Saturday, December 3, 2016

At home

I’ve been in my house for 25 years now, a quarter century. I moved in about this date in 1991.

In September of that year I moved back from a two year assignment in Cologne, Germany. My company paid for an apartment, but would do so for only so long. House hunting was a top priority. I found this place and put in an offer. There were a few things wrong with it, so I put in a bid lower than the asking price. My agent later said the owner ranted about how this was a fine house and I was not respecting its quality and he couldn’t possibly go any lower than his price (or something like that). I considered for a while, then met it.

Between signing the papers in November and actually moving in I hoped some kind of catastrophe would destroy the house. Some of it was buyer’s remorse. Much of it was because while the house was sound – an inspector verified that – the décor was a mess.

All the interior wood and trim had been painted brown. The “wood” paneling in the living room was made of cardboard. I knew that and a few things like it when I moved in. I later found such things as: In one bedroom a textured wallpaper had been taken down and someone painted over the textured glue. The reason why the electrical outlet in the dining area was recessed by ¾ inch was because a wall of fake brick had been covered by another layer of drywall. A previous owner had put up a ham radio antenna and the weight of that concrete base was cracking the foundation.

For many years, while the neighborhood kids were young (or at least at home) we had a block party every summer. I and my neighbors exchanged horror stories of what the previous owners of our houses had left for us to deal with.

In the first 8 years I lived here I embarked on several renovation projects, some I did myself, others professionally done. I had the exterior walls insulated. I replaced the last five of the original windows (and chose a different brand than my predecessor, so the spare bedroom has one of each style). I stripped doors of paint to the beautiful wood underneath. I removed carpets and refinished wood floors. I renovated the kitchen (getting rid of the fake bricks) and installed a tile floor in the kitchen-dining room. I put a layer of spackling over that wallpaper glue. And each room, except the den, was painted. The den actually has good quality paneling.

Most of the projects were done when I started work on my Master’s Degree in 1999. Since then the major projects – replacing the main bathroom, recovery from a basement flood – were done by someone else. But it has been long enough that some rooms, like the kitchen, are due for another coat of paint. And the end of the driveway, which was in bad shape 25 years ago and has only crumbled since, should have been replaced long ago.

The house was built in 1960, so 56 years old. I’m at least the third, likely the fourth or fifth owner. I’ve been in it longer than any other owner. I’ve live here longer than anywhere else. The next closest in longevity is the 11 years in the house where I grew up, the house my parents lived in for 51 years and I’m now readying for sale.

This is definitely my house. And I’m likely to stay here many more years.

A couple pictures to share. The first is the front of the house at the peak of fall color in 2012.

The second was taken from an airplane as I was returning from Texas last June. Yes, my house is in the image, near the top. I’m pretty sure it isn’t obscured behind a tree.

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