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This Old House Commiseration Thread


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So that I don't hijack the tear down the wallpaper thread...

 

Old house people, come commiserate with me.  Share your stories of house projects and annoyances that all these people with houses built after the second world war just don't understand.  The dust.  The uneven lines.  The plaster.  The generations of wiring.  The hardware and trim that no one makes anymore so you can't match it.  The rooms designed for a different generation of living.  The lack of bathrooms.  Oh, the lack of bathrooms!

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We gutted a room to find that they used bricks for insulation.

In the kitchen behind the paneling we found 2 other entrances to the house that were remodeled sometime in the 120 year history of the house. 

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There's an entire generation of plugs in the living room that look like they're circa 1910 or so that don't work anymore.  My mother is always trying to plug in her iPhone cord and getting angry about them.

 

The living room also has the original push button light switch.  Of course, when I say "original" I mean from the first time the house was wired.  The gas fixtures that are in the halls are the "original" lighting.

 

And what's with no underfloor anywhere?  Sigh.  Was that just cost cutting back in 1907?

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We gutted a room to find that they used bricks for insulation.

In the kitchen behind the paneling we found 2 other entrances to the house that were remodeled sometime in the 120 year history of the house.

That's actually kind of neat. Wouldn't it be nice if you could x-ray your house?

 

My hat's off to you old house people. Mine is just under a half century and has its own set of frustrations, but it's just a child compared to yours. We've had enough challenge here in upgrading wiring for modern electronics usage, I can't imagine dealing with wiring that has evolved within the entire history of electrified homes.

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Argh-we are doing a big renovation project right now. I am honestly losing sleep over the old wiring, because I worry that disturbing it might somehow set up conditions to start a fire. It is such a big thrill to see the new rooms taking shape-I will have the real walk-in pantry of my dreams! But I wasn't too surprised when my contractor told me the wall over my sink is bowed in a full inch. He has been trying to "flatten the walls" so that the drywall contractor can actually hang drywall on them.

 

All we've found in the walls so far is, to quote my dh, "The mother of all mouse nests." Ewww. I hope y'all will still visit me...

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Argh-we are doing a big renovation project right now. I am honestly losing sleep over the old wiring, because I worry that disturbing it might somehow set up conditions to start a fire. It is such a big thrill to see the new rooms taking shape-I will have the real walk-in pantry of my dreams! But I wasn't too surprised when my contractor told me the wall over my sink is bowed in a full inch. He has been trying to "flatten the walls" so that the drywall contractor can actually hang drywall on them.

 

All we've found in the walls so far is, to quote my dh, "The mother of all mouse nests." Ewww. I hope y'all will still visit me...

 

Oh yeah.  After our kitchen was redone, it came to be that we can't use the microwave at the same time as any other kitchen appliances.  Ugh...  I worry about that one.

 

If we were to dig out everything or x-ray, I'm sure we'd find a mother of mouse nests too.  I don't want to think about that!!!

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Toilet (room) added to the corner of the sun-room which is our main living-in room, so when people are over and need to go, we have to talk loudly or put on music so we don't overhear all.

Then to wash your hands you go all the way to the other side of the house to use the bathroom sink.

Rooms added onto other rooms so some windows are now between rooms and don't let in much light.

Some ceilings so high that I need to almost stand on tip toe with the broom at full stretch to de-cobweb every couple of weeks.

 

Drainage holes in the enclosed back porch for big rain events when water runs in under back door before it wanders over to the far drainage hole.

6 buckets worth last time before I unblocked it.

 

But I love it. I lived for the last 2 decades in a housing commission style, asbestos, house on stumps. This is so much nicer. Old houses rule!

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THIS is a fine specimen. That's what we found behind cheesy wood paneling.

 

LOL

 

PDRM2928_zpsca2a571a.jpg

Our kitchen had that kind of glue when we took out the panels. Even after sanding flat, it bled through primer, layers of paint and even Kilz. Finally, oil based primer blocked the stain. I must have painted that kitchen 20 times.

