Home Repair on a Non-Existent Budget

July 20, 2011

My little house needs help. It was built in 1944, and one family lived in it for all of its life until 2005, when I purchased it in February. It’s just a tiny cottage, one of two I looked at and wanted to buy. This was actually my second choice; the owners of the first house never would sign my contract to purchase due to fear of litigation. (That story is probably good fodder for a blog post some day.)

So, with my financing time running out, I went with the second choice. And all was well. The house is tiny, two bedrooms, one bath, only 950 square feet, but boasts a nice, free-standing two-car garage. And I love to tinker and work on things, so that was a real bonus.  Not to mention extra storage space if I need it.

All was well, until…  In 2009 I lost my job to medical reasons, and my doc forbade me to return. All right, I had no income, so all I could do was apply for disability. In July of 2010, it was finally approved. I got caught up on the mortgage.

At the time, I had moved out to live with my ex and son. My son was needing extra help and Susan was extremely busy at work, having to stay a lot of extra hours, so it worked out all right. Except…

The thing is, in spite of the nice, three-bedroom house I’m sitting in now, I kinda miss my old, run-down, beat-up house in Wendell, just eight miles down the road. Not to mention, vegetation and neglect have taken a toll and the house is officially eyesore status. Between spending time with my nieces in DC and my grandmother in Mooresville, NC, I’ve had little time to keep it up.

But now I’m ready. And my problem is thus: I may be ready, but have no real resources to put into the house. And it needs a lot. Paint, new floors, remodeled kitchen, remodeled bath, back room completely redone. Landscaping is a severely pressing need. At times I have been beside myself just worrying about it. I was absolutely overwhelmed.

Then I remembered something. Stephen King was once asked how he wrote books. His reply: “One word at a time.” And having written a novel myself (as yet unpublished, but still, I wrote a complete one!) I can attest to the truth of that. You really do it one word at a time.

That lesson came to me the other day. So, I know what I need; now, just how do I do it? Simple: one little task at a time.

I recall an article in home magazine on a turn of the century (twentieth century, not twenty-first century) house that was featured and the single guy living there had done a complete renovation on just $1800.00  Yes, you read that right, Eighteen hundred, not eighteen thousand.

He did all the work himself, and focused his efforts on the necessary and ignored the unnecessary. And it was beautiful. I have done this kind of work before; I spent $7000.00 renovating my first house and turned a $15,000 profit. Having a steady job and a good economy meant I had decent credit and was able to borrow what I needed. That is not the case now.

I don’t even dare take out a loan, and I don’t even have a credit card anymore. I cannot afford to make monthly payments. Well, I take that back. I do have a Best Buy card, which I got to buy my computer. It was highly necessary, though.  Other than that, I live on a cash-only basis.  I’m not precisely comfortable talking about my personal income, but with my previous posts on disability, those who know me know that is my income source, and if you pay attention to your Social Security statements you know what you would get if you quit work early. It’s not a whole lot.

How much can I afford?  Honestly about $40.00 a month is all I can do comfortably. That gets me two gallons of paint and some brushes.  Or maybe renting a floor sander. I am thinking on averages, because some things are going to be more expensive; there’s no getting around that. So one month I might spend $100, the next month maybe $20. Some months, nothing. It will just depend.

All right, you get the picture.  Follow along and we’ll see just how far a little bit of money takes us.  And yes, there will be pictures in upcoming posts.  In fact, I will post an old one with this, showing the house in an earlier photo.  This was pulled from the Wake County tax website; I ought to get on Google and see if there’s a good street view of it.

My house from about fifteen years ago...

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