Living In A Fixer-Upper Money Pit (Is It Worth It?)

Last Updated on December 24, 2015 by Kristi Linauer

When Matt and I bought our house in August 2013, I knew what I was getting myself into.  And by that, I mean that I knew in my head that I would be DIYing the remodeling and decorating of an entire house in desperate need of overall updating.  I knew it would be difficult work.  I knew it would take years since I would be doing most of it by myself.  And I knew that it would cost tens of thousands of dollars (I guessed about $150,000 to $170,000) to take it from its original state and turn it into our forever home.

Buying and DIYing the remodel of a fixer-upper is something that I had dreamed of doing for over a decade before we bought our house, but the fact is that I had never actually done that kind of thing myself.  And what I’ve realized over the last two years is that having head knowledge of those things (the time, the money, the physical demand, etc.), and actually living out those things, are two vastly different things.

Lately I’ve just felt like I’m living in a money pit.  It kind of hit me the other day when I went to Home Depot to purchase the decorative trim for the walls in the entryway and dining room.  I didn’t even buy all of the trim I needed for the whole room (the entryway wall was my priority that day, and my small car can only hold so much), and I was so shocked when the guy at the register totaled my purchase and it came to around $320.  For trim and a few other supplies. Yesterday I went back for the rest of it (including door jambs and casings, etc.) and paid another $150.

And while those aren’t huge amounts of money, I find myself going to Home Depot at least four times each week, and spending about that much money every time I go.  Those not-so-big purchases add up quickly.  And those not-so-big purchases are mixed in with our big, very big, and HUGE purchases, like the $2200 for new dining room windows, and almost $19,000 for our new HVAC system.

So it got me to wondering about just how much we’ve spent on this house so far.  And is it worth it?

I’m going by memory on these things, but if I remember correctly, my kitchen remodel cost right at $10,000.  I think that’s a great bargain for a kitchen remodel, considering that I took this…

…stripped it down to the studs, and completely rebuilt it into this…

A $10,000 down-to-the-studs kitchen remodel is cheap, comparatively speaking.  But monetarily speaking, $10,000 is a nice sized chunk of change.

The hallway bathroom remodel came in just around $4500.

Again, that’s a bargain basement price for a down-to-the-studs bathroom remodel, but it’s still $4500.

Those smaller projects add up, too.  I think my DIY fireplace came to about $400.

The pony walls and columns cost around $450, and the rolling doors and hardware came in at around $400.

Those are just the big projects that I’ve tackled.  There have been 100 different small projects that I’ve done (not all of which have panned out), and most of those have cost money as well.

We’ve also spent about $3000 on updating all of the plumbing, around $1000 on drywall and drywall materials (not all of which has been installed yet, and is still stacked in the sunroom), about $800 on refinishing the floors, $2500 to level the house, somewhere around $1500 to trim the trees, and $2500 on a new roof (the cost of which we split with the sellers when we bought the house).

Those are only the things I can think of right off the top of my head, without scouring the archives of my blog.  I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten.  So what’s our running total so far?

Well, we bought our house for $80,000.  Adding in the things I’ve listed above, that gives us a running total of $127,920.  When it comes to house prices, that’s still pretty darn cheap.  But we’ve only just scratched the surface.

That whole remodel/addition that I want to do on the back of the house will probably cost somewhere around $50,000, and that’s with me saving money by DIYing what I can.  And before all is said and done, the entire front of our house will get a facelift as well.  Right now, it looks pretty neglected…

And I want to make some pretty drastic changes…

That’s not exactly how I want it to look, but it’s the general idea.  I’d estimate that to cost around $25,000 or so.

If I add those big projects, which I estimate will cost around $75,000, to the amount that we’ve already spent, that brings us to just over $200,000.  That’s still a good price for a house, but of course, that won’t be all.  We still have an entire acre of land that I want landscaped (including a big, nice chicken coop and gorgeous veggie gardens!), plus I want to eventually build an awesome workshop in the garage.  I can’t see this whole project coming in any less than $275,000 once it’s all said and done.

