Homeownership can be bittersweet. I mean, sure, in many instances, people fall head over heels in love with their first home the second they move in. But sometimes — more often than not, realistically — tiny, insignificant mistakes homeowners make can end up leading to incredibly frustrating problems. I was reminded of this when redditor u/Excellent-Win6216 asked people to share mistakes they made as a first-time homeowner that seem "ridiculous" in hindsight but made total sense at the time. These are some of the most important lessons I learned:
1. "Ignoring that weird running water sound we couldn’t identify. We were very young, very stupid homeowners, and after checking around inside and out, we just shrugged and figured it was one of those weird things where you could hear the water in the pipes. Nope. Three days later, my mom came to visit, heard the noise, opened the hatch to the six or seven-foot-high crawl space we forgot we had, and discovered our brand new indoor wading pool courtesy of a busted outdoor spigot that we didn’t know to winterize (did I mention we were young and stupid?)."
3. "Not checking delivery options. I never read about it on any lists of 'things to watch for' when buying. USPS, private shippers, and places like DoorDash or Instacart. I would leave for work before the post office opened, and the post office was 30 minutes out of the way on the drive home to pick up packages, so I couldn't make it there during the week. No Uber, Instacart, DoorDash, or delivery from stores."
4. "Started too many DIY projects at the same time: demolished a bathroom for a remodel, removed doors from kitchen cabinets to be replaced, started removing wallpaper we didn't like, and removed old beat-up base trim. The result was we felt like we were living in a never-ending renovation project for several years. We should have done one project at a time rather than getting carried away."
5. "Buying in an HOA. Never again."
6. "We didn't stay on top of the cosmetic things over 13 years. The carpet was a bit worn, but no biggie. Could stand to replace the wallpaper in the bathroom with paint, but no biggie. Never did rehang that towel bar, but I was a single dude, so no biggie. The refrigerator worked but occasionally made a noise like a clucking chicken — no biggie. And on and on... I filled multiple handwritten pages of notes with to-dos, until I wanted to move. All those 'no-biggie' issues became about nine months of doing not much else with my weekends and evenings. With my current house, I now stay on top of that stuff. Never again."
7. "I tore out very high-quality appliances just because they weren’t stainless steel."
8. "Don't assume you can handle the mortgage because it's close to what you're already paying in rent."
"The rule of thumb I've heard is 1–3% of the value of the house in repairs and non-utility upkeep every year. I don't think a year has passed where I didn't spend somewhere in that range."
9. "I bought a townhouse on a beautiful golf course. The views from my home are magnificent, but they are out there before dawn seven days a week doing maintenance. The biggest, loudest equipment I’ve ever seen (or heard) plus weed trimmers and blowers. I don’t golf, so the maintenance never crossed my mind when buying this place."
10. "I bought a new home and didn’t have any furniture or kitchen stuff. I thought I should remedy it immediately by putting all the stuff on credit cards. Ended up taking years to pay it off — and much of the stuff I bought I ended up not really liking or using."
11. "Deciding to paint our own kitchen cabinets and install our laminate countertops ourselves. They aren't holding up at all, and wish we had just spent some money for a professional job."
12. "Didn't check the air filter for the HVAC when I moved in. When I went to replace it almost an entire year later (that was my second mistake), there was no air filter. The previous owners must have removed it without replacing it, so the HVAC system was just raw dogging the air in my condo for an entire year."
13. "During the inspection process, we didn't camera-inspect the drain line. I didn't want to pay the extra $150 to drag a plumber out. We would've realized that we'd have to excavate and replace the whole line, from the street to the foundation, which was installed in the '50s. It was a $6,000 fix — and that was in 2015. Never again. Pay to camera-inspect the line every time!"
14. "The biggest thing my wife and I learned was financial. Just because the bank tells you that you can afford anything up to a certain amount doesn't mean you should go up to that amount. Sure, we enjoyed the house, but we couldn't really afford to do much besides be in it. We couldn't afford new windows that we desperately needed, we couldn't afford to go on vacations, and couldn't afford to upgrade much of the house. If we ended up staying there, we wouldn't have been able to afford to replace the roof when it would have needed it or handle expensive car repairs. We ended up moving to a more affordable house, and now we have some money to start investing for retirement and to buy me a newer vehicle."
15. "I didn’t realize my first house was in a flood zone until it came up at closing. I should have walked then and there, but it was all I could afford..."
