During the course of our two year home search, my husband and I have watched a lot of “House Hunters” on HGTV. As New Yorkers, it is frustrating to see homebuyers in other parts of the country bid on homes twice the size of ours for a third of the price. It is also misleading, because the issues that those house hunters make you believe are important are, in reality, inconsequential.
For example, in the typical “House Hunters” episode, a realtor will walk a married couple into a kitchen that has nineties style cabinetry and Corian countertops.
Wife: “Ohemgee! This kitchen is SO outdated. Where are the granite countertops? I cannot LIVE without granite. This is a total deal-breaker for me.”
Realtor: “Countertops are easy to replace.”
Husband: “We’re not interested in projects. I don’t have time for projects.”
Really?! If these people want to see an outdated kitchen, I invite them to visit our new home. Our cabinets are from the 1930s and our counters are made to look like butcher block, but are actually laminate. It’s not just old. It’s hideous.
But that’s not really important. What’s important, and what we didn’t notice until after we bought the home, is that there is no overhead lighting in the kitchen. When our electrician pointed this out to us, after we had closed, I had a mild panic attack. How did the previous owners cook at night? Did they only eat during daylight hours?
Even more disturbing, our kitchen has a total of two electrical outlets. The oven is plugged into one; the refrigerator is plugged into the other. Why did I not notice that there were no outlets along the counters during the two open houses we attended? Was it because, thanks to HGTV, I was too busy searching for granite countertops? Where in this kitchen am I going to plug in my 21st century appliances? How am I going to brew a pot of coffee?
After touring the kitchen, the realtor next takes the house hunters into the master bedroom, which boasts only one massive walk-in closet.
Wife, giggling: “Well this closet is big enough for me, but where are you going to put your stuff, honey?”
Husband: “Maybe you could get rid of some of your shoes.”
Wife, to realtor: “I do have a minor shoe addiction.”
Bitch, I’m sorry that your potential master bedroom lacks a second walk-in closet. You know what my master bedroom lacks? A light switch. In fact, at second glance, none of the four bedrooms have light switches, a detail that escaped us until after closing. Apparently the previous owners walked the halls at night with candlesticks like Charles Dickens characters.
The realtor then escorts the couple into the spacious master bath, which, true, has a funky color palette and no tub.
Wife: "I cannot DEAL with these tiles. They remind me of a Lilly Pulitzer catalogue. And where is the soaking tub? I thought this was the master bath.”
Realtor rolls eyes.
Husband reevaluates plan to buy a home with this woman and, instead, considers filing for divorce.
Actually, I empathize with the wife here. I dream of a master bath with a soaking tub, too, but my master bath is the size of a coffin. It is. I measured it today. It’s three feet wide by nine and a half feet long. Actually, I think some coffins may be larger. There’s barely room for a standing shower, but that’s really the least of our problems. What’s troubling is that I can’t use my hairdryer in the master bath because there are no electrical outlets. And I can’t dry my hair in the hall bath, which our two daughters- who will eventually be teenagers- will share because there are no electrical outlets in there, either. I guess there were no such things as hair dryers or curling irons or electric toothbrushes in the 1930s.
To shuttle our house into the current millennium, our electricians have been working for four days, installing light boxes into bedroom ceilings, cutting holes in the plaster for new light switches and outlets, and running wiring from the current circuit board in the basement to the attic, where a second circuit board must be installed to support our electric-dependent lifestyle. I have no idea what this will all cost, but I don’t believe the $500 we initially set aside for “electrical updates” is going to suffice.
I really wish the house hunters on HGTV had discussed electricity.