An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Remembering broken pipes and drywall

Last week when I asked you guys about your experiences buying homes and what you would look for if you were in the market to buy, I was blown away by your responses. Thank you for being so generous with your advice, and I’d recommend that thread to anyone who’s out looking for a house right now. Is that you? Are you out right now walking through someone’s living room lined with matted beige carpet? Are you stepping over curious stains? Did you just walk into yet another Tuscan-themed kitchen? Can you smell the litter box they tucked into the pantry? You can come over to my place afterward for a relaxing glass of wine. But first I’ll show you right to the bathroom so that you can throw up.

I’ll even hold back your hair.

One comment struck me as I was reading through everything because it speaks directly to how I look at spaces where I could potentially live. And it stopped me in my tracks:

Sandra T:

Every time I’ve ever looked at a place to live, I’ve made an emotional decision based on some impractical idea of potential that the place can never live up to w/out a boat-load of $$ and resources we just don’t have!

This. I am this.

There was a question asked in the community recently by member susanfishy that relates to this:

Can you see past ugly stuff when it comes to real estate?

Yes. Yes yes yes. To a fault. I have sunk so much money over the last ten years into improving the homes I’ve bought, and I never got that money back out of the house. I’m like some sort of demented real estate fairy going around dumping money into properties so that the people who live in them after me get to enjoy the expensive warranty on the brand new stainless steel refrigerator.

For the first house I bought, one built in 1926, I tore up carpet and refinished the hardwood floors underneath. I remodeled the kitchen, painted every single wall in every single room, replaced the water heater, installed air conditioning, repaired the fireplace, updated the electrical system, landscaped the entire front yard, and spent $12,000 to replace a broken sewer line. Yes. $12,000. TWELVE THOUSAND. All of my savings on an underground pipe that carries poop. You better believe that this was the first bullet point on the real estate listing: YOUR POOP WILL FLOW LIKE NO ONE’S BUSINESS.

living room

dining room


The second house was built in 1951, and I replaced carpet with brand new hardwood floors and updated the carpet in the basement, painted every single wall in every single room, replaced the air-conditioning unit, remodeled the bathroom I shared with the girls, updated the landscaping in the front yard, remodeled the garage, and had to invest in an industrial-sized snowblower because of the house’s location on a hill. Funny story: to make it more enticing to buyers in that tough market, I left a giant flat screen television in the living room. Someone broke into the property two weeks after I moved out and stole it. I really hope the meth they bought with that money gave them acne.


living room


The last house was built in 1985, and I had to replace the entire roof, service the air conditioner, repair every square foot of fence in the backyard, have a specialist come out and install an intricate system of valves on the boilers in the basement, fix two fireplaces, install smoke alarms in every room, replace four bathroom fans, and repair the entire sprinkler system. I won’t even get into the years shaved off of my life because I stumbled onto a cat the previous owner had locked in the attic.


Seriously. You’re going to want to buy a house I’ve lived in. Everything has been fixed. NOT A SINGLE HAIR IS OUT OF PLACE. One commenter hit on this in that thread:


We moved to a whole new state and within a month, we were in escrow. We wanted something smallish, with a water view and/or close to the water, lots of light, and a little land a.k.a. no close neighbors. We found an 1100 sq ft house that had been completely redone so it’s like a brand new house.

I have never considered buying a *new* house until I started to take inventory of all the money I’ve sunk into home improvements (going back through the old photos of those homes and remembering all that work makes me more than a little bit weary). There are only a select few neighborhoods that I would consider moving to in Salt Lake City, and most of the homes in these neighborhoods are very old and need extensive updating. But the advantages of a new build are almost too hard to ignore. Yes, there’s the environmental impact to take into consideration, but I wouldn’t have to worry about the roof or the water heater or the landscaping or the garage door or the sprinkler system or some animal jumping out at me from a locked closet.

For those of you who have bought brand new homes or built them, what has been your experience? I’m really curious now that I realize I have pretty much assembled a new home out of everything I have fixed or replaced. Are there improvements you’ve regretted making? Should we all just give up and set up a cardboard box?


