Accompanying my younger son, Tristan, to his orthodontist appointment last week, I couldn't help but wonder if the doctor was looking at a Maui mouth (one where the savings on orthodontia affords a trip to Hawaii) or a Modesto mouth (that's a weekend at the Motel 6 and Water World in Manteca for the uninitiated). Laughing, Dr. Righellis replied, "Your son is somewhere in between. How do you feel about Disneyland?"
My older son wore braces, as did ALL six kids in my immediate family so of course I expected Tristan to follow suit. It was inevitable. Wasn't it? Well yes and no. Due to a proactive regiment by the good doctor, Tristan's permanent teeth have come in without crowding the others, eliminating a much more invasive, expensive and time consuming process today. Tristan will still need braces, but will wear them only briefly. Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me!
Home ownership works much the same way. Any maintenance you do up front has the potential to save thousands of dollars down the road.
Several years ago, I represented a sharp couple, contemplating a move to Piedmont (let's call them Mr. and Mrs. P) Like many parents weighing private versus public school education, Piedmont offered a high-ranking public educational option and kindergarten beckoned.
Meeting with my clients for a tour of their home at that time, it presented as a fairly typical, mid-century modern with minor cosmetic updating. However, behind the facade, Mrs. P had taken meticulous care of both the home and its grounds. The foundation had been earthquake retrofitted, the roof replaced, the windows upgraded, a new fence built, French drains installed and the pest report was zero. ZERO! (To date, Mrs. P. is the only client I've ever known to have a pest inspection performed on an annual basis the way others have a yearly physical!)
While it may not be sexy (or immediately gratifying) to spend dollars correcting dry rot or leaky toilets, this type of ongoing maintenance is liable to save much greater costs down the road. With the major elements in great shape, their home only required minor painting and staging to present as a sophisticated modern that was virtually worry free (WORRY FREE!) which made for a very attractive home purchase.
Buyers responded in kind and Mr. and Mrs. P received multiple offers and quickly sold their home well above asking. True to form, Mr.and Mrs. P are repeating their pattern at their current Piedmont home and over the last two years have already replaced the roof, installed French drains, added a sump pump, upgraded the exposed pipes and improved much of the electrical system as well.
Chances are they will avoid much costlier expenses in the future.
With the biggest expenses substantially offset and no costly surprises on the horizon, Mr. and Mr. P can now afford that tropical vacation in Maui. Aloha! (Please drink a Mai Tai for me - I'll be hanging out at the Pirates of the Caribbean.)
(BTW - I have an excellent Home Service Provider's List of contractors, inspectors, gardeners, handymen, window washers, painters, etc. Please call me if you'd like a copy of this terrific list of vendors.)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.