So the big question is…is it worth it?  For me, the answer to that question is “yes.”  For me, it’s worth it.  (I fully realize that for some, this would be their nightmare, but I love it.) Although I will admit that spending $22,000 on upgrades in the span of a week kind of sends me into panic mode.  It’s when I start to feel that panicky feeling that it really helps me to sit down, look at the numbers, and think through all of this rationally and calmly.  🙂

If this were not our forever home, obviously I’d be doing things drastically different, and I wouldn’t be customizing things to fit us specifically.  And if we were going to sell quickly, or if this were a house I was flipping, I would simply work within the current footprint and just update finishes and fixtures, spending the least amount of money possible, to update everything and turn it around quickly.  But that’s not our situation, and I feel very comfortable going above and beyond the basics, and spending as much money as we need to spend in order to turn this house into our forever home.  Once this house is finished, I don’t think we’d ever be able to sell it and make our money back.  Although, who knows?  Houses at the other end of our street, just two block away, are valued between $150,000 and $340,000.

But again, we’re not really concerned about resale. Just within the last couple of weeks, Matt has stressed to me three or four times that he doesn’t ever want to move again.  He wants to get this house completely customized for us, and then he wants to stay here forever.  I’m completely okay with that.

I think the bottom line is that buying fixer-uppers isn’t for the faint of heart, and if you’re DIYing most of the upgrades and remodels, then you need to be even more prepared for what you’re biting off.  🙂  Not only is it a whole heck of a lot of work, and it’s tiring living in a construction area for an extended period of time, but it’s also mentally taxing to see a constant stream of money being paid out for projects and upgrades.  I just have to keep reminding myself that in the end, it’ll be worth it.  And even if we spend $220,000 turning this house into something we love, that’s still just $300,000 for our forever home.  That sounds quite reasonable to me.  Now I just need keep reminding myself of that during my future trips to Home Depot.  🙂

EDIT:  After hitting “publish” on this post, this dawned on me…

If you buy an $80,000 house (and pay it off in five years, as we’re doing), and then spend $210,000 for upgrades (paid in cash), you’d end up spending right at $300,000 for that house.  If you buy a house valued at $175,000, and have a standard 30-year mortgage at 4% interest, you’d end up paying right at $300,000 for that house over the life of that mortgage.  The difference?  In the first scenario, all of that money is going towards upgrades in the house.  In the second scenario, $125,000 of that money is going towards interest on the loan.

Are fixer-uppers worth it?  I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.  🙂

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 10:55 am

    If I am correct, you make some money from your wonderful blog. Since you are blogging about the DIYing you do in your house, can’t you count that money against the bottom line?
    Plus, your house is looking wonderful, works for your husband, and is all you. No other house would be the same.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Brenda Pawloski
      October 6, 2015 at 11:04 am

      I don’t think it makes sense to count blogging income against home cost any more than my earning money at my office does. It is how she Makes A Living just like those who blog about food or those who handle insurance claims, take care of patients in the hospital, teach children, etc. She has to buy groceries, keep the lights on, pay for health care just like the rest of us so, no, just because her earning activities are about her home, it does not make sense to subtract those earnings from her home expense and call that the value of her home.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        October 6, 2015 at 11:11 am

        But, without updating her house, she would not having all of this material for her blog. She might be doing other things, but it is a two-fer.

        • Reply To This Comment ↓
          Brenda Pawloski
          October 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

          I see your point! For most of us, earning a living takes us away from personal life pursuits and duties so this is a two-fer.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      October 6, 2015 at 11:24 am

      I wasn’t saying it would change the value of her home. Just that it would make her feel better about what she is spending on fixing up her home. If she wasn’t fixing up her home, she wouldn’t have all this material for her blog.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brenda Pawloski
    October 6, 2015 at 10:58 am

