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10 Myths About Owning a Home People Still Believe

Home ownership is a lifelong dream for millions, and one that comes with its own unique set of pleasures and challenges. But for all the true benefits of homeownership, there are an equal number of myths about what it's like to own and maintain property. Whether you're looking to buy for the first time, or are a long-time homeowner in search of a reality check, here are 10 home ownership myths that need to be busted.

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Home Inspectors Will Find Every Problem

A home inspection is a vital step in the home buying process. Unfortunately, a commonly unstated myth about home inspections is that they are fully comprehensive. In reality, even the best home inspector can’t examine every square inch of your home. The solution? Supplement the inspection with your own observations. Inspect the home on your own during a walk through, then be sure to be present when the home inspection takes place. Walk the property with the inspector, and be sure to point out/question the items you noticed previously. Any issues you noticed will carry more weight in negotiations when it comes from a third party.

If you already own your home, you might be thinking this tip doesn’t apply to you. But in fact, a home inspection can be conducted at any time. If you’ve been in your home for a decade or more, consider having an inspector review the home. He or she may point out issues that you’ve come to consider normal, or haven’t noticed because of their slow development. Dig deeper into how to get the most out any home inspection.

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All Home Improvements Add Value

It’s no secret that improving your home has the potential to boost its market value. But not every dollar you spend impacts your home’s value. If your roof leaks, for example, a replacement will simply bring it up to the minimum standard expected by most buyers. Similarly, if you decide to build an elaborate home gym that takes up most of the second floor, you may find that buyers may view that as an imperfection, rather than a selling point. Much of what makes for smart spending will vary with your specific neighborhood (that pool may not be a good investment if you live in Alaska) but there are a few improvements that are traditionally safe bets. Check out our list of the best (and worst!) ways to invest in your home.

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You Have to Do Your Own Yard Work and Repairs

It’s true that as a homeowner, you’re tackling a whole range of responsibilities. But that doesn’t mean you have to do them all yourself. If you want the independence and security of your own home, but hate mowing the lawn, consider looking for a condo complex or hire out a lawn service.

It’s no secret that we’re all about DIY, but let’s face it: there’s no shortage of projects in your home! So consider skipping the ones that you hate the most, and focus on the tasks that bring you joy. Here are the questions to ask to make sure you’re getting the best service pro for the jobs you need handled.

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You’re Always/Never Better Off Renting

The economic math of buying versus renting is unique to each individual and their circumstances. While it’s true that for many people buying a home is a long-term win, that’s not the case for every buyer.

The plain fact is that there is no one rule that applies to every person in every situation. Bust this myth by taking the time to research, and make the choice that’s the best match for your specific budget, goals and preferences. One of the best places to start is this state-by-state breakdown of the pros and cons of buying vs. renting.

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A House Needs to Breathe

One of the most long-lived of homeownership myths is that you shouldn’t interfere with drafts or air penetration because houses need to “breathe.” Well, a house doesn’t need to breathe but it does need to be able to dry out, vent any combustion fumes and provide the people who live in it with fresh, circulating air.

Often referred to as “tight” houses, construction that limits air infiltration is perfectly acceptable with modern building science by pulling in and circulating air in a strategic fashion. More to the point, don’t let a desire to allow for a breathable home prevent you from basic maintenance like sealing up drafts around windows and doors. A little bit of common sense and some simple research will help make sure that you’re not creating a staid air pocket that might encourage moisture retention. Of course, if your home already struggles with mold or mildew, it’s important to get started remedying the issue ASAP! Here’s a solid primer on combating mold and mildew.

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New Homes are Maintenance-Free

A home is a large, complicated system. Between the many mechanical systems and the countless seams and potential flaws in the structure and surface details, it’s almost a certainty that any home, no matter how new or old it is, has some kind of issue that calls for repairs. In addition, regular maintenance is required for all homes. No matter how new your home, the forces of weather, animal activity and simple wear and tear will eventually win out over time.

And of course, for many DIYers it’s not about needing to do work on their home, it’s about getting to do work on their home! Many new builds are created to spec, with options left behind for future development (think stubbed plumbing hidden in closet walls for easy bathroom conversion.) These types of ‘80% done” situations are ideal for DIYers who want to tackle home improvement on their own, or you may jump instead to one of these affordable home improvement ideas!

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Remodeling is Easy and Fast

Remodeling a home is no small undertaking, but one of the more recent home ownership myths has been driven by the rise of televised DIY projects. This so-called “Reality TV” effect has given a whole generation of viewers the impression that most renovation can be accomplished in 48 hrs, with plenty of room in the budget for a big reveal party. Unfortunately, that’s not normally how things run. For one thing, the flow of a reality show remodel is scripted, and the small crew shown is usually supplemented by a larger group of pros who do the lions share of work once the cameras are turned off.

Reality TV shows are great fun, but don’t fail to separate reality from the myths of reality TV. Instead, get a reality check free of myths with our ultimate guide to surviving a DIY remodel.

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No Home is Beyond Repair

Those of us with a DIYer’s heart are especially prone to buying into this myth. Unfortunately, the truth is that some homes simply don’t make sense to try and fix. It’s true that almost anything can be repaired, but that doesn’t mean that the financial and aesthetic rewards justify the time and expense to do so. For a Hollywood version of a reality check, the 1986 Tom Hanks film The Money Pit is required viewing.

Sometimes, it’s better to leave a “handyman special” to a developer who has the funds to simply demo and start from scratch. Here are 10 more house hunting mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.

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You’ll Get to it Eventually

When something in your new home isn’t quite right but not to the level of a full emergency, it’s tempting to simply tell yourself that you’ll get around to fixing it sooner or later.

The problem is that life gets in the way, and before long, that issue that drove you crazy when you first moved in just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. This is how people end up living with broken appliances or unattractive bathroom wallpaper for years.

To avoid falling prey to this mental myth, make a list of home projects, and put them on a calendar, preferably one that you’ll see on a regular basis. You can always push them back out, but at least you’ll see the notes and remind yourself that the broken ceiling fan or wonky sump pump isn’t normal. Here are 10 maintenance tasks that you’ll want to make sure you don’t neglect.

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You Can Do Whatever You Like to Your Home

One of the more common myths about homeownership is that you can completely customize your home to your preferences. While you may like to say that your home is your castle, that doesn’t mean that you can make any repair or change as you see fit. Depending on where you live, you may run into municipal residential codes, zoning requirements or even homeowners association bylaws and covenants.

While there are plenty of areas where you can have free rein on your home improvements, you can avoid a headache by double-checking local requirements before diving into a high-profile project. If you’re still not convinced, check out this list of homeowner association nightmares.

Dan Stout
With over a decade spent on residential and commercial construction job sites, Dan Stout has the hands-on experience to speak to builders, contractors, and homeowners with the voice of authority. Much of his work centers on demystifying the building industry by simplifying construction jargon for homeowners and laying out best business practices for contractors. Dan's non-fiction has appeared on numerous blogs and vendor websites, while his prize-winning fiction has been featured in publications such as Nature and The Saturday Evening Post. His debut novel Titanshade is scheduled for a 2019 release from DAW Books.