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By the way, I do adore old houses.  I just...  ugh.  Need to call and get an estimate for repointing the back and I know it's going to be at least four or five thousand.  And that dh and I are going to have a big row over it. :(

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How about level? Part of the house is sagging, not structurally, just settled. The door frame are not level in that part of the house, the floor is not level. In certain parts of the house, I am taller than ds when standing side-by-side. He has at least 3 inches on me normally. 

 

Basements! We have 18 in stone walls and they're great for keeping it cool, but it's like a dungeon down there, nothing will ever be built in the basement. 

 

How about poor upgrades? 

 

I am painting my bedroom this weekend, so I'm trying to figure out where to hang back all my stuff. 

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Yuck.

 

Our last big sucky expenditure was the roof.  It was original (slate). 

 

We are currently working on some foundation stuff in the front.

 

The roof was one of the cheapest, best things we've done.  It's rubber now.  Flat roofs.  Easy, peasy, done.  When I originally bought the house, I was sad I didn't get a cupola, but so not sorry when we had to replace the roof.

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How about level? Part of the house is sagging, not structurally, just settled. The door frame are not level in that part of the house, the floor is not level. In certain parts of the house, I am taller than ds when standing side-by-side. He has at least 3 inches on me normally. 

 

Basements! We have 18 in stone walls and they're great for keeping it cool, but it's like a dungeon down there, nothing will ever be built in the basement. 

 

How about poor upgrades? 

 

I am painting my bedroom this weekend, so I'm trying to figure out where to hang back all my stuff. 

 

Oh my gosh.  The level?  Ha.  It's especially crazy in the upstairs hall.  And even worse, nothing is actually level originally either.  I tore out a wall in between the two bedroom closets to make one, bigger closet (or one secret passage between the rooms), only to discover that...  THE CEILING HEIGHTS DIDN'T MATCH!  What the heck!?

 

Our basement is an English basement, so it has windows and a front and back door.  It's actually sort of nice.  I did have that repointed and then painted the brick.  When the cat finally dies (sorry, kitty) it will also get thoroughly scoured again and not smell bad.

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We have porches. The side porch used to have door to it. It has been enclosed, vinyl siding on the outside (which I hate, yuck), and the door drywalled over. I have a sneaking suspicion that they didn't remove the door, but just walled it in. I'm so dying to find out, as I would love to have a door to the side of the porch now. I'm too chicken to rip into the wall though. 

 

Thankfully the roof and windows were new when we bought. 

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Oh my gosh.  The level?  Ha.  It's especially crazy in the upstairs hall.  And even worse, nothing is actually level originally either.  I tore out a wall in between the two bedroom closets to make one, bigger closet (or one secret passage between the rooms), only to discover that...  THE CEILING HEIGHTS DIDN'T MATCH!  What the heck!?

 

Our basement is an English basement, so it has windows and a front and back door.  It's actually sort of nice.  I did have that repointed and then painted the brick.  When the cat finally dies (sorry, kitty) it will also get thoroughly scoured again and not smell bad.

 

 

My cat claims the basement too.  :ack2:

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Our porch, which is the size of a very large dining room table, was our last big house expense.  It is still the size of a large table like before...  BUT...  it's also flat and not falling off the back of the house so we sit on it more.  Seriously, one day not long before I convinced dh this had to be done, I stepped out on it and realized there was a good inch more gap than there had been the week before.

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When we moved in here the upstairs bathroom was so odd.  They put a bathroom in what was a covered porch.  They didn't do the floor, just put carpet over it (did that everywhere in the house.  There is broken floor boards under the carpets, you can feel it).  Actually, they didn't put the bathroom there, the original owner did.  She had just put a toilet in there, nothing else.  So the last owners made it a bathroom, but didn't do any real work.  They put in a cheap shower stall, an expensive claw foot tub, ugly green carpet and a cheap sink.  They wife wanted the tub, and she had it redone pink.  I can't tell you how much I hate pink.............Anyway, we fixed the room, by having a floor put down, as well as drywall.  We couldn't afford to replace the stuff, so it's still pink.

