Dr. Helen

Why Home Ownership Sucks


With all the negative news on TV, the internet and everywhere else concerning the weather, the economy, ISIS, etc., I decided it was time to read something funny and picked up Dave Barry’s new book Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry. Well, parts of it were very funny, but of course I was drawn to the negative chapter on home ownership titled “Everything I Know about Home Ownership I Learned from Johnny Carson.”


Now that our house is ten years old, I can relate to all the problems that Barry discusses in this chapter. He says there are basically two kinds of houses: “New Houses, which are crap, because they don’t build them the way they used to anymore” and “Old Houses, which used to be good, because they were built back when they built them the way they used to, but which today, as a result of being old, are crap.”

So this means that either way, one has to deal with broken things and this is the theme of his chapter on housing. One of the things no one talks about much when pushing home ownership is how much time and money goes into fixing these broken things just to keep your house functional. I am starting to really understand why older people just let their houses go; it’s a full-time job making sure your house doesn’t fall in around you with the broken pipes, busted lights, and appliances that need to be maintained.

This leaves homeowners like Barry dealing with “Truck Guys” who think he is a pervert wasting his time looking at the internet all day when he is actually an English major making a living as a professional writer. And Barry really believes that Home Depot commercials should be required just like drug commercials to have a disclaimer: “At the end, when they’re showing the happy couple in their new do-it-yourself kitchen, an announcer would say: ‘These people are actors. They are not capable of operating an espresso machine, let alone building this kitchen. This was done by contractors with trucks.'”


I am glad to know this, as I spend a lot of time feeling inadequate that I can’t fix much of what is wrong with our house and am constantly asking a man with a truck to explain stuff to me. It doesn’t seem to make it any easier though to do it myself. I am still glowing about putting in light bulbs in high-ceiling fixtures with this bulb-changing kit we got from Amazon and anything beyond that is tough.

Given all the headaches with homeownership, I wonder why any of us own homes at all. If you do your own handiwork, please give me a few tips. I could use some.

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