On Monday, there wasn't a single worker at my house, nor a truck parked out in front. Ahhh, the sound of silence.. After essentially two years of non-stop renovations, first on the inside and then on the out, I can happily proclaim that we are nearly finished.
Sure, I still need to have Luis build me an enclosure for the garbage cans, (Luis can do ANYTHING) and I'll have Metro Painting repaint the front porch (it's taken a beating), but all in all, 851 Calmar Avenue is ready for public viewing - and just in time. I'm pleased to say that it's been selected as one of this year's homes for the CLS Heart of the Home Tour at the end of April. (I'm quite sure I'll be futzing up until the moment before the crowds arrive.)
The last big job was replacing the front sidewalk and no, it didn't come cheaply. There's a lot of street frontage to our home.
"Do we really need to do that?" my husband plaintively asked, as the cement truck pulled up. Like me, he's tired of shelling out MAJOR DOLLARS!
"Only if you don't want to be sued," I answered matter-of-fact.
Oakland, unlike Piedmont, doesn't have a sidewalk 'point-of-sale' ordinance (but should) and our sidewalk wasn't just cracked here and there, it was crumbling in several places, much of it having to do with the heavy weight of trucks and machinery that had crossed over the failing cement the past two years (and it hadn't started out in good shape to begin with). It was only a matter of time before someone broke an ankle and it was probably going to be Zee, my 91-year-old mother-in-law, or some darling child on their way to school.
In our case, it would have been "penny wise and pound foolish" to skip this final repair, no matter the cost.
My point is, when it comes to your own homes, take a critical look around the house (and the garden) and ask yourself, "What needs attention? What have I unintentionally let slip?"
Is it a dripping hose bib near the foundation, a running toilet, clogged gutters,a broken dishwasher, trees that need trimming, or vines that our virtually taking over your house? Each of these seemingly insignificant items can lead to much costlier repairs down the road when left unattended for months, never mind years at a time. (Did you know that overgrown plants can invite wood-boring beetles and rodents into your home? Ewww.)
And we all have them . . . items we've ignored long past the 'sell-by date,' either because we've stopped noticing them long ago, OR because we can't be bothered, OR because we don't want to spend the money. But I'm here to encourage you to address these maintenance items before that drip slowly erodes your foundation or worse yet, creates moisture in the crawl space that turns to mold, and no, that's not good. (Are you getting my drift?)
While owning a home is an exciting and rewarding proposition, properties are not static by nature. And nature has an insistent way of affecting your lovely home, whether it's shifting earth, underground water, wind, rain, tree roots, or even gravity. There are always going to be natural forces at work on your abode. (And you thought this was going to be easy.) So no sooner will you be done with one task, than another will present. Welcome to the world of home ownership.
Lest you think owning a home equates to nothing more than a list of chores (sometimes it does), it also provides security, sanctuary, memories and an opportunity to create your own little piece of the world. Unlike renting, YOU get to decide what 'floats your boat,' so wallpaper away and build the 'man cave' downstairs if you so desire; it's your home and you should enjoy it. You've no doubt worked hard to earn it.
And if this all seems a little too overwhelming, or you don't really know what leads to where, call my good friend, Shannon Bloemker at Glasshouse and let her assign a house manager to your home. For a nominal fee each month, they'll regularly show up and keep track of the nuts and bolts of your property and then make timely suggestions for repairs. (It's ironic that most of us regularly change the oil in our car, but hardly any of us replace the filters in our furnace.)
So take your spring cleaning to the next level and make a "To Do" list. There are lots of qualified people to step in if "handy" isn't exactly in your repertoire. (Allen Romano specializes at the "To Do" list. In fact, he prefers it! firstname.lastname@example.org.) And given that your home is probably your single-largest investment, doesn't it make good sense (and cents?) to keep it in tip-top form? (Yes, it does.) In other words, don't be "penny-wise and pound foolish," or you will ultimately pay the price, either in the short term or much farther down the line, when you go to sell.
Aside from knowing that I've contributed to keeping my neighbors safe, I now pride myself on having one of the more user-friendly addresses on my block. I benefit from a parade of now-familiar walkers with dogs and strollers in tow, literally stopping to smell the flowers.
While I adored my last house, it was tucked away in a dell so getting to know my neighbors required a lot of effort (as in block parties and movie nights). My current block is filled with children who stop to wave, pet our new puppy and share their adventures. From where I sit (on my wrap-around-porch; okay who's kidding who? I don't really sit!) I am entirely grateful. While replacing my sidewalk may have been costly and inconvenient, it was well worth the expense and the effort because owning a home is first and foremost about community.
Please stop by and say "hello;" I'd love to make your acquaintance.
How can I help you?
Check out my Instagram at: piedmontrealtorgirl
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.