before you lay down serious money. It’ll cost you a few hundred bucks, but they’ll alert you to a lot of issues that the average homeowner (like me) can’t see. (I don’t know if John got one or not. A rotting deck is exactly the sort of thing an inspector would look for and catch. And a good one would ask about the age of the A/C system and hot water heater. They’d all look at drainage, wiring, plumbing, and the state of the roof.)

    We’re actually thinking of calling in an inspector for our own house, just so we know what’s holding up well and what we need to do something about. We’ve been in this house 20 years, and expect to be here for another 20, so at this point the ‘next owner’ is still us, and we don’t want to be surprised by problems down the road.

  20. 20
    cmorenc says:

    @John Cole:

    Apparently the shit for brains who owned this house used untreated 2×10’s all across the midsection of the deck and now I have to rip up the entire god damned midsection of my deck and replace all of the infrastructure.

    What kind of moron was the previous owner of the house to use untreated lumber on an outside deck? Or, if he relied entirely on a contractor instead of doing it himself, what kind of a greedy or incompetent or both shoddy contractor did he hire for the project – no reputable contractor would use (or agree to use) untreated wood on a deck just to make a few extra bucks of profit (or to lower the bid to get the job from a stupidly short-sighted owner?)

  21. 21
    Scott P. says:

    John, if you need some spare cash you could take on some extra work. This would seem perfect for you:


  22. 22
    Hawes says:

    Add a pergola while you’re at it, so you can use the deck more.

  23. 23
    John Cole says:

    @Kay: there isn’t going to be a next owner I am going to fucking burn it all down

  24. 24
    John Cole says:

    @Ohio Mom: The part of the deck that is rotted is closest to the house. The outside is fine.

  25. 25
    Spanky says:

    Decks weren’t a thing when that house was built. Get rid of it (a real bonfire?) per @henrythefifth:
    Stone patio is optional, but imo a good idea.

  26. 26
    NotMax says:

    Put sun sails (sometimes called shade sails) on the wish list. Alternatively, would certainly look unusual but your deck might be large enough to accommodate a freestanding fabric roofed carport.

    As for decking planks, if you can get it, the extra cost for redwood is worth it. IMHO.

  27. 27
    Kelly says:

    @low-tech cyclist: We also don’t hate our home’s previous owners. We bought our house from the a couple we’d been friends with for 15 years. They had it built and sold it to us after they grew to old for the stairs. He is a meticulous maintainer of everything.

  28. 28
    NotMax says:




    For shade purposes. Not to park in. Duh.


  29. 29
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @dnfree: don’t most professional/academic economists say, from a purely financial POV, ignoring all personal considerations, that renting makes more financial sense for most people who get a mortgage?

  30. 30
    Catherine D. says:

    My house has had many idiot owners. One charmer put up the living room ceiling sheetrock with roofing nails and the bedroom ceilings with finishing nails. When I had the roof done (two courses of shingles and all new cladding), the vibration took down the spare room ceiling with a whooomf at 4 am.

    Someone used nails to put down carpeting, which I had to pull out one by one to refinish the lovely maple floors.

    But the house is paid for, which is the only thing that got me through a long round of unemployment.

  31. 31
    The Moar You Know says:

    Apparently the shit for brains who owned this house

    Don’t forget to add “dog murdering son of a bitch” because he tried to do that too. RIP Walter, at least the “shit for brains” somehow managed to not kill you too although he tried his best.

    John, when you’re burning down your house, don’t forget to tie the previous owner to a stake in the middle of the place. I will fly out there to help. Srs.

    Also, I feel your pain. While I can’t blame the “previous owner” as it’s my wife and before her, my father in law, there were some damn poor choices made starting from initial construction that have put us about 50k in the hole, fixing mostly plumbing. I still have a few hundred left in electrical, but none of it is urgent (as in “won’t burn the house down”). The yard, with all the invasive plants and the tree roots and other horrors, I have thrown in the towel on.

    Equity my ass.

  32. 32
    joel hanes says:


    A carport built for shade is called a ramada.

