The many rewards of home improvement

Lately, the days whiz by faster than usual. Now that we have finally decided to put our house up for sale after months of agonizing reflection, we have been trying to squeeze various projects into every available minute of the day in order to get it ready for people to see. We have a guy putting new wood floors down in all four of our bedrooms. We’re putting in a couple of new doors. We’re working on the yard, trying to coax the grass in a couple of places. We’re painting the bathroom, and, much to my wife’s dismay, the kids’ bedroom.

“Now remind me, why do we want to paint the kids’ room?” Tammy says.

I remind her that not everyone may necessarily be as charmed by the room’s pink and blue motif as our daughter has been. Well, then. Down come the decals of Snow White and the Little Mermaid, and up goes the primer. Even the kids get in on the action, and by lunchtime, we’re all speckled and ready for a big lunch. On the way to the Chinese restaurant, I can see my daughter working out a question in her head, her face having assumed the familiar expression that precedes such questions.

“Daddy, do you think anyone will love our house as much as we do?” she asks. “It’s a great house, you know.”

She’s right. It is a great house. We can walk to the library, which we often do. We can walk to Main Street, which is something we do several times a week in the summer, and as often as possible in the fall when the towering trees along Haywood Street bust out their autumn colors. As the weather warms, festivals pop up around us like dandelions. We live in a quaint, quiet neighborhood reminiscent of a Spielberg suburb, with kids riding up and down the street on skateboards or scooters, and dog owners walking their pets in the early morning sun. In our fenced back lot, our beagle, Walter, gives them what for as they approach and then pass by, waving at us on the deck sipping our coffee before work.

“I know it is, sweetie,” I say, searching for the slightest trace of melancholy in her voice. “I hope that whoever buys it will love it as much as we have.”

We hadn’t really planned on selling, or even thought about selling. But early last fall, we were approached by a realtor who had a client she said was interested in our home. Initially, we rejected her approach out of hand, but as we began discussing it and looking to the future, we considered possible advantages in moving, in buying a home together, in possibly moving out a bit to the country. We made an appointment to look at her other houses, and suddenly the idea of selling gained some momentum. We even took the kids along a couple of times, and discovered that they were actually excited about the prospect of an “adventure.”

Just as the idea of selling seemed to be close to a reality, the potential buyer backed out, opting instead to buy a bunch of foreclosed homes in Detroit. Since our home had never actually been “for sale,” the entire enterprise fell like the proverbial house of cards, and Tammy took it for a sign. She had been a little put out that we have, year by year, committed to a variety of home improvements expressly with the idea of staying put, only to turn around and sell the house after all that trouble and expense.

“We have a brand new roof, new plumbing, new windows, new siding, a new deck,” she would say. “Why would we want to sell it after all that? Where are we going to find another house that has what we have, where we can get to the school, church, or the grocery store in less than five minutes? We even have a good view!”

I told her that the work we were doing would either make the home more attractive to a potential buyer, or it would make it a nicer home for us. Our friends in the business tell us that although the market is not so great, homes in this price range are still selling fairly well, and that a four bedroom home in our neighborhood for under $190,000 should attract a lot of attention, especially with the upgrades we’ve done.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough. If you are interested in looking at it, drop us a line. If you come by soon enough, we may hand you a paint brush. You just have to promise to love it as much as we do. My daughter wants it in the contract.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Waynesville. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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