Disclaimer: I'm not an expert. I only have our experiences to answer any questions regarding home renos.
If you've ever done renovations before and have input or maybe you have a question, feel free to chime in in the comments section. My experience is limited and probably different than yours, so please share :)
It took you a while for you to find a house, are you happy with the one you purchased?
Yupp! There are things we love and things we don't, but at the end of the day we're so thankful we have a roof over our head and a house to make a home.
What was the most frustrating part of the house hunting process?
Uncertainty! It's such an emotional roller coaster where nothing is guaranteed until the keys are in your hands.
Any advice you would give to someone house hunting?
1) Be patient.
2) Understand the market that you are buying in, and educate yourself on the process.
3) Don't assume anything.
4) Ask a lot of questions.
You haven't given an official tour of the house, will we get one?
Great question! Truthfully, I haven't decided nor thought about it. I could at least give a good picture of the layout!
(As a side note: This blog was never intended to join the ranks of the "home reno" blog world, so I always struggle on what and how much to share. Do you really want to see how we spray painted hardware? Although it's fun to do, not so interesting to read about...)
Why did you redo everything right away?
We didn't. We only tackled the big stuff that would have been really difficult to do after we moved all of our things in: the floor, paint on walls and ceilings, kitchen, baseboards. Kyle also had one week off of work the week following our closing, so it was crunch time!
It quickly becomes a never-ending chain of events when you begin one project but try not to do another- it just doesn't happen. Too much of the structure of a home is connected and to do one project, you may as well do the next (in some cases.) Mix in there a family of experts and designers and you suddenly have a ambitious list to tackle.
There are still some lingering projects we may tackle down the road. For example, we haven't touched either of the full baths or the unfinished basement. (Kyle has his eye on that basement for a winter project, but I'm trying to tame the beast)
Why did you redo all of the floors?
Explained a bit here. But for the short version: The previous owners were smokers and the carpet hadn't been replaced since the home was built ('91). The other flooring was wood and linoleum. However, since the home has such an open layout, it didn't make sense to just do a portion of the floors since it would break up the flow of the home. So we did it in one swoop!
How did you choose the stacked stone for the fireplace? Why did you redo the fireplace?
This was more of a personal choice, and by no means a necessity. I really love stacked stone - the texture and look of it brings great new elements to a space. The previous brick was an orange/red color (see picture above) and we both loved the idea of redoing it somehow (whether that meant painting or resurfacing it). We ended up getting a great price on the stone, so we went for it!
Why did you redo the cabinets? (The first time...)
We didn't have to do redo the cabinets or any of the kitchen for that matter. However (as mentioned above), once you start one project..
We tackled the kitchen immediately because we knew it would be more difficult to do later on. Since we were putting in an island and needed a counter top for that, it saved us money to have the granite cut and transported all at one time, as opposed to separate trips Then, it was a snowball effect of painting the island, then painting the cabinets, putting in the backsplash (since taking out the previous countertop ruined the drywall), etc. This re-do was spread out over a few months, and we still have the finishing touches, like the cabinet hardware, to install.
Are you crazy?!
Would you suggest someone in your position (a spouse in residency) renovate a home?
Simply put, no. No, no and no.
I think our circumstance was a bit different in that we had a lot of family who are experts, which helped us a tremendous amount. We would had never considered renovating a home if we had to do it by ourselves (or if we lived in another location). It wouldn't have been realistic for our lives right now.
I will say, that even though we did have help, we are the ones who live there day to day and see the projects. Sometimes, even now, it can feel like we leave work and come home to work. After working a 18 hour shift, the last thing you want is to come home to manual labor.
Part of that is owning a home in general and knowing that there is always something to do, and some a result of loose ends.
Are you burned out?
Depends on the day :)
We both went through a "burn out" stage about two weeks in, right after spending 10 days straight on nothing but the home. I noticed I kept doing the same things over again, instead of actually getting things done. For example, I rearranged our pictures frames about 10 times, rather than just hanging them on the wall!