 

In the entrance area, they covered the wall and fireplace with paneling, they even closed off a room. We didn't realize it was there until my dh was putting insulation in the soffits.  He looked down and saw this extra space, wallpapered and everything.  

 

The previous owners covered 7 windows in the house.  2 are no longer there, because we added a room; we uncovered 3.  The other 2 are still covered.  One is behind our bed.  I reget that we didn't uncover and replace it when we did the others.  But it was $800 a window at the time, and we had so many windows (we replaced a total 10, the last owners had replaced 8).  There is one more that could not be uncovered. The last owner put the furnace in the nursery (a small room attached to the master).  They put the furnace right in front of the window.  They ruined the room.  We made it into a closet.  

 

The house sat empty for 10 years, so there was water damage, which is why there is a place where the old paper is keeping the wall from crumbling down.  

 

We've replaced windows, fixed up some of the wiring (found an issue in the kitchen after it caught fire!), and fixed the plumbing. We also turned the rest of the upstairs porch into another bedroom.   I would like a space junk to fall on my kitchen so insurance would pay to redo it.  :lol: .  

 

The house looks beautiful from the outside and it has lovely wood trim, high ceilings, and tiny unusable fireplaces.

 

One good thing about the inside being all wallpaper is that there was no lead paint.  There is lead paint on the outside, but the original owner, who died in 1972, only ever wallpapered.  The house sat empty throughout the 70's, was rented for a bit, and then bought by the last owners in the 90's.  We haven't had to deal with lead inside.  

 

I have to say that I hate old houses.  We bought this one because there was nothing else available when we moved here that was big enough for our family or had any flat land (my dh likes to garden).  My current believe is that the government should pay everyone is this town to burn down their houses and then rebuild energy efficient ones, free from lead and asbestos.  :tongue_smilie:  :rofl:

 

I should have pictures.  Maybe tomorrow I will at least try to get a picture of the outside of the house.  It is a pretty house. 

 

 

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My house is 130+ years old.

It needs tuck pointed badly,

Needs new front porch,

One section of "new" ceiling fell in two years back. Thankfully that was just a decorative layer. We haven't fixed it yet because of it's location we aren't sure what to put up. It gets humidity from bathroom, which is likely why it fell.

The upstairs is only original pine underflooring, it's horrible but was "trendy" so the previous owners left it raw with just clear varnish.

Someone many years back thought putting aluminium siding up would be a good idea. The color has worn off and I have a white/silver house. The color of baking sheets.

 

 

 

ETA

 

Sometime in the past the downstairs bathroom was a DYI gone wrong, only thing nice is the large bathtub.

Upstairs bathroom was built over the back stairs....so you can crawl under it if you wanted to to get up the stairs but otherwise they are useless.

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Do you know, I've now heard of many bathrooms installed on porches.  People were clearly desperate to find a place for a downstairs bathroom.  I just always wonder...  how did anyone stand having their house with six or more people and one bathroom back in the day?

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Do you know, I've now heard of many bathrooms installed on porches. People were clearly desperate to find a place for a downstairs bathroom. I just always wonder... how did anyone stand having their house with six or more people and one bathroom back in the day?

My mother's childhood home was built in the 1870s. There were 6 people with one bathroom. The boys often went outside to take care of business and the girls washed and set their hair at the kitchen sink. She once mentioned they were just excited to have a bathroom when they moved in. The house she was born in had a latrine out back.

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Oh, I want floor plugs!  Lamps in the middle of a room without cords to the wall to trip over? Yes, please!!!

I've only ever seen them in colleges and libraries.

My lovely floor plugs are not conveniently located. They are 3 inches from the walls.  :confused1:

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When our ship comes in, we will use the $$ to put back the slate roof the former owners removed, and uncover the beautiful wood shake shingles that are buried under asbestos tiles over the entire house.

