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Retiring the 2012 New Home Wish List

In April 2012, I posted about our wish list for the new home that we were moving into by the end of that year.  I stated that we would only buy something on the list if “it has been on there for at least 6 months and we already have the cash on hand in our Wish List ING Savings account to buy it.  The only exception will be if we see the item on a sale so good that it is literally 50% or less of its normal cost and perfect for our house.”

The 2012 New Home Wish List

Well, we never actually created a wish list account, so that became moot.  But we did take our time to jump on some solid deals.

Refrigerator.  We found our refrigerator in September 2012, a month before we moved in.  I kept cringing at $1500-$2000 price tags, but a Sear’s mega-sale popped up along with a $50 coupon.  We ended up paying about $1050 for a giant, stainless steel Whirlpool.  I love it’s water filter, but it’s ice cube making system was a little annoying throughout 2013.  It’s been fine for the last year though and its two repairs were covered by Sears and Whirlpool respectively.

Covered Patio. We were going to have one built after-the-fact but we decided to have it added on during the build itself for $4750.  That means it ended up in our mortgage, but it also matches our house perfectly, is brick and professionally roofed, and it was poured along with our foundation to be seamless.  We probably overpaid by about $1000-$1500 from having it built after-the-fact, but it’s too late to worry about it much now.  :-)

Built-ins for the Library, Media Room, and Master Walk-in Closet.  We ended up getting library shelves and built-in DVD shelves for a steal from the builder.  $1150 covered it all – the wood itself was about $1000 when we priced it out.  We had them build everything…


We couldn’t have built this cheaper ourselves…

Media Room Shelves

These look fantastic and I hugged the dude who made them…he was covered in saw dust and I am an asthmatic, but he totally got Crystal pounced anyway. :-)


Washer and Dryer. Found a brand new energy-efficient washer and matching dryer right before we moved in for $1000 total at the same Sears sale.  They are holding up well although I do miss our old set once in a while.  The new machines are too smart for their own good.

Projector and Screen. We ended up buying a whole projector system and screen off of Amazon in early 2013 for $1650.  That included the projector, screen, surround sound, blu-ray player, and receiver.  Had to replace the $40 bulb about 9 months later, but it is all going strong.  We’ll use the whole system until it stops working outright.

Seating for the Media Room.  We just sealed the deal on this.  We are now proud owners of a 3-piece recliner set with cup holders and a separate recliner for $1235.

Recliners for Media Room

Here’s our new media room set.

New Couches.  We have 20+ year-old dark green leather couches right now that were hand-me-downs from my parents.  We have decided to put off replacing them since they are still comfortable and that works for us.  Thanks, mom!

Rugs and Linens for the Extra Bathrooms.  I’ve spent $100 on new towels, linens, and bathroom rugs in the last 3 years.  That works.

Seating for the Library.  We found a scratch-and-dent chaise lounge for $200 – works great and is super comfortable.  Many people accidentally fall asleep on the chaise lounge…that is a great library chair, hahaha.

Chess Table for Library.  We have put this off indefinitely.  We did end up with a $180 HUGE ottoman that has built-in seats and storage though.

Dining Room Set.  My in-laws swapped around dining room furniture, and we now have a great set.  Nice table, china hutch (now liquor cabinet), and a side buffet table.  Looks great and was free.  That’s a win!

Dining Room

Thanks to family (and their swapping of furniture), we have this room pretty much finished off, yay! The white cabinet in the back corner is actually our roommate’s pantry, lol. So it’s a temporary piece. ;-)

That’s a Lot of Money on Stuff

When I look at those totals, I see about $2100 in appliances, $6000 in home upgrades like a patio and built-ins, $1500 on furniture, and $1650 on entertainment electronics.  That’s $11,250 over 3 years.  We can afford that, we like what we bought, and we use it all regularly.  But let’s not fool ourselves, we spend money on wants – not just needs.  Stuff doesn’t make up a good life.  It just adds to personal comfort.  That’s not a bad thing, but we do watch ourselves to make sure that a pursuit of things isn’t actually driving our general lives.  The butts that go into our chairs are attached the people that matter.

I’m done with that wish list now.  I’m sure we will want new things yet again, but it’s time for using what we have and thinking about the extras later.

Have you ever had a wish list like this?  How is it/did it go for you?

Another Leak, Feels Fixed!

We had a leak in our ceiling in October 2014 that we thought was tracked down and fixed.  It may have been, but then a second leak popped up in our ceiling in early December…2 years and 2 months after we moved into our home.  Pipes are only covered for 2 years.  You can see why I was freaking out a little, right?

