Monday, February 23, 2009

Kitchen Sink

On Saturday wifey and I took the plunge. We’ve been needing to renovate the kitchen since we bought our place and with both the mounted wall oven and the stove top shitting the bed after 50 years of loyal service, now is the time.

Quick sidenote before I get in too deep. For all you renters reading, there is something you should know before you get all amped up about buying your own place. It’s something that I wish someone had told me before I bought our place. It this: Once you buy a house, you’re life is over. You’ll be in debt forever. It’s nearly impossible to save money. You may make a bit of headway, but something will happen to the house that will require thousands of dollars to repair.

I’m not saying not to buy a place to call your own, just be aware going in that every place is a money pit.

The roof will start leaking and need to be reshingled.

The toilet will flush into the downstairs light fixture.

The secondary shower will drain directly into the basement instead of the actual drainage pipe.

The fifty year old wall mounted oven will make funny noises for a few hours and never get warm again.

A powerful storm will rip some siding off while sending pieces of that new roofing job into neighbor’s yards.

Yes, all of that has happened to my house over the past 8 years. I’m lucky (???) enough to have saved some (minor) amounts of money by doing some of the work myself. I reshingled our leaking roof, fixed the shower and the faulty toilet upstairs.

But, much of this work needs to be done and coordinated at a level I’m not comfortable with. Hence the home equity loan in order to renovate the kitchen and fix a few other odds and ends around the house. We have some questionable main pipes in the basement we want replaced before we literally start shitting onto our basement floor. Nobody wants that.

Onto Home Depot to pick out countertops, cabinets, appliances and have one of the kitchen guys help us price out what we want to do and help us with measurements and options. I’ve been skeptical of places like Home Depot and Lowe’s doing stuff like this, but Kitchen Guy Charlie (as it said on his nametag) was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Not pushy at all, which scores bonus points in my world.

Next stop was our bank where we signed approximately 532 different pieces of paper in order to secure a home equity loan. Wifey and I both have excellent credit (750+ for both of us) so getting approval wasn’t a problem.

I did notice that our bank (we have both checking and savings accounts at a local bank) was trying to push the ‘Flex’ rate on us. You know, the rates fluctuate with the federal interest rates. Flex rates tend to be lower, but they’re also one of the main reasons so many people defaulted on their mortgages. They grant a flex rate while everything is low, then the government bumps it up and the bank says ‘Oh, it went up. You’re interest rate is no longer 5%. It’s now 23.5%. What? We didn’t say it would go up in accordance to the government rates. We just said it would go up if the rates went up’.

Another word of advice. Get a fixed rate whenever possible. Sure, the interest rates may go down and save you money, but they’re so low now you wouldn’t be saving that much money. We fixed in for ten years at a shade over 6%.

My second piece of advice. Make sure when you fix in a rate there is no penalty for paying off the loan early. Believe it or not some banks put in a clause that if you pay off before the term is up, they’ll charge you another $500 on top of everything. I know, it’s illogical, but welcome to the world of finance. In our case we can pay off early with no penalties which is exactly my plan. Still, it’s a good idea to have a lower monthly payment in case something happens to your income.

Can never be too safe in this economy.

Anyway, there we are. We should have the money by the end of the week, the Home Depot guys should be dropping by to measure, I’ll need to start demolition soon, and wifey is nearly jumping up and down over the prospect of a brand new kitchen.

You know what? I’m thinking some before and after pictures are required.

Stay tuned.

Today’s distraction: Some New Math. Love the Crazy = one.


Rob said...

Beach, we took that plunge ( last summer and could not be happier with how it turned out. I've been way behind in posting final pictures, but will do in the spirit of sharing.

We, too, were reluctant to go the Home Depot/Lowes route, but after pricing cabinets at private shops, we gladly paid 1/2 the price at Lowes for same or better quality cabinets at those shops. And, Lowes honored the sale Home Depot was having at the time (10% off cabinets) by giving me 11% off.

And, if you're in the MetroWest area (Natick/Framingham), be sure to speak with Marciello Dimello at Onyx Marble & Granite on Beaver Street in Framingham. He beat every other granite yard around, and had great advice about the stone we picked out.

Could not agree more about the money pit aspect of owning a home, but at least it's more often than not money wells spent.

BeachBum said...

Yeah, I can't emphasize enough how pleasantly surprised I was with HD. Not only do they take you step by step, but what I didn't realize is they can coordinate with their different installers.

So the measuring guy comes out twice and makes sure they have things right dimensions. He calls the design guy. The design guy then becomes the project manager in a way and send outs the cabinet installers, then the counter guys, etc. It's a huge time saver and it's mostly internal to them so it's streamlined more than independent guys can ever be.

Let's just hope the work stands up to the process. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with all of that my friend. It's things like this that make me really weary of ever wanting to get a house. Obviously I will eventually to build long-term wealth and all that jazz, but I love renting for now.

Hammen said...

I agree with 10. I'm just fine renting for quite a while yet, I don't want to deal with that kind of crap anytime soon.