We’ve rented in the past.  Admittedly, it’s been a long time since we did, but as I recall the reason for our first home purchase was only in part to build equity; the big reason was to avoid having to deal with a landlord.

I assume that everyone reading has had to wait to get a leaky faucet fixed, a leak in the roof patched, or an appliance replaced.  Some landlords are prompt, while others leave their money in the bank earning interest and do as little as possible for as long as possible to solve your problem.

And then there is the issue of having to put up first and last month’s rent and a deposit to cover any damage, cost of cleaning etc. which you almost never get back, regardless of how careful and fastidious you are.

Our first house was a squat, pseudo-adobe house in Arizona that we bought with G.I. Bill benefits.  The mortgage was 7% over 30 years, and we had minimal closing costs.  There was nothing wrong with the house other than being in a working class suburb of Phoenix.  We were located across the street from the number one fairway of a municipal nine hole golf course, and there were small dents in the garage door created by errant golf balls.  Fortunately, the garage extended far enough to protect the picture window in the living room.

We bought that house about a year after I got out of the Army in the summer of 1973..  We had two small daughters, two cars, assorted mismatched furniture and life was good.  When I finished my residency in the summer of 1975 we were full into a major recession. We placed our house on the market in early spring and got a few lookers, but no offers.  At the end of June we had a garage sale, sold my 1965 Mustang (which I still pine for) and moved to Memphis, Tennessee into a townhouse rental.  Six months later we found a house in a soon to be gentrified area of town and moved. 

A year after we moved we got a call from the realtor.  He had an offer, our first, and it wasn’t good, but it was an offer.  The buyer would pay closing costs, nothing “down”, assume our loan, and the realtor’s fee on the sale – which wasn’t much – would be paid from quarterly bonuses that the buyer received.

Prior to closing I got a call saying that there was no air conditioner on the roof.  It had been stolen.  I collected on the homeowner insurance and replaced it.

Two years later I got a subpoena to appear in court in Phoenix or pay all of 2 years mortgage payments and resume ownership of the house to attempt another sale, or turn the house over to the bank.  I consulted an attorney who found that Arizona law prevented “short sales”.  If the bank loaned you money and took the house you owed them nothing.  So, the bank got the house.

Over the years we’ve moved around owned other homes; some of them wonderful, some money pits.  Made a lot of money on some houses and lost money on others, and have lived in the house we are in now for nine years.

We replaced the heat pump with another, shortly after moving in,  and in October put in a gas furnace and air conditioner. “Kuhching”  About a month and a half ago we replaced an oven that wasn’t working and repairmen couldn’t seem to fix with a new G.E. Adora gas range.  The oven doesn’t work and when we tried to change the time to DST the clock would not respond.  We’ve been working with Home Depot/GE/National Platinum Appliance Service for 6 weeks now.  Since it is under GE warranty Home Depot is the go-between.  GE calls National Platinum, a time is set up for a service visit and they don’t come or call.  A call to National Platinum gets you a “Leave a Message” message and no one returns your call.

Calls to GE get you to a phone tree that leads to, “Repairmen will be at your home on XXX at... There seems to be a technical problem (click).”  The Customer Care representative at Home Depot told us that no one around here will work on GE or Samsung, and the “Platinum” company is two hours away in Atlanta and just don’t want to come here.  G.E. won’t replace the oven until it has been declared by National Platinum to be a lemon.  Catch-22.  Some “higher up” at Home Depot is working on it now.

I thought of writing a letter to GE;

Dear General Electric,

First, General, let me thank you for your service to our country.  Unfortunately, a grateful nation is being ill served by the company you work for….blah, blah, blah. 

I’m sure that I would then get the “smart ass treatment” and things would get worse.  Wait, how could they?


We live in a split-level ranch house, and the back bathroom suddenly had no hot water a week ago.  Since we thought we had only one water heater this made no sense.  There is a wall between the entry to the crawl space and the area under the back bath and I could not physically get over air ducts and crawl around to see what was going on under that bath.

The plumber’s grandson could, and found that we have two water heaters. (Actually, three. One is dead and was never hauled out for the reason I mentioned above.)  So, the plumber was able to get the newer old heater working for now, but we need two new water heaters because the one I knew about is rusted out and leaking, too, and needs to be replaced right away. “Kuhching, kuhching”.

I haven't actually talked to anyone about a water heater purchase, yet. 

Buying at Home Depot and Lowe's involves shopping sales.  An employee told us that if it weren't for sales nothing in Home Depot would ever move.

Above is what I found that should meet our needs on one end of the house ~ $619.00 on-line.

Consumer Reports does not rate water heaters, but they recommend the 12 year warranty even if you won't live that long because those units have better elements, are more cost efficient, and bring water to temperature faster. 

One end of the house will require a short water heater, the other can use a "tallboy".

I might be able to get it cheaper if I paid cash, but am a little short of that now.

We have a Home Depot in town and a Lowe's 25 miles from here.  There is a local plumbing supply house.

I'd be back to cash with them.

There was a time when I could see and was younger when I would have done all of the trouble shooting and installation. 

I'm not ready for a condo yet, but that would solve a lot of these problems.

Our forty-five year old daughter, the artist who makes a living doing hair, just bought her first home.  I’ve tried to talk to her about all of this, but she is decorating her new house in her head and I just need to let her have that first-time owner joy.  The downside will come soon enough.  And, her Life Partner is her age, has worked in construction, and can do a lot of those things that I once did.

