Owning your own home keeps you constantly busy

Home ownership is one of the trappings of suburbia, and induction into the "30-Year Club" brings with it a whole new set of responsibilities.

Especially with older homes. When you fix one thing, something else breaks. You repair that, then something else wears out. Our home qualifies as one of those older structures, built in the early 1970s. I like the house, just not the constant projects being put on the "to-do" list.

Apartment renters don't have to concern themselves with the "to-do" list, just pick up the phone, call the rental office, and someone shows up to fix the problem. But, when we moved from being "Richard and Rhonda Renter," to "Harry and Hilda Homeowner" a few years ago, things changed. My husband readily admits he is not a handyman, so when something else stops working, I know he groans inwardly.

We have a list that will take up every waking moment, if we let it. There's the screen door to the carport that has needed replacing for quite some time. We've replaced it once before, but it was a cheap door, and we found out you get what you pay for. Then, there's the storm window in the dining room that needs replacing, a new screen needed in a bedroom window, and a new light needed over the kitchen sink.

One of the toilets needs work, one of the bathroom sinks needs a new stopper, and the little spray hose on the kitchen sink broke -- again. We replaced the spray hose once, with assistance. My husband is valiantly trying to put replacement parts on it, but now, no water will come out of the tap, only from the hose part, and the spray nozzle part won't stay on.

Then, there's the need to replace the drywall in three places in the house, to patch up holes in the walls, prior to re-painting. That doesn't include stripping off the wallpaper in the bathrooms and the kitchen, and re-carpeting the house. And of course, checking the roof for leaks is always a good idea. We are becoming quite familiar with the interiors of our local home-improvement stores.

We do projects one at time. Shortly after we moved in, we replaced the linoleum, kitchen floor, and put in a new furnace and air conditioning system. Sometimes, things need doing before we're ready. This past summer, when a water main sprung a leak and flooded the front yard, we dug a trench and replaced the entire water line with newer PVC piping.

Then earlier this year, we had a leak under the bathtub repaired, and replaced the entire bathroom floor. Mind you, the house isn't a dump, just an aging residence needing some extra attention here and there, as all older homes do.

We've had conversations about what to look for in our next home, and we both admit owning our current house has been a great learning experience. I wouldn't have traded it for the world, although the three of us are slowly outgrowing our present living quarters.

Our next home, we've decided, will be newer. We're talking built in 2000, or after. Older homes have that certain charm, but require extra work. A home twice the square footage of ours, with hardwood floors, a deck, porch or patio will be nice. A laundry room, two full baths, three bedrooms, maybe an upstairs level, plenty of storage, an extra-wide driveway, all that will be a plus.

Brick will be nice, but as long as it's not stucco (gotta be careful with stucco, it can trap moisture) we'll consider something else. I've heard knowing exactly what you want in a house makes it easier for your realtor to find just what you're looking for. In the meantime, I'll go fetch the toolbox, because something else just broke.

Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at vbaldowski@henryherald.com.