My Remodel: Getting started

HousebeforeLet me be blunt: My house looks like a crack house. How else do you explain the peeling paint, drafty single-pane windows, leaky fixtures, falling-down fences and overall look of neglect?

Before I explain the sorry state of affairs, I’m happy to report that this will all be changing in the next few months (and years) as my husband Bill and I embark upon our own home-improvement projects, which I will be sharing on this blog.

Though we have lived here for some time (and want to live here throughout our lives), some unexpected legal issues arose with the property’s title, and we could not put any money into the house until the issues were resolved. And they have been.

In the interim, though, the raggedy house fell deeper and deeper into disrepair. And I swear, we’re not crack addicts. We don’t even drink!

We are starting out with a modest chunk of money — $22,500 — and we will have to earn the rest as we go along. As you can imagine, we will be doing most of the work ourselves. As my husband is a former contractor (now a trainer), he knows a lot about remodeling (everything, it seems) and he’s got all the cool tools. On the other hand, he does his training in other states. And so as he flies all over the country to do his thing, I’ll be the wind beneath the wings of our remodeling projects.

I’m actually excited about our limited budget. I’ve written articles about more than 500 remodeling projects over the years, and some of them had virtually no budgetary limits. To me, that would be hard, to not know where the boundaries are. For me, it will be fun to do the most I can with the limited funds available and to work hard to raise more money.

Here’s our budget so far:

Exterior paint: $2,000 (for a budget-quality job)
Upstairs bathroom: $1,500 (floor, vanity with sink, mirror, wall tile, skylight, door)
Downstairs bathroom: $2,000 (new shower and pan)
New deck: $10,000
Main-floor windows: $5,000 (10 at $500 each)
Horse fencing: $2,000 (350 feet)

We’re also setting aside $20,000 for Bill to build a steel building in which to shoot training videos. I’m proud of myself for allowing him so much of our funds to follow his dream. But my dream has already come true, and that is: We’re finally starting to fix up the house. Oh happy day.

8 Comments on My Remodel: Getting started

  1. Susan

    Every remodel has the potential to be a lot of fun, regardless of funds. Funds have little to do with it. It’s all about the outlook of the remodeler. And, yes, I’ve been in the position where my husband has agreed to invest in my dream (I actually can’t count the times) and to me, your comment comes across as it being a selfless “gift” to him. You should be proud of being able to be generous, that’s a good thing!
    This will be fun. I look forward to all of your agonizing decisions!

  2. Carl Heldmann

    KRP, In my Construction Loan consulting, people always ask (and usually complain), “Why do I need Title Insurance”?
    Why indeed!
    Carl Heldmann

  3. tarbubble

    eek! i admit, i’m jealous. when the time comes that we are able to buy a fixer-upper, i plan on making that sucker into MY home, too. and i agree with Sheila, mature trees make the run-downest house seem wonderful. you can’t buy that kind of landscaping (well, maybe if you were a multimillionaire).
    good luck and be sure to post occasional updates on your progress!

  4. Kathy Price-Robinson

    Thank you all for your support. Lil Gaucha, I do appreciate the tips about the glue! Sheila, it is T-1-11 on our house, very perceptive! I’ll have more to say about that in a posting. I hope you send pics of your house someday! And Jeannie, thanks for your defense!

  5. sheila

    congrats, and wow, what a lovely approach! no amount of money could buy those mature trees, so you already have an advantage there.
    i realize you are not really soliciting style suggestions, but if i may, i might propose that you consider siding that might reconcile what appears to be a cinderblock lower floor with a plywood upper floor.
    i’m sure many people will squeal in horror when i say that i spent some time experimenting with simple T-1-11 plywood (maybe that’s what you have upstairs already?), various samples of dark stains and varnish and got a really lovely “cabin” feel for a very affordable price. you can buy a piece at home depot, have them cut it into large sections, test out stain/varnish combos and lean them against the house to see them in different lights, so you’ll know which one suits you.
    this will not be as cheap as painting, and yes, it is a somewhat decorative use of wood (i’m actually using it as a structural element) but it might take you much farther in terms of visually relating the structure to the pine-studded surroundings than any paint could… maybe you can borrow from the deck fund until next summer or procrastinate on the windows a little longer?? just a thought…
    and i agree, the budget can make it more fun because it forces you to get creative. good luck to you!

  6. Jeannie

    Hey Get a Grip,
    How do you know where their funds come from?? In addition to blogging, KPR is a successful writer and author of several books. In any event, it is nice when couples pool their resources together to follow their dreams.

  7. lil_gaucha

    Congrats! You’re embarking on a wonderful grand adventure! Good for you.
    If you don’t kill each other in the process, it will make you so much closer as a couple.
    We’re three months into our remodel adventure and we’ve learned so much already (Lesson one: when installing wood flooring glue-down style, be sure to buy a big box of latex gloves and wear only your oldest, nastiest clothes. That stuff doesn’t come off clothes, skin, hair — it’s evil!).
    The hardest battles (budgeting and buying tools) is already won.
    now let the fun begin!

  8. Get a grip

    >>>I’m proud of myself for allowing him so much of our funds to follow his dream. <<< Wow. You come a cross as a bitter, self absorbed woman. It sounds like your husband is INVESTING in his business, which also sounds like it pays more of the bills than blogging for the L.A. Times does. PLUS, the new building will be a huge tax write off as it is used for business. Get off your high horse and cut your husband some slack. Your condescension oozes through cyberspace.