Thursday, November 06, 2014

Home is Where the Hearth is 

Why can't I have nice things?

Recently, I rushed into a sizeable purchase with terrible consequences; I bought a house. Worse, of my main reasons for buying it were in this order a) the location - downtown, close to everything including work, b) it had a parking space, c) it had a backyard, albeit a small one, d) it had a real live working fireplace. Sure there were some downsides like electric heat, but I saw an opportunity to convert to natural gas (a neighbour had a clearly visible gas meter). Yet somehow all the pluses have gone sour. The location is downtown, maybe “too” downtown. For me to get to work, I have to cross through the most congested and busy part of the city. Despite being relatively close to work, it’s a harried and stressful bike ride. The parking space is there, but I never use it because I don’t own a car. I have not used the backyard and the fence, the deck and the shed all need to be replaced.

Here’s the kicker: I discovered today that the house does not have a working fireplace. Sure I could use it but a recently built condo building is too close to the stack thus disrupting air draw causing smoke to back fill into the house. To make matters worse, it’s what is called a factory built fireplace, essentially a small firebox, more akin to a wood stove with no front door. Basically, it’s really just a hole in my house to let a draught in. This means I cannot have a wood stove insert. Additionally, I can’t get natural gas to the house without incredible expense. Yes my neighbour has access to a gas line but I would require easements across two properties to get the line. The gas company has told me it would take six months just to get an estimate.

I do, however, have a plan. First find out the cost of making the fire place work (think: scaffolding to roof, extending stack 20 feet, tearing out the fire place and replacing it with a free-standing wood stove and so on and so on), then find out the cost of a new fence, paving (possible drainage issues) and a shed for the back yard, then find out the cost of updating the upstairs bathroom – new toilet, floor tile, re-tile the shower, replacing the vanity and possibly the tub. Then compare those costs and ask myself what would give me the greatest pleasure and use. Hands down my list would be in this order:
  • 1. Back yard
  • 2. Add A/C
  • 3. Bathroom redux
  • 4. Fireplace - wood stove
And that’s just the way it will be. Sometimes you just have to say these things out loud to know what to do.

Crisis delayed. Decision made.



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