  33. 33
    Tom Levenson says:

    We just got back from a vacation to deal with a situation our house sitter had to endure (not her fault): a flexible connector in a second floor toilet failed and the ceiling below got fercockt. The toilet is likely original to the house (1915) — it was made by Great Western Pottery and has the all time great model name “Expulso” (this one) and I’ve been loathe to replace it because it’s so much of its time…but boy is it time.

    The total cost of the plumbing and painting will be somewhere between one and two grand, but the demon on the loose is the rest of that bathroom. The others in the house we modernized when we bought it a decade ago, or in the kitchen remodel a few years later, but this one is all as it was, and is one crack away from being a five figure monster.

    IOW, John: I feel ya.

  34. 34
    The Moar You Know says:

    no reputable contractor would use (or agree to use) untreated wood on a deck just to make a few extra bucks of profit (or to lower the bid to get the job from a stupidly short-sighted owner?)

    @cmorenc: Please move to California so I may disabuse you of some notions you hold about the morals and ethics of contractors.

  35. 35

    @John Cole: I don’t know if you can mix and match, but my friends put in a trex type deck (not sure if it was actual trex) twenty years ago, and the only maintenance they’ve ever done is wash it. Good as when it was put in. Maybe replace that section with trex-type boards?

    They live in a climate similar to yours – no issue with being slippery, slimy or moldy…

    Oh and don’t start with me on house costs – you and I bought the same time and I’ve replaced as much if not more and my house is an ugly ranch – at least yours is a stately three story beauty.

  36. 36
    zhena gogolia says:

    The whole “build equity” thing is b.s. You buy a house so that you have a place you can make as comfortable as possible for yourself (which you have), and you don’t have to deal with a landlord or a condo board. I think it’s all worth it. (Admittedly, I’m not as conscientious a homeowner as you are, but we’ve built a deck and a garage, etc.)

  37. 37
    NotMax says:

    @The Moar You Know

    The yard, with all the invasive plants and the tree roots and other horrors, I have thrown in the towel on.

    In the long run nature will reclaim it all. You’re just getting a head start.


  38. 38
    zhena gogolia says:

    @TaMara (HFG):

    We did trex too. We have no complaints. We hired a competent construction firm to build it.

  39. 39
    dnfree says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: The older I get, the more I think that’s true. If you have children, there might be other reasons to have a house–like having more space, and a yard to play in, or maybe being in a good school district. Or maybe you want to have a garden. But in the main, I think the whole “buy a house and build equity” and the incentivizing of home ownership by our tax code is actually a scam for many people. I know we’ve put a lot more money into improving and maintaining our homes over the years than we have ever seen out of them when selling.

  40. 40
    zhena gogolia says:

    What about a nice table and chair set with a big umbrella? That’s what we have.

  41. 41
    Missouri Buckeye says:

    Apparently our Fearless Leader is channelling Captain Hadley from Shawshank talking about his taxes.

  42. 42
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Kelly: The previous owner of our place was a buffoon and had done nothing to the house between the early 80s, when he bought it, and 2009, when we took it off his hands. We were happy because (a) we knew much — though by no means all* — of its flaws, and the fact that it was a wreck was the only way we could get into this particular property, which, after much pain, sturm and drang, we love.

    But there were moments, especially during the initial “make sure the place doesn’t fall/burn down” work right after we bought it, when it seemed that every week brought a new and unanticipated $10K repair.

    *We didn’t know about the 70,000+ bees living in a hive in the wall next to the master bedroom. Top that.

  43. 43
    zhena gogolia says:


    A co-worker told me in the 1960s that his father had told him (so presumably at an earlier point) not to look at a house as an investment. Look at it as a place to live. That was good advice then and it remains good advice for most of us outside of major metropolitan areas (and even in parts of those).


  44. 44
    jonas says:

    Balloon Juice — come for the pets; stay for the obscenity-laced home maintenance rants!

  45. 45
    NotMax says:


    Examples of sun sails.