    No doubt about it, a lovely comfortable home is a huge expense. You do not escape it if you buy a just-built home, in fact, you have just paid a premium price. I guess it’s just necessary to strike a balance between the ideal and the practical, the sublime and the good-enough. We could do well to curb the notion that we have to be embarrassed by less than up-to-date decor or faded, worn finishes and pay more attention to the shared experiences and days and occasions that take place within our shelters called home.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Value is such a finicky beast. I think the fact that you have full intention of staying there for.ev.er. 😉 that it works for you. It allows you to stay at home and be there for your hubby- do what you love (DIY extraordinaire) and still end up with what you were aiming for. I, on the other hand am not a DIY’er. nope. I will paint the occasional piece, and piddle with projects but holy crudball- I have no desire to have my house in a constant state of chaos. I grew up with that – my parents gradually updated and remodeled their house and paid for it as they went along. Then as an adult myself I knew after we did simple remodels on our old house- it was NOT for me. Granted the lack of reliable contractors played a part in that. No way am I mentally capable of handling a full remodel. It was the deciding factor on what we chose when we bought a new house. Oh yes- new builds are lovely in many ways- new appliances, furnace, water heater, fixtures, etc (aka- no ticking time bomb) , but they lack detail and timeless flair unless you want to spend 100Gs on *upgrades* alone! It’s definitely a mixed bag of results and only you can decide on what’s best for you at that time. Regardless- It’s so fascinating and I enjoy being privy to your experience on this wonderful journey.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 11:30 am

    My husband of 30 years died in 2000. By the time I retire in 4 years, I will have completely remodeled my house from top to bottom. It will be exactly the way I want it. That does not mean that it will be done in the best way for resale. I do not do my house looking to sell it but looking to enjoy it when I retire. Like you, I never plan to move. Is remodeling expensive? Yes, but if you are smart, do your research, know your capabilities and limitations, it can be done relatively economically. Your blog has been an inspiration. Between your blog and You Tube, I have learned how to do a lot of things I thought were physically impossible for me to do. My biggest belief is that you fix your house to make you happy. What good does it do to put money in something that you will hate? If you end up with your dream house, go for it. I hope to never say, “I wish I had ….”.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 11:31 am

    If you can afford to spend the money and plan to stay in the house long term then I think it’s fine. Plus, other people spend money on hobbies, vacations etc that brings them joy whereas this is your pleasurable and rewarding ‘hobby’ and I don’t think you and Matt are vacationers.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I am so glad you have written this post! My husband and I are about to start work on our own fixer upper and the cost of it all does worry me a bit but this is going to be our forever home so i know that it is worth spending the money turning it into a house we can spend the rest of our lives in!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 11:54 am

    For a person who always actively creates what they envision, the value is priceless, the comparison moot as happiness and satisfaction are intangible rewards. Per usual yours is the best blog.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 11:58 am

    My mind is always blown away that you could buy a house for $80k. A house on my street just sold for $800k and the house is dilapidated and literally falling over and the house will be demolished. Another house up the street sold for $550k and is a teeny tiny little 700 square foot place that needs SERIOUS work. In our neighbourhood unless you have a ridiculous amount of money, DIY and fixer uppers are all that we can afford. My first house we paid $295k for and the living room ceiling was caving in… literally… it drooped 2 feet down! There were no electrical outlets in the entire house and you could see from the living room into the spare bedroom via a giant hole that someone kicked through in the wall! For us DIY is the only way to go!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Ann LaFortune
      October 6, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      Don’t want to blow your mind…we bought the house next door to us for $27,500…put $35,000 into it…we have a wonderful cost of living here 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheri Hepworth
    October 6, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    When I first read the title, you had me worried you were quitting the upgrades!! Whew! Don’t scare me like that!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    A couple thoughts:

    1) I wouldn’t recommend comparing the total cost ($80K + improvements) to the selling prices of “comps”. Your work is custom in a way that most other houses will never be. And you have that crazy awesome huge lot.
    2) Yay for paying off your mortgage in 5 years! I would love for you to do some blog posts on that! That is a very laudable financial accomplishment! You and Matt will feel so free having paid it off! (and now with the condo gone, too!)
    3) I think you should add some financial information to your house tour. Can you add a cost tab to each room? Any maybe create a “other general upgrades” tab (like leveling, redoing hardwoods, HVAC, etc.). It would be cool, too, if you could “estimate” your labor costs (and the cost of any “free” labor, like your FIL and your mom).

