The Art of Fencing and Other Home Improvements

broken fenceAbout a year ago, I decided if the falling down crummy looking little bungalow on the next street got over $600K, I would sell my house. Well, it did, and I didn’t.

The picture I had in my mind of what I needed to do and how long it would take to get my house ready for sale, was fantastical. Which, suprised even me. After all, I am a real estate agent and I should know, from watching my clients readying their homes for sale, what it takes to get a house ready for the day that ‘For Sale’ sign gets hammered into the ground.


I do remember the first thing I did was run off to Canadian Tire to buy some plastic storage units and bubble wrap, and hired a painter and someone to refinish the wood flooring.  That much I accomplished. The fresh coat of paint looks great, the floor is fantastic, but the plastic storage units are still empty, and the bubble wrap is still in its own….bubble wrap.

I can’t remember what stopped me. I think it was life. I had no idea that selling my OWN house was something that I hadn’t really committed to. The idea was great, buying the storage units and cleaning supplies was fun, but the ACTUAL work and organization around it is something completely other worldly.

So, here we are, a year down the track and well, no, I haven’t sold. The crummy little bungalow on the next street not only sold last year, but was re-listed this year for $150K more and sold in a week. THIS time I thought, okay, I’m selling.

So, I was somewhat ahead over my original schedule. The painting and the refinishing were done.  Now it was time to get rid of the carpet and thereafter, the couch.  I called my handyman and had him rip up the awful hunter green and stained carpet that had become a light green and white fuzz with beige blotches. It looked like trodden down old shag. This is not from some strange bacteria, but from two large, constantly shedding, white labrador retrievers who relax and lounge on the carpet.  Daily. And who at one time or another had been sick on it or had the odd ‘accident’.  Of course I had cleaned it and vacuumed it weekly if not every-other-daily, but alas, nothing can revive a 10 year old dogged carpet.  I had picked out a beautiful antique bamboo floor some months earlier but when push came to shove I settled for something less exotic and less expensive. It looks good.  Not amazing, like in my fantasy, but good.  Prior to this,   I had called over 5  contractors to quote me on a new fence. The old one was hard to let go of, even though it did look like the Bates Motel. It was falling down, pickets were missing, the crazy Greek columns looked like ruins and the retaining wall was sinking – outward – and the cute little bobbles on top of the pickets were, well, just so cute; the ones that were left anyway! Nevertheless, it was time. So after 5 contractors came – and went, without nary a quote, I threw in the towel.  For a while.  I got a second wind more recently when the ‘For Sale’ bug hit me and called another 3 contactors – all of who reported back – much to my surprise,  and gave the following quotes: $14,500 (that didn’t include HST!), $6500, and the winner – in at $4500. A bargain by the first contractor’s standards, but not a bargain at all. Who knew a fence with a retaining wall would be so $$? Not me.

And so it goes. Getting a house ready for sale is …. expensive. As I write, my fence is in the throes up going up and looks fantastic, and I am not feeling so eager to sell now.  I thought I might enjoy the fruits of their labour and my money for a little while.  I have a new floor, an almost finished fence, a painted house (okay, well that’s a year old now) and refinished oak floors. Now, about that new couch and area rug.

In a fit of uncharacteristic fervour, I set out to Leon’s Warehouse and in less than 40 seconds my Mastercard was $900 in the red. I had chosen a 3 seater red sofa, an area rug to match and Magiseal fabric treatment – guaranteed to ward off any dog dangers, stains, etc.,  on the newly acquired ‘stuff’.  They even threw in 2 leather ottomans and 2 throw pillows.  I was pleased with my expediency in this decision, which was a rarity. Delivery was 4 days away.  With the assistance of my neighbour we dumped the old couch out last week in time for garbage day and for 4 days my living room was an old throw pillow and the dog beds.  Finally, the couch and rug came.  But it was all WRONG!  What was I thinking?!! I had never even stepped foot into a Leon’s before.  I always bought my furniture and quirky home decor from garage sales, content sales or old country stores.  My friend Tony dropped by that afternoon and before I could ask him what he thought of the new living room, he  asked me if I was setting up a lawyer’s waiting room. I laughed and laughed….until I cried. I was partly thinking the same thing.  We decided to take the legs off the couch to make it more ‘homey’. With the legs on both of us realized our feet didn’t touch the ground.  It was hilarious. But at the same time, not.  I had to settle for a legless couch, until I didn’t.

When I looked at the Leon’s bill and saw ‘Sales Final’ I wimpered.  I suddenly couldn’t stand the new couch or rug – or ottomans and pillows. I had no choice but to get on  craigslist and Kijiji and surrender them to the highest bidder. Which did come – for the couch. At less than half the purchased price.  I gave the rug to a friend whose birthday is around the corner. Happy Birthday Stacey! And I put the ottomans outside yesterday with ‘FREE’ stickers on them. Needless to say, they are gone to a more loving home.  I had owned these items for 6 hours.  I am $900 poorer, and am back to living on the throw pillow and dog beds.

Live and learn. That’s the moral of this story. Or is ‘Haste makes Waste’? or… ‘Slow and Steady wins the Race’?  Any way you look at it, I lost real money and real time because of an unreal fantasy.

But one day, when I least expect it, my house will be just as I want it. That’ll probably be the day the ‘For Sale’ sign goes up.  Sigh.

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