Saturday, December 03, 2011


We're refinancing the house. Y'know, lower interest rates these days, and all. So yesterday I'm talking to the mortgage officer. When he called, he inquired about the back side of a document, of which I'd forwarded only the front side. My very long phone cord, attached to the landline telephone which is attached to the kitchen wall, allows me to reach most of the rooms in the house, albeit only into the doorways of the furthest rooms. So I'm stretching the cord, stretching my arm, but I still can't quite reach the desk with the pertinent sheet of paper. "Excuse me, I'll need to put down the phone a minute. It doesn't reach far enough. I'll be right back."

(Moving to a new subject, but --hang on-- it's not irrelevant...)
Yesterday's mail brought another pile of paperwork for the refinancing, including the appraisal on the house. (Good news: the house has lost only 13% of its value over the last four years. Given what some people have experienced in this economy, that's not bad at all.) Looking over the appraiser's notes, I noticed this: "Dated kitchen and bathrooms. General lack of interior cosmetic updating."

I laughed! How often I complain that our society isn't comfortable with nice, normal, functional rooms, but we must always be remodeling and updating and trying to keep up with whatever the interior decorators tell us is stylish. "Dated kitchen." Heck, yeah! And what would we do to cosmetically update the interior anyhow? Raising the roof 4-10' isn't feasible. Restructuring the interior walls isn't either. Is it that terrible that my house built in the 60s looks like a 40-yr-old house?

Just about at that moment, I remembered the phone call in the afternoon. "Excuse me. I'll need to put down the phone. It doesn't reach far enough." Whoa! That comment revealed something definitely "outdated."

There are some young people who might not even understand what my sentence meant.


  1. I'd say cordless phones hooked to a landline are pretty standard, so it'd be confusing to say a phone didn't reach somewhere if you didn't have any static on the line. :)

  2. Similar revelation here. We met with our insurance agent yesterday to update the replacement value of our home. Although the market value has not changed in 13 years (went up after we moved here, went down, came back up to original purchase price) the replacement value has doubled. It was shocking to John, and worrisome to me. Now I gotta figure out how to pay for increased insurance for this thing!

  3. I don't understand, Melody. If the house is worth something, then isn't that what it's worth? Is the insurance guy saying it would cost twice as much to build your house back again as you could get for selling it? If so, that's pretty twisted (not what he said, but that it works that way). Our house is insured for an amount similar to what we paid for it -- I guess if we lost our house, we'd have to buy something similar rather than rebuilding.

  4. "And what would we do to cosmetically update the interior anyhow? Raising the roof 4-10' isn't feasible."

    They mean paint, wallpaper, carpet and vinyl flooring, not structural stuff.

    WRT to home insurance, there's a difference between actual replacement value and "functional replacement" And replacement value changes because building costs have changed dramatically in the last 5-10 years.

  5. But what's on the walls and the floors is a matter of personal taste. And it's easily changed. It seems dumb for that to impact the value of a house. That's like saying the house is worth more or less because my furniture came from Ashley versus Goodwill.

  6. Jenny, is "functional replacement" getting another similar place to live?

  7. Susan, when we were trying to sell our house I kept getting feedback that it was dated. One agent told me that oak kitchen cabinets are dated. (So '90s.) And we had repainted with "current" colors in most of the rooms.
    About insurance: We paid in the $110,000s for our house. We are having to pay insurance for a $400,000+ replacement value. If we don't then we lose in our other coverages.

  8. Susan, it's not what's on the floors and the walls; it's what makes up the floors and the walls. And the roof and the outside, etc, etc, etc. John and I talked around and around before he saw it, too. For example, we have plaster walls. It's a luxury we were lucky to get, and the cost of installing it has gone up since we bought the house. Yeah, we could replace them with drywall for much less money, and we might have to, if I can't stretch our dollars to pay for the insurance. But the soundproofing of plaster is, for me, worth the try. Then there's the wood and tile floors that keep our allergies at bay while the kitty is in the house. And a thousand other small things that make our house a home. It's not about the couch or the kitchen table. Those are another line item on the policy.

  9. Thanks, Melody and Jane. I think I'm seeing what you mean about the value of the house. I've always figured that our "replacement" of our house and its contents would not necessarily be at what it would cost to replace in the normal ways, but just to give us a place to live if we lost things ... or enough money to buy used furniture. But yes, when you think about the costs of closet doors and kitchen tile and counter tops and lumber for the basement stairs, it probably is a lot more costly to recreate your home than to find another one that is 50 years old. [huge sigh]