My Fixer Upper
Over the past few month, my spouse and I embarked on an exciting and stressful adventure. We decided to sell my old house and purchase our first fixer upper. With our family of eight, we needed a house with a large lot for the children to run and play. Ample square footage for us to fit everyone in their own space and for this house to fit within our budget so we could make it a home with the help of a few renovations.
At first glance this house was perfect, my spouse and I own a construction business, so no hurdle should be to hard to jump…at least we thought. We purchased the house as bank repo at our own risk and peril.
A few things to know when you make such a move, be sure to do a thorough inspection and to negotiate the price accordingly. Once you own the house all unfortunate discoveries will be too late to negotiate or even get compensation.
In our case, the inspection was good. All the big-ticket items had been updated within the past few years: Roof 5 years old, windows 7 years old, fully finished basement 7 years old, septic system 3 years old.
We noticed some electrical that would need to be updated but the inspector could not open walls to asses at what expense.
Feeling confident we went ahead with the purchase and I embarked on my Pinterest quest to find renovation and décor Ideas:
- Open concept kitchen
- Country style bead board ceilings
- Garage conversion to Master suite
- Addition of a third bathroom
With 6 girls under one roof, you can never have too many bathrooms…
Let the fun begin
Day one, we needed to re-open the house as it was winterized and had been inhabited for over 7 months. This meant flipping all the breakers to on, opening the water, starting the pump for the well.
We brought in our electrician to help put power back on and our first issue appeared. Electrical fire in the basement. Luckily it was caught on time and no major damage occurred.
When putting the water back on we noticed an accumulation on the bathroom floor…little did we know the toilet was a decoration and had not been connected.
We then pulled out the sledge hammers, to tare down walls for the new open concept kitchen. All was good until we uncovered loads of mice droppings. Lesson to be learned: When you live in the country get a cat!
So can you see the trend…as we moved on to more of the kitchen reno we soon realised our budget would be blown on unexpected issues. We had to rewire the entire first floor of the house as the electrical was clearly not done by a professional and was a severe fire hazard.
We soon uncovered water on the basement floor coming in from where we still are unsure but will be tackling this issue as soon as the kitchen renos are done.
We used our network of suppliers to get great deals on appliances, materials and technical support. We also used communities like Houzz to find new suppliers for some of the projects we were not willing to tackle do to lack of time.
For the DYI lovers we also used Kijiji to find great salvage pieces like a 100 year old door for our new pantry.
Here is our kitchen, as you can see it is not done yet but a wonderful work in progress.
Here are a few words of advice when taking on a fixer upper:
- Have a budget for each of your renovation projects and be sure to include a buffer for unexpected expenses like electrical, plumbing or even exterminators, etc.
- Prioritize the projects by importance and ROI (Kitchen and Bathroom renovations will bring you the biggest returns when done well)
- If you decide to live in the house while you are renovating, take one project on at a time and do not start another until the first one is complete. Your sanity and family will thank you.
- If you are not handy or knowledgeable in construction or renovations, hire a pro who will be sure to do things right.
- Make sure you have loads of patience as small or big hurdles may arise. This does not mean your fixer upper is doomed but you may need to put some of your projects on the back burner for a while.
Now will you be brave enough to try a fixer upper?
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