Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Fixer-Upper Puts Pressure on First-Time Homeowners

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: After months of searching, my partner and I finally bought a house. It was like an episode from HGTV. The only places we could afford in our very overpriced market were all fixer-uppers. It took a lot to convince me we could take this project on. We’re both kind of workaholics, so finding time to work on home improvements is hard, but so is finding money to pay someone to come in to do the work since we pretty much put all our savings into the purchase price.

Parts of the house are really a mess and lately we’ve been getting into fights over what needs to be done first and how we’re going to afford the time or money to get it done.

Any suggestions on how we can keep from destroying our relationship over our new old house? --- IN OVER OUR HEADS

DEAR IN OVER: To preserve harmony, and maybe even have a little fun while you start saving up for the big-ticket items, spend a little money and effort on the easy to tackle cosmetic concerns, like painting and accessorizing public rooms where you entertain and probably spend most of your time.

The rest of the place may still be ragged, but at least you’ll have a sense of moving forward and taking the first steps in making the place your own.

However, don’t delay too long in getting on top of any structural issues that can only get worse with wear. If you had a home inspection before you bought the place, prioritize the deficiencies found by the inspector. Simple, relatively inexpensive fixes like replacing leaky old plumbing fixtures and re-caulking tubs can be big money-savers in the long run. They also may provide opportunities to sneak in a few more updates to your taste.

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