16. "Not asking what the random hose above the sump pump was for. Three basement floods, two check valves, and a new sump pump later: an electrician asks why we have an open hose running from the basement into our shed and then into the ground. When it rained, water would just backflow straight into the basement through the hose. If you see something that doesn’t make sense, don’t ignore it."
17. "I didn't take care of the bushes and trees in the backyard. I assumed the rain would take care of them and I could trim as needed. Well, almost everything was taken over by ivy and killed, and everything else died because we didn't prune enough..."
18. "Buying a house we liked but not caring about resale down the road. Like, we had a great house with a tiny, tiny yard, which didn’t bother us but turned out to be a pain to sell!"
19. "I didn’t call before I dug…and hit a gas line. Such a doofus mistake and one I’ll never make again. The gas guy was super cool about it, though, after I admitted my shame. In the end, came out pretty unscathed, both physically and financially, thank goodness."
20. "Not being present for the inspection. I was across the country, in the weeds at work, and completely burnt out from the mortgage and loan process. My realtor was an old friend I’d gone to school with, and he promised to be my eyes and ears. He was obviously more interested in closing the deal, and I trusted him way too much. All things considered, it turned out OK, but had I been present or had the bandwidth, I definitely would have been more thorough, asked more questions, and done more research. Two years later and I’m still finding things that should’ve been flagged."
21. "Buying that cute little cabin way out in the mountains. Can't work from home as the internet sucks, the commute to any job is at least an hour, buying groceries takes an entire morning, and healthcare is at least 90 minutes away."
22. "I had a main line clog but didn't know that. I couldn't get a snake through the toilet to flush out whatever clog seemed to be affecting that particular toilet. I flushed the other toilet, and it worked, but it was at a slightly higher elevation. So I pulled the toilet. Shit water everywhere, flooding upwards from the flange. The wax seal came apart when I pulled the toilet, and it had to be gallons before I got it plugged. I had to cut six inches from my drywall in the whole bathroom and throw away all the trim."
23. "Buying a house that needed a new roof. HOA requires specific tiles, which were on backorder. Homeowners insurance got dropped because the roof wasn’t replaced. By the time it was, the insurance agent ghosted me. It’s been nothing but a nightmare."
24. "Check the main sewer line, usually in basements. Old sewer pipes can crack, leak, and clog up. I skipped this particular inspection in my first home inspection. Turned out the pipe was cracked and had tree roots growing inside it, and it ended up flooding my whole basement with sewage water."
25. "When we bought our first house, we could have bought the adjacent lot. It wouldn't have made a big impact on our mortgage payment, but we didn't. So, naturally, a horrible couple built a house there, and we were stuck with them for years."
26. "Still buying the house...even after the seller rejected my offer and then relisted the house at a much higher price. I was desperate to get out of NYC and was moving to Florida. If I didn't meet the seller's new price, it meant that I'd have to take more time off work and spend more money to take another trip back to Florida to start the house search process all over again. So, I ate the extra $50K he demanded. In hindsight, it was so dumb. I should have just stuck through another NY winter and flown back to look at more options later. I always resented that dick move and never felt great in this house — and that was one reason. Hopefully, someone in a similar boat learns from this."
27. "Before making an offer, I didn’t visit the house on weekend nights. If I had, I may have realized the scale of parties that get thrown in a neighbor's house, and that would have saved me all the grief. Neighbors move, things change…but look really closely at the neighbors before making an offer."
28. "Bought a two-story house with all the bedrooms upstairs and the laundry was at the opposite end of the house on the lower level. The builder suggested moving the laundry to the second floor since it was a floor plan change they’d done before. My mother-in-law talked us out of it because it would change the guest room layout. Regretted that decision every time I carried laundry baskets up and down the damn stairs."
29. "We became enamored with a vaulted ceiling in the open-concept living/dining/kitchen area when the other option was an additional room over the garage. Hindsight being 20/20, I'd live with a 10-foot ceiling and take the extra room."
30. "We bought a home with an old septic system, but the city promised us they were putting in a sewer line 'soon.' Of course, it did not happen soon, and we had to deal with septic issues for over a year."
31. And finally: "Starting projects I didn’t know how to finish. Those were tough lessons. At some point, it’s best to give up and call a pro."
Homeowners, I want to hear from you: What are the silly, annoying, or downright infuriating mistakes you made when you bought (or moved into) your first home? Tell me everything in the comments below, or via this form if you'd prefer to stay anonymous.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.