This post was sponsored by BHI. Explore the benefits of a newly built home.

  • Deborah Wolfe

    Translation: I want you to do all of this for me….for free.

  • Sorry… “I” did all this???

  • Rosy

    “I hope as you look for your next home you’re seeking somewhere you could
    envision yourself and your girls being happy for at least ten years!”

    Heather made it pretty clear that the last house she was in was meant just for that – a house that her family at the time could live in for decades to come, where she could host family and friends and make a real home. In fact, I believe all of their houses were purchased for the long-term, but their lives changed in ways that no longer suited the houses they were living in. I think it’s unfair to say that she treated her homes like “disposable, short-term” houses because no one, Heather included, knew how fast her business would expand, or exactly how much her family life would change. Wouldn’t it be nice though if we all had you to tell us how our future is going to be?

  • Agreed.

  • I think you get a few years with a new house. But it’s still a roll of the dice. With an old home there’s a chance someone before you has already worked out the kinks. With a new home you get to. They can still put in a sewer line improperly on a new home.

    Plus you still have to do all the painting and re-flooring because the builder only offers faux-tuscan and 1980s style flooring and colors. Although some builders have greatly improved in this regard.

    I prefer my old home to the new home I built, but I got one that was fixed up like you’ve fixed up your previous homes. Those are the best ones…

  • Dorothy Logan

    My FIL, who is quite handy, went to the construction site of the home they built at least every week, if not more, to take pictures and see how everything was going. He caught so many mistakes that I wouldn’t even know to look for and made them fix it. He and the foreman were on a first-name basis and luckily the guy was worth his salt and appreciated that the buyer was knowledgeable enough to point out things (he had a street full of homes being built to look after, so each home was only getting a fraction of his attention).

    That said, you can also get snowed by sneaky deals. A friend of mine decided that he and his family were going to build a townhouse. The builders gave them free upgrades if they decided not to get a realtor. Well, that came back to bite them. The price they’d been quoted wasn’t anywhere near what it actually cost because the quote was for “unimproved land.” Once the place was built, the land value skyrocketed, and all of a sudden they were paying substantially more than they had planned to because they didn’t have a realtor to guide them.

    So…if you can ensure that the new build will be quality work AND that you’re not getting suckered for cost, go for it. Otherwise, either find a home that you can deal with that has MINOR upgrades to be done (paint is easy, floors not as much, plumbing or electrical just stay away) OR find a home that you will be in for a long, long time where putting money into the house will be well-spent and appreciated by you. If you think you’re just going to keep having itches to move, maybe you should just keep renting.

  • Raia

    We’ve owned two old homes and one new one and the new one was the most work. We painted every wall, inch of trim and ceiling. The master bath door was incorrectly done and had to haggle with the builder to get it fixed. All of the cabinets or drawers needed pulls or handles on them. All the windows needed covering. We installed a garage door opener which the builder did not install and light fixtures in every room because the builder grade ones are cheap looking. I agree with another comment – old or new a house is an adventure!

  • Lossi

    The FCC requires that bloggers label sponsored posts as such. If you read a post that has not been clearly labeled as sponsored (which, in a real way, makes it an ad for or endorsement of that company), my understanding is that the blogger is breaking the law.

    I have started scrolling down to the bottom of dooce posts before reading now, as I found I really dislike being drawn in to a story about this family I’ve come to care about over the years, only to find out the whole post is there because some company paid for it be there and to have their brand associated with the good feelings I have for Heather and her girls. (It feels creepy, to be honest, I can only imagine how you deal with it, Heather.) Knowing from the start it’s sponsored keeps me from feeling so duped at the end.

    No judgement on Heather – I realize, you’ve got to pay the rent, and sponsored posts are a legit way to do it.

  • Carla

    Heather, as soon as I learned that you’re promoting new homes via these sponsored posts, I felt a bit disappointed.

    I’m not entirely sure who you’re writing these posts for. People like you, who make more in one month than I do in an entire year? Quality construction costs money, and even then there are drawbacks.

