Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Previous Owner Blues

Today I'm going to have a bit of a rant. A wee tantrum. About previous owners. Yes, I'm pissed off. P.O.ed at the P.O.s.

Moving into a house that's been neglected for some length of time is going to have its issues, and mine is no different. I've lived in the midst of rehabbing a 1920s Arts and Crafts home in Michigan in my past, so I wasn't ignorant to the possibility of future challenges signing for this house. But holy buckets of home maintenance, previous owners. I am glad you moved out of state so that there's no chance I could bump into you at the deli counter. I'm not sure I could be polite. 

I realize that people have different priorities. Different tastes. In one past home I owned, a particularly bright raspberry pink paint was spread everywhere; that was the previous owner's taste. It wasn't mine, and different colors soon followed. When I moved into a suburban home, I didn't like the property-line to property-line all lawn look. But the previous owner did, and he took great care to maintain it. I may not like it, but I don't take that kind of stuff personally.

What I do take personally is "Do-It-Yourself" projects so poorly done that they should be renamed "Eff-That-Up-All-By-Myself"projects.

 Who lives like this?

We ran out of stain, and um, well, yes, that's construction grade plywood.

My hot list:
1. A DIY "repair" on the furnace that resulted in a damaged condensation pump that goes undiscovered until, you guessed it, I owned the house.

2. A DIY winterization of the plumbing, incorrectly done, that results in all the misadventures and psychotic behavior described here, which included a leaking sink, a leaking shower, two non-functional toilets, and a sobbing homeowner.

3. Carpet and pad installed over the previous layer of carpet and pad, which was ALSO installed over another previous layer of carpet and pad. I didn't just call it disgusting, I compared it to nuclear waste in the blog post about that room. Again I must ask: "Who lives like this?"

We still don't know what it is, and Smoking Man wouldn't tell us.
4. Unable or unwilling to go to the trouble to find a real sink to fit a narrower than usual counter depth (front to back), a plastic RV sink was installed in the main floor full bath.

5. (And I know, this is my biggest goof on the closing. Don't even tell me. I curse myself). Where in the hell did the storm window screens go? They are missing. Whole house except for two windows. Or did they gradually wear out over time and owners failed to replace them? Who can explain this kind of crazy?

6. I'm not averse to wood paneling done well. But in every era, design trends were done well or executed poorly. I have had a lot of executed poorly. Executed poorly but installed with approximately one gajillion way-too-long overkill nails. Leading to lots of cussing, executed extremely well.

7. Someone came onto this property at one time or another with a concrete mixer and said, "well, as long as the truck's here, let's pave this---and this---- and let's just cee-ment over this too....." causing some drainage problems that need to be addressed when the house is re-roofed and the gutters redesigned. Oh, and did I mention cracking the foundation? Yeah, that too. That's a future blog post.

8. Covered up a brick front patio and stair with a pressure treated lumber deck. On the front of the house. Classy.

9. Cut the low voltage line to the doorbell, rendering it inoperable.

I tend to create in my mind an amorphous mass of uncaring previous owners without knowing really anything about them except their names and dates of ownership. I don't know who did what when, mostly, and I don't care. I don't need to know, it just gives me some direction to shake my fist when I'm struggling with another repair. I know it's all psychological in that sense.  I still love my house, and other people I know have had far worse P.O. horror stories than I have. What are some of yours?


  1. I think maybe your home's previous owners were also our home's previous owners. Or perhaps they were just related. I feel your pain!

  2. I would have to say whoever bleached or pickled or whatever you want to call it the beautiful wide oak woodwork in our 1920's house in Kansas.

  3. Eesh. I remember that. That was such a cool house!