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Buying a House: Upkeep

Twas the Month before Christmas, when down in the basement, there arose such a clatter. I sprang down the steps to see what was the matter.  When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a broken down furnace making such noise.  Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be kicking air back out through its motor.

The next day we called the company that had inspected it when we first moved in.  During the summer when we moved in, they gave us a quote for replacement if we got the work done during the off season, which of course, no one does the work when they don’t need it.  We thought maybe we could just have something fixed, but the cost to fix it was about a third of the replacement cost with no guarantee some other part of it wouldn’t fall apart.  So we had to get a new furnace.

We knew when we bought the house that the mechanicals might need to be replaced.  A servicing sticker on the side of the service indicated that it was last serviced in 2007, before the last owners moved in.  And the servicing dates went back to 1977.  I think it might even have been installed before then.  It had a good run.

Amazingly, the heating and cooling company agreed to do the work at the price they quoted to us in the off season, including putting a vent in the kitchen, which sorely needed it.  So now we have a more efficiently heated home and a not-as-freezing kitchen.

Buying a new furnace is a kind of investment that will help the resale of the house.  That makes it an easier pill to swallow.  But it was still a bit bitter three weeks before Christmas.  Like the regular work we have to get done on our cars, the steady trickle of expenditures feels a bit defeating.  It doesn’t make me regret owning, although the increased standard deductible makes it less of a wise financial decision than I thought it was originally.  I do appreciate the independence and the ability to make changes to the house (like the closet I built and the shelves in the linen closet I plan to extend).

View into an empty closet with hardwood floors through the door.

View of closet with coats hanging in it.

But it does seem like the independence is less than satisfactory, even a bit of a stretch when the material of the house requires constant replacement and attention.  A recent piece in The New York Times tried to motivate sympathy for the rich due to the high anxiety their wealth causes them.  I have no sympathy for the wealth, and I hope their anxiety makes it difficult for them to plot how to make more money off of the workers who produce wealth for them.  The ridiculousness of the notion that the wealth deserve some sympathy for their anxiety is further amplified by the exponentially greater anxiety of the poor.  I think the anxiety of home-owning comes in part from the way that homeowning makes us invested in increasing the value of our property instead of just enjoying it.  I’m working on treating the expenditures as what allow me to enjoy the house instead of what detracts from my capacity to be a capitalist.




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