    I just feel you’re starting to lose us a bit. Even the “Around the Web” links below your post feels like you’re compromising your values for the sake of more views and income. We love you, Heather, so it kind of bothers me that I’m writing this, but I’m going to go ahead and post it anyway.

  • Justine

    I appreciate your comment Rosy and it makes me think that maybe it’s time for Heather to slow down and rent….for a few years. See where life takes her, breathe. A lot of things have changed and they may very well keep changing. Renting a great home might be the perfect answer for awhile.

    I agree with Christine that a new house every 3 years is going to be draining: emotionally and financially. I also agree with her that improvements can be made slowly, that way if life changes and you have to sell you haven’t sunk a ton of money into the house for the next buyer.

  • Lisa

    I bought a new build once. Get warranties on EVERYTHING and realize that not all builders are good people. Oh, and if the new build is located in an area that has not been developed before (i.e. open field), make sure that you have an exterminator walk through before you sign the final paperwork. Nothing like learning that your walls are full of field mice and “oh, they’ll eventually die in there” is the answer/solution provided. On the positive note, having the walls/floors/appliances all new and specifically designed by me was AWESOME! I actually am planning to get a new build for my next home, but from a more reputable builder.

  • AmandaK

    We had our house built 1 1/2 years ago. It was quite the learning experience! Things I always tell my friends when they are building/looking to buy a house:

    – Make sure there is a light in your pantry. And above your shower. It seriously sucks to need a flashlight to find the mac and cheese.

    – Money spent on upgrades to carpet, tile or flooring are worth it! Our carpet is builder grade (not the nicest) and already looks worn out.

    – Flat paint is the worst. Semi gloss would have been so nice.

    The worst thing we did was not force the issue when our yard was wrongly graded. Now we’re stuck fixing it ourselves. I should have called them every day instead of every week.

  • Kim Burdett

    A) Her post last week was sponsored by the same company. No one had a shit fit then. Why are you getting your panties in a wad now? Get over it.
    B) My parents built their house in 1995. Good thing we were crashing at my grandparents house a few hundred feet away while it was being built. They screwed up A LOT of stuff. My mom was there to point out every mistake. She made them re-do all the drywall because it was a shoddy subcontractor job. The materials were skimped on. The people weren’t always professional. And it required a lot of hand holding.
    I guess the point is that being a homeowner of any kind will require a lot of work. Building new is nice in theory but it still comes with its own issues. Just pick whichever is more of your lifestyle!

  • joie

    I agree – wish the sponsored info was at the top of the post.

  • Old_Home_Fan

    Your second home was beautiful and you obviously spent a significant amount of money to remodel it to your tastes. I never understood why you sold that lovely 2,800 sf foot home to move to a 11,000 sq ft mansion. It seems to me that the money you lost was due more to buying and selling homes in a down market over a very short amount of time, rather than buying older homes that needed the typical repairs and updating.

  • Tiffany

    I agree 100% about feeling cheated when I get to the bottom of a post only to realize it’s sponsored. A lot of the other blogs I read put it in the title… “Remembering Broken Pipe and Drywall (Sponsored)”… I appreciate this so much. Maybe it’s just a psychological thing because it doesn’t deter me from reading, I almost always still read it, it’s just nice to know ahead of time that what you’re reading is sponsored.

  • Penny

    Sponsored or not, everything in the post is still true, and it’s still the family you’ve come to love. Most respectable bloggers (and I include Heather in this because she has mentioned this before) won’t take sponsored posts that aren’t relevant to their lives. Seriously, I enjoyed to this post, and when I got to the bottom thought to myself “Oh good… she got paid for this. Good for her.”

  • Penny

    Sponsored or not, everything in the post is still true, and it’s still the family you’ve come to love. Most respectable bloggers (and I include Heather in this because she has mentioned this before) won’t take sponsored posts that aren’t relevant to their lives. Seriously, I enjoyed to this post, and when I got to the bottom thought to myself “Oh good… she got paid for this. Good for her.”