  46. 46
    TomatoQueen says:

    My parents, both painting contractors’ kids, were obsessives about maintenance of their many house renovation projects over the years. They did a lovely redwood deck across the back of the house, thereby making ridiculously hilly terrain invisible and also useful. The steepest part ended as a canyon under the deck, with a lovely dogwood tree overhang, and the flattest part, on the other end, had a hickory tree growing through it almost dead center. Occasionally, there were Cuprinol painting the deck parties, which makes me think that redwood might not’ve been…

  47. 47
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Ohio Mom: And let me just chime in here that after buying a house that had a *huge* willow in the front yard, that I would never, no never, even consider looking at a house that had one again. Lovely tree, incredible shade – and such a goddamn expensive pain in the ass to keep properly trimmed. To say nothing of all the litter from dropped branches. To be honest, it was the prospect of having to pony up the $1,000 + it was going to take to get it – and the huge maple in the back yard – pruned again that finally convinced me to sell the place. I was tired of being an absentee landlady – and, frankly, too broke to be an effective one.

    Now I am waiting breathlessly to learn how much of the money I made on the sale is going to be gobbled up by Trump Tax Hike. Yeah, even “equity” is not all it’s cracked up to be.

  48. 48
    Tom Levenson says:

    @zhena gogolia: It is also at least possible to combine the tax treatment of a house and, hopefully, a purchase price that made sense for you at the time to think of your home as a cheaper way to rent space, or a way to rent more space than you could for the same money in a “true” rental. My wife and I are on only our second house together (we lived in the first one for 14 years and this one for 10 and counting) but we were pretty rigorous with ourselves in making sure the monthly nut was below the equivalent rental. That’s assuming the down payment doesn’t wreck you, of course, which is key.

  49. 49
    The Moar You Know says:


    @trollhattan: That fucking tree ought to be banned everywhere. Plant one here in CA, and be prepared to bulldoze your property to the ground ten years later as you will find a lovely net of liquidambar roots for an acre in all directions radiating from the tree. You can’t plant anything, dig anything, trench anything as it’s just a solid, deep wall of roots. Plus, the round spikey seeds, which are perfect for stepping on and rolling out from under you, causing a fall, knee injury, or worse. (I got the “knee injury”, thanks for asking). Hate those fucking trees. And carrotwood, which is the same thing but worse.

  50. 50
    NotMax says:

    Built a deck out of hundred-year-old salvaged rock maple once, long ago. Aptly named, emphasis on rock.

  51. 51
    StringOnAStick says:

    We’re considering moving to another state when we retire and just spent a week in the town we are strongly considering; being on the ground to look around eliminated most areas of towns given what we are looking for. As is typical for hipster towns, the old funky stuff near the popular core of the city is stupid expensive and nearly as expensive per sq ft as the big homes in the hottest area of town. These old houses may have “Character” but what they don’t have is a decent kitchen, adequate closet size or even a freakin’ garage. No thanks; I owned a 1925 vintage home once and even the 1960’s ranch we owned together once is too damned old. I started calling PBS’s “This Old House” “This Old Rich Man’s House” years ago and with very good reason.

  52. 52
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: The only problem with renting – aside from rent hikes and possibly asshole/psycho landlords – is one that anyone on this blog can relate to: more and more rentals these days are “no pets”. I never understood the logic of that – in my experience, pet owners were a great bet. Whenever I had a vacancy for my house, I always said, “pets negotiable”, and I was *deluged* with potential renters. The ones I picked always had at least one pet and were all, invariably fantastic tenants.

  53. 53
    The Moar You Know says:

    It is also at least possible to combine the tax treatment of a house and, hopefully, a purchase price that made sense for you at the time to think of your home as a cheaper way to rent space, or a way to rent more space than you could for the same money in a “true” rental.

    @Tom Levenson: I don’t know how this holds up in the rest of the country but when I bought my place in 2006 within a year I was 15% under local comp rental rates, and right now my wife and I are sitting with one place at 50% of local rental comps and the other at 100% (it’s paid off). For that alone, it’s paid for itself and then some. But our real estate market here is an outlier, not everywhere is SoCal.

  54. 54
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Miss Bianca: True, dat. My wife’s and my first house together was a two-family in Watertown, MA — a real estate choice that is the single best financial decision we ever made, incidentally. We were uncertain about pets, but when we looked for tenants for the ground floor unit, a young woman with two lovely small dogs showed up. She stayed with us the entire time we owned the house, 14 years, and was wonderful.

  55. 55
    RedDirtGirl says:

    @The Moar You Know: I was thinking about Walter, as well.

