Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Money Monday - a new car port

OK, it's Tuesday, so I'm only a day late for Money Monday. I'm trying me best here eh? :D

Better than 2012, when I didn't post at all!!!

During the offer and counter-offer part of the house sale, I made sure that the car port and shed behind the house would be included, and they were. After a couple of weeks of waiting, waiting (it felt like months), I received a call from my agent saying there was a problem. He received a call from the sellers' agent saying that a complaint had been filed to the city back in 2005 about the car port. Apparently it was too close to the property line. It was implied that it was to be dealt with before the sale was finalized. I was disappointed that, if the sellers had to take it down, I would have another winter of scraping snow and ice off my car, which had not yet lived a winter in my care.

In the end,  the car port stayed up, and I had to sign a letter with my lawyer saying I was aware of the complaint. Since there was no work order issued by the city, I decided that I would leave it up and deal with it in the spring.

Last week we got a good dump of snow, and it was so heavy on my car port that it tore through both layers of canvas and tarp. If I had thought about it prior I might have been able to prevent it by poking underneath with a broom handle, but I honestly didn't think about it until it was too late, and the snow was too heavy and frozen.

It looks terrible and I want to fix it as soon as possible. I have three options:

1) Purchase new canvas and tarp and cover the existing poles;
2) Purchase a whole new car port kit;
3) Take the whole thing down and wait until the spring.

If I choose # 2 I also have to choose if I am going to buy a similar type of car port (like this one) or invest in something sturdier and more permanent (something like this).

Also, to follow up from last week's Money Monday, the new tank was installed, and I discovered today that it too was sitting in a tray of water this morning. I called the utilities company, and they are sending the guys back this afternoon to take a look and/or replace the tank. Again!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Money Monday - the hot water tank

We have been in the house less than three weeks and we are ecstatic. Bean's new favourite word is "Newhouse."

On the weekend I noticed the tray under the hot water tank is full of water, and slowly starting to leak onto the concrete basement floor. I put newspapers around it, and they dried, and Baxter (the kitten) decided to take them skating around. The basement seems to be his domain, because his litter box is down there.

I called the utilities company, and they are sending a plumber this afternoon to replace the tank. Before the old one is removed, I will have to sign a five-year contract for the new tank.

I balked at the commitment. The rental is $12.35 (10.93 + HST) per month on my hydro bill. In five years the cost of the rental will be over $3200, if the price does not increase. I could probably have three tanks purchased and installed for that price, but then I would be on the hook for all the repairs.

I spoke to the plumber, and he assured me that renting is the way to go, because the city puts treatments into the water that could compromise the tank, and that he sees heating elements go all the time which are costly to replace. These are only two things that the utilities company would pay for if they happen to our tank.

He also told me that he is supposed to install a $150 thermostat to moderate the water temperature between the 140 degrees (Celcius) that it needs to be to avoid Legionnaire's, and the 120 degrees maximum that it is allowed to come out of the tap. I am going to forgo that expense, knowing that if I change my mind, I will have to pay at least $200 later on to have it installed.

I decided to go with the rental for five years, and in that time, I am also going to match the rental payment into my emergency fund. That way, at the end of the contract, I will have the funds to purchase a new tank if I decide that is what I want, and I will also have five years experience as a homeowner to know if I am making the right decision.

Because right now I have no idea what I am doing, and I have only about five hours to make a decision about this hot water tank.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

So I bought myself a house

This week I turn 40 years old. Last week I became a house owner.

I am sore, grumpy, and slightly overwhelmed, but I am also proud and ecstatic.

I had two goals to reach by my 40th birthday:
1) to get married;
2) to buy a house.

I reached goal # 2 with a week to spare.

I have modified goal # 1 to read:
1) to find a suitable life partner in my 40s;
2) or not.

So, Partner (ex) informed me that he found another place to live about a week into September.
I realized quickly that I had three choices:
1) Keep our rental house and sublet one of the bedrooms (Rent = $1250 + $320 utilities + $57 internet);
2) Move into another rental, hopefully in the same neighbourhood;
3) Cash in $8500 RRSP account and buy a house of our own.

First I went to Kijiji and searched the "room wanted" ads. There were a few single women who had teaching contracts who were looking for a room. I thought this would be ideal; but since Partner (ex) dropped the bomb a week into September, these women had already found their room. I struck up a correspondence with one potential roommate, whom after ten or so days of emailing each other, decided to stay at her parents' house.

I was being picky, since this person would have to share living room, kitchen, bathroom, and laundry with Bean and I.

In the meantime, I looked at a townhouse down the street that seemed to fit my budget (it was $775 to rent, but had electric baseboards, which would cost $100s to run in the winter). It was a bit rundown and it smelled like marijuana, so I didn't fax in the rental application.

I also emailed a former co-worker of Partner (ex)'s, who is now a real estate agent. We looked at about a dozen houses and I learned that we would have to leave our neighbourhood to find a house I could afford. I didn't want a fixer-upper. Luckily, we found a tiny bungalow (800 square feet) down the hill, in our school zone, so Bean would not have to change schools.

I got the mortgage at 2.94% and decided on bi-weekly payments (even though I still get paid only once a month). Mortgage + property taxes will cost me less than $900 a month. Hopefully bills will be around $250 or less per month. I chose a cheap cable internet package that is $45 a month.

Since I have finally learned to become a saver, I was able to cover the closing costs out of my TFSA, which is still in a healthy state. Next I will replenish the funds and continue adding them, in order to have a house fund to cover replacement expenses. The roof will need to be re-shingled in 7 to 8 years, and the furnace is 10 years old. I would also like to add a bathroom and kitchenette to the basement for Bean to use when he is older.

I have met all the surrounding neighbours, and they are all really friendly. I don't feel out of my element anymore, being the renter on the street of upper-middle-class house owners. I am now one of the (possibly, lower) middle-class house owners, and it feels really good.