  • midcenturybeehive

    A home is only new until the first screw pop. There are advantages to old and new. My nearly 100 bungalow in rose park needed updating (floors, windows, landscaping, bathroom overhaul) and you’re right, we’re not going to get the money out of it that we put in but at the same time my sisters fancy brand new modern condo complex has had windows exploding (unexplained), siding that is already rotting, doors that leak when it rains and flashing that wasn’t done correctly so she had literal beehives in her ceilings. It is so bad they are actually in the process of suing the builder. Granted, the builder of her complex obviously cut corners and did things wrong but you never know until it’s too late. We’re selling our bungalow and plan on moving into a 50-60s house that will best suit our style (mid century modern). We have a large chunk of the budget set aside for reno and we’ve made our peace with not getting the money back when we sell again (within reason), as long as we’re happy while we’re there.

  • Becka

    I definitely agree with all the others who feel that a new house doesn’t mean it’ll be better and that you won’t need to worry about improvements. I’m living in a ten year-old home (we bought it six years ago), which has had to have all three of its air conditioners replaced (the builders installed cheap ones that gave us electric bills in our Dallas summers well into the $900 range), we have no ventilation in our master bath and the ceilings are speckled with mildew, we recently had a rat infestation in our attic (they get in because of shoddy construction), and just last week I had to replace all of the gutters because the originals were junk.

  • As I’ve been seeing the sponsored ads for the new home buying campaign on dooce, I can’t help but cringe when I think of the poorly built tract homes sprawling where parks should be (or once were), the cheap materials and labor used so developers can get even richer, and the sea of beige siding next to the highways using up resources. I know affordable housing is an issue in this country, as rents in cities skyrocket, but there are ways to combine quality, sustainability, and cost-efficiency.

    After living in Dallas for five years and hearing through various friends and coworkers about how poorly built all the new homes seemed to be, how foundations crumble early, how cheap the windows and doors are, it only makes older houses seem all that much more worth it. That is, if you have the money to buy a redone one, or the time and desire to renovate as you want. There will never be a repair-free home (unless you rent). But investing in a fixer and selling at the right time has its benefits. My boyfriend and I bought a 100 year old place in Boston that we’re tackling slowly. But it has great bones and now, we have original wood floors, lots of light, porches, a yard, and it’s different from every house in the city.

  • West Siiiiiiiiide story

    Well, there are some very lovely neighborhoods on the (cringe) WEST SIIIIIIIIIIDE, but if you wouldn’t consider moving into one of them, I don’t know what to tell you. You can pour bucco bucks into a bungalow for the privilege of being able to put the letter E after your house numbers. To each his own. A friend of mine in the neighborhood I just moved out of (a very nice WEST SIDE neighborhood- yes they do exist) just sold her very lovely updated modern newly remodeled home and is in the process of negotiating on a much more expensive abode that includes shag carpeting, dated Formica and laminate, etc. It will be tens of thousands of dollars before it’s anywhere near what she just sold. Whatever floats your boat. lol. I’m in the process of packing for my move into a two bedroom apartment three months after my separation that cost me everything I’ve grown accustomed to and am just grateful to be moving on from my mom’s basement. Not that I’m blaming, but I wish I could tell my 20 year old college drop out self that despite what they say in church, putting off having kids to get an education is just as important for a gal as it is for a guy.

  • When I asked my a friend who was a real estate agent which repairs/remolding would add the most value to my house she replied, “The ones that make you happiest.” Very seldom do you take out of a house what you put in, unless its good memories. Her advice works for me.

  • Justine

    I don’t know that anybody is “having a shit fit” so much as they are politely commenting on the sponsored posts. And maybe nobody said anything last week because they thought it would be an infrequent occurrence.

    There are personal blogs and blogs that are ALL company sponsored. This blog straddles the line. Readers are going to comment on how that should be handled and that seems fair enough to me.

  • I’m not sure, but I suspect (really guessing here) that Heather isn’t fond of writing sponsored posts. She never wrote them in the past, and seldom runs contests to bring clicks. Maybe, she needs a little bit of an economical boost to keep this blog healthy. She discloses that they are sponsored, and really takes the time to write content, that is interesting and relevant. I would only feel duped if I was pushed to buy something or the content was less than I was used too. Just my thoughts, it can of-course go either way.