 

One sad aspect of remodeling over the years is that people tended to put in trendy looks that were completely wrong for the style of the house. Our house is a "folk Victorian"-from the era of Victorians, but simply designed without any gingerbread or high end details. The previous owners put in a very nice, but very 1980s, master bath with a sleek modern look. And wallpaper-in the bathroom! Why????? It keeps peeling because of the steam.

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This Old House - Ha, ha, ha - we live in a 110 year old former United Methodist Church.

 

What has been replaced so far?

 

Subdivided the "sanctuary" into a balcony with a hobby room, and two bedrooms plus a sitting area along the balcony.

Made three bedrooms downstairs in half of it.

 

Gutted the plumbing and started over.

 

Gutted the electricity and started over.

 

Replaced the flooring in the "fellowship hall" part of the building.

 

Gutted the church kitchen and started over.

 

Put in a brand new heating system, new sump pumps in the basement.

 

Replaced the septic tank and shored up the septic field.

 

New stairs to the basement. New center beam under the floor and some other "shoring up".

 

 

 

Yet to do:

 

More insulation in the "living room" part of the sanctuary - a 25x30 ft. area. Have the cathedral, stained glass windows carefully removed, salvaged, turned into double pane windows, and put back.

 

Woodwork pretty much everywhere. We had to move in before we could get the trim put up in most of the rooms. We have the trim, it just needs to be stained and mounted. We have had so much on our plates that it never got done.

 

Convert over the old chandeliers so we don't have to purchase expensive 300 watt light bulbs from a specialty company.

 

Point up the brick or just fix the worst spots and paint the brick. The stone part is great thankfully!

 

Landscape. The yard is well, not great and this place would be very pretty if we had the time to make an effort.

 

Good thing we only paid $35,000.00 for the place and have an acre to go with it. We have 4000 sq ft. and when we decide to leave, despite that real estate crash recovering very, very slowly here, it will be worth enough to pay us back for the effort and supplies because we did all of the work ourselves except the steel roof...we hired an Amish roofing crew for that and they did a fine job for about 1/3 less than the other companies. if we had hired the work done, this would be the biggest Money Pit ever!

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I just wanted to say I'm jealous of all of you who are making it work.  We went and looked at my dream project last year, but we simply don't have the means to do what needs to be done (including entire foundation repair/replacement.)  Still, it's such a lovely dream in my head! http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2735-Route-390-Canadensis-PA-18325/2109947130_zpid/

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My grandparents' old farm house had a porch bathroom. It was an enclosed room on one end of the house-wide back porch. They had screened the porch, but you still had to leave the Jose's back door and cross half the porch to get to the bathroom. Very memorable on cool, dewy mornings and roaring cricket evenings.

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I just wanted to say I'm jealous of all of you who are making it work.  We went and looked at my dream project last year, but we simply don't have the means to do what needs to be done (including entire foundation repair/replacement.)  Still, it's such a lovely dream in my head! http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2735-Route-390-Canadensis-PA-18325/2109947130_zpid/

 

 

Ours is a manageable dream - it's an 1100 sf bungalow. Exdh is a carpenter and spent 6 weeks doing remodeling - or should I say undoing the remodeling before we moved in. There is still work to do.

 

For years we looked at bigger projects and just couldn't cut the expense of restoring a larger home. Ours is more cottage than Victorian, so there are areas that are more forgivable style-wise. 

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I now have a new house but I did live in old houses starting with visiting my great grandmother a lot when I was little.  She had an outhouse, no indoor plumbing and then  we lived for years with my grandmother who had a 100+ year old house. It was a huge house with the only heat being a very large furnace that took up about 1/2 the living room.  There was a door at the bottom of the stairs that closed off the upstairs bedrooms and kept the heat out of the upstairs.  It was cold in the bedrooms, this was in extreme north Texas.  My mother would put our clothes down by the furnace so we would race downstairs to get dressed.  We had tons of covers on the beds and to this day I love to sleep in a rather cool room with lots of blankets.  Oh, we did have 1 indoor bathroom at my grandmothers house and there were 6 of us living there.

