mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The joys of home ownership, blah blah blah...

Before I bought Casa De Mad, my sprawling 1100 square foot townhouse, I lived in a turn of the century brownstone in the middle of Baltimore City. It was owned by an older gentleman who rented out rooms, and every time something broke - as things tend to do in a hundred-plus year old four-story house - he would grumble about how the joys of home ownership are unending.

I see his point. Right after buying my house, I discovered that the heat pump was all kinds of fuxored, and I ended up dumping most of last year's tax refund into replacing it, so that my basement wouldn't be full of water from the old, leaking heat pump when the AC was on.

Now it looks like I'm going to be buying a new door. When I came home from dinner at Field's on Friday night, I spent about 5 minutes trying to open the front door before giving up and walking in through the patio door in the back. And the same thing happened to me Saturday morning after coming back from a disappointing round of yard sale shopping (total haul, 1 catnip-filled mouse). So I took a look at the door. It opens fine from the inside, but - even if unlocked - if I push the outside lever to open it, the little thing that holds the door closed stays in place.

Now you are probably wondering why I don't just replace the $100 or so doorknob instead of replacing the whole door. Well, because it's kind of like putting a new transmission in an '87 Yugo - it's silly to replace part of something when the rest of the thing is in poor condition. I'm pretty sure my house has the original doors that were installed in 1978 when it was built - it looks like many of the other doors in the court. Aside from being a little warped/dirty/dinged in places, its one other major problem. It has one of those doorbell/viewfinder things on it, like you see in NYC apartments. The doorbell mechanism is broken, so it tings instead of dinging. I actually special-ordered a replacement, but it didn't fit. So I can't replace it, and I can't take it out and install a conventional doorbell without having a hole in my door. So I will eventually need to replace the door. And if I'm replacing the door, the doorbell, and the hardware, I'll need to replace the rather beat-up storm door, or the whole thing will look silly.

So I guess in the next month or so I'm going to need to deal with this, because walking to my backyard to get inside is going to get real old once it starts snowing. I really don't want to spend money on it - I was trying to put away enough to get my truck paid off in the next couple months, and then put the rest towards trying to build enough equity in my house to get rid of PMI (private mortgage insurance, generally required when the amount owed on the house is greater than 80% of it's value). But I'm probably going to have to dip into my savings for the door renovations, which puts my debt-payoff strategy on hold. Every time I feel like I'm finally making financial progress, something comes along and kicks me in the teeth - if it wasn't for this, I would probably have the truck paid off by December.

Plus, replacing a front door - almost as much as replacing a heat pump - isn't sexy. There are certain times you spend a bunch of money, but you get something cool to enjoy out of it, something highly visible - like a new kitchen or bathroom or car or TV. But I see my front door maybe 2 minutes a day while coming or going, and it's hard to believe that when it comes time for me to sell my house anyone will notice - I can't imagine a potential buyer going "what really sold me on that property was the front door". But if they can't get the front door open, there is no chance they would buy it.


At 11:15 PM, Blogger tralatrala said...

whatever, i was so excited to get a new front door...and it's not all that expensive. you can probably do the whole kit & kaboodle, installed for $400-$500. i know i know, not money you wanted to spend, but it could be worse.


Post a Comment

<< Home