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4 Things I Learnt Buying an Existing Home

The 'Kiwi dream' — Image Source

When I bought my home, I wanted what many first home buyers want.

The 3 bedroom, standalone house on a spacious section.

The Kiwi dream!

Fast forward two years:

  • Bunnings employees know my last name

  • I’ve inhaled at least 500 ml of ceiling paint

  • My power tool collection is into the double digits

  • 50% of my clothes are now solely for DYI

  • Yesterday I Googled, “How long before you notice asbestos related symptoms?”

  • Over the summer break, I traded sand for sanding

Don’t get me wrong.

I love my house

But in 2021 when I signed the Sale & Purchase agreement—I had no idea what I was in for.

Here’s 4 Things I Learnt Buying Existing:

1. Painting looks fun, it’s not 🫠

The house we bought needed a spruce up. I’d heard a fresh lick of paint was a great start. It’s relatively affordable too, especially if you do it yourself.

What I didn’t know was that solo painting three bedrooms, hallways, a living room, a kitchen & two bathrooms takes a very, very long time.

50% of the work went into sanding, plastering, prepping, managing paint & brushes and washing paint off my hands. Why does no one tell you how tedious maintaining paint brushes & rollers is?!

The part I was looking forward to—effortlessly painting walls with a roller—was only 10% of the job.

Paint brush management — Image Source

2. Nothing is invincible

My worst nightmare is a leaky roof.

When you buy a house, the roof is usually one of the first structural elements you check.

Ours looked fine when we bought the place.

After closer inspection a couple of months ago, I could tell it was going to need some work in the next 2-3 years.

Like all things, after 50-100 years—things start to break down.

And roofs aren’t cheap, at least the ones that keep you dry.

3. More space = more stuff

When we first went to see the place, we were pleasantly surprised to find it had a double garage.

I thought:

  • Home gym

  • Workshop

  • Office

  • Sleepout

Notice how ‘hoarding storage unit’ wasn’t on that list?

The truth is, throwing away or donating belongings takes more mental effort than tossing stuff in the garage.

Before long, our garage door was struggling to close.

More space = more stuff

Does anyones garage actually have a car in it? — Image Source

4. Maintenance never ends

My next door neighbor has a very similar property.

  • Same style

  • Same size

  • Same layout

He’s been there for over 20 years and every weekend he’s out working on his house.

Similarly, I’ve mastered the phrase “Still a few touch ups left to go”, when entertaining friends or family.

You’re never quite finished with an older home.

By now, you’re probably thinking I’m a standalone cynic.

I love my house.

But the DIY lifestyle is certainly not for everyone. If any of my learnings were red flags to you—new builds are worth looking into.

  1. Spend your weekends with family, friends and doing the things you enjoy.

  2. Brand. New. So you’re covered by the Building Act if anything goes horribly wrong in the first 10 years.

  3. Only room for the essentials. You’ll break that hoarding habit in no time.

  4. A fraction of the maintenance requirements. With small sections and easy care designs, townhouses require minimal maintenance, especially in the first 3–5 years.

The pace of life has changed for many Kiwi’s.

Still a few touch ups left to go 😅 — Image Source

Not everyone wants to spend every weekend tinkering away at a home project.

It's ok to not want to lose your weekends to endless Bunnings trip and DIY. Lots of New Zealanders are now choosing to prioritise quality time with family, friends and doing things they enjoy. Giving up your weekends to renovating houses is not the only way to get ahead!

That’s why we say we’re building for the new Kiwi dream!


Hi I’m Hausia,

I help first home buyers make better buying decisions.

If you want access to arguably the best off-the-plans mortgage advisor in Lower Hutt, click ‘contact us’ below or head straight to his website here.

If you have any questions about something you've read in the blog, email


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