  56. 56
    satby says:

    @NotMax: @TaMara (HFG): Trex lasts a crazy long time, but it’s an “investment” because it’s more expensive. My old house had a deck that was like walking on the sun, so I had a sunsail the first year, then put a pergola over it (still used the sunsail), then the next year smoked grey polycarbonate panels (50% light transmission) over the roof of the pergola.. Shade and it made the deck usable in rain as long as it wasn’t windy. Because I did it in stages it wasn’t a nightmare any particular year.

  57. 57
    Kelly says:

    @Tom Levenson: Our home is paid for. I consider the equivalent rent tax free income from our home equity.

  58. 58
    matt says:

    On the plus side if you replace all the painted boards you can stain it and not have to paint every single damn year.

  59. 59
    Paul M Gottlieb says:

    Repeated viewing of “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” should be required of every potential home buyer. Not only is Myrna Loy adorable, but the movie will prepare you for what’s to come

  60. 60
    opiejeanne says:

    @TaMara (HFG): We have a Trex-type deck built across the back of the kitchen and dining room and it has been a great addition to the property. We had the contractor build a large pergola on the section opposite the dining room and cover it with polycarbonate panels, because sometimes it rains here on otherwise nice, warm days. The rest of the deck is just deck with seating and in full sun for a couple of hours in the afternoon. It still looks like new after 4 years and rom the literature and from experience we think the thing will last at least 20 years.

  61. 61
    Nicole says:

    My uncle can probably beat most bad previous owner stories- he found a dead dog in the backyard of his and my aunt’s property when they moved in. The previous owner had at one time fancied himself a breeder of American Huskies, among other failed projects. Poor thing’s corpse was still chained up.

    Next week I go to my stepmom’s to empty out the basement so the mold professionals can come in and get rid of the forest growing there. Fifteen thousand dollars we have to scrounge up for THAT project. Sigh. Times like these I am glad to rent.

  62. 62
    NotMax says:


    None of those wimpy 2×;4s either. 4×4s for structural members, alternating 2×6s and 2×8s for decking, ~3/8″ (whatever the exact size was of the handle on an old pistol grip metal square) gap between planks.

  63. 63
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    Yesterday, a small but really powerful weather front out of Mexico sat over our part of the state and dumped a shitload of much appreciated water on our parched desert.

    I Spent the entire day–THE ENTIRE FRIGGING DAY-shifting the positions of pots, pans and bowls around my house to catch roof leaks during our first heavy, day long rainstorm of the summer here. Mostly because our 10 year roof–which my husband and various friends and family replaced in 1995 over the course of a 110+ degree New Mexico weekend fueled by a full-keg of beer–has now reach 25 years of age.

    Every single newly initiated effort to rehab our mid-renovated Master Bath so we can put this place on the market for our empty nester days will now be diverted to a $15k roof because that’s the price when you don’t do it yourself and none of the former crew can now be trusted to safely roam around on a roof in 110 degree temps with red cups and hammers.

    I get it John. Been doing this shit for years. Home Sweet Home. :-D

  64. 64
    Tom Levenson says:

    @The Moar You Know: I think it holds up pretty well. Here’s a completely unscientific quick glance. Current median home price in metro St. Louis is $167,000. (That’s higher than the city itself, which is why I choose it). Average rental prices are just under $1K, with huge variation by neighborhood. Two and three bedroom apartments, comparable to modest houses, are a bit higher, in the low $1K and up range.

    At current mortgage rates of around 4% for a 30 year fixed, financing the entire median house cost (i.e., no down payment) would run about $800.

    The St. Louis county property tax rate is 1.38%, so add roughly $200/month, and the same again for insurance: $200.

    Put that together and you have a $1,200 monthly payment (again, assuming nothing down), with $1,000/month tax deductible.

    And you get an enforced savings account. St. Louis prices don’t advance the way SoCal (or Boston) ones do, but the mortgage does buy a little bit of equity each month.

    IOW: done carefully, buying a home is not inherently stupid. It just isn’t right for every one in every location and circumstance.

    Also note: I allocated nothing to a home repair fund, which is, as this post reminds us, a treacherous omission.

  65. 65
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @Another Scott: Hot damn, those are some expensive patio umbrellas!

