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What I’ve Learned From a Year of Homeownership

June 25, 2019
What I've Learned From A Year Of homeownership _ Tiny Ambitions

It’s so weird/bizarre/wonderful to say this, but as of today, we’ve officially been homeowners for one full year.

I say it’s weird because I genuinely never saw myself becoming a homeowner. At least, not of a traditional home. I’ve also never been the person who sees homeownership as an ‘investment’ (and I still don’t).

It’s also weird because I truly cannot believe it has been a full 12months since we moved in. and the still-as-of-yet unpatched holes throughout the house from the previous owners seen to agree with me.

Since it has been a full year of homeownership, and I am the reflecting type, I thought I’d take some time to share what I’ve learned from my year as a homeowner.

You Will Need A Ladder (And A Bunch Of Other Stuff)

This may not come as a surprise to you, but it did to me. Beyond your mortgage, taxes, closing costs and insurance, you need a lot of stuff as a homeowner.

I’m talking about the kinds of things that help you do work around the house, not the matching couch and love seat set that you just ‘need’ in a new space. Lol, we’re still using the same couch we’ve had since grad school.

These things include ladders, lawnmowers, power tools, gardening tools, miscellaneous power cords, screws and bolts, etc.

We didn’t own any of this stuff when we were renting and now we have an entire shelving unit in the basement dedicated to all of the various odds and ends. I would have liked to keep these kinds of purchases to a minimum, but we don’t have a family/friends network to draw upon in a big way where we are living right now (minus an old weed-whacker we were gifted, thank you Aly).

No one warned us about all of the ‘stuff’ that becomes normal to own as homeowners, so I guess it just caught me off guard. So now I’m telling you so you’re not caught off guard.

Things Will Break (And You Won’t Know How To Fix It)

We haven’t had any major bank account demolishing emergencies/repairs in our house, but we have had our share of smaller ones this past year. Our roof leaked (three times, once from rain, twice from snow), our water line leaked over Christmas, and our foundation had a tiny leak during the spring thaw.

Beyond those, ‘oh shit’ kind of moments, there’s also the smaller day-to-day maintenance that you realize you don’t really know how to do. Or at least, we didn’t. And frankly, it’s entirely possible that we are just morons. I wouldn’t put it past us.

Changing furnace filters, applying caulk to leaky roof singles, figuring our where studs are, are all things that routine, have thrown us into chaos because we don’t know what we’re doing.

I’ve finally realized that rarely, if ever, is an issue genuinely the end of the world. Aka, I’ve calmed down a bit and started to go more with the flow. (I’ve also become really great at finding what I need at every home improvement store in town).

The Renovation Bug Is Real (And There Is No Known Cure)

When we first moved into our house, I loved pretty much everything about it, save for one or two terrible ‘feature wall’ paint choices. But, as the months have worn on, or heads have become full of ideas of what we’d like to change.

On the list at the moment is new, consistent flooring throughout, completely new upstairs bathroom, new sink and countertop in the kitchen and new hardscaping in the front and backyard. Oh ya and an upgraded electrical panel and all new windows. That’s pretty much everything in our entire house.

So, like, an easy $30,000. At least.

Some of these renos are purely aesthetic and some are functional. It would be lovely to be able to open our windows without bugs being able to come through the finger-sized holes in the screens.

I also think that part of the reno bug comes from wanting to ‘make money’ when we sell the house. But there’s little guarantee that these changes will make a difference. I’m more of a believer that the market situation at the time will be a better inductor of what the house is worth, not how much we put into redoing the floors.

I still haven’t found a cure yet for the reno bug. But, I will say that not knowing how to do most of the renos we want to do has at least temperated our desires a little bit.

It’s Rewarding To Put Your Own Stamp On A Space

Besides the larger kinds of renovations I just mentioned, owning a home has been fulfilling in an aspect I didn’t expect – self expression.

We haven’t done a lot to the house in the way of repainting or renovating, but even the simple act of hanging art on the wall that we chose specifically for the space, or buying new-to-us furniture ha ben satisfying.

Obviously, I know you can do these kinds of things as renters, but we never did. Mainly because I was too terrified to do something I wasn’t allowed to do. But also because I didn’t see the point in customizing a space that wasn’t actually ‘mine’. So, in that way, handing up the wooden map of Canada we had commissioned by a local salvage artist or finally getting around to creating my own fabric wall handing from old clothes, or adding some simple gardens in the backyard has a certain feeling of completeness or rightness.

It’s one thing to live in a space, it’s quite another to truly in habit it and make it your own.

Looking around own home now, I can confidently say that it does reflect our styles and design preferences. They aren’t particularly stylish or modern (more like cozy hippie), but they do work for us.

What Does The Next Year of Homeownership Hold?

