Wednesday, September 25

First Home Remodel Realities

Congratulations,  you just bought your first home. It's not new, but it is definitely new to you. No more crummy apartments, or worse, your mom's spare room! This place is yours, all yours. Every last bit, the outdated kitchen and light fixtures, down to the stained carpet and scuffed up walls.  So you now have a remodel project and a depleted budget. What do you do?
Unlike my previous posts on kitchen remodel phases, remodeling a house in phases is totally different. Especially if you just moved in to someone else's filth. (I know, I did it in March of 2012 while six months pregnant!). So what do you do and when?
I still stand by my top down mentality, however, I am going to throw a giant wrench into your plan. After all, remodeling a house is a science, especially when your on a budget.  When your living in the house, and putting up with the mess day in and day out, the "science" has some pretty big variables to keep in mind.  And especially when the house has been poorly maintained and quite possibly a hazard to your health.  How can a house be a hazard?  Simple, lead paint, asbestos, or even remains of pet waste that has soaked through the flooring.  That can be a hazard to your health or your families!
What are your top priorities? 
No really, I am being serious! Don't tell me the outdated but fully functional kitchen is your top priority.  It works, yes the cabinets are golden oak and the appliances are a rainbow of available colors.....but it all works perfectly fine, and gets the job done. When I talk about priorities, I am talking about things like that urine soaked carpet covering the entire residence,  the holes in the doors, the broken ceiling fans, asbestos in the linoleum, these priorities. The ones that for health and your sanity, should be fixed right away.  You wouldn't want to spend your remaining budget on a kitchen full of stainless steel appliances, when the flooring is saturated in cigarette smoke, and the single pane windows are letting all your air conditioned air out!
When I got the keys to my house, the entire floor was covered in carpet that was soaked into the slab with dog urine.  Not to mention the chain smoker who lived there prior to us, leaving a film of residue over every wall and the ceilings.  So while yes my 1986 oak kitchen with three colors worth of appliances bug me, the floor is a health thing. Remember, I was pregnant.  We spent the majority of our fix up budget on getting the house healthy for myself, and the new member of our family. 
It is all about priorities and budget. While typically yes, you want to work from the ceiling down, you need to prioritize health and must fix asap issues, before you fix cosmetic ones.
How long are you going to stay in this house
Again, I know your a single gal living in a 2 bedroom 1 bath condo. You can't honestly believe you are going to be there until your 60 right? Our house is a 3 bed 2 bath duplex. I have one kid already and know at least one more will be coming in a few years. The schools around here SUCK! I don't see myself living here ten years from now. So think about it, honestly! Why spend $30-40,000 on your dream kitchen when your not even going yo be there to enjoy it? Take a page out of my book. I painted my cabinets. My 1986 honey oak cabinets are now a dark shade of almost black brown. New hinges and hardware, looks like a brand new kitchen. I am sticking with the awful tile and array of mis-matched appliances until they die! Why not right? Rustolium makes a great kit, Cabinet Transformations. $300 and you have a brand new kitchen sistah!
Again, be honest with yourself. That's the best way to truly be happy with your new investment.  When fixing up that fixer upper, it is best to take your heart strings out of the equations, and think about your upgrades and updates as a business investment, since after all, it is an investment.  If done wrong, or poorly, you could end up wasting your money!
Here is what I spent my money on!
We spent about $10,000 fixing up our home, trying to get it livable.  Here is what we did:
  1. Flooring through out. We got laminate flooring through the majority of the house, and carpet in the three bedrooms.  The tile in the two bathrooms worked out