  66. 66
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Kelly: Yup.

    I look forward to the day when that’s true for us. We’ve paid down our mortgage a lot (we dumped all our equity from the last house into this one, and have been paying a little extra on the monthly payment thereafter), but we’ve still got a ways to go.

  67. 67
    chopper says:

    untreated? the fuck?

  68. 68
    NotMax says:

    Sort of house related. 91-year-old Mom has finally given in and told me she now wants and needs a recliner, so furniture shopping is on the to-do list for my NY trip. Any recommendations on brands (especially any to avoid)? Nothing fancy-schmancy – cup holders, massaging, etc. not in the running.

  69. 69
    Another Scott says:

    @mrmoshpotato: Indeed, they’re not cheap, but the fabric doesn’t fade or tear. We’ve been very happy with ours. (We got a 70# aluminum stand elsewhere, but I can’t find where at the moment.) (We take it down every winter.)


  70. 70
    opiejeanne says:

    @Paul M Gottlieb: We bought a big 1912 Arts & Crafts in downtown Riverside in 1984. 3800 square feet on a jungle-like third of an acre. That place was wonderful, really a wonderful old house whose only real sin was what people did to the kitchen in the 50s, and which we eventually fixed.Hilarious red boomerang formica counters above birch cabinets that had yellowed badly in the intervening 30 years. The handles were those fake hammered copper ones with the little pointy leaf at either end, faux colonial.
    When we were in the process of moving in we rented “Money Pit”, which was a mistake. We were both hyperventilating so badly at the point when the second floor bathtub falls through the ceiling we had to pause it and walk around the house for half an hour to reassure ourselves that that wasn’t going to happen.

    I still miss that house and that neighborhood and our friends, but sometimes you have to move because the only job you can find in your line is 400 miles away.

  71. 71
    cope says:

    1) I quit drinking about a year ago and recently (at a very close friend’s after-funeral celebratory gathering), discovered a non-alcoholic beer from Germany brewed by Clausthaler. Tasty, thirst-quenching and as satisfying as the real beers I consumed in great quantity for some 50 years but no buzz. I had two last night when I came home from the hospital where my beloved wife awaits abdominal surgery.

    2) That same beloved wife was savvy enough to put an extra $100 on each mortgage payment of our last mortgage (15 year) and the house was paid off 3 or 4 years early and is now ours. We keep pouring money into it (popcorn replaced, new vinyl fence, etc.) but with the absolute realization that we won’t get most (or any) of it back, we just do it to make this house into what we want. Next year it will be 30 years that we have lived in it and have no plans to leave. Both our cars are long ago paid off as well. We managed this with our salaries as a teacher (me) and an RN (her) and no windfall inheritances or financial investments.

    3) I”ll echo the statements above that if you look at a house as an investment, you are likely to be continually frustrated. If you look at it as the place in which you live and which represents you as a person, any improvements and the labors you put into them should be seen as positive embellishments and enjoyed.

    Or just go with “fuck this old house”, whatever makes you feel better.

  72. 72
    JeanneT says:

    Yeah, home repairs and upgrades are scary and infuriating – and gratifying when it’s done and you know it got done right. I spent a good part of my morning trying to estimate how much it will cost to redo my bathroom. I don’t even want to do anything fancy and the costs I’ve come up with so far are daunting.

  73. 73
    MomSense says:

    The previous owner did all sorts of fucked up things. The funniest one was the “peephole” she installed on the front door. I was relieved to find out she was really, really short and not that she was a perv who just wanted to inspect all the crotches of potential visitors/intruders.

  74. 74
    chopper says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    oh man, i hate gum trees with a passion typically reserved only for the republican party.

  75. 75
    LuciaMia says:

    Mr. Cole Builds His Dream House now showing on TCM.

  76. 76
    opiejeanne says:

    @mrmoshpotato: Where did you see the prices? Right now the local grocer is selling patio umbrellas for about $100 each. We have some that I paid $150 apiece about 15 years ago and there is a little fading but the blue and white striped canvas has held up nicely, and we haven’t coddled them. The wooden parts are starting to fail, before the canvas.

  77. 77
    raven says:

    This was our deck under construction.

    I put the roof on, screened it and built the stairs.