    There are a lot of emotions attached to homes and money! Thanks for putting yourself out there so regularly!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Just wondering, can’t you take the expenses for your house and write them off as business tax deductions? I mean, since your business is your blog and you write about all of your projects, I would think that they could be written off as tax deductions on a Schedule C. Just really curious about this part of blogging.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi Linauer
      October 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Oh, how I wish! 🙂 But no, upgrades to my own personal home, even though I write about them as my job, aren’t tax deductible. That would be nice, though! 😀

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    I like how you think and you are doing a great job on the home. On top of that you have a custom home that will be completely handicapped accessible.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    The whole remodel / renovation process can be very daunting and is not for everyone. That said, Kristi is young and super skilled, so this process is her ticket to her dream home. Love this blog!

    Paying off the mortgage: If you have a standard, fixed rate, 30 year mortgage and make double payments every month (principal and interest) the loan will be paid off in 5 years, 4 months. You should write two checks every month, separate envelopes, one check marked very clearly “For Reduction of Principal Only”. Make a copy of both checks before mailing…sometimes the mortgage company will goof up and you need proof that you clearly meant for the second check to go to principal reduction.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      October 18, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      Thanks for the tip on how to do the mortgage reduction. I too would like to pay my mortgage off early.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Genelle McDaniel
    October 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Your way of affording what is turning in to a luxury home is the way to go. We should all be so blessed.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jeanne A.
    October 6, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    A little off topic, but …. Looking at the above picture of your music room, when it had very pale yellow stripes, shows how much your style has evolved to using brighter, clear colors since you began remodeling. The neutral beiges and former dull gray on the piano just don’t cut it! Your colorful piano, sideboard and kitchen cabinets are so much more “you,” and so much more interesting.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Elizabeth A
    October 6, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I am a firm believer that every house is a fixer upper. At some point in the house’s life it will need work – maybe fun/pretty work (decorating) or not fun/necessary work (roof and hot water tank replacement), but work all the same. I fully agree with your assessment that a fixer upper is a great way to go and you get to spend your money where you want instead of lining the bank’s pockets.

    We are hoping to DIY an entire house build with minimal contractor help so that I can do what I want and not what is “best.” Thank you for always going with your gut and making your home your own – it is very inspiring.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    The home we are in, is the home I want to spend the rest of my life in, our forever home. It was built in 1940, two story brick colonial. I love this house and doing reno’s, DIY and decorating and like you have done most of the work on my own, but hubby keeps saying, “Is it worth it?” “Why don’t we just buy a NEW house!” I want to expand our kitchen, the existing kitchen is only 8.5′ x 9.5′. Knocking out a wall between the kitchen and dining room and turn the family room into our formal dining room. I also want to expand our master bath, build a new closet in our master bedroom and add a deck off the (new) dining room, plus new windows throughout, not many, but enough,lol. About $50,000.00 +/- with us doing most of the work. The only contract work would be to move two gas lines, adding a support beam between the (old) dining room and kitchen and a bit of plumbing as I want the laundry on the first floor, hubby is an electrical engineer, so he will update all of that. He thinks that is too much money to put into this home and we might as well just buy a new house. We would definitely get it back if we ever did sell this house, we only paid 150,000 for this home and values for similar but smaller homes in this neighborhood have sold in the 180’s and up. Sometimes I sit and think, how much would we save by buying a new home and how much will this home really need/cost us in the future. Do I care what our kids get for the house when we move on to the other side, since I want this to be our forever home, because honestly the only way I ever want to move again is when they carry me out when I die. I think Old or New, homes are generally money pits. Things need to be updated over the years regardless of the age of the home. I have had a brand new home and older homes and they have all needed something, something went up, or I wanted to change the look. I don’t know if I see it as a money pit but as an investment into our biggest investment. I think all of our improvements, upgrades and decor makes the home ours and a huge part of us, since we put so much time and effort into it. I think it is worth it, making something for us, making it our home. This is the first home that has ever felt like a home to me (I have moved 18 times in my life, half of which while I was an adult, looking for “home”). I have personally put a lot of blood, sweat and tears (all literally) into this old house in the 4 years we have been here, it evolves every year more and more into our home, but now when I say I am home, I really mean I am home, which is the point I need to try to get across to hubby :/

