6 Things I’ve Learned from my New House

It’s been almost four weeks since my significant other and I moved into our first house. We’ve had a steep learning curve. We were coming from a high-rise apartment building; the house is about 80 years old and mostly unrenovated, except for some basics like wiring.

So far, we’ve faced more logistics than we would’ve thought possible, which has been exhausting…but we’ve also fallen in love with our new neighbourhood (while not forgetting the old) and we’re still glad we moved.

Things I’ve learned so far:

1. Number your boxes. I numbered off the rooms in the new house, then numbered each box as I packed it: Room 1, Box 1, short description of contents. Boxes with higher numbers got packed later, so I knew the items in them were used more often and therefore they should be unpacked first. Bonus: the movers knew which room to put each box in. We’ve had almost no trouble finding anything. (We also haven’t unpacked everything — but that’s a post for another time.)

2. Be flexible. Our freestanding wardrobe wouldn’t fit up the stairs. It has now been repurposed as a pantry, supplementing our kitchen storage. I did have to mourn the loss of it in our bedroom, as well as come to terms with the way it dominated the kitchen, but I have to admit that it’s very useful in its new home.

3. Learn to DIY. This will be an ongoing saga and I’ll probably blog more about it later. Neither one of us is handy in the least, but so far we’ve replaced the lock on the front door (backwards, so the knob is horizontal when the deadbolt is unlocked, but hey, it works), fixed the fence, and started a garden, and none of those things has turned into a disaster. (Knock wood!)

4. Expect trouble… We bought the house knowing it belonged to an elderly woman, so the appliances were old and some amenities were lacking (such as wiring that was up to code). We did not expect to have to call in a plumber and a fridge repair person within the first few weeks. And the fridge is actually the newest of the large appliances by far. I’m still not sure we can get away with continuing to use the aging washer and dryer.

5. …but don’t give up… Dealing with logistics like the ones I’ve mentioned above is incredibly time-consuming, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing, you have to research everything, and you’re working full-time and juggling some other major projects. As a result, we’ve kind of stagnated at a level of organization that’s livable but not pretty. We still haven’t bought a replacement for the wardrobe, so half our clothes are in suitcases; the yard is a mess of weeds; we haven’t really done any decorating. I’d love to get beyond this state of affairs, but it’s just not happening yet.

6. …and above all, don’t lose sight of why you chose this house. I am still in love with the things I mentioned in an earlier post — the hardwood floors, the light, the sunny second-floor room that is now my office. I love the heavy wood bannisters, the clawfoot iron tub, the vintage doorknobs, the new lighting fixtures we picked. I love how our furniture looks in these spaces, even if some rooms are a little sparse yet. It’s a house full of challenges…but worth every one.

Your turn. If you’re a homeowner or an experienced mover, what have you learned?

7 responses to “6 Things I’ve Learned from my New House

  1. Growing up in a DiY family (I think there are maybe two things in this house that we haven’t renovated in the last 25 years), the most important thing I can tell you is probably: DiY projects, no matter how big or small, will almost always take 2 or 3 times as long as you plan. Whether because you make a mistake and have to redo something, or discover that what you’re trying to fix has a bigger problem hiding underneath, or they just take more time than you realize they will. This isn’t necessarily encouraging when you’re in the midst of so many, but hopefully it’ll keep you from feeling like you’re failing if you don’t get them done quickly. It’s normal. ;)

  2. Isn’t a new house fun? You get to learn all it’s quirks and squeaks. Okay, I’ve moves far too often over the years. One thing I’ve learned you should do in advance is locate the local handymen and repair folks. You just never know when you’re going to need them. Always bake them cookies after they’ve rescued you. Enjoy the adventure of your new home.

  3. So many challenges! And so many little projects! I guess when it’s time for me to move I’ll be able to take some of your tips to save energy and time!

  4. Having owned a fixer-upper–it always takes more time than you expect to do any project.

  5. Thanks for the great tips, everyone!

  6. We just moved into our first house this week, and already had to call in the oil company to look at our furnace… I feel your pain! But, in a weird way, the problems are all part of the fun… right??

  7. Kelley, look at it this way: at least it’s YOUR malfunctioning furnace. ;-) Good luck settling into your new place!

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