    Now the stairs are gone and it is a “sun porch” and we spend most of our time there.

  78. 78
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @LuciaMia: AKA Mr. Cole Curses About This Fucking Old House

  79. 79
    satby says:

    @Tom Levenson: my mom passed away as I was on the verge of being homeless (with 10 animals) from foreclosure after I lost the high paid IT job. I spent the majority of my inheritance paying cash to buy a very underpriced house in a poorer section of South Bend. My sisters were appalled. But renting even a crappy house would have been $800/month, and would have sheltered me for 4 1/2 years only. If someone would have rented to a pet owner, and assuming I could rehome most of my rescues. The math of ownership can make sense, as long as people do the math in the first place.

  80. 80
    Immanentize says:

    untreated 2×10’s all across the midsection of the deck

    We should get Ozark on this??

    Anyhoo, are the untreated 2X10s rotting already? If not, they can be painted or treated in place

  81. 81
  82. 82
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @opiejeanne: Clicked Scott’s link, then clicked one of the Sun Master series buttons.

  83. 83
    raven says:

    @satby: We’re in the annual “certify you live in the house and that you are still married” period for our reverse mortgage. It has to be done but is seems silly.

  84. 84
    opiejeanne says:

    @MomSense: Ha! The previous owner of our current house had it built with little windows at either side of the front door, in little bumped out spaces. The windows are in walls at right angles to the front wall. You can see one here: small window.

    She did this instead of a simple peephole because she says they do this in Europe and just sneak a peek out of these windows. One is a little closet which is nice next to the front door, the other is just a necessary open space.

    She was from Turkey, which she considers part of Europe even if the EU doesn’t.

  85. 85
    opiejeanne says:

    @mrmoshpotato: I did that but didn’t see a price. I’ll go look again.

  86. 86
    Eric NNY says:

    That there was a fine rant.

    I now feel better about my day. Thanks, JC.

  87. 87
    Ksmiami says:

    @Cermet: all houses are money pits, it’s the land that has value ugh.

  88. 88
    Another Scott says:

    @opiejeanne: I think we have something like this one. In “Terracotta” fabric.

    I don’t think we paid $575 for it (plus the stand), I think it was probably closer to $400, but I may be misremembering – it was probably 10 years ago.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that that’s the only kind that John should consider. We like it because it tilts, has high quality fabric, and has vents to reduce the chance of it falling over in the wind (though it has been knocked over a couple of times when it was very windy).

    We got it at a local store, not on-line.



  89. 89

    Well at least we have a house to complain about. In a city like Mumbai it is luxury, a young couple could barely afford an apartment in the seventies
    Do Dewaane Shaher mein (Two crazy people in the city..).
    On screen, Marathi theater great Amol Palekar with Zarina Wahab.
    Singing Gulzar’s wonderful lyrics are Runa Laila, who was a famous singer from Bangladesh and Bhupinder who is from the northeast of India.
    Gulzar is Sikh by birth and was born in what is now Pakistan. This is the diversity that the Saffron goons are trying to destroy.
    Just like they hated the now dead Girish Karnad, the Saffron brigade in charge of India now hate Amol Palekar because he dared to call them out on their bigotry against minorities and their attacks on free speech.

  90. 90
    Another Scott says:

    @Ksmiami: Especially in Japan. RethinkTokyo:

    Responsible for the mantra that a Japanese house is built to last for 30 years, the Japanese government have ensured that land is passed on, but homes are not. Having developed into a somewhat self-perpetuating cycle, this 30-year ‘fact’ was plucked from a study of houses that were demolished — but focused on their life spans alone, while ignoring the much older houses still standing. Even traditional wooden houses are only supposed to last for around 60 years, but that depends heavily on the care they receive.

    Designed to keep the country’s building industry in good health, the tactical figure has come to be treated as fact among society, with homes built to meet these criteria, but never to transcend them. You need only watch the concerningly short construction of an average Japanese house with its thin walls, limited insulation and simple design to know it will not be there in 100 years. While the government is responsible for placing an arguably nominal figure on the life expectancy of the average property, the concept of housing as temporary has always been present in Japan due to a history of adaptation and innovation.