  • Shaste

    IME there are three options in house buying

    1) Get something used with solid bones and remodel to your taste, but where the expensive upgrades have already been done (kitchen/bath, windows, insulation, wiring, heat/ac, landscaping). In this case your remodel money goes toward paint, new carpet, window treatments etc, and maybe new fixtures here and there

    2) Buy something new, cheap, and crappy – tract home style which will be functional and the cheapest option but will always feel, well, cheap and crappy, no matter how much remodel money you throw at it (note about this one – NEVER buy something built during the housing boom when shortcuts were the standard and the builder didn’t care about things lasting more than a year)

    3) Have something custom built which will be fabulous and drain you dry in ways you never imagined because of all the thousand million extra things that add up expense-wise in the course of new construction

    I would never do #2 for obvious reasons, and have done 1 and 3. In retrospect, while I love our custom home, if I ever purchase again it would be something that already had the expensive work done. New paint, carpet and fixtures are practically free in the grand scheme of home remodeling and can made even something tired feel brand new.

  • Chris Boardman

    We have always owned older homes that needed updating until we moved to Palm Springs where we bought a brand new house in a brand new community. There is no going back to old now. Ever! I never realized how much of a nightmare reconstruction is and just how nice it is to have your house built and pick all the features beforehand then have someone put them in FOR you. Hurrah! Old (sch)mold!

  • Kathleen

    That made me sad, too. I remember reading the kitchen renovation when it actually happened and Jon put a lot of work into it. I know Heather did some work as well, but she couldn’t do much due to being very pregnant with Leta. Jon did the lion’s share of that and I cringed at all the “I” parts. 🙁

  • Keeley

    Yes, that’s what I notice too! Our new home was built well, we have been here 6 years, and we have felt so blessed that we rarely have home repair issues. Theoretically I would love a fixer-upper with character, but in reality, we don’t have the time to invest in our home that way, with multiple jobs and children in the mix. And in 5-10 more years, we’ll just be another neighborhood.

  • reneewvu

    Are you not allowed to mention Jon in any way at all on your blog anymore or something?

  • QuirkyGirl

    Ok, I just have to respond to all the people who complain about the sponsored posts (here or anywhere for that matter). I assume most of us read Dooce because we enjoy the writing. I have not noticed a change in her writing pre-ads to post-ads nor pre-sponsored to post-sponsored. The subject matter is still the same. The witty, sarcastic style in which she writes about motherhood, style, and life in general has not changed. The only thing that has changed is that she is getting paid for her writing. Guess what? This is not simply a blog anymore; it’s a business. If Heather had to have a full-time job elsewhere Dooce may no longer exist or posts might be really rare. Being paid to be a writer is nothing new. Authors have been paid for their books, articles, etc. for many, many years. What is new is the format – blogging. People admit they enjoy the post and then feel disappointed to find at the end that it’s sponsored. If you enjoyed it then why do you care? If you enjoy Dooce then just assume all the posts have been sponsored and there will be no surprise. If you really enjoy a post but then are so let down after realizing that it’s sponsored then I think you are allowing your mind to play tricks on you. Like someone who loves an outfit when they think it’s brand-name and then they find out it’s from a discount store. Suddenly they can’t stand what just moments before had been a stylish, high-quality outfit. Guess what change? Not the outfit. One last comment, I read many blogs that have some or all sponsored posts. Very few post the sponsorship at the beginning. I don’t think this is deceitful. I think it’s simply the industry standard. Also, from a visual/stylist point of view it looks better at the end. I hate to say it but I think it just comes down to some people are complainers and will complain about anything.

  • QuirkyGirl

    Hi Carla,

    I appreciate that you shared your thoughts in a very real, and respectful manner! I didn’t get from this post that Heather was promoting new houses at all. It sounded to me like she’s just tired from fixing up and not getting her money back on it. There are new houses that are expensive and inexpensive and there are old houses that are expensive and inexpensive. Just my two cents.

  • Why do you feel cheated? I’ve never understood that. Did you enjoy reading the post? If Yes, good- who cares that the person you like got paid to write it. Feel cheated if you get to the end and you didn’t enjoy reading it, not because someone you profess to enjoy got reward for something you like about them.