New Leak

The leak in October was fixed and seemed to be fine for about 2 months.

Ceiling Patch

This is what the patch in our living room ceiling looked like after the repair in October 2014.

Then we saw a small wet spot start up again in mid-December 2014.

New Leak

Saw this wet spot and just sighed…


When they opened that spot, we saw the water dripping down from the supply lines to one of the upstairs bathrooms.

A new hole popped up and then we could see the water on the pipes.  That doesn't make the actual source easy to find though.

A new hole popped up and then we could see the water on the pipes. That doesn’t make the actual source easy to find though.

I texted and emailed our home builder.  Then it was just a matter of sending emailed updates until the matter was fully handled.

How It Was Handled

  • The home builder sent a plumber to confirm the leak existed and to look for it.  My home then had two small holes in the dry wall.  The source wasn’t located.
  • Less than a week later, the same plumber and his supervisor came out, searched for the leak, and even removed the guest toilet to see if that was the problem.  Plumber #1 accidentally busted the toilet when he reinstalled it.  They couldn’t find the leak.
  • The next day, they replaced my toilet with a better, elongated one.
  • I email updated the home builder on December 18, 2014 to ask about the next plan.
  • Christmas rolled around and we heard nothing for 2 weeks.
  • On January 7, 2015, three plumbers and my home builder came back and spent 2 hours narrowing down and finally locating the problem – the supply line to that upstairs toilet.  My house now had 4 holes in it, but we were on track.
  • The leak was repaired the next day (January 8).
  • We were asked to keep an eye on the hole, ceiling, and new pipes for a week while the excess moisture evaporated.
  • Last Wednesday (January 14), the holes were patched and textured.
  • Last Friday (January 16), the walls were re-painted.
  • As of yesterday, everything is dry and looks new again.  Even the October patch was re-textured properly.  The water damage marks in the bedroom were painted too.
The paint is now completely dry and everything looks great!

The paint is now completely dry and everything looks great!

It’s taken about a month, but my house better again.  Same walls, texture, and paint.  We are sleeping better knowing there isn’t any more water in our walls or holes in our ceiling.  We liked seeing that the new pipe is way hardier than the old one.  When everything was said and done, I am a satisfied customer of Travis Homes.  They did end up paying for everything.  Fingers crossed that this is the end of our leak saga for a nice long time!

A New Leak in Our Walls…

I mentioned it in passing, but we have another leak in the house.  Our handyman cut out a small hole and we can see that the sub floor above our living room/master bedroom wall is wet.  There is also some mildew to remove and the leak itself to repair.  Overall, bleck.  I’m trying to get the home builder to respond as soon as possible, but overall, I’m not extremely worried yet.  No matter what, our handyman can fix everything.  Hopefully by the new year, we’ll be leak-free.  I’ll keep you all updated!

New Ceiling Leak

It obviously sucks, but I know it can be fixed. I’m trying not to stress too much.

My Home Feels Like Home Again

How It Started

In mid-October, I wrote about a really bad week.  I had come home from pet sitting at 5:30am and our bed was soaked from water that came in through our ceiling fan.  A day later, a crack opened up in the ceiling of our living room.  A day after that, our oven’s top heating element literally exploded in a burst of fireworks and flames.  A couple of days after that, my husband received a red light camera citation.  It was simply a crappy week.

Last Update

A few days after I told you about all of those problems, I wrote an update for you.

  • We paid the $79 ticket without any problems.  You can read that update post to see why I was laughing hysterically as I electronically sent them money.
  • Our roof was inspected by the builder’s chosen roofing company, and they blamed wind-driven rain.  So I was scheduling a guy to fix everything.
  • An AWFUL oven technician came out on behalf of GE Appliances and ticked me off badly.  GE decided to send me the part for free and schedule an appointment for a different technician to come out and install it for me after a couple of sincere and polite, though not perky, phone calls.

Handling the Issues

I ended up scheduling an all-in-one handyman for the roof and ceiling issues that I knew about thanks to a friend.  He came over, took a quick look around, and quoted $400 to elongate the vent hood to decrease the risk of wind-driven rain in the future and to patch the crack in the ceiling.

A few days later, he arrived as planned…and found a crack in the vent base on the roof in less than 5 minutes.

It wasn’t wind-driven rain damage!  It was a crack caused by scoring the vent base when they cut a shingle to fit!  The crack must have opened up during the storm and that’s where all of the water came from.  Mystery solved.

