"You're not paranoid: your house really
If you've just bought a house, you may be able to relate
to a fascinating essay in Maya Angelou's book, Even the Stars
When Ms. Angelou moved into a designer house in California,
she says, nothing worked. Her pictures didn't look right on
the walls. Cakes fell in the oven and curtains fell off the
The house, she concluded, hated her. And it wasn't much consolation
to realize the house hated her husband, too.
What I want to know is, how could she tell?
Let's face it, most houses hate their new owners. They have
adapted to the rhythm of one family and resent being sold.
Like most cats that you rescue from the pound, your house
probably believes, "If I'd waited awhile, a better owner
would have come along. So I'm going to make this one's life
When you move
Those who are trained in modern research methods will be
skeptical, but there's plenty of evidence. Everyone knows
what happens when you move into a new house.
"You'll see a lot of repair services in the first six
months," I was warned. "When a house hasn't changed
hands in five years or more, lots of little things will happen
when you move in."
Now, you'll notice this doesn't happen when you rent a house
or apartment. Some friends of mine rented a house while they
saved to buy their own property.
For two years, the refrigerator purred and the air conditioner
hummed contentedly. The plumbing flowed silently and the insect
life remained hidden. Encouraged ("see, a house isn't
so bad after all!") they took the plunge and bought their
I'd like to say they're doing great but in fact they've dropped
out of sight. They can't take phone calls any more. "Sorry,
we can't tie up this line. We're holding the phone open till
we hear from the handyman..." Or the pest control guy,
or the electrician. They considered Call Waiting but were
afraid to jinx the only object in the house that seemed to
If you seem particularly gullible, (e.g., the house senses
that you're new to this game), your appliances may join the
fun. I am absolutely positive the once-faithful refrigerator
sent out a message: "How about this, guys. Let's really
confuse everybody. I'll put out a leak, send the water over
to the sink, and they'll think it's a big pipe in the wall.
After they've poked a few holes they'll realize it's time
to wake up that sleeping repairman!"
And one day my security system kept getting an "Open
Door" signal even when the door was firmly locked. The
tech found nothing wrong and it never happened again.
My lawn service person knew how to work the system: Let Them
Know Who's Boss. After he cut back the hedges and pulled some
over-aggressive vines, the bushes stopped sulking and started
putting out nice flowers. They knew what would happen if they
Making Peace with the House
Soon you've emptied your bank account to create a peace offering
-- a new floor or a paint job or a screen door.
"Every so often," I'm told, "you even get thirty
days with no service calls. But after six months or so, the
house gets bored and it'll start all over again."
One thing is certain. In your house's "Lose the Owner"
contest, there's one simple rule. Whoever costs the most,
|Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and
speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast
move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com
or call 505-534-4294.