  • cathyhub

    Could you please please please identify sponsored posts as “(sponsored)” at the start of your posts? I promise I will read them — I love your writing enough to do so — but it will prevent me from groaning aloud at the ending.

    Seriously, I often laugh or smile or gaze at the computer ruefully at your last lines. But with these I-had-no-idea-this-was-paid-for posts, I groan out loud and for a single moment I suddenly and really and truly don’t like you. I talk myself out of it, but these moments are unpleasant and would be easy to avoid by identifying sponsors (or just the fact that it’s sponsored) at the start.

    Thanks for considering, and good luck with your decision.

    And to answer your question, next time I will buy old with new innards (electricity, plumbing, HVAC, probably roof). Good insides are critical but expensive, draining, and invisible — in other words, no fun at all!

  • Lossi

    I don’t feel cheated so much as… used? I guess. Imagine reading the post Heather wrote on her miscarriage and coming to the end and seeing it was sponsored by Advil. Maybe you read dooce in a more detached way than I do, but I find Heather’s writing style very much like it wraps me up and pulls me in. So when I read the sponsorship info, it’s like slam! just kidding! that stuff before was all just to get you to visit this company’s website! I can see how other people might not read her this way. But it is obvious to me that these posts that are written so much in the style of older non-sponsored posts, are now written with the sponsor in mind from the very beginning. It is just that the reader doesn’t know from the very beginning. So I feel used, yes, and prefer to know up-front why the post was written.

  • Jase

    This blog has been straddling that line for awhile, but more and more lately it seems to actually be leaning toward more sponsored content than not. I personally get the impression that Heather no longer feels interested in or vested in this blog, other than as a financial means. However charming the story, the fact that it was inspired by and then branded by a company leaves an inexplicable but definite bad taste. I’m sorry, Heather. I don’t mean this as a flame. It’s just reaching a point.

  • Kelly B

    The first house I lived in was a brand new prefab home. It came to the lot before I was even a glimmer in my mother’s eye in two halves mounted on a slab foundation that were suppose to be firmly bolted together.

    The individual parts were pretty great considering it was built in a factory and driven 50 miles to the site. The whole …

    Well, my grandpa and uncle conspired NOT to freak Mom out until she sold the house years latter. When they were poking around the attic for some other purpose they discovered that the two halves were not securely attached and shifted apart. So they reconnected it.

    In fact after every tornado or straight-line wind event Grandpa made some some excuse to come over and check things out. During which time he’d rejigger the house back together.

    I mean, it’s was a prefab not a custom built or anything, but the concept still holds. You are always trusting the workmanship of whomever is on site.

  • Jase

    I was very surprised there was no “we” mentioned, but this might be out of respect for third parties.

  • Miranda

    Wow, Heather. I’m sorry you have such special commenters, so willing to judge you. Sigh.

    Meanwhile – I’ll tell you my house story. I have a mortgage on the house I live in. Despite my natural inclination to live in a beautiful house we’ve deliberately chosen to live in a very small house with a big backyard in a good area – close to shops, schools, playgrounds etc. We only dipped into the mortgage to give the house pragmatic comforts – heating, cooling, new kitchen, quality appliances, built-in storage. Aesthetically, the house needs help but we prefer to spend our money elsewhere. While we may not live in a beautiful house, our mortgage is very manageable and our cash is freed up. We travel a lot, and can afford to see our country and the world in comfort. We can indulge in certain luxuries – good clothes, eating out, live music… Our big backyard means we spend most of the year outside and can indulge in certain hobbies (gardening for me… Collecting junk, apparently, for my partner!) and when the kids get ratty we can just chuck them outside! Because our house is small we have to keep our possessions to a minimum – and I have to say there’s liberation in owning fewer things!

    I guess, in short, we deliberately chose to spend our money on experiences instead of things. It makes us happy.

    Miranda x

  • Kathleen

    Come on, now. People are offering respectful criticism. Just because it doesn’t agree with your opinion doesn’t make it judgmental.