    The country’s co-existence with nature and the disasters that rock the land on a regular basis have been pivotal in the development of the concept of ownership and belonging. With buildings routinely ruined by earthquakes, tsunamis and fires, the concept of a permanent structure was not considered feasible, and thus the focus on development as a positive has been encouraged. While beauty and tradition are celebrated and preserved, the focus is placed on cultural practice and location, rather than the buildings themselves. For example, shrines today are re-built on average every 20 years, allowing for a sense of renewal as well as maintaining the skills of Shrine builders —factors considered far more important than the proverbial bricks and mortar.



  91. 91
    Soprano2 says:

    I learned a long time ago the truth of the saying that a house is a hole in the ground that your pour money into. It’s still better than renting, though. We bought the building our restaurant/bar is in. We replaced the HVAC, which was original to the building that was built in 1995, for a cool 30K. Going to do the roof next, which is probably going to be around 18-20K. Next we need to do some foundation support, then we can start on the inside. As you might be able to guess, the previous owner didn’t do much to the building, which helped us get the price down, but hoo-boy……..

  92. 92
    Van Buren says:

    @dnfree: A coworker and I bought homes within a year of each other early this century, she in Brooklyn and me in the burbs. My house has not appreciated. Hers is worth 5 times what she paid.
    Thus, she is selling and retiring.

  93. 93
    Adam Geffen says:

    I heartily endorse shade umbrellas and such. My patio was unusable due to sun but now I’m outside frequently.


  94. 94
    Cermet says:

    @Ksmiami: Very, very true and since my area is high value that is why I’m fixing the huge area roof now; and also why I went to the trouble of gutting so many rooms. Doing all foundation, roof, walls, electrical and plumbing as well as installing new appliances, floors, all new windows, house and garage doors, etc but does allow me to provide the lowest bid by doing all the work myself; it was the massive tree removal via a chain saw (and figuring out how to miss the house – the tree grew part way up a hill behind the house and learned fully over said house!) that really annoyed me – I was successful in missing the house. But the schools are great (and saved me $120 k when my daughter got a free ride at MIT so I can’t complain), the location really idyllic but I am certainly realistic – living in the higher end rural areas come at a steep price for someone buying cheap and getting an old, broken down house… ;)

  95. 95
    trollhattan says:

    @Another Scott:
    That’s so very weird, doubly so for a chronically resource-stretched country like Japan. Not only do they have to come up with the materials for a new house every three decades they have to demo, haul and inter the old one.

    They had similar laws re. vehicles, making them very difficult to license after a few years as a way to prop up the domestic car industry and generating a fairly massive used car export business. Wonder of those rules are still in place, considering how long cars last today.

  96. 96
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    We didn’t know about the 70,000+ bees living in a hive in the wall next to the master bedroom. Top that.

    Nah, you’ve won the thread. Ain’t even close.

    “Living in this complex world of the future is not unlike having bees live inside your head.”
    -Firesign Theatre, I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus

  97. 97
    Searcher says:

    @Cermet: The great thing about an old house is that every time you go to start a home renovation project, you also get to play detective in a hoodunit, where the murder victim is the structural integrity of the house and the suspects are the six or dozen or so people who owned it previously.

    My favorite one —

    So the oldest part of the house had a substantial sag in the middle of it. The sag was centered around a wall that carried some load of the second floor and roof, so not too much mystery there, but what confused me was that the beam underneath that wall was HALF the thickness of the rest of the beams that carried only floor. And I’m like, “Why the hell did they use the weakest beam to carry the heaviest load?” It was only after I realized that the original footprint of the house was actually half what I thought it was, and the other half an early addition, that I realized what was wrong. That beam was original a SILL, sitting on top of a stone wall that was later removed to enlarge the basement. That sill was never supposed to carry ANY load, but some idiot a hundred and fifty or seventy years ago was all “YOLO!”

    (Then you have whoever decided to cut all the diagonal braces to install windows…)

  98. 98
    Nicole says:

    @NotMax: I understand not wanting fancy schmancy, but you can buy recliners that have a tip forward function so that the person sitting in it can get out of the recliner more easily. It adds to the cost, but might be useful for your 91-year-old mom. We bought one of those for my dad, a few years before he passed (much younger than 91- congratulations to your mom!). He found it really useful.