It did mean that he spent longer on the roof since he sealed the crack and the shingle very well.  He also elongated the vent hood just in case.  While he was handling that, I was sending videos and pictures to my home builder and requesting them to reimburse me for every dime…

Cut Shingle

That is what a shingle looks like that was cut down the middle to fit in front of the vent hood…

Crack in the Vent Hood / Vent Base

And that is the crack in the vent base that let all the water into my ceiling…

Once he was done outside, he also finished patching up my ceiling inside.

Ceiling Damage

This is what the ceiling crack had turned into within 3 days.

Fixed Ceiling

Goodbye crack!

His final bill came to $490 on Monday, October 20, 2014. I paid it, of course.  Then I texted a picture of that invoice to my home builder and crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t fight me too hard on the claim.

With the oven, they forgot to send me the element.  But I expected that, and called the Tuesday it was supposed to arrive to check on it since my service appointment was set for Thursday. They overnighted me the part.  :-)  The technician arrived Thursday as planned. He had it fixed in less than 15 minutes. He also showed me how to do it if it ever happened again, showed me how to replace the burnt out light bulb without unscrewing anything, and walked me through taking off the front oven door to be able to reach into it easier.  Woot!

Oven with Obvious Gap

This was our broken oven…


Working Oven

Now our oven works again!

Life is Good Again

I’m happy to report that home feels like home again.  :-)  The oven was fixed for free.  The roof and ceiling damage was reimbursed completely by my home builder on Halloween.  The stray dog was officially adopted.  And the red-light citation was handled.  My house feels less broken.  Now to just finish cleaning up all of the Halloween decorations and random party stuff.  :-D

How are you doing right now?  Get some stuff off of your to-do list? 

Do You Attend Your HOA Meetings?

I haven’t mentioned my home owner’s association (HOA) for a while.  Nothing much has happened on that front for about a year, but it’s time for our annual meeting again.

My HOA Experiences

For anybody just joining BFS, my husband and I built our home in a neighborhood with an HOA.  Let’s just say that the relationship didn’t get off on the right foot…or ever even find the right foot.

We started receiving violation letters about 4 months after moving in.  Some letters were about parking in the street, which we stopped doing.  A few were about maintenance stuff like our yard or small oil stains, which we also handled.  One set was about having our friends living with us, which we all agreed to ignore.  A couple weren’t actually for us at all.

One was for the wrong home (we weren’t building the patio in question).  Another was in reference to having large groups of people over that park in the street too often.  I explained that we generally only have 1 potluck a month, but other people on our street use the utility easement curb to park too.  So we were being reported even on the days we had no visitors at all (like when our neighbors had graduation parties or crawfish boils, which were awesome, but not our get togethers, lol).

All in all, I wasn’t happy, I wrote about it, that just pissed off the angry people more, and it turned vicious for a few months.  It all eventually led to at least one guy going door-to-door while I was out of town to ensure that I wasn’t elected to the HOA board last year.  That same guy started questioning me personally at the actual election meeting, which I held up to well in the meeting itself, but I had a small emotional breakdown for a couple of days afterwards.  A few of my neighbors came by later to show their support, and that helped.  By the end of October 2013, I just decided to drop the whole subject and that has seemed to work.

HOA Meeting Today

I had been skipping the bimonthly HOA meetings, but our annual, large HOA meeting is this evening.  They are discussing the new homes being added onto the back of our neighborhood, the annual finances, and hopefully we won’t be seeing a dues increase.  Despite my general unwelcomed feelings around the HOA board, I’m probably attending since an update on any of those subjects sounds interesting to me.  I also think at least 2-3 of the board members are generally ambivalent towards me, which is nearly as good as being liked.  ;-)

I just wonder if I’ll see many others there.  Even though we pay about $720 a year in dues, most families who live here don’t have the time or energy to get involved, and they leave the big decisions to the board and those of us who vote.  I completely understand since life is crazy off and on for everybody.  I’m just hoping a bunch of my neighbors can make it.  The board makes money decisions all of the time for us, and this is one of the few chances for us to be truly involved.

That said, do you attend your big, annual HOA meeting?

When It Rains, It Pours…and Your Roof Leaks…and Your Oven Explodes…

Okay, so I will admit it.  I was feeling amazing until last week and all hell broke loose.  I was pet sitting overnight 6 out of 7 days and started getting exhausted.  Then our area of town started getting rain storms from incoming cool fronts.  Then my bed got soaked…it pretty much went downhill from there.