Currently, I'm back on the "let's make this our home" horse but it also just depends on what is going on in our lives and how much time we have. That's true for anyone. We tried to make it a priority to get away when we could, because sometimes the to-do list just felt overwhelming.
Did you get new furniture?
We did have furniture from our old house, however, some did get lost/broken in the move. The only room we didn't have any furniture for was the sunroom, which we've since outfitted. We've been couch shopping about 10 times for our living room, but we're in no hurry to decide.
Do you like all of the changes?
Yes, for the most part. We plan on changing a few paint colors that we were only crazy about on paper, but thankfully, that seems like child's play at this point. Painting is my new favorite hobby, dontcha know.
What is your favorite change?!
That's a tough question. I think it's a toss up between the kitchen island and the fireplace. The island has become our favorite spot to gather around, and provides so much more space for cooking! The fireplace is beautiful and is a central part to the entire open floor plan, since your eye is drawn to it immediately.
Was the renovation process what you expected?
Not even close. At the risk of sounding completely naive, I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It's definitely one of those things that you cannot explain. You have to experience it. It's super stressful, yet fun, exciting and rewarding all at the same time. Sometimes you want to cry and pull your hair out, and other times you're jumping for joy that the end result looks awesome!
It costs a lot of money, you have to make multiple decisions at once and always be prepared for something to go wrong. Inevitability, something goes wrong. For planners like me, I found that rather annoying.
For Kyle, it all went pretty much like he expected it to go (he had worked for a construction company in the summers in high school, so he had a good idea of what we signed up for.)
Every situation is different, so I have no idea what would be a good decision for you. I only know what worked (and didn't) for us. That being said, I'd suggest thinking about the following:
1) Make sure you have the manpower and time to do it (emphasis on TIME). Even if you don't do it yourself, getting estimates, hiring contractors and arranging the work and times around your schedule is a lot of time in itself.
2) It doesn't have to be done at once, but consider if you want to live in a construction zone (that was a huge "no" for me, whereas other people wouldn't mind it at all). You could make a list of what your priorities are, and match that up to each home you see: would that require a lot of work? Would it be worth it? etc.
3) Have a clear idea of how much you want to spend and how much things actually cost. For example, you can get estimates from contractors before even putting an offer on the house, so you are aware and can prepare for the financial implications of renovations.
4) Is this your forever home? Are you planning on living there for 5-10 years? Are you looking at it as an investment? Do you want to flip it? Those answers should all play into your decision.
How much have you spent for all of your renovations?
This is surprisingly a commonly asked questioned. I never discuss finances on this blog. But, I will say that we were pretty adamant about being responsible with our money and what we've been given. We have found ourselves really challenged about putting more money into a house rather than giving it away to people or places that matter so much more. Since, at the end of the day, a house is just a thing. I'll be honest, sometimes it was hard to bite the bullet and say, "no," as this money could really be used elsewhere and have a bigger impact on the world, rather than just increase our comfort level. We're not saints, sometimes we did choose our comfort level. That whole discussion is for another day, so for now, here was our checklist whenever we did on a project:
1) Can we pay for it in cash? If the answer was no, we wouldn't do it. I realize there are a ton of credit card incentives, store promotions, etc out there that can be great! The bottom line being we refused to let renovations put us in debt. We would have done a lot more if we disregarded our first rule.
2) Will it increase the value of our home?
3) Will the area and our property support this upgrade? In other words, are the neighboring homes going to support or bring down our assumed increased value? What is the market doing in our city?
4) Would we be okay investing in xyz if it didn't provide us with a return if we were to sell the home? What is the value to us? In the end, we want ourselves and others to enjoy our home, and that has tremendous value to us.
There's a balance between our "wants" vs. what the market and home supports vs. "needs" vs. what we like vs. if it matters.
Welp, there you go! Quite possibility the longest post of all time.
Feel free to add to the conversation :)