December 12, 2007

An Anniversary and the Unforeseen Costs of Renovations

Yesterday was the anniversary of our buying The Purple House. It's been a long, long year. While we are getting close to being able to live in the downstairs, our workmen never have seemed to feel the same sense of urgency in getting us in there that we would have liked. Of course, they haven't been living on the charity of a kind friend for seven months either.

Today was a busy day over there. The chimney sweeps were building our fireplace. We're converting the old coal fireplace into a wood burning one. It will be pretty tiny, but it will allow my spouse to burn things, which will make him happy. The painter was priming the kitchen cabinets and I think the carpenters were working on patching the floors upstairs. The place is a disaster, but less of one that before and if we could just convince the workmen to put a finish on the floors downstairs, we could consider moving in soon.

In the meantime, as I consider, with a sigh, the big money pit, I want to mention some of the expenses I never thought of when we went into this. I'm not talking about the price of paint, what it costs to replace structural beams or rafters or anything like that. I'm talking about other things.

First, and perhaps the cost that should have been most obvious -- restaurants. Although I have the use of a full, gourmet kitchen where we live, when one is displaced, on-the-go and often on the opposite side of town fixing up a house, it sometimes is difficult to cook at home all the time. We've eaten out and eaten at far more fast food restaurants in the last year than probably in all the years of my life up to this point.

Second, clothing was not something I thought a whole lot about in budgeting our renovation. When we moved out of our old house last April, the weather was cool, but warming up. I thought we'd be packed up for a month or two at most. Now, seven months later, my children have all grown and all the clothes I had packed up for them to grow into, are still packed up. All their summer clothes for the hottest months had to be purchased, because those were packed and now I've had to find sweaters, coats and warm pants, because those too are packed up.

Finally, and perhaps the most ridiculous expense, also really the most avoidable, has been the library fines. Where we are currently living I don't even have a bookcase. I've found alternative solutions for our homeschooling materials, but I have never come up with a good place for all our library books. When we were in our own home, I had a system and 99% of the time, I knew where the books were, when they were due and I either got them returned or renewed on time. In the past five years, before we moved, I probably racked up a total of $10 or less in library fines on all the family cards together. In the past seven months, we've incurred over $50 in fines. Books slip into places I can't find. I can't seem to keep track of their due dates and everything is in a tizzy.

This is not intended to be whiny, but really to act as a cautionary tale. If one must follow in our footsteps and buy a fixer-upper -- consider and expect the unexpected.


I still wouldn't call you a spendthrift.

You've simply been living more like the rest of America than before--fast food and library fines included.

Posted by: Meredith at December 13, 2007 09:59 PM