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In a few short weeks, I will have lived in my first home a full year. In some ways it’s hard to believe — in other ways — I can believe it.

The home that I bought is located at the northern end of Wooster, Ohio. It’s a red brick ranch built in 1964. So it’s not new, but certainly there are houses much older.

I bought the place in June of 2010 but I didn’t start staying here until the last week of July. When I bought it, the carpet in the living room and hallway had been removed, exposing a bare hardwood with a few water stains (see above).

The wood floors in the bedrooms were dull and in need of a clear coat, and the walls were a light shade of pink.

But the worst was in the basement where some broken drainage lines were causing water to run off my roof and seep through the concrete block and damage the wood paneling. I called the specialists from Flo-Well Drainage and Plumbing and they fixed everything quite fast.

The place was not a junker, not even close, but it did have its issues.

Saw hope

I bought it because it was well built. The day that I walked through the front door I saw opportunity.

The hardwood floors were solid even though I had to sand and refinish them, and apply some wood bleach to remove stains. The woodwork on the windows and baseboard was a decent-looking maple — not as nice as oak, but in good condition.

The floor joists were solid and the roof had recently been re-shingled. The plumbing and electrical wiring were good, and most of the windows had been replaced.

Still, it has been and continues to be a major undertaking.

Almost every evening and weekend the summer of 2010, I was painting, filling nail holes, bleaching walls or sanding.

Big difference

In August, my brother, who works for a pipe company, brought a small backhoe to lay new drainage pipe. He installed four new lines from all four corners of my house. It was the biggest improvement I’ve made and took care of my rainwater drainage issues.

A year ago, the only seat I had in my living room was a five-gallon bucket and when I was tired from working, it actually felt good to sit on.

A few weeks later, my grandmother gave me a rocking chair that had a broken glider. It was a comfortable chair, even though it no longer rocked.

Not long after, I set up a card table and a couple chairs in the dining room. I mostly used it as a project table and for the first 10 months, it was covered with paint samples and owners manuals for appliances, more so than any food or meal.

Like a home

Today, I can sit in my living room on one of two couches — one I bought and another given to me. And I can rest my feet on soft, new carpet, or walk across shiny wood floors. I can reach beside me to turn on a light — and it’s a real lamp — not a big construction light that nearly blinds you when it’s on.

My dining room table has been replaced with a real dinner table — one that extends for additional guests and has four spoked chairs all the same color. My walls are a decent looking cream and my ceiling is bright white.

My bed is in the bedroom, along with my dresser and endtable. My bookcases are against the walls where they belong.

The place actually looks like it should, and for the first time in a long while I feel like I can relax — maybe.

Work goes on

There are at least a half dozen improvements I still want to tackle. My entry doors need painted, the basement needs some new paneling, I have a wood furnace to install and there are some bare spots in the yard I’m working to re-grow.

It often seems like each new project leads to three more. The moral — I guess — is that it never ends — and neither does the cleaning, maintenance and upkeep.

People will tell you that buying a home is better than renting, because your money is going toward owning something. But honestly, it sometimes feels like the house owns me.

I’m not complaining. Just stating some of the realities of the first 12 months.

I’m glad to have my own place and it’s progressing nicely.

But I’ll also be glad to get a few more things finished, so I can sit back and relax — perhaps.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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