Hidden Costs of Home Ownership

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a crash course in the hidden costs of home ownership. Here’s a taste of what we’ve been dealing with…

$900 to renew our termite contract: To be fair, we knew this one was coming. Our house was treated for termites when it was built, and covered for five years following construction. We ended up buying it just before the original contract was up. Fortuantely, this is a one-time fee, although we have to make a smaller annual payment to maintain the bond. We ended up going with Termidor, which has a lifetime warranty, and any necessary retreatments will be free of charge.

$1500 for exterior work: We dropped a pretty sizable chunk of change on some trim work on the exterior of our house. First off, the frieze boards (just below the soffits in the gables of our roof) were totally infested with carpenter bees. The good news is that it was just superficial damage. The bad news is that it was starting to look like crap, so we just decided to bite the bullet before the problem spread. As it turns out, the builder had just slapped up wood trim and painted the exposed surfaces rather than: (1) priming/painting all saides, (2) wrapping it in aluminum, or (3) using Hardi-Plank (i.e., cement board) or the equivalent. We had it replaced with Hardi-Plank. It ended up being a pretty big job, but we’re glad that we had it done.

We also had a door fram replaced. The base of our garage service door frame was rotted out on both sides. This is something that the inspector picked up on, and the previous owner had repaired. However, the guy that did the work did a pretty crappy job, and we decided to have it re-done (right) ourselves. Note to self: Always ask for money off the purchase price to fix stuff like this rather than letting the owner take care of it. I probably should’ve made a stink about it when I did the final inspection, but I just decided to deal with it.

$750 for tree service: We lost several pines to bark beetles. My neighbor and I dropped three of them ourselves, but there were two others that were to close to the house for comfort. Thus, we ended up hiring someone to take down those two trees, and to pull the others out and grind them up.

Here’s a bit of advice if you’re ever dealing with pine beetles: Get the trees on the ground as soon as possible. The beetles typically get from tree to tree by climbing up them and then gliding from one to the next. So if you can get the affected trees on the ground, you’ve effectively stopped the problem from spreading. Or so says our neighbor who’s a forester.

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