When It All Goes Wrong – Weathering the Expense Storm

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Weathering the Expense storm

I’ll be sharing more detail on my blog later down the road, but let me tell you friends, I’m having one hell of a time over here. My wife and I purchased a house in June of last year. So, we have been in there for eight months. We knew what we were buying, or so we thought.

We did what everyone tells you to do. Get an inspection, take your time, and make sure the house is up to par. Although we did that, I can see now that my inspector sucked. He spent nearly five hours at the house. I was there for three of them.

I was there at the inspection because I like to learn new things. I like to know what’s going on and what inspectors look for. On top of that, I wanted to look over things with my own eyes. I trust people, but not further than I can throw them.

How It’s Going Wrong


Let  me preface this by saying, if you don’t know how to properly fix something, please don’t do it. The previous homeowners have done a lot of things on their own and it’s now clear to me that they had no idea what they were doing.

I’m talking about issues with flooring, wiring, and just stupid band-aid fixes. As someone who weighs the idea of fixing it himself or hiring someone, I based my decision on whether or not I know how to actually complete the project the right way. Apparently, the other homeowners didn’t understand this concept.



Once we moved into our house, I realized it was costing us a pretty penny to heat/cool the house. What struck me as odd is this house is smaller than our other one. Yes, it’s older, but smaller. I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on and why there was so much energy being wasted. Over the last few months, I have been working hard on sealing up drafts, caulking windows, and trying to locate our energy loss.

This past weekend was the culmination of it all. After finishing up some caulking, I decided to go over the the HVAC system and run a little test. In the first five minutes of running my test, I found five nickel size holes in the HVAC system. They were where the duct work came together, but there was no attempt to seal it.

That was causing a lot of air loss just shooting into our unfinished basement. It wasn’t even heating our living space. Thankfully, this was an easy problem to fix. It took me 10 minutes to seal up all the holes at a cost of about $7 for the roll of tape. I call that a win!

The bad news is that the inspector apparently missed five returns that weren’t actually connected to the main HVAC trunk. While these returns where in the basement, they were not even done correctly. They literally laid the duct work on top of other ducts and that was it.

When we finish the basement later this year, we have to pay someone to rerun most of the ducts. That’s a lot of money!

Electrical Issues


Most people I talk to don’t like messing with electrical work. I have no issues with it. Most of it is pretty simple, but the main thing to remember is to turn off the power at the circuit breaker before you do anything. There is nothing worse than having electricity shooting through your body because you didn’t want to flip a switch!

We’ve had our fair share of electrical issues with fans being hard wired into the wrong circuits, and some lights sitting on the main line with no circuit. Now, when it comes to rewiring stuff onto a new circuit, I leave that to the professionals. The other stuff I can deal with. I’ve wasted my time and money trying to fix electrical problems that the previous owners created by not caring when they added something. Some switches control nothing, some control four different areas of the house. It’s asinine and drives me nuts!

Plumbing Problems


I didn’t inspect the plumbing as I left before the inspector got to that area. Well, it appears he missed the lack of traps on plumbing, the wrong piping being used and many other things. I spent two days fixing plumbing in our guest bathroom just so I could install a new vanity. I could have had the project done in two hours, but it took so much time to fix stupid mistakes. Some of the things just don’t make sense!

What’s the Point?


The point of this post is to show you that no matter what hits you, you just need to move on and get through it. I haven’t given up on our house. Yes, it’s a certified money pit at this point.

Many of the issues were under the surface, where inspectors can’t get to, but the signs where there. We have spent way more than what we wanted to getting this house up to where we want it, but every time we start something, another issue arises. Soon, we will get through the list of issues, but it’s long!

Many of my nights are now spent fixing, upgrading, or just shaking my head in irritation. When life throws me a curve ball, I usually just choke up on the bat and swing away. I don’t just look at it and wonder what’s going to happen. I always try to hit that stupid ball.

This is my current curve ball. Luckily for me, I work very hard on earning extra income and can afford these issues. I also have a sizable emergency fund, just for this purpose! I knew we were going to buy a house, so two years before we started looking, I started shoveling money into my emergency fund. I’m glad I did.

My philosophy is not to give up when the stuff hits the fan. While it may send me into a tizzy here and there, I advise you to do what I do: unwind yourself, wipe yourself off, and get back on the ride. This experience has solidified my belief that budgeting and emergency funds are the cornerstones of personal finance.

Some people don’t think emergency funds are necessary, but they probably haven’t been in massive debt like myself and many others. They help you weather the expense storm when they arise. I wouldn’t leave my finances without one!


How do you keep yourself going on working toward your financial goals when things get tough? Have you ever lived in a money pit? When something breaks in your home, do you try to fix it yourself or hire it out?

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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  • Oh what a pain! I’m so sorry! We’ve had similar discoveries with our very old house–there are quite a few DIY fixes that just weren’t done right the first time. Mr. Frugalwoods has spent a considerable amount of time in the same fashion as you–ripping apart and redoing stuff that just was not done correctly.