 

My favorite part of her house was the covered wrap around porch, it was a great area to play on rainy days.

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I love my old house.  

 

I was sad when we had to replace the beautiful slate roof shortly after we moved.  It had not been maintained properly and was leaking like a sieve.

 

We did replace all of our drafty, beautiful windows over the past couple of years.  But when we bought the house some of them still had the ropes inside vs. chains.

 

When we had central air installed the ac guy shouted down from the attic asking if the exposed tube and wire electric was still live.  I told him I did not know.  He said it looked disconnected but he would stay away from it.  20 minutes later my living went dead when his ladder touched the wire.  Still live.

 

Friends of ours -when they redid their kitchen they discovered a fireplace with bread oven behind the built in butlers pantry.  They ended up closing it off again because it was in such a weird spot it was not practical.

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Our house is also a manageable mess.  And there's not really any other options.  We wanted to live in the city, we wanted a house...  There aren't new houses in the city.  Or, I suppose there are a few, but it's definitely not the norm.

 

Someone I know who lived for awhile in Las Vegas said that she and her dh went to look at houses there and the realtor said to them, "If you're willing to look at a used house, you'll have a lot more options."  A USED HOUSE?  What the what the?

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How about level? Part of the house is sagging, not structurally, just settled. The door frame are not level in that part of the house, the floor is not level. In certain parts of the house, I am taller than ds when standing side-by-side. He has at least 3 inches on me normally. 

 

Basements! We have 18 in stone walls and they're great for keeping it cool, but it's like a dungeon down there, nothing will ever be built in the basement. 

 

How about poor upgrades? 

 

I am painting my bedroom this weekend, so I'm trying to figure out where to hang back all my stuff. 

 

This is our house to a T.  Our dining room is the area that is settled in one corner.  The other day someone spilled a glass of water and it was a race to get it before it rushed down the table!

 

Our basement has stone walls as well and some areas were filled by a previous owner/renter (we rent) with yellow foam stuff but it will never be completely dry, much less free of mice.  We had 4 starlings get into our basement this winter (how??) and one managed to work up through a wall into our bathroom closet because someone hacked a hole in it's ceiling to reach a pipe, I guess?  lol

 

Our living room has some kind of textured wallpaper (like tree bark?) that the landlord painted over--with off-white paint, of course--and no one wants to brush up against it by accident because it's so scratchy.

 

The worst part for me about this old house is that the historical society has some say on appearance.  So our landlord had to cut down a row of nice pine trees along the short front yard which gave us privacy.  Why?  So people can see the house better.  It's not a landmark, it's not attractive or appealing in any unique way, it's just old.  LOL  He had to paint it, too, which was nice, but not having the trees there sucks because of the privacy issue AND the living room gets so hot now since there isn't any shade.  Top it off that since we don't have AC, of course, and the trees are gone, the historical society said no to putting an AC unit in the front windows.  I get that it's not attractive, but goodness, the windows are large and fairly low to the ground and one could be hidden by a bush.  But have they asked our landlord to landscape at ALL after cutting down the trees so that it looks nice?  Nope.  But we have to suffer in the terrible heat in the main room of our house so that it looks better somehow to strangers driving by at 45 miles per hour, mostly trucks.  (We live on a main road off a highway.)  The other windows in that room are so *skinny* that an air conditioner won't fit.  ARGHHH!!

 

Oh my word, don't get me started on the horrible well water and strange, changing water pressure.  Or that only half of our radiators heat well.

 

Whew!!  It felt awesome to get that out!  :P

 

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I love old houses. I looked at some 1920's ones when hunting for my current home, but the price was just too high for my budget.

