My husband and I? We’re handy. We love house projects and when we have the opportunity to take them on, we’re all over it. Our first house project together was re-siding and re-painting the outside trim of our old house. People warned me that often times couples don’t do so well when doing house projects together but our experience was quite the opposite. We had so much fun! It was of course exhausting, and a ton of work, but we loved working side by side and seeing the concrete results of our labor. When we put our house on the market we had replaced all the wood trim inside, painted the entire inside of the house (including matte/glossy same color stripes in our bedroom thank you very much), remodeled the bathroom, finished a basement, and landscaped our yard. We left that house in it’s very best condition. Sigh.
Yes. Well then we got THIS house. And THIS house is an entirely different ball of wax. After an incredibly cutthroat weekend of negotiating the final sale price, the previous owners were pickled as pie to have our family move into their home. So much so, that they asked to do the final walk through with us the evening before closing.
They were a cute older couple that had raised their family there. The woman had spent the week cleaning it so that every inch of…ahem…linoleum and foil wallpaper sparkled. They were so proud of the home they’d created and were so very excited that we were moving in with our two little girls. And I adored them for it. They were kind and warm and lovely.
As it happens with most people who buy a home that’s not brand new…it didn’t take long for us to discover many MANY things that we would have done differently. I’ve been cursing their name for a little over two years now and this past weekend I reached my breaking point. They say writing letters to people with whom you’re upset makes you feel better. So I’ve decided to try it…
Dear Previous Owners,
Can we talk frankly? I’m a little dismayed with the condition you’ve left this house. In our walk-through there were several things, due to our excitement over the 1.5 acres and the utter hell that was our marriage at the time, that we simply didn’t notice. Now that some time has passed, and our marriage is so much better, and we know we’ll be in this home (or some version of it) for the rest of our lives (unless I win the lottery at which point I’ll be out of here so fast it will make your head spin), it’s time you hear how very unhappy we are with some of your decisions.
To the man of the house. You were a cheap bastard. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I mean…I understand being frugal, hell I like to get a deal when I can myself, but seriously? Let’s review shall we?
- When they offer padding under carpeting? It’s not like you have to get the most expensive option. But really, and I mean this with all seriousness, SOME padding…ANY padding would be preferable to having plain old plywood underneath the carpet. Carpet is meant to offer a soft floor on which to walk, sit, wrestle with children and/or dogs, and on which little girls can do gymnastics. None of these things are awesome on carpet that HAS NO PADDING WHATSOEVER. Even the cheapest option would have been better than nothing.
- I remember the story you told about surprising your wife with a kitchen full of brand new appliances one Christmas. And I, like any woman, swooned and thought it was the kindest, loveliest, most wonderful Christmas gift ever. I mean seriously…can you imagine getting an ENTIRE KITCHEN’S worth of BRAND NEW APPLIANCES? The thought is almost too much for me to bear…I would kill for that. And remarkably, you said you purchased them only a few years ago, so even though they were white (I of course would kill for stainless steel), I was excited at the prospect of brand spanking new appliances. Yes…well…what I didn’t know then and am well aware of now is that you were able to buy a kitchen full of new appliances because they are basically a step-up from a KidsKraft kitchen set for children. When we use our oven it’s like Russian roulette. Will the oven run too hot or too cool today? Meaning a turkey breast that SHOULD take 2.5 hours MIGHT take one or it might take four. Depending on the day. At least it’s an adventure…so that’s nice. The dog would do a better job of cleaning dishes than does the dishwasher. And the fridge…oh the fridge…now that I’m cooking I realize how very teensy it is. I can’t wait until winter when I can store food outside! We have the kind of appliances that, when we told the staff at Home Depot the brands, they looked at us like our puppy had just been killed.
- Your handy work is sloppy. And yes, I know, you wouldn’t dream of hiring it out but sometimes I think it would have been a good idea. When you bought your wife a kitchen full of appliances, and the dishwasher was bigger than the last, you extended the countertop and cupboards past where the sliding door out to the deck starts. Then, when contending with the vertical blinds on said door, you cut them to the height of the countertop that now protruded eight inches past the trim and in front of the glass of the door. No. You don’t get to have cupboards and countertop COVERING eight inches of a sliding door!!! You decide to get a smaller dishwasher that FITS the current structure of the house/wall/sliding door. What the f-ck were you thinking??? In my haste, I tore those blinds down because they were ridiculous hanging over a countertop, and this summer we MELT in our kitchen because it faces west and the sun is blinding. Yes I took the blinds down but I blame you for the most ridiculous construction ever. To accommodate the cheapest worst dishwasher on the planet.
To the woman of the house. You lovely lovely woman. You were so kind but I now question if that was a show to disguise what you knew you were leaving me with.
- When wallpapering a bathroom with foil wallpaper, please FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, don’t wallpaper over other layers of paper and paint. Please strip that other wallpaper first. PLEASE? I have worked ALL WEEKEND to strip wallpaper in a tiny bathroom and I am not even 1/8 done. It is the worst wallpaper stripping experience I have ever had. Also…you’re supposed to line the seams up, you are NOT supposed to overlap four inches to be safe. That means that in those four inches there are FOUR layers of paper that have to be removed. We’re actually considering re-sheet rocking the entire bathroom because stripping may take too long. And let me be clear…I am HAPPY to put in blood, sweat, and tears…but this wallpaper job you’ve left me with might actually drive me to meth. Or at least taking up Diet Coke again. We can’t let that happen.
- When we did the walk through you told us over and over how much you love loons. It was kind of cute. But the loon wallpaper (again with the f-cking wallpaper) in the basement mocks me every time I walk down the stairs. And I shudder to think of what stripping THAT will be like. And thus I have to leave it. GD loons.
- Speaking of wallpaper. The swaying wheat wallpaper you had in the kitchen? It was horrible to remove too. Not as bad as the stuff in the bathroom but seriously? I feel like maybe instead of wallpaper glue you used the kind of super glue they advertise by hanging a construction worker by his hard hat…you know where he hangs there because the glue is apparently strong enough to hold a grown man? You don’t need to use THAT on wallpaper! Jesus!
Here’s the thing people. We would have bought your damn house no matter what. The location and yard cannot be beat. But you’ve left us with a lot of bad sh-t to deal with. And when I’m in my ninth hour of wallpaper scraping in the wee hours of the morning…I can’t be blamed for the crazy thoughts that enter my mind about your untimely demise. Just sayin’.
The Current Homeowner
PS – My husband was in the attic once and his leg fell through the ceiling (of course it did) and it wasn’t until then that we noticed what a very BAD job you guys did when applying the popcorn ceiling cover. A very bad job indeed. Which leaves it to us to either a) remove it or b) re-popcorn it. And both options piss me off. So thanks for that.
Okay…I do feel a whole lot better after writing that out. Although…it might be because I also know I don’t have to mess with that f-cking bathroom wallpaper for eight hours. Grrrrr…
TODAY: What if instead of letting my frustration lead me to drug use I write a letter to those who anger me? What if these house shenanigans will only make me stronger? You know what…how about what if I win the lottery and can bomb this house and start over. With carpet padding. And real appliances. And no wallpaper.
PS – In case you’re thinking this post is a little too angry…if you had mangled fingernails and blistered fingers from wallpaper hell? You’d be wicked pissed too.