I have some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that Kim and I are, at long last, finished with major remodeling on our new home. That means I’ll have plenty of time to write about money again. Yay! (As bonus good news, I’ll probably be writing less about the house. But not today. Today, I’m writing about the house.)
The bad news is that our remodeling projects took much longer (and cost much more) than we expected. To seasoned homeowners, this will come as no surprise. Nevertheless, it’s no fun to have spent two-and-a-half months (and tens of thousands of dollars) to make repairs.
When we bought our new home, we knew it needed work. The pre-purchase inspection revealed plenty of problems, from a failing roof to rotten siding to crumbling decks. It was even possible that the foundation was falling apart!
Before buying, Kim and I talked at length about whether we wanted to take on this sort of project. For five years, we lived in a cozy condo — a condo that was relatively new and trouble-free. Did we really want to trade that for a long list of headaches? Ultimately, we decided we did.
I crunched the numbers. “If the condo sells for as much as I think it will, we should have $40,000 or $50,000 to make repairs,” I said. “That should be enough to cover everything — unless the foundation is shot.”
The condo sold for more than I expected, which meant that we moved to our new old house with a $59,000 “profit” that could be funneled directly into our remodeling projects. We started right away.
The Money Pit
I’m not sure how things are in other parts of the country, but here in Portland contractors are booked solid for weeks — or months. I started calling around in early July, only to learn that many companies wouldn’t be able to start work until September or later. (One roofing company asked if it’d be okay for them to replace our roof in November.)
We eventually were able to book people for all of the work we wanted to have done. Over the past two months, we’ve paid for the following projects:
- HVAC System. We completely replaced the previous HVAC system, installing an ultra-high efficiency furnace and air conditioner. (In retrospect, the A/C was probably the dumbest home improvement decision I’ve ever made. It seemed like a good idea at the time, though.) Total cost: $15,069.
- Gas line. The folks who bought our condo didn’t want the gas range, so they simply gave it to us. Great! Except that we didn’t have a gas line running to the kitchen. We paid a handyman to install everything. Total cost: $1,000 and a lot of cursing.
- Floors. When we moved in, the floors were shot in every room but two. There was extensive water damage (and rot) in the bathroom and one bedroom. The carpets in three rooms were caked with mold, mildew, and animal urine. It stunk so bad that some days it gave me a headache. We hired a company to replace the carpets, install oak floors in the kitchen, and refinish the wood floors throughout the house. Total cost: $9,585 and mild cursing.
- House envelope. Our biggest expense came from having to replace the entire envelope surrounding the home. We paid one company to do all of this work. While replacing the roof, they found extensive rot in one area and had to replace the plywood. While removing the old siding, they found many areas of rot, including a large section behind the bathroom where termites had invaded. This led to an unplanned bathroom remodel (see below) plus some re-framing. Last of all, they replaced the front deck, which had begun to collapse. Total cost: $36,680.56.
- Gutters. While replacing the envelope, our contractor paid another company to install new gutters and downspouts. Total cost: $1,300.
- Bathroom. As I mentioned above, we had to tear up half of the bathroom (and part of one bedroom) in order to remove rotted material that was drawing insects to the house. This project was a colossal headache to everyone involved — but it looks great now! Total cost: $4,300.05, many late nights, and tons of cursing.
All told, we’ve spent $67,934.61 on remodeling since July 1st. That’s roughly 15% over our $59,000 budget. I guess things could be worse — we might have had to replace the foundation! — but the expense is still painful. We had hoped to spend less than $59,000 so that we could use the leftover money to buy a hot tub for the backyard. I guess the jacuzzi will have to wait.
“You should watch The Money Pit,” a friend told me recently after hearing about our trials and tribulations. I scowled at her. “No, I’m serious,” she said. “It’s hilarious. Plus, you’ll totally be able to relate to it now. It might actually feel better about your situation.”
No Longer a Shack
When I’m out walking the dog, I often stop and chat with neighbors. They’re curious about all of our projects. “That place is a shack,” one lady told me last week. “I’ve been in it many times. It needs a lot of work.” I’m pleased to report that our house is no longer a shack.
Now that the hard stuff is over, there are lots of little things left to do — new paint in every room, prepping the guest bedroom, minor repairs all over the place — but the major projects are complete. We’re ready to relax and enjoy the space. Last weekend, we finally felt comfortable having our first houseguests.
Next week, I’ll tackle one last thing before the autumn rains set in. Based on the recommendation of my pal Mr. Money Mustache, I’m having a pre-fab shed delivered. After that’s installed in the back yard, it’ll become Money Boss HQ. It’ll take some time to insulate, hang drywall, lay floors, and so on, but my hope is that by the end of October, I’ll be able to move my office from its current location (a 25 minute drive from home!) to its new spot, right next to the vegetable garden.