    There are people here who have been reading Heather’s blog since the beginning (me being one of them). It’s natural to react to changes and voice an opinion (respectfully).

  • Tara R.

    I purchased a brand new home at the end of March 2012. We were told it would take 3.5 months to build so my husband and I didn’t renew our lease in the city and moved in with my brother and his wife 15 miles away, temporarily. If you do the math for the equation I’ve mentioned above, that would put us in our house by July [August to be safe.] Also, hold on to that word ‘temporarily.’ No one ever wants to live with their sibling longer than ‘temporarily’….or so i thought. Fast forward to July – they had not even broken ground on our town house plot yet, because they hadn’t sold enough units to get the money to break ground. Their guarantee of 3.5 months was a laughing matter at this point. So we waited, and waited, and waited. July came and went, so did August, and September [oh it gets better!] We finally moved out of my brothers in September because we felt bad for overstaying our welcome. Where did we move you ask? a HOTEL. We packed up 4 duffel bags, left our life in a storage unit, and moved into a hotel. From September to December we lived in a hotel. It wasn’t until December 10th, 2013 that we were handed the keys to our home. The icing on the cake? I had to get my wisdom teeth out while living in a hotel. You want to talk about stir crazy on pain meds? I’m your girl.

  • dizzylizzy

    We built a new house, and got EXACTLY what we wanted. We were also our own contractors, but that is because my husband works in the Construction industry. Basically when you build a house you get to pick everything down to wheter you want Gold or Silver hinges on your doors. It was great because we ended up with exactly what we wanted in every room of the house. You pick the plan you like and and change anything you want on it. Then you can pick everything else out, and if you don’t like where the kitchen cabinet is going you can change it. It was a long drawn out process waiting for it to be done and doing a lot of the work ourselves, but in the end I wouldn’t have it any other way. If we ever move again we will build again. But the best part is I did not have to just live with something the way it was or pay out the butt to change it. And almost 12 years later there is not a thing I would change! NOTE-Just make sure you get a great contractor and get recommendations from others on who the ‘best’ is at what they do.

  • Liann

    i think almost every house i’ve ever lived in has been brand new, my parents always built and we moved every 3 or four years. My first home wasnt’ new but my last two purchases have been brand new builds. I wouldn’t do it any other way. I’ve never had a problem with any of my builds nor have my parents. You get the paint colour you want without having to paint not that i’m apposed to that thats an easy fix. You get the style of kitchen cupboards and flooring you want and for the most part the amount of space you want. For me even picking the plot is important, personally a south facing backyard is a must for me. I think its easier to pick out a set of house plans with everything you want in it than to look at house after house thats lacking one thing that might be a requirement. The only downside to a brand new home is all the landscaping to be done. We’ve spent the last year building our garage, deck, planters, currently finishing the basement and the fence is to come this summer. Thankfully we hopefully won’t move again for a long time and won’t have to go through all that again.

  • Carla

    The design of Heather’s website is thick and clunky. I had no clue that you could respond to her post. I scrolled down and didn’t see the comment section. When she thanked everyone for their comments from the last post, I thought, do I have to join the community to participate? Curious, I scrolled and there they were. That’s why I commented today instead of in response to the last one. 🙂

  • Cindy McMillion

    Growing up, my dad and his brothers built pretty much every house we lived in, built it according to a plan my mother drew out at the dinner table (in the days before you had to have a bonafide blueprint) over cups of coffee and slices of pie . I loved seeing those houses go up. Loved seeing the slab poured; loved walking from space to space in the wooden skeleton, stepping through walls like a super-heroine, imagining what each room would look like when it was done; loved the smell of fresh sawdust and sand and cement; loved the sight of my uncles grinning down at me from the scaffolds with their strong muscled arms, slapping mortar on bricks and laying them in place so expertly; loved, loved, loved the smell of new. We watched our houses form before our eyes.

  • Diana

    Do you feel cheated when you read a magazine article talks about some new neighborhood, a great band, a restaurant or different clothes? All of those involve a writer working to fit someone else’s subject brief (usually the editor’s) and are to some extent sponsored too, usually through related advertisement in the mag, but they don’t say advertorial on top.