  99. 99
    Just One More Canuck says:

    One of the dickhead previous owners of our house decided that when he was rewiring something he would use speaker wire. Either the same guy or a different dickhead decided it was a good idea to score a groove in the drywall, run an extension cord in that groove from one outlet to another, and then have just about every kitchen appliance effectively running through the one outlet.

    There’s two Home Depots, a Lowe’s and another local hardware store within 10 minutes of our house

  100. 100
    tybee says:

    @Another Scott: i have the 11ft flavor and it’s great.

  101. 101
    Leto says:

    @NotMax: @Nicole: I’d also suggest Craigslist. I was considering getting one for a while (wanted someplace to sit other than the bed) and you could find good used ones for around ~150. Just a thought.

    Homeowner near a military base in a place where the base is the only thing supporting the economy. Thought we were going to be there for a long time, turned out to be just two years. That was a decade ago. Still haven’t been able to sell the thing, don’t want to move back, and like John, just want to burn the fucker down. It’s a really nice house, in a great neighborhood, but man… would redo that decision if we could.

  102. 102
    tybee says:

    @mrmoshpotato: Woot had them at under $100

  103. 103
    CatFacts says:

    @NotMax: Based on experience with aging parents, I’m with Nicole on recommending a lift chair recliner that tilts up at the press of a button to make it easier for her to get in and out of. If she’s got documented mobility problems and a doctor’s letter, you may be able to get some of it covered under Medicare.

  104. 104
    TomatoQueen says:

    @NotMax: Have just done the chair thing for my Dad, who is over six feet tall and has copd and congestive heart failure, so must elevate his legs. I shopped the hell out of power reclining chairs just after Xmas and found the following a)very few vendors who had local outlets carried the chairs in stock, so almost all had a waiting list of 4 to six weeks; b) the one vendor with a bricks and mortar store who stocked the chairs right there so you could go try the chair had the perfect chair right there and then so it was a matter of 3 days from shopping to delivery; c)the user’s height has a lot to do with how comfy the chair will be–a minimum of 40 inches from floor to the top of the chair back is required for my Dad; d)physical therapists don’t like the power lift chairs because they let the patient not do any of the work of standing up, thus contributing sometimes to loss of functioning, e)reading the user reviews on local furniture store web sites can be helpful f)LazyBoy is reliable, g)ymmv.

  105. 105
    EthylEster says:

    May I modestly suggest that what happens AFTER you buy a house (repairs, upgrades, etc) depends VERY much on the house you buy. This processing of choosing which house to buy turns out to be much more than complicated that just deciding you like the location or getting financing.

  106. 106
    worn says:

    Good lord, reading John’s house travails I feel damn lucky. Bought my little PDX bugalow 15 years ago & have been forced to put nary a dime into it over the years. I’ve had to replace appliances – it took 3 short-lived used fridges for me to cough up the dough for a brand new model – but not much else. Of course the paint is peeling like nobody’s business, but since it is over cedar shake, which is installed over the original lapped siding, I am not prone to worry about that. It is, however, the cause of me receiving a pretty constant stream of mailers from all the house flippers sharking about this overheated burg.

    Hopefully the big shake doesn’t arrive today on account of my posting this…

  107. 107
    worn says:

    Crap, it looks like the FYWP tag editor didn’t work correctly. Let’s see if this fixes it.

  108. 108
    BruceJ says:

    This is why, when we bought our (at the time) 50-yo house we announced that we’d become full converts to the Church of Home Depot, because we went there every weekend and gave them at least 10% of our income….

  109. 109
    pablo says:

    In this episode of Deadwood, Swearengen builds a deck.

  110. 110
    J R in WV says:

    @Another Scott:

    While beauty and tradition are celebrated and preserved, the focus is placed on cultural practice and location, rather than the buildings themselves. For example, shrines today are re-built on average every 20 years, allowing for a sense of renewal as well as maintaining the skills of Shrine builders

    I recommend that everyone look up Japanese traditional construction videos on Youtube. They assemble huge wooden frames with gentle taps of mallets and fasten them together with fat wooden pins, also with a mallet. Amazing how everything fits together …

    Makes traditional American carpentry look sad and ineffective.

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