 

Instead, I ended up in a 1969 built home - that has many of the same issues y'all talk about. TINY bathrooms. Foundation issues - the floor is actually cracking up in 1 room. The entire house slants towards 1 end - except for the added part in the living room which slants towards the other end. The drywall is a mess, and bowing in several places because the guy who owned it prior didn't install / tape it correctly. It still has the nasty old single pane windows, except that the previous guy's renters broke most of them & he replaced with thin plexiglass.

 

I can't complain too much though - it was only $35k for the house. It's paid for except for taxes annually, and those are only around $800.

 

 

I have dreams of someday when I come into money knocking out some walls, turning this 4 bed 1.5 bath into a 2 or 3 bed, 1 bath. And making the kitchen into a big enough space to actually work in with countertops to use - as it is now my dd & I don't fit in the kitchen at the same time lol.

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Our "New" house is about 100 years old.  We have gutted it, and are nearing the end of remodeling  Weirdest thing was the addition.  DH was leveling the pier-and-beam foundation when he discovered that the addition wasn't attached to the house.  It was like a another house really really really close to the main house.  

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That's not that bad.  We have a wall that is bowing out in the hallway.  Dh was like, "Are you ever going to fix that?"  I was like...  "Nope."  I have instructed the children not to push on it.  Sigh...

 

We have a big bubble coming out of the wall in our bedroom.  DH apparently has some plans to try and fix it, but who knows what lurks behind ... 

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We have a big bubble coming out of the wall in our bedroom.  DH apparently has some plans to try and fix it, but who knows what lurks behind ... 

 

In our case, I know.  Because I fixed some of the bubbles.  It's crumbling plaster.  The only thing holding the wall together is layers of paint.  It's even more precarious than the "load bearing wallpaper" I joked about in the other thread.

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Our "New" house is about 100 years old.  We have gutted it, and are nearing the end of remodeling  Weirdest thing was the addition.  DH was leveling the pier-and-beam foundation when he discovered that the addition wasn't attached to the house.  It was like a another house really really really close to the main house.  

 

I've heard that sometimes this is on purpose essentially.  Someone was telling me about an addition and it sounded like they were going to build it elsewhere, lay a foundation for it, transport it to the house and set it up, then knock out the walls and voila.

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Rehab Addict totally depresses me.  Many of her projects just don't make sense to me- like she had a built in kitchen cabinet/counter thing that was in TERRIBLE shape and she sanded the counter and added some finish to it, and said she just cleaned the rest. But in the end it looked totally matched. No way could I ever have anything turn out like that. 

Or the house where she lifted it off the foundation, replaced the problem parts, put the house down, and for under $500 was done.  I spent $500 just to have my carpenter make baseboards for my kitchen to match the rest of our downstairs baseboards! Yeah, I know she does a ton of work herself but there are always LOTS of other people there. 

 

 

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Yeah, that's the other piece.  They'll say how much the work was and it's always insanely low.  Dh can barely paint a wall.  I've done some of the work here and learned how to do a number of things, but in the end, anything big, we have to pay to have it done and it's several times more here than most of the rest of the country.  It just makes me angry.

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My house is only 56 years old, but I can think of many "joys" of owning an older house:

 

No three pronged outlets

 

Plaster walls that crumble when you look at them hard and are hard to repair

 

pink tub

 

1 bathroom

 

fogged windows

 

fireplace that I used for 14 years is now deemed dangerous because of the fake brick surround

 

rats in attic (that chewed through everything in sight)

 

termite damage that happened many homeowners ago

 

lights blow for no apparent reason

 

nothing's grounded properly

 

just had home inspection and the repair list is WAY too long and silly

 

small closets

 

incredibly small bedroom (barely legal)

 

uneven walls

 

nothing's level

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A faucet started dripping today.

 

I may need to start a "why you love your old home!" upbeat thread in order to remind myself that this house really is very nice.  The other day, a random person (the nanny of some friends) was all gushy about my house.  "So awesome.  So well decorated."  I felt like I was a crazy lady in a bathrobe and curlers and she was complimenting my lovely dress and beautiful 'do.

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