Water Problem

I came to bed at 5:30am last Thursday morning after a particularly rough pet sitting night.  I slid into the sheets, and then my feet were cold and wet.  What?!  I got up, moved my cover, and found out pretty quickly that the entire bottom corner of my side of the bed was SOAKED.

I woke up Mr. BFS and all we could conclude was that water had come through the fan at one point.  The next day, we saw the warped fan blade to confirm.  Mr. BFS went onto the roof, but he couldn’t see anything obvious.  I called our home builder and set up an appointment with a roofing company.

Then a crack appeared in the living room, and grew into a wound on my ceiling.  We still have to wait out the rest of the 5 days for the roofing company since the erratic rain keeps them off roofs.  I’m expecting them later today.

Living Room Ceiling

This gash is what popped up on Friday. Now it’s just wider but doesn’t seem to be getting worse…


If they find a problem with a seal or the roof or anything like that, then our home builder will pay them and others to fix everything.  If they decide the water came in some freak way because of the weird storms, our home builder won’t pay for anything.  Great.  You know how fun it has been to wait from Thursday morning through today to find out if I’m going to be out ALOT of money?  Yeah, not fun at all.

Oven Problem

But, as if that weren’t enough for right now, our oven decided to burn out in a spectacular, almost fireworks kind of way on Saturday night.  The heating element literally burned itself out and caused the inside of the oven to belch and burst into flame.  Luckily, everyone in the house knows to turn crap off quickly and breaker flipped.  But the heating element is missing a section now.

My home builder helped me make an appointment with GE for Wednesday.  Yet again, if it’s the product’s fault, they’ll fix it.  But if it’s caused by “something else”, they won’t.  What else could be at fault for a heating element exploding?!


See that missing section of metal? That shouldn’t look like that…

Mr. BFS is waiting for the 3rd thing to pop up.  I think our third thing is handling Toby, the stray Shih Tsu that I’m fostering, and getting him adopted.  That actually may also happen late this week since he does have interested families waiting to meet him.  Woot!  Fingers crossed!

So yeah, rain can suck.  But at least we handle problems better now than we did 5 years ago.  Heck, we handle them better now than we did 1-2 years ago.  Yay for maturity!  :-)

How has your home been feeling lately?  I think mine is sick…

We’re Preapproved for Yet Another Home Loan

I’m taking advantage of some great advice from Joe Taxpayer at Fincon14.  My husband and I are interested in buying another rental property.  Joe pointed out that financing would probably work better for us than trying to pay in cash in a couple of years.  He also suggested using the fact that we aren’t in a rush to our advantage.

Loan Preapproval

Seeing that we will need another mortgage, we figured that we should get preapproved for a loan before we start the hunt.  We didn’t know about options like the Homestart low deposit home loans, so we approached a brick and mortar bank in our area.  I applied for a $125,000 or less loan, gave all of the info they asked for, and we were preapproved within 24 hours for a $100,000 mortgage or less at 5.375% interest for 30 years.  That’s about a $500 a month mortgage.

Property taxes and home insurance will bring that up to about $850 a month in the areas we are looking at.  We can afford to cover that $850 whether or not the home is immediately occupied, but it is a good market to find a renter right now.  :-)

Loan Meme

Saw this over at

Type of Property

I mentioned it before, but we are looking at newer (built in 2005-2014), single family homes with 3 bedroom and 2.5 baths that are around 2000 square feet.  The two areas I am favoring run about $90,000-$110,000 for homes like that and rent out for $1200-$1300 a month.  That means with the $850 cost per month for the home itself, we can put $350-$450 aside each month to fund its own long-term emergency fund and to hopefully invest into yet another property.  If we can build up to 5 properties, we’d be set in retirement after we are about 55 years old.  If we can get 10 properties, we should be able to retire whenever that happens…maybe by age 45 or so?

Offer Low, Offer Often

Following Joe’s advice, we can look at all of the homes that fit our criteria and make offers that are 20-30% lower than the asking price.  Even if only 1 in 10 accept, we have a good rental property for even less than we were expecting.  That could lead to even more rental properties sooner than expected.

We have a plan now.  We’re following our own advice and waiting until January 2015 to see where we stand before we truly start the search.  I want us to have $30,000 in the bank aimed at just this rental home since it will cost somewhere between $18,000-$22,000 for the 20% down payment.  Then we have closing costs and minor renovations.  We’ll have an emergency fund to use if anything major pops up, but there is a reason that we are only looking at young properties.

How has your income diversification been rolling along?  Are you interested in rental properties too?