Sometimes, being a homeowner really sucks.
We bought our house in 2003, and we knew a lot of the stuff was a little on the old side. But, other than some major renovations when we first moved in, we’ve been relatively lucky the past few years to avoid any major house expenses (KNOCKING ON WOOD AS LOUDLY AS I CAN).
But suddenly, it feels like our house is turning on us.
Two years ago, the roof started leaking in places. We have a good roof guy and so far, he’s been able to keep patching it. But he tells us this is the Band-Aid approach and it’s not going to cut it much longer.
Last year, just before our anniversary in May, our hot water heater went out. It turned out we had a 33-year-old hot water heater that was not only unfixable, it was also illegal (apparently standards have been drastically changed since it was installed, obviously). Replacing it was a huge expense we weren’t anticipating and it torpedoed our anniversary plans.
Fast-forward to this spring. Lately, I’ve been stressing about how expensive of a year it’s turning out to be. We have three weddings this year, ranging from Martha’s Vineyard to North Carolina to Pennsylvania. And then we owe a shitload of money to the IRS for taxes.
We were already trying to figure out how to budget for all these things when, one day, our air-conditioning suddenly stopped working. I quickly put out the call on Facebook for a recommendation for a trustworthy air-conditioning service company. Trustworthy being the key word.
Thankfully, my friend Katy had a suggestion — Blair Air Conditioning.
I called them on a Friday afternoon (as the temperature in our house quickly climbed to 85) and they said they could come out the next day — for no additional weekend charge.
So we crossed our fingers that it would be a simple (cough, cheap, cough) fix.
Not only did they come on a Saturday, they were here by 8 a.m. After closely examining our unit (TWHS), we found the reason it wasn’t working — the A/C unit was leaking. The guy showed us an oil-like substance all over it. He said, “Well, let’s just hope that it’s not in one of the coils.” Famous last words.
It turns out our unit was, like our hot-water heater, a relic. I prefer to think of them as vintage. Repairmen don’t quite see them that way.
Yup, this beauty has seen her fair share of Florida summers. Twenty-five of them to be precise.
Oh, and that leak? Well, I’m sure you can guess where it was. In one of the coils. The cost of repairs would nearly equal a new unit.
Hooray! Another major investment in our home!
We had a painful conversation with the guys, but they helped us work through all our options. Air-conditioning is a complicated thing. We had to decide how efficient we wanted the unit to be (and as you can guess, the more efficient, the more expensive it is up front), whether we wanted to swap out our current, outdated heating system for an energy-efficient one (again, read, more upfront money) and whether we wanted to wait later in the year for certain tax credits for new A/C units. But the temperatures were quickly rising so that prospect made us nervous.
By Monday, Blair had provided us with extensive research on our options, including which units would be eligible for certain refunds through our power company, OUC.
By Wednesday, a full team was at our house by 7:30 a.m., ripping out the old …
… and just a few short hours later, installing the new:
Ain’t she pretty? Throw me a bone here. Instead of a pretty new front door and windows I’d already picked out, this is all I’m getting this year. So dammit, I’m going to call it pretty.
By the time they were done, they’d replaced our unit, moved it over several feet to the right to give us room to eventually expand our deck (yeah right. No time soon), replaced our current heating system with a heat pump, and repaired all of our duct work. They not only always were here when they said they’d be here, they were usually early. And even when the duct work took longer than anticipated, they didn’t change our quoted rate.
So, even though this was an unexpected, painful surprise, we thankfully found a good partner to help us navigate the process. Even the inspection with the city was not only on time, but quick and painless! They also sent us completed paperwork for our OUC rebates — all we had to do was fill in our OUC account number. Once that goes through, no power bills for at least a couple months (hopefully!) as we live off the rebates to our account.
Yes, we’re out a couple thousand dollars but at least it didn’t crap out in the summer. And I have high hopes for lower power bills. I mean we were running off a 25-year-old system. It HAS to get better, right?
And if you live in Central Florida and need heating or A/C repairs, you know who I’d recommend.
Just to be crystal clear, we received NO compensation or discounts in exchange for this post. Blair just helped make a painful process much more tolerable, and I was grateful to deal with such efficient, seemingly honest good guys. It seems there aren’t enough of them around anymore, so when you find some, I think they deserve some praise!
What’s been your most painful expense as a homeowner? This one hurt. As I said above, we’d already picked out a new door and new windows with a contractor. After this, we had to cancel those plans for at least another year. In my best Snooki voice … WAAAAAA. I know, I know, it could always be worse, and yes, we are incredibly lucky to even have a home during these tough times. But I wanted a new door that wasn’t basically see-through because it’s so old! </rant>