You have to take care of your tools and all things you own!!!!
I can't stress this enough. If you have made that decision to step out of the city life and into a country homesteading life, you have to take physical care of the tools and items that you own. Your house, your car, your power equipment, your hand tools, your clothing, your property.....and on and on....all of it. I know I may be preaching to the choir for most of my readers but I wanted to vent a bit while providing an important PSA.
Some background (and venting:-)
After looking for buildable land for about a year, we felt the need to purchase a property that already had the amenities we needed. A house, barn, irrigation, fencing, outbuildings, etc. This decision to switch came upon us at a crucial time and we were fortunate to find a property that met all of our needs including our budget. It is important to be discerning but not overly critical when looking at a home that is already built. I am a handy guy and I knew that I could take care of a few repairs that I saw. Little did I know that even after the home inspection, things would begin to fall apart quickly. Additionally, the tools that we purchased from the previous owner ended up being a little less than desirable.
We knew most of the issues with the house and equipment going in. We negotiated for good pricing for everything. Some things were still a surprise however.
To start, we did not live in the home for 3 months while we were battling a flea infestation the previous owners left us. Check out our YouTube videos to watch our account of that ordeal.....Country Living Experience YouTube Channel. 3 months of vacancy made for crazy overgrowth of vegetation around the house and property. I journeyed to the property every week to cut the grass but was not able to even get within 10 feet of the home without getting swarmed by the fleas. Yes, it was that bad.
First off, the previous homeowner had not regularly trimmed numerous broad leaf bushes he planted near the home. When I took possession of the house, I was not able to trim them because of the fleas. Maybe he was unaware that planting bushes too close to the side of a home with wood siding will cause moisture to be held against the siding causing rapid deterioration and rotting of said siding. Sigh.
That brings me to one of my main points. If you attempt to fix, repair, build, craft, create a home improvement project on your own, please make sure you do three things:
- Study how to do it (read or watch youtube, whatever).
- Take your time to carefully follow every step in the construction (don't cut corners).
- Do the work to the best of your ability until every step is complete.
As you can probably surmise, I am a bit peeved at the the previous owner for cutting so many corners on the things he "fixed" around the house. Oh wait, I didn't tell you about all of those. Well here goes.
- Windows installed incorrectly. The exterior sill is not the proper material and slopes inward so water is draining into the wall. Inspector did not catch this.
- Wiring installed incorrectly. The inspector caught this one but I need to get it repaired. It works and it will not cause a fire but there are some funky things going on.
- No drain line on the water heater overflow pan. Basically if the water heater decides to die, the water will just leak out of the pan and onto the floor. Inspector caught this.
- Oh, yea the flooring. Installed incorrectly. Nails are popping up everywhere causing socks to get ripped and feet to get cut.
- The fleas. These were a result of their dog not being treated....ever....and being allowed in the house. Gross. Take care of your animals.
- Hand tools left out in the elements. This destroys and rots the wood handles. I am not so upset about this because the previous owner left them there for us. But my point here is if you leave tools outside, they will fall apart quickly.
- Never giving the ATV or lawnmower a tune-up or a wash. This is self explanatory.
- Incorrectly constructing a crawlspace wall without proper ventilation.
- Incorrectly installed shower drains. The poor installation caused them to crack and water drained under the home causing some mildew problems along with a foundation issue.
- No vents installed in the crawlspace. This would have helped dry out the space where the water was leaking from the showers but since it was non-existent, the water sat under the house for a while.
- Poorly installed tile back splashes. Grout was piled up in the corners and behind the sink. Tiles were not cut with the proper tool and have a terrible jagged edge.
Ok, I am done. The list could go on but I won't bore you with more details. I hope I made my point.
For as long as I can remember, I have taken physical care of the things that I own. Almost to a fault. Maybe almost to an OCD level......naw. When I was growing up we did not have a lot of money. My father was a teacher and my mother a housewife. We did ok and I am quite amazed now at how we got along so well....a testimony as to how well my parents managed their money. When I got a gift from them, I made sure I took care of it. I polished whatever it was and made it last for years. I still do that today. If you take care of the things you have, it will cost you less money in the end.
Additionally, I make sure to buy quality items. Let me qualify that statement. I make sure I selectively buy items that are quality. Items that will receive the most use and the most wear and tear. For example, our couch. We knew that this piece of furniture would receive a beating over the years. It is used as the main sitting piece and takes a pounding from our 3 year old. We choose to spend a lot of money on the couch. We choose to purchase a leather couch for easy clean up and we choose a couch that was not a trendy design. We went with a classic look.
All of these factors combined make for a value purchase. I have seen friends follow the trends of furniture and purchase numerous pieces that do not last. They have spent 10 times what I spent on my piece.
On the other hand, we purchased a desk, bed frame and night stand for our guest room. We went to IKEA and Overstock.com for those items. Why? Because we knew they would not receive much use. They still look nice and if we take care of them, they will last for a while without heavy use. Money saved again.
I noticed that the previous owner of the house left us 5 rakes. 4 of the rakes had deteriorated or broken handles most likely from leaving them sitting outside leaning against the barn. How much did those 5 rakes cost? I have had the same rake for 4.5 years and it is in pristine condition. I venture to say I have spent less.
In addition to the cost of buying additional rakes, there will be stress added to your day when you break a rake and have to drive to purchase another one. Wasted time on your project that utilizes the rake and extra money spent. What is the point! Buy quality items to begin with and treat it like it is the last one you will ever have.
Sorry for the brief hiatus everyone. This homesteading thing is a ton of work.