  • Kate

    So we are still on our first house and you have way more experience in the real estate market than I do! But! The best two pieces of advice that I received and that I followed when we house-hunted were:

    1) There are old house problems and new house problems. Basically, there are always house problems. And they all cost money.

    2) Buying a house is a lifestyle choice, not an investment. This piece of advice basically helped us modify our expectations in real estate and kept us from the lie that we are somehow going to profit A TON if we ever sell our condo. It also helped me become a lot more realistic about what I could live with and/or how much time/money we wanted to spend updating.

    Here’s what I’ve learned: I probably will never buy a brand-new house. Personally, I’ve noticed construction quality and material quality have gotten cheaper in each decade so it’s not worth the “ooo shiny” quality of a new house. I also won’t buy a historical home…(anything over 100 years old, which abound in here in New England). Yes, the bones of the house are sturdy but I don’t feel like upgrading ANYTHING installed pre-WWII. So, if we ever buy another home, I’m thinking we’re going to look at places built in the 1940s, 50s or 60s. Modern enough but still built with quality and pride.

    I have learned we are not DIY or handy people. We will always have to pay someone to do major upgrades. Thus, we are only going to do a major upgrade if a) we can afford it and b) we can enjoy it. This has definitely made us more realistic about what projects we take on. I’ve seen so much nonsense on HGTV where people have said, “I don’t want to live with someone else’s renovations!” Why not? They paid for it and if it looks pretty good, who cares if you would have gone for the granite countertops over the Corian? You don’t have to do it or pay for it. If we do buy another house, I’m willing to pay more up front for someone else’s well-done, nice looking renovations. I would have loved to buy any of your houses!

    My only other piece of advice is take reliable, rational people with you when you go looking. For me, that was my parents, who brought me back down to earth every time I started seeing potential instead of what is and how much “potential” will cost. People like this also remind you of what you need, what you can live with, and what you just really want.

    I think you’ve done a really good job reflecting on your past experiences and figuring out what you want in another house, if you decide to buy again. I think the trick of being homeowner is answering this question: “How can I create a home that is safe, satisfying, and welcoming without killing myself emotionally or financially?”. I really think you’re working toward that. Best of luck on whatever you decide!

  • Tina Beveridge

    The only complaint was that the sponsor logo was at the bottom instead of the top, with the implication that Heather might have written about a different topic if a sponsor wasn’t involved. That’s all. I don’t see it as any different than product placement in a movie. Gotta make money somehow, right?

  • Deiter Weinerman

    I learned the stupid way when building our first house to do EVERYTHING when it comes to electrical and plumbing. I could have had overhead switched electrical boxes in the ceiling of every room, $25 each. I was an electrician in the Navy and we passed on that since for $25 total I knew I could buy what was neeed to do it all myself. When that time came and I had to run cable, crawl through the attic insulation, etc etc…I realized I had screwed up. A couple of hundred over the 30 yr mortgage amounts to squat.
    The same goes for plumbing, trim, upgrades etc. If you can afford the little extra on the mortgage, the small change in your monthly payments makes it all worth while.
    We second guess all the time about buying the lot across the street from where we built that allowed for a walkout basement. It was only $3500 more and I want to slap myself everytime I try to get a large object around the corner in the basement stairs.
    Our last child leaves for college this fall and we will in the next few years look to downsize. I can’t wait to build that house knowing all I know now.

  • Cindy McMillion

    Growing up, my dad and his brothers built pretty much every house we
    lived in, built it according to a plan my mother drew out at the dinner
    table (in the days before you had to have a bonafide blueprint) over
    cups of coffee and slices of pie . I loved seeing those houses go up.
    Loved seeing the slab poured; loved walking from space to space in the
    wooden skeleton, stepping through walls like a super-heroine, imagining
    what each room would look like when it was done; loved the smell of
    fresh sawdust and sand and cement; loved the sight of my uncles grinning
    down at me from the scaffolds with their strong muscled arms, slapping
    mortar on bricks and laying them in place so expertly; loved, loved,
    loved the smell of new. We watched our houses form before our eyes.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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