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    You are investing in your quality of life. A house that Matt can feel comfortable and move around in. A home that you take immense pride in knowing you designed and built mostly on your own. Spaces that makes you happy when you walk through them. The vast education that you’ve given yourself by learning so many new skills. Regardless if a realtor would put a monetary value on the house equivalent to the dollars you spent in the end, you will get so much more out of your home! Keep up the good work, you are an inspiration 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    You do beautiful work. (I’m curious how you learned these skills.) Imagine what it would have cost if you’d had to hire someone. I hope that’s some consolation!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    A house is only worth what something is willing to pay for it. Kristi you are willing and it is worth it! I love to see your work and your results.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      October 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      I meant to type, A house is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Kristi and Matt, you are willing and it is worth it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    I wonder if, when we get to Heaven, there’s a special cloud for DIY’ers to sit an chat with 🙂 Imagine all the wonderful stories – no one will bother with the the tape totals stories coming out of Home Depot or Lowe’s…we’ll just giggle and relax on our cloud 🙂 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mary Anne Looby
    October 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Kristi, I would think good comps would be anything that the people that have the show from Waco do. They are customizing beat down homes (although I don’t think any have been as bad as yours, no offense). I am not a financial advisor, but I would think that if you applied for a home equity loan and had your home appraised for it’s current value, you could have an open LOC on the equity line and use that to purchase your materials. You could then take the take the tax deduction for any interest levied. It could be a way to get something back from your work. Another way is to have an American Express Card and use it to purchase everything you buy for the house. At the end of the year they send you a summary, grouped according to how you use the card. Purchases, travel, gas, food, etc. Amex awards points for every dollar spent. You pay your balance off in full every month. The points add up. They can be used a places to shop (home depot may be one of them). You can also exchange your points for AMEX gift cards which have no service charge, never expire and can be used just about everywhere. We use our amex to pay most of our bills automatically, for grocery shopping, gas, dining out, shopping etc. You know what you can afford to spend each month according to your budget, you stick with that and you pay it at the end of the month. Yes there is a small annual fee for the card, but that is nothing compared to what you can save. When our daughter got married we paid for airline tickets to St. John, VI, with AMEX points, we used our annual timeshare to get them a beautiful villa with a private pool. You have to be savy in these times with your money. There are lots of ways to spend and still have it work for you. I don’t think your home is a money pit. Yes it is costing,
    but the really big stuff is just about done, except for the addition and front elevation, and master bath. After that it should all be a piece of cake for someone with your talent. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so chill out, relax and enjoy the work as you go. You deserve to bask in the light of your accomplishments. They are amazing. Blessings

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi Linauer
      October 7, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Oh my goodness, Magnolia has done several houses that were FAR worse than mine! The first one that comes to mind is the house purchased by Joanna’s carpenter/furniture maker, Clint, and his wife: http://magnoliahomes.net/the-show/fixer-upper-episode-five/

      They bought that house for $10,000, and I’m pretty ambitious, but I remember watching that and thinking the only way to fix that house is with a bulldozer, and then rebuilding from the ground up.

      They’ve done several that I thought were beyond repair. My house was tragically outdated when we bought it, but I didn’t have missing drywall, caving in ceilings missing floors, etc. The structure of my house has always been sound.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Mary Anne Looby
        October 7, 2015 at 2:38 pm

        I didn’t mean to offend you. I don’t watch the show, so I have only seen commercials about what they do. I saw the show in the beginning once or twice but I cannot deal with the dialogue and the sameness of every thing. So if there were houses as you describe, and I have no doubt there were, I just never saw them. Blessings

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I came to terms with my own DIYing years ago when I realized that I DIY any house I own because two of the five houses I’ve owned over the years were brand new. It’s just something I love doing so much that I look for projects and since a house is never finished, I find them. Go for it Kristi, don’t second guess yourself just enjoy doing all your DIY projects, you are so fortunate to be able to do what you love to do.

    When I saw what you are paying for trim I cringed. I live in Denver and use a great surplus building materials warehouse for most of my trim, lumber, and other building materials saving a lot of money. Sure I need to visit it fairly often as the building materials move pretty quickly and I never know what I’ll find. However they always have a good supply of trim and lumber. I just make sure I buy the entire amount I need so I know it matches.

    I checked in your area and there is P&P Surplus Building Materials listed as a Home Improvement warehouse. This is where contractors sell their left over building materials from their construction jobs. Have you shopped there?

