First House :: Lessons Learned

A couple of years ago I made a huge decision and bought a house! It was quite the process – looking at house after house, keeping in mind location, price, costs associated… the list goes on. I thought I knew what I was looking at, but boy was I wrong!

As the painting projects began and the deep cleaning started on move-in day, I learned that I had NO IDEA what I was looking at while I was house hunting.

First thing I did not look at: BASEBOARDS!

Baseboards are NOT cheap, especially when you realize they will all have to be replaced.

Proper preparation makes a huge difference, homeowners. There is absolutely no reason to paint the carpet into the baseboards. There is no reason you cannot pick up a piece of sandpaper and smooth out some of the imperfections. Baseboard preparation also includes cleaning the baseboards PRIOR to painting. I’ve snapped a few pictures of some of the nasty, improperly prepared baseboards I have tried to bring back to life. Y’all, don’t leave this mess for the next homeowner. Have some pride in your home and your work.

Next thing I really didn’t take into consideration: PAINT!

I walked in with the idea that “it’s just a little paint, no big deal.” Boy, was I kidding myself! It was not just a little paint – it was the whole darn house. Paint is not cheap and the amount of work required to paint what we are dealing with is unsurmountable! Current homeowners, the materials needed to fill in holes, gouges and other imperfections costs very little – make that happen. It is super easy, takes very little time and makes a HUGE difference!

Lessons learned: take into consideration the paint color palette throughout the house (does it coordinate?), pay attention to the richness of the color (how dark are the current colors?), and inspect how well of a job the “painter” did (did they paint the ceiling, floor, windows, blinds, etc?). Obviously, by looking at the pictures, you can tell why and how I learned the lessons I just spelled out.

Just in case you were wondering:

  1. Dark red paint washes out a red-toned stained fireplace.
  2. Yellow paint does not go well with yellow-orange cabinets.
  3. Small spaces do not need to be painted dark colors, including the cabinet(s).

The third thing not inspected closely: FLOORS!

Rooms full of furniture makes it difficult to see the condition of the flooring. On the final walk through, pay close attention –  Inspect, inspect, inspect! I don’t even need pictures for this topic. Y’all know what carpet looks like when it is damaged and pulling away from the tack strip. Pet stains – super difficult to get out of carpet. Paint drips/stains – also difficult to get out of carpet.

I’m sure everyone knows what cracked tiles look like – yep, we have some of those too! Because guess what?! When the covered patio was enclosed and made into the dining room, the foundation was not properly prepared. After talking with my dad and husband, we decided the floor should have been raised to the same level of the original interior. This would have helped so much, not just preventing the tile from cracking.


This may seem insignificant. That is until you have to replace all hinges, door knobs, light fixtures, towel rods, and toilet paper holders. Take pride in your work, homeowners! Remove the hinges, the towel rods, the fixtures, the smoke detectors, the door bells, the door knobs, etc BEFORE painting! All of these are added costs to the new homeowner that could have definitely been prevented with proper preparation.

I was unaware at the time of negotiating that I could ask for paint allowances and flooring allowances. I truly believed it would all be “no big deal” to do on my own. Whew! I. Was. Wrong.

Ask for paint allowances. Ask for flooring allowances. Talk to your realtor about other options to alleviate some of the issues.

Current homeowners: TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR WORK! If you know you are not capable of doing things correctly, please hire a professional.

After many hours of labor, gallons of primer and gallons of paint – this is where we are now:

A beautiful, light grey throughout most of the house and a pretty lilac in the full bathroom. We still have a couple of walls to prep and paint, but we are very happy with where we are today!

It was absolutely amazing how much the lighter colored walls brightened up the house!

We have replaced all of the faceplates. Slowly but surely we are getting the door knobs and hinges replaced with unpainted, shiny ones. Light fixtures have been replaced. Dark brown cabinets have been repainted a light color.

What lessons have you learned during the house buying process?

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