This week marks our one year anniversary of moving to Astoria, Oregon. We bought an amazing example of Craftsman architecture with a spectacular view of the Columbia River. I’ve shared in detail about manifesting our dream home, and in many ways, it still feels like a fairy tale.
Yet, now that we’ve been living here for a year, it’s time to share about the “money pit” side of the story. While I still am in awe of our beautiful home, the realities of how much this house is going to cost us sunk in this past winter. Like the feeling of living in a money pit. It’s not quite as bad as the exaggerated 80’s movie, but it’s certainly more than we ever bargained for. While the house is cosmetically gorgeous, virtually all of the mechanicals are in desperate needs of repair/replacement.
That feeling has sunk into my stomach ever since we returned from an aloha-filled trip to Hawaii only to find combined sewer overflow flooding our basement. To be honest, this wasn’t the first time, we had a smaller flood within weeks of moving in, with our first big storm.
We had been “lucky” for several months not to deal with it, and in the mean time had spent several weekends getting the basement ready to rent out, thinking that it was an occasional issue that we could deal with. Yet, this last time it proved more than I could manage. Instead of spending hours and hours mopping up and ripping out the carpet, I called a restoration cleaner to deal with the “Level 3 contamination.” In the process, they also tore out the trim and first two feet of drywall, and what previously looked like a cute studio is now torn to shit. Between the plumber and the cleaners, I know we’re in for over six thousand, plus needing to repair the walls and flooring. I was crossing my fingers that this could be paid by our insurance, but now it appears that it isn’t covered.
Here’s the list of expenses that we’ve paid since moving in:
- Basement “restoration” to clean up the flood: $6,203.04 plus interest.
- Roof – Replaced the original hundred year old cedar shake roof, plus $3,600 to fix the garage enough to put a new roof on it, I’m frankly glad there wasn’t more rot: $34,024.35
- Gutters with screens– A necessity in Astoria: $8,348
- Appliances – Every appliance except the microwave had issues within few weeks of moving in, so we now have new fridge, dishwasher, stove, microwave, and washer/dryer: $4,225.17
- Bedrooms painted – It technically wasn’t urgent, but needed to be done to feel like home. We did “splurge” on Benjamin Moore’s eco-friendly : $1,000 labor, $404 paint
- Tree work – Maybe this wasn’t a must, but we had the trees pruned and cabled, soon after one limb nearly dropped on our van. It did buy us an amazing view: $6,075
- Electrician – We actually need a whole lot more done, but this was just to get the stove installed: $119
- Plumber – Our first plumbing call after the first CSO incident: $257.59
- Misc. DIY fixes: $8
Total to date: $60,664.15
Here’s a list of the work we can’t afford yet:
- New furnaces and water heaters – the house is so big that it needs two of each and the current ones are over thirty years old.
- Insulation and weatherization – aside from great storm windows, the house leaks like a sieve.
- Fix basement walls and floors – this frustrating because it feels like a temporary fix
- New sewer line – The kicker is that the previous owner told us that she paid was a sewer scope that came up fine, we wasted money on a lawyer trying to see if we had any recourse.
- New toilets – we’ve had chronic leaks – the upstairs toilet flooded to the main level Christmas – now the main level toilet is completely plugged – the basement toilet is a hideous black.
- Fix main upstairs shower tile – this was leaking and now a “band-aide” fix of putting unmatched tile just in the basin is going to cost us
- Fix slanting back stairs – It feels like you’re about to go off a diving board
- New garage door – the current one is rotten and has visible holes
And our “wish list”:
- Blinds in our bedroom
- Built in dining nook in kitchen
- Bathroom flooring to remove ugly carpet…
Now these lists aren’t including all the miscellaneous things that really ought to be fixed, notably the foundation needs to be replaced for the price of at least $150-200k.
The only saving grace is that we are working to refinance and the house appraised at $500k, after buying the housing for $350k just last year, so at least our $60k hasn’t gone entirely down a money pit.
And on a completely unrelated, but not so unrelated note – all our family is safe and healthy, no disasters have befallen our family, like getting fired for reporting sexual harassment, and the kids are doing fine at school.
Unbelievably, I still love our home and am happy we bought it, even if it is a labor of love.