    Here is a partial list of all the items I have purchased at a home improvement warehouse: front door lock and hardware, new levers for all interior doors, baseboards and shoe molding, 8″ D cabinet used for bathroom storage, cabinet used for medicine cabinet (put my own mirror in door), house numbers and a flat drawer front to put the numbers on, cabinet knobs, 3 window inserts for my front door and two back doors, large left over pieces of oak butcher block, single cabinets I added to expand my kitchen after painting to match (purchased new doors online), towel bars and rings, rekeyable door locks, cabinet toe kick, paint, spray paint, 16 lbs. TimberMate Woodfiller for $20, hardwood floor polyurethane, tile, long 2″D cedar boards, 5/4 oak lumber, and much much more.

    I still use the big box stores for some things and like using smaller chain stores like Ace and True Value because they have coupons, often have great paint sales and great customer service. And finally, I use lumber yards when I can as they usually have a better price than the big box stores.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I really enjoy reading your perspective on this. I don’t think many people could live through a home project such as yours. It’s wonderful that you can use this for blog content but my guess is people with a job outside the home would not be able to do this extensive type of work themselves without getting burned out. That being said, this is such a great opportunity for you and Matt. I could see you buy another house to flip when you are done with yours or even as a way to make money for the big projects on your own home.

    Very awesome that you are paying off your house in five years!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rebecca B
    October 6, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Kristi, also, didn’t you also re wire the electric in the entire house?
    Another thought, you have to look at the fact that this is what you do for a living, fixing up the house is your job. Probably none of my business, but are the expenses tax deductible since your blog generates your income?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ellen T.
    October 6, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    As the proud owner of three brand new homes, no home, unless it’s custom by a custom builder, is not a fixer upper. I wish I had the guts to do what you do. I am enjoying your journey of making this house your home.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Tink Tink Tink. .A-hem, I propose a toast to all D.I.Y.er’s, especially Kristi.
    You lead, I follow, thank you very much.
    You make me feel more adventurous.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 6, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Hi Kristi,
    You are an inspiration! My first project that I dared tackle this summer was upgrading the wc in my father’s house. It was stuck in the 70’s, all browns and beige and yuk! Now it has white wainscoting, a new white toilet and mini basin, pale grey paint above the wainscoting and a couple of shelves with some decoration. Its only 1 sq meter… and it took me 3 1/2 weeks!! I’m so amazed and awed at the work you do and the time you do it in! Just awesome!
    Quick question… is there not a supplier who sells to contractors near you where you can buy at trade prices? I know you’re technically not a contractor/professional but you’re certainly more pro than the average DIY-er… These suppliers could be cheaper than HD and save you some money?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ann LaFortune
    October 6, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    We live in a wonderful 1951 cottage…we downsized…and then we upsized. I did so much of the work myself…tiling…painting…wallpapering…we also own 2 other homes in our neighborhood…we had a great contractor when we added our 660 sq’ addition. We’re in a good place…lots of homes being renovated and restored in our little neighborhood. We’re in for the long haul 🙂


    You have to go back awhile, but most of it’s been documented on my blog 🙂


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 7, 2015 at 2:35 am

    I’d like to add to all of this that much of that money is for changes you would have done even if you had bought a brand new house – e.g. the trims, pony walls, fireplace, paints… It’s just that as you fix things you also decorate them (or at least build whatever needs to be built to achieve the desired look). So you can’t really add all that money to fixing costs. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 7, 2015 at 8:37 am

    As I said before, yours is the best DIY blog out there. When you begin to wonder about the costs associated with “fixing up” your place, just think of what all the “fixing up” you did on your condo, and what the condo netted you in income. When you shared what the other condos were selling for in your area, and what you actually were able to sell yours for, you have to know that it was all your DIYing that enabled you to score a premium price from the buyer. I am certain we all realized the value of DIY when we heard the outcome! Since this is your “forever home”, not only are you adding true value to the property, but also you will get to enjoy the fruit of all your labors, not just pass them on to the next person!!! God gave you special skills and you are using them wisely.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Bravo for paying your house off in 5 years. And very nice, objective writing.