We moved into our latest home in November of 2019. The home is a dated, split-level with 1970s paneling, ugly wallpaper, carpet everywhere, and snot yellow walls. Fun!:
Oh, throw in some cigarette stench and a dilapidated pool. This is the home only a flipper can love. But that’s what I am, so we bought it. It’s time to provide an update on our progress.
While Mindy and I bought the home to fix up, we’re very long-term flippers. We don’t want to move again until the youngest baby bird has left the nest and she is only 10 now. Our extended timelines change the way we think about the home.
We’re not focused on just making improvements that will add value. Some of the changes we’ll make are for our own enjoyment and may not make any money at all. Some may even be money losers. Or convince other humans that I’ve lost my mind. One example of this is the upcoming T-Rex outdoor pizza oven!:
While a potential buyer may not appreciate Pizzasaurus Rex, it will increase our happiness (picture smoke coming out the T-Rex ears [Oh yes, this will be awesome.]) and also provide us with wood-fired pizza. Mmmm, pizza…
Pizzasaurus Rex is a project for 2021. In the meantime, I’ll regale you with my progress (or lack of it).
The Win Column
The guest bathroom was ugly and had carpet everywhere. Including around the toilet. If you pee standing up, you know why this is a problem. For the ladies out there, sometimes men hit the target, but not always.
I’m off-topic no. How do polite posts devolve into conversations about toilets and pee?
Anyway, the first big project was remodeling the bathroom (YouTube video here!).
- Cost: $1,020
- Value Added: $4,000*
*I’m pulling this number out of my behind because these things are hard to estimate.
The 40-year-old home had 40-year-old windows. They were not efficient and a couple of them were broken.
We went with fancy fiberglass windows. They were more expensive than vinyl, but I like the solid feel of them.
Twelve windows and three sliding doors set us back a load of money, but the home will be more comfortable when Old Man Winter shows up. In Colorado, this happens to be today (9/8!):
We also went with triple-pane windows in some rooms to block out the yappy neighborhood dogs. Finally, we replaced one window with a sliding door which allows easy access to the deck.
While windows set us back a load of money, we saved a ton by doing the job ourselves. One of those window replacement companies would have charged over $20,000 for inferior windows.
The job wasn’t bad either. I hired a friend to help out and we completed everything in 12 hours.
- Cost: $17,000
- Added value: I’m going to call this one a wash. We installed fiberglass windows which cost a lot more than vinyl, but I doubt most people care. I’ve never seen another home with fiberglass.
I finally finished building the fancy curved deck. I started this project in March, but then COVID and summer got in the way.
- Cost: $7,000
- Value Added: This is a hard one to estimate. If we had paid someone to build this it would have set me back at least $20,000 and we never would have broken even. However, because I did the work myself, it will probably add some value to the home.
And the pergola that goes over the deck is finished too:
This was a fun one to design and build. Because the span is about 25′ between the corner supports, I had to use aluminum beams. They are covered in stained cedar now, but here is what it looked like before:
- Cost: $3,200 ($1,200 for aluminum beams and fastening hardware, $2,000 for wood)
- Value Added: This is another hard one. The pergola turned out great, but it doesn’t provide the same bang for the buck as an interior project like a new kitchen or bathroom.
The backyard is looking pretty neat:
I don’t enjoy living in a hot cave which is exactly what this home felt like when we bought it. Overhead lighting was scarce. So were fans. Here is what I did:
- Installed a whole house fan. These work like magic in Colorado with our cool evening temperatures.
- Installed LED, recessed lighting in the master bedroom and office.
- Installed ceiling fans in two of the bedrooms.
- Cost: ~$700 ($118 for 2 fans [Ebay!], $120 for 12 lights, $250 for whole house fan, and the rest for switches, wiring, and electrical boxes)
- Value Added: No clue.
The Opposite Of The Win Column
One improvement that has been in a state of Project Purgatory is the basement:
We bought the home with the basement completely unfinished and are turning it into a finished room with a media area, kitchenette, and full bathroom.
I pulled a permit in January and hit the ground running at maximum speed. Completed tasks include:
- Egress window ($1,200: $600 for window, $300 for concrete cut, $300 for window well): I dug this out myself, but paid some to cut the concrete.
- Bathroom rough-in ($100 for various plumbing parts): The basement had no rough-ins for plumbing, so I opened the floor and tied my waste lines into the main drain.
- Ductwork ($150): I tied into existing ducts. Not hard, but that metal is sharp! Ouch.
- Framing ($1,200): Here in Colorado, we have unstable dirt, so you have to float the walls. That and all of the ****ing ducts meant that framing took a loooooong time. I spent many, many hours staring at the ceiling, contemplating how I was going to build around certain ducts.
The basement isn’t that far from being useable space. I still need to wire it up, install insulation, and complete all of the finishing work, but the heavy lifting is done. For me at least. I do most of the work myself, but someone else can install the drywall.
Spring 2022 Will Not Happen
Had I known about COVID, I’m not sure I would have bought this home. The last thing I wanted was another death march like our last flip where I completed extensive renovations on the home while working a full-time job. This was a very bad idea. In the age of COVID, I’m spending a lot of time managing remote learning, so I don’t have the time I thought I’d have when we bought the home.
My original goal was to have to home done by spring of 2022, but hit is unrealistic now. Spring of 2023 is more likely.
At this time, you may say this:
So what? You’re going to be there for at least 8 years.
To this, I’d reply:
- I’d tedious to live in a home that’s half-finished. The carpets are dirty, the shower in the master bath doesn’t work. I have lots of repairs to do. Part of what made this home appealing was the thought that I could get through all of the work quickly.
- In the age of COVID, we’re in the home more than ever. Pre-COVID, I didn’t spend much time in the home while the girls were in school. I’d drop the girls off at school and head over to the coworking space or exercise outside. Now, we’re in the
construction projecthome All. The. Time.
- I don’t like open-ended projects. They weigh on me mentally.
At this time, you may say this:
OK Mr. Complainypants. Whatever.
And you’d be right. Life is still pretty good. And it will be even better with Pizzasaurus Rex.
Join the 10s who have signed up already!
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*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.