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Comment by Phyllis on March 20, 2018 at 2:39am

Have you considered just hooking the water heater that you thought was the only one into the plumbing for that bathroom and opening up the space that is hiding the defunct heaters so that it is accessible and usable? Bad engineering on the buildersb part doesn't mean that you have to perpetuate it.

Comment by Rodney Roe on March 20, 2018 at 4:35am

@Phyllis ~ First, perhaps because we live in a fiercely libertarian area of the country where no one wants to have "the government" telling anyone what they have to do, there are no building codes in this county in Georgia.  Home inspections are a real deal when you purchase because the onus is on the buyer to discover problems.  Remember, that Deliverance was filmed here using actual scenery - beautiful- and real people who, like every where, vary.

I considered having one heater (about the strange wall in a moment).  The house is built as a sort of modified ranch at the end of a ridge so the house straddles the top of the ridge long ways..  In areas the crawl space is really wiggle space - about 18 inches under the kitchen, and under the back bath drops off to maybe 5 feet.  There is a T at that end of the house with two small bedrooms in the T and the bath between.  Everything else, master bath, powder bath, kitchen and laundry room are at the other end.  It makes sense to have a water heater on the back end, but it doesn't need to be very large, just enough to accommodate the bath/shower.  Hooking into the front water heater might mean going overt 50 gallons and a long span of plumbing so that it would take a long time to get hot water.  A family with kids might need more volume in the back tank, but I'll leave that to the next owners to decide.

The house was built in 1951 and then extensively remodeled in 1972 and again in the mid-90s.  The wall I mentioned appears to be a supporting wall.  It's really hard to tell what has happened to the house during that time.  The walls of the family room appear to have been outside walls at one time that how are now paneled with some exotic wood over stucco. 

The '90s remodeling entailed taking up the living room floor, placing jacks under the beams, and moving the fireplace from the living room around one of those inside/outside brick walls to the den.  Apparently, the owners became elderly, moved out and the house sat empty for a while, during which time a leak around the chimney destroyed the living room floor. The hardwood was matched and replaced.  The only way I can tell where the join is, is by the fact that the new floor doesn't squeak.

Also, at some point, the house was "opened" so that the kitchen, dining area and living room are one space.  The split level is the laundry room which sits along with my pottery studio and the garage on a slab at an angle to the rest of the house.

The house has a really comfortable warm feeling that we've enjoyed a lot, but at some point in the near future we are going to have to go to the next phase in our lives. 

Thanks for coming by and your comment.

Comment by Phyllis on March 20, 2018 at 4:51am

You just made my water woes sound easy. :)

Comment by alsoknownas on March 20, 2018 at 7:33am

I'm sure not any help.

Juggling two houses right now. A third "get away" which is an RV under a pole barn in a gated 600 acre member camp is in another state. It goes on market in about 6 weeks.

Adding personal touches to one while readying the others for sale.

Selling will be "as-is". Don't like it, don't buy it. 

Comment by Steel Breeze on March 21, 2018 at 4:58am

if you eliminate the back h2o heater and runthe line from the other to an under sink 'on demand' heater(bout 100 bucks/110v plug in) oughta do it.the little one doesnt deliver enuff for a shower but will eliminate hot water delay.when the kids moved out i switched from a 50gal gas heater to a 30gal electric.installation was a snap and more than enuff for the 2 of us.plus i shut off the breaker when not in use.

Comment by Ron Powell on March 21, 2018 at 6:30am

Do you remember when there was such a thing as a "starter home"?

Comment by Rodney Roe on March 21, 2018 at 7:22am

@ Ron, yes I'm that old.  Our first house was a little under 2,000 sq.ft..cost $35,000, and it was practically new..

After WWII an entire area of woods between my parents' 1939 house and the grade school I attended was cleared and there was the steady sound of hammers as starter homes for returning veterans were built.  They were pretty shoddy compared to what we lived in, but they were a house.

Steel Breeze, I talked with the plumber yesterday about options.  He gave us the name of a reputable local supply house with much better prices than the big box stores.  We would have to pay for delivery, of course, but the reduction in price makes that and paying cash doable.

There was one of those in-line heaters at the kitchen sink - probably because it takes forever for hot water to get there - that had some kind of bacteria growing in it that had ruined it during the year the house had been empty.  We took that out, but it was a good idea.

@AKA, we've owned multiple homes with multiple mortgages before.  It was a necessity, but a constant strain and source of anxiety.  Hope everything moves as well as possible.

About that RV.  I know a guy who put a metal container in an R.V. park next to a state park, paid monthly fees, cut a door and window in it, insulated the interior and called that a vacation get away.  I asked him what the neighbors thought.  He said he didn't ask.

Comment by Steel Breeze on March 21, 2018 at 7:28am

ha! I LIVE in a 'starter home".....1,000sq ft.....no garage,attic,basement...

Comment by Rodney Roe on March 21, 2018 at 8:04am

Breeze, our first place was an efficiency apartment with two rooms; one bedroom/bath and the other everything else.  When L's grandmother came to visit she stood in the doorway between the two rooms and - in her butter-won't-melt-in-my-mouth southern accent - said, "Honey, where you gonna put on your make-up?"  Living in that kind of space makes you set priorities, for sure.


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