    You’re spot on about emergency funds, they are beyond necessary when you buy a house! You just never know what’s going to crop up and there’s no landlord to call. Best of luck to you!

  • Ugh! I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope you get all of those issues squared away! A lot of people don’t take care of their homes at all- sometimes it’s hard to tell too!

  • I’m sorry to hear about all your house problems! Having an emergency fund is really important, that’s why, one of my goals is to have a solid emergency fund.

  • Awe Grayson I’m sorry about the money pit. Maybe watching that old movie with Tom Hanks will make you laugh. It was one of my favorites. 🙂 But I TOTALLY get it, just from a different point of view. Im still going through not earning enough income as a freelancer. What do I do? Keep going, because there is no other choice. I was just going to write a piece about the traits freelancers need to have to “make it.” Not even be “successful” but what you need to get through tough periods that can often drag on…meaning not just one acute occurrence. The big one? Grit! And a strong belief system that things are going to be great! 🙂

  • Ditto, ditto and ditto, Grayson. This is exactly the type of stuff we are dealing with in our house. Rick was just amazed how some inspectors can suck so terribly at their job. But like you said, you have to buck up and move on. If anything, it’s a learning experience for next time.

  • Rebecca says:

    We fix almost everything ourselves. Even when we are not sure about something we read and study and watch youtube until we feel like we can make a concerted effort. There have been a few things that we gave up on after getting into them and realizing that we needed a pro to help. We gave up on mudjacking our We tackled it because my dad had done the same thing to his porch and was successful. Once we got into the details of ours we realized that our porch was too big to do as a DIY. And yes our house is a builders-grade-lemonish-dwelling.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I do the same thing, but when it comes to some things, I will just pay someone to do it. This is the case when I don’t have the right tools to do the job. I won’t sacrifice quality and a job well done for savings.

  • Cat says:

    Oh man my husband would lose his mind at their stupidity. I can just hear the cursing all the way up here in Jersey!! Glad you’re getting it all fixed.

  • Michelle says:

    We were recently just replacing light bulbs in our basement when the fixture started smoking. In the end it turned out to be no big deal, but let me tell you that I was freaking out and thinking that our house was about to burn down. We ended up hiring someone to look at it and they said the fixture had just burned out and just needed to be replaced.

  • Sorry to hear about the issues you’ve been running into. As I’ve gone through upgrading and just getting used to our home, I’ve made some repairs and had to hire a few things out. I am willing to swap out fixtures, light switches, etc. but I leave some of the bigger things (i.e. new lights, fans, etc.) to the pros.

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your money pit. Did your inspector offer any sort of guarantee? The one we use has a period of time that he guarantees everything to be as reported or you get your inspection money back. I’ve never had to do it, so I don’t know all the rules, but it might be worth checking out. I’m sure you’ve spent way more than the inspection fee already though.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      My guarantee was 3 months, but that fee was so small compared to all the issues that it doesn’t even matter. I would spend more time schooling the inspector on the proper way to do his job. No need to belittle a moron.

  • Mrs. Maroon says:

    Unfortunately, it sounds like the storm you’re weathering is a $h!t storm. Sorry to hear about the struggles. But like they say, if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. Living in the ‘burbs in Texas and now Oklahoma, we’ve been able to live in newer homes, thus avoiding the pitfalls of older ones. Though that doesn’t solve all problems… After being in our brand new house in OK for three months, we discovered that power had never been run to the septic system!! The installer came out on a Sunday to look at it and fixed the problem immediately, but quite a surprise. That was one we were definitely not going to DIY. Plus it was on his dime, not ours. That instance as a true $h!t storm.

  • I tell clients when/if they plan to buy a home, they need to have the down payment, cash for taxes and fees and then at least $10,000 saved up for home repairs. No matter how great your home inspector is, it seems there is always something lurking behind the scenes. We felt like we bought the money pit with this home. Within a few months of moving in we needed to replace two toilets, install a new garage door opener and replace an oven.

  • I love me some DIY, but it’s not for everyone. Also, I can see why you’re very frustrated as you relied on an “expert” home inspector who doesn’t seem to know the difference from his a$$ and his elbow. Good luck on your fixes, youtube is a great reference, and I hope you learn lots along the way and don’t just look at it as a money pit.

  • Christine says:

    Yea…. I feel your frustration. We bought our current house on a power of sale from the bank. The previous owners knew they were losing the place and didn’t give a crap. The wiring was a fire hazard, other stuff made no sense at all… It was and still is what is politely called a handyman special. AKA a money pit. One thought, while you are looking at the ductwork, make sure there are no copper pipes near the ductwork….copper and galvanized metal is not a good combo. The galvanized reacts with the copper to cause pinpoint leaks in the copper pipes, been there and repaired that, more than once. Good luck

  • Our house is from the 60’s so I feel your pain. There’s always a new surprise, particularly around plumbing, electric, and insulation.

  • My house has many of these same problems and it’s a nightmare! The worst part is I know exactly who to blame because I know who built the house before I bought it (brand new). So frustrating!!

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