Tuesday, October 6, 2015
This post could also be titled #FirstWorldProblems or #Mo'HouseMo'Problems. You have been warned. Another disclaimer: we are not experts in any way. We rely on YouTube and our local hardware stores (Ace, Home Depot, and Lowe's) to figure out what we can and cannot safely do.
So when we bought our house, we went to a picnic for my boyfriend's job about a month into new homeownership. One of his work colleagues, after the usual new homeowner accolades, asked us this wonderful question: "So what have you had to fix?" This conversation was the inspiration for this post.
1. The microwave.
We have already been warned about the microwave being sold "as is" by the previous homeowners. However, during the inspection, the microwave turned on and off and was deemed fine. A few days into the move, my boyfriend tried to heat up some coffee in it. Nothing got hot. The timer and light worked but the heating mechanism did not. I decided it was not a priority item to fix until a few days later when I tried to eat some leftover Chinese food cold.
The microwave also served as the vent for the oven, which seemed to be working fine. The warranty had expired a year ago on the old microwave per the manual left by the old homeowners. We are absolutely not handy people and after pricing out the cost of a new vented microwave with installation (about $400, not including additional parts they try to get you to buy), decided to roll up our sleeves and jump in.
My boyfriend had the excellent idea of buying a microwave that was the same make and model as the currently installed one, in order to be able to use the same brackets already installed for the old microwave. We found one with the right dimensions for about $260 on Amazon with delivery in 2 days. The reviews were solid and installation seemed similar to our model. Bam!
Next we went to work uninstalling the broken microwave. Which was actually pretty easy, using this YouTube tutorial from build.com. We had it out in a few minutes and no one got hurt.
Then we installed the new microwave. It actually came with the same exact brackets as the old microwave, so we did not even have to remove our old brackets. We were able to tie it into the existing ductwork and re-secured everything with some tape leftover from the old microwave. It works great and we saved some money. Which we promptly spent on the rest of the list below.
2. Changing locks.
Everyone says you should change the locks when you buy a new house. I knew we would be changing the locks when the old homeowners handed us the keys and said they collected several from their neighbors on the block.
I called a few locksmiths and got some astonishingly high price quotes. I mean, just ridiculous prices. I had the most reasonable (not cheapest, but not charging me $150 just to come to my house) person come to the house. I explained to him that I wanted new keys for 3 locks. He recommended that we not do that, as it is more secure to have different keys for all the doors. More secure, but more annoying. He also recommended that we upgrade the locks on our back door and basement door. We haggled a little on price but I ended up paying about $450.
I then spoke to a colleague of mine whose daughter had just bought a house. Her husband had gone to Home Depot and bought all new locks and installed them himself. My boyfriend said we needed a locksmith to get a master key for all the doors, but apparently they also sell multiple locks that work with the same key. And we didn't get a master key after all. Womp womp.
3. Window upgrade.
While we were haggling over price, the locksmith (really nice and patient with me as I hyperventilated over the price) mentioned that our back door window seemed a bit "flimsy" and that we should probably replace it. He was correct, it was a very thin piece of plexiglass that provided no security whatsoever. We had used a nearby window and glass company previously to buy a glass table top for our outdoor table from craiglist that we refurbished and they had the exact size we needed a a better price and better thickness than Home Depot and Lowe's could provide. We ordered it online and it arrived in perfect condition a few days later. We took out a few screws and out with the old, in with the new.
4. Security system.
So people, we live in Baltimore. Our neighborhood is safe, but I truly feel more secure with a system in place. You also really do not want to be the only people on the street without a security system sign in your house. Easy target.
We had ADT in a previous rental, because they allowed us to have a clause in the contract to get out when our lease was up. We really liked their services and everything was very easy. Unfortunately, we really did not want to be locked into a contract and their installation and monthly fees were just too high. We found out later that our neighborhood has a deal that would allow free installation, but the fees were still very high. ADT also continues to cold call me and ask if I want their services for my new home, which is very annoying.
Instead we went with Simplisafe. No contract and a very low monthly charge. The installation price for the individual pieces is high, but I like that we can install everything ourselves and take it with us when we leave. We also got a deal on a refurbished system. Everything runs on battery, has a 3 year warranty, and a 60 day guarantee. It took some time to install things, but we couldn't be happier.
Well, technically we could be happier if we didn't need a security system at all. Oh well.
I hope this post was informative for some of you. We are in the process of handling a leak in our fridge and some water seepage in the basement and then plan to tackle the items on the list from the inspection next. Let me know if you have any other "immediate fixes for new homeowners".
Next post coming soon: A DIY Desktop for my new "cat-proof" office area. Yes, nothing is truly cat-proof, but a girl's gotta dream...