The 3 Things I Learnt as a First-Time Homeowner

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First-Time homeowner struggles

At one point in everyone’s life, they become a first-time homeowner. It’s a very exciting time but sometimes when it’s your first home (or condo) you learn a few things the hard way – by mistake. You can’t expect to know everything. How do you think everyone else learnt? No one can tell you all the things you will have to know as a homeowner. Sometimes you will just learn them by mistake.

I have had my fair share of new homeowner mishaps.   At the time it’s not funny, but after the fact you can’t help but laugh at yourself. One benefit is that you will always remember how to solve that issue. I thought today that I would share a few stories of my not-so-brilliant first-time homeowner ordeals.

1. The AC Unit

I had moved from a condo to my first townhome. It came with air conditioning. My previous condo did not have ac and I was so excited to have a home with such a luxury. No more sitting in front of the portable air conditioner with a water spray bottle trying to keep myself and my dog cool during heat advisories. I had moved in during the month of October and had turned the heat on right away.

I even decided to contact JC Heating and Cooling to take a look at the furnace to ensure everything was well maintained and ready to go for the winter and upcoming summer.

Skip to the end of June when the temperature was starting to heating up. I couldn’t wait to turn on the AC. I turned it on and waited to enjoy my cool home, sans water spray bottle. Then waited… and waited… and waited.   Why was my house not cooling down? Did I just buy a home with a broken AC unit? Are you kidding me?! A few hours later, I called my father to complain about my malfunctioning AC. “Did you turn on the breaker?” he asked. “WHAT!”

Yup – I sure felt silly. I can’t believe that it was that simple a solution. I had never had AC before and was not aware that the previous home owners would have turned off the breaker to the AC unit for the upcoming winter.

2. The Fire Alarm

That same year on a beautiful fall day, I decided to take my patio furniture into the basement to store for the winter. While carrying down a birch branch – yes, you read that correctly, I was carrying down a branch. It was for a decor project – I accidentally hit the fire detector on the ceiling and set it off. As the dog was freaking out, I was able to grab the ladder to try and turn it off. Standing on the ladder I was just barely tall enough to reach the detector.

Do you think I could find the reset button? Or the battery? I then proceeded to attempt to take it off the ceiling. Couldn’t manage that either. I think by this time, it felt as if 10 minutes had gone by listening to the alarm’s high pitched screeeeeeeeeching.

I’m quite surprised my neighbours didn’t knock on my door to ensure that there wasn’t a fire or a problem. I ended up going outside to call my dad… again… to ask him for help on what I should do. “Did you turn off the breaker?” he laughed. OMG – really? The fire detectors are wired to the ceiling?

In my condo I had battery powered fire detectors that the condo association would come and check annually, so it never really occurred to me that these detectors wouldn’t be battery powered. Yes – that was a fun day as a home owner.

3. The Programmable Thermostat

I had been living in my townhome for almost four years. It had been a while since I had any home owner problems, so we all know that it was due time for another. It had been cool enough that I hadn’t had my AC or heat on for a while. I try to conserve as much hydro as I possibly can. It was going to be a cold day. I went to turn on my thermostat and saw that it was broken – the display was blank.

Great. Perfect timing! I thought, I can’t be that difficult to install a new thermostat. If my dad and I can install new light fixtures and dimmer switches, then I can certainly install my own thermostat. Just to be sure, I called the 1-800 number on my thermostat – no longer in service. Then I tried to search for the model and manufacturer online – no such luck.

Finally I googled “how to install a thermostat”… I watched a great 5 minute video from Home Depot about how easy it is to install a thermostat. Towards the end of the video the electrician instructed you to install the batteries. Batteries?! After fiddling around, I was able to open my programmable thermostat and insert new batteries which solved the issue.

When I had lived in my condo, I had baseboard heating that was controlled either on the baseboard itself, or on the dial thermostat. No programming available. I knew this time around it had nothing to do with the breaker.

See, everyone has moments in life when something happens and you don’t know how to fix it. I’m lucky enough to have parents that I can call to offer help. They may laugh at me while doing so, but hey, that’s what parents do. After experiencing these minor homeowner issues, I know there is a breaker for the ac unit, the fire detectors are wired into the ceiling and the programmable thermostat has batteries. These were just a few hiccups that I was not aware of at the time.

I am lucky to have parents who have taught me how to:

  • Fix a toilet
  • Shingle a roof (getting down was the most difficult part)
  • Do yard work
  • Turn off the main water source
  • Shut off the water to the outside taps in the winter
  • Change the filter in the furnace (apparently a lot of people insert the filter incorrectly)
  • Drywall
  • Install light fixtures and switches
  • Install backsplash tile
  • Install flooring just to name a few

There are still lots of things that I do not know and I will learn them as time goes on. I have these lessons and experiences that I will take with me when I buy my next home. Plus I have some great stories to share.

Tell us if you’ve have any funny mishaps as a first-time home owner?

Thank you, as always, for reading and sharing. P.S. If you have a design question or a topic that you would like me to cover, please leave a comment or send me an email.  I would love to hear from you!

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