I’m really not great at thinking about the future. I love living in the past, the past is my jam. But, in the next year a homeowner, there are a couple of things I’d like to accomplish:

  • Complete some landscaping in the backyard (we have some tiles that are tilting towards the house that need to be lifted regraded).
  • Replace the flooring throughout (this one is because our floors are kind of messed up and a continuous flooring system would help alleviate some cracking of ceramic tiles we’ve been having).
  • Finally, get around to filling the dozens of nail holes left in the walls from the previous owners. LOL, I’ll probably never do this until we sell.

Are you a homeowner? What’s something that surprised you about your first year of ownership?

P.S. Thank you to the people who submitted your questions about homeownership on my Instagram. I didn’t forget about you – I’m going to write another post specifically answering your questions.

P.S.S. Do you like reading home/interior/decor content? It’s something I think I might enjoy writing about, if I knew you’d enjoy reading it! Let me know!

Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions

  • Linda July 2, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Mostly what we learned was to make improvements in time to enjoy them not just to sell them to someone else to enjoy.

    • Britt July 2, 2019 at 6:02 pm

      This is SUCH a good point, Linda! I’m really trying to make the house what we want, not what we think someone else will want when we sell it. Case in point, we got rid of our stove and haven’t replaced it. We’ll buy one when we go to sell the house, but it’s been lovely not having a crummy old stove taking up space in our kitchen!

  • theluxestrategist July 1, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    I’m not a homeowner, but I’m all about house decor updates! Especially before and afters. I told you this on IG, but I’m in awe of the landscape work you guys have done. I’ve been toying with the idea of changing out a ceiling light, but with pre-1920s wiring, it makes me a bit nervous the whole apartment is going to burn down.

    I’ve lived in apartments forever and like you, never felt the need to “decorate.” I loved what you said about putting your own stamp on things to be a form ‘self-expression’, and that’s exactly what has compelled me to update our own apartment. For me, instead of decorating per se, I’m going to try to respect our apartment by making the best use of the space and its features. So if the bathroom is vintage, I’m just going to lean in it, instead of trying to cover it up. But even without renovations, the mental space to do all of this is so much work!

    • Britt July 2, 2019 at 7:18 am

      Oh my gosh, I would be petrified of messing with lighting (new or old). But honestly, it’s probably not that big of a deal.

      I love that you are going to lean into the vintage parts of your apartment. It pains me when I see reno shows just demolishing everything and putting in white kitchens with white marble. Yes they are pretty, but they (mostly) lack all character.

      And I agree, renovations are not just the actual doing if the work. It’s the 50 different conversations about what to do, and the 75 different plans before anything actual happens. It’s exhausting! But if you end up with something that truly reflects your style, it’s worth it. (She says after a very frustratingly long, hot and tiring weekend of landscaping that actually looks amazing and she really likes).

  • steveark June 28, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    That made me nostalgic. We have also been in this house for one year… plus 39 more! Yep, 40 years in one house. So we are familiar with the Reno bug and also the addon bug. We have had eight major renovations over 40 years as our small 1440 sq ft house grew to 2850 sq ft, one story grew to two and two bathrooms grew to four (important with three simultaneous teens). Also not in the sq footage were a garage/shop and a screen porch. Plus remodeled kitchen, added patio, a bedroom to giant closet conversion, another bedroom to laundry/her-office and a loft his-office. So beware what the future could bring!

    • Britt June 28, 2019 at 11:20 pm

      Wow, what a journey of transformations! It sounds like your house got a lot of use and had a lot of love. There are definitely no plans for that level of renovation here (there’s no room for it), but I’m sure there will be a remodel here and there!

  • Tread Lightly, Retire Early June 26, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Congratulations on a year as a homeowner! Now that prices have gone way up in our area, owning is cheaper than renting, even with the big expenses, but that certainly wasn’t initially true.

    • Britt June 26, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks, Angela! And we live in an area that has such a low availability of rentals that owning is very often the cheaper option. I’m still skeptical that we ourselves have saved money compared to renting. I might have to do a numbers post about this just to prove it one way or another!

  • Abigail June 25, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    For me it was just how many things could go wrong in the first year when we had zero funds to cover it. I don’t even remember what in all went wrong, but I know it was a series of events that set us back one after the other. We managed okay, but it was pretty harrowing (and aggravating).

    • Britt June 25, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      Oh my gosh, yes! At least once a week we’ve found something that needs to be taken care of. It’s exhausting, frankly lol

  • Kayla June 25, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for sharing! Sounds like you are loving it! Regarding the nail holes, my mom would always fill them in with toothpaste and let it dry before we repainted a wall. This is probably not the official way to fill in a nail hole but hey, it works!! 🙂

    • Britt June 25, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      I’ve never heard that trick before! Thanks for sharing!

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.