Since Tammy has started this wonderful blog, I thought I would toss out a morsel or two and give my two cents on this project. It all sounded like a good idea at the time. Buy a house at a reasonable price that needed some TLC. Fix it up the way we wanted it and live and enjoy what you created. And we might get to do that, eventually. If we don't pull all our hair out first. I am going to compare this project to sitting down at a smorgasbord. Your eyes are always bigger than your stomach. We had a budget but what good is a budget when you can't do what you want within this budget. We want this, I want that, Tammy wants something else, and before you know it, we are stuffed and eaten more than we should have. Don't let this detour you from starting your project; there is light at the end of the tunnel, I hope.
I am a pretty handy individual. I am not afraid to tackle most any project. I can do simple wiring, plumbing, construction, tile work etc. Knowing this I figured I could help out in more than one area and save a buck or two by doing it myself. And indeed, I have done just that. I tiled the sunroom and the kitchen all by my little self. I could barely make it up the stairs when I got home because of a very unhappy back, but I did it. Now I just need to see what else I can do to help get the budget back under control. As my general contractor Scott says, "it is much easier to do a flip. You just put in decent stuff and you are good." But when you do your own renovation on your own house, you always want better than "decent". We plan on being here awhile (hear that Tammy), so we wanted things that we wanted and didn't want to settle. Thus, that will cost you more money. Live and learn I guess.
Our biggest mistake so far was not including all the upgrades in the original quote. Scott gave us a reasonable number. But we have been going out and getting things that were not on his quote. Such as lots of tile that he quoted as sheetrock. Lots more lighting than is probably needed. Better appliances than necessary, more custom work than we really need. All this adds up. So my words of advice is get a budget and stick with it. Hard to do but a necessity. I would think that most people will go 5%-10% above their budget so plan for that in advance.
A couple (well, more than a couple but that is all I am going to discuss here) things have jumped up and surprised us and everyone should be aware that it could happen to them. We planned on using a home equity line of credit to do most of the work on the house. The plan was to buy the house a month or so before we sold our current one. That would allow us about 30 days to get the work done that was needed. But then it takes 30 for the application to be approved. So here we are with this house that needs renovation and we are still waiting for the HELOC to come in. That can cause a bit of an issue as our contractors like to get paid on time.
Another issue that we found out about the hard way is insurance. Our insurance company will not insure the new house as our primary home because we are doing renovation in it. They had to issue a separate "empty home" policy. Which of course is about 3 times what a regular homeowner policy is. Add to this, for the HELOC loan application, they need an insurance declaration page for the loan underwriter. The insurance company cannot give you a declaration page on an "empty home" policy. They can only give you an insurance binder which is not good enough for the HELOC loan. Just a couple things for you to think about ahead of time if you decide to undertake a similar project.
Now some good to go with the less than good above. It has been fun. Tammy and I have similar tastes (believe it or not) and we have a pretty good eye for what looks good. We always get lots of compliments on our current home from the paint color to the decorations to furniture placement etc. so we were excited to try that on kind of an empty canvas of the new house. It wasn't exactly an empty canvas, but we erased most of everything that was there and started fresh. It is fun to stand back and visualize what this home could look like. Which we did. There isn't much we are not changing. Every room is getting a make over. The planning has been a little stressful but we have managed. What we envisioned is finally coming into shape and it looks great. It is very hard to picture taking two adjoining bedrooms and making them into one big one. Taking the washer and dryer room and turning it into a huge shower. Taking a one vanity master and turning it into a nine foot double vanity, but we are doing it. We are even making a walk in master closet that even Tammy thinks is big enough for all of her shoes and handbags (one of the bigger challenges by the way).
So once we get things settled down and we reduce our stress levels by about 4/5's, I think we will soon start enjoying what we envisioned. Will it be done soon? When are you ever done doing things around your home? This will continue to be an ongoing project for years to come but we are soon to leave our smorgasbord behind and start taking smaller bites. I think all of us will agree that smaller bites will be easier to swallow. More to come. Dave