Home Ownership: Broken Dreams and Delusions

This could be your home someday!

No, I don’t mean that you can buy it, spruce it up, and live in it. (That door has been closed, because this neighborhood is slated for re-engineering into a green community, which is another way that developers make big profits in historic districts.)

What I mean is that someday, your home is going to look like this, because it’s in a constant state of decay.

So is mine.

In order to get a leg up, I should replace 1000 sq. ft. of worn carpets, 13 windows, an entire perimeter of gutters, and hail-damaged roof. The bids came in at $25,000.

But to keep equity with the homes of my peers, we should really replace the delaminating kitchen countertops with today’s trendy composites ($2000), upgrade the kitchen cabinetry to knotty alder ($6000), lay down black walnut floors ($5000), replace the interior trim with recycled barnwood ($2000), and get one of those cool new stainless steel fridges where you don’t have to walk all the way the sink to get cold water ($2000).

When this is all done, I have a list of “Tier 3” projects (remodeling bathrooms and replacing fixtures) that would cost another $12,000.

The realtor has promised me that with all of these upgrades (costing $57,000), I could increase the value of my home by at least $20,000. I told the appraiser, and the banker this, and they both laughed so hard they were crying. The message was this: wake up to reality – your home isn’t going to sell anytime soon.

But if it does sell, I should upgrade to a bigger, even better house with a bigger mortgage. Preferably, a new one, so I can take a break from the maintenance cycle for at least a few years, and one located in the fancy new green community that’s going in to replace the old homestead in the photo.

Sounds like the mad cycle of owning backpacks and tents, ya (sic)?

So maybe I’ll just shampoo the carpets, sand and revarnish the windows, take Seam Grip to the gutters and countertop, pray for the roof, coat my fridge in that cool shiny aluminum tape that MYOG’ers use to spruce up their alcohol stoves, take the trim off and leave it outside in the weather for a few months to give it that “aged” look, start working out more so the trip to the sink isn’t so demanding for that glass of water, and maybe even balance out my peer network with a few who live in crappier homes.

And bank my cash to foster more meaningful pursuits in the world, and hang on to the reality that my home is a tool to help me foster change in the world, not a refuge that leads to any sort of inner peace and comfort.

With that monkey off my back, maybe I could finally be a blogger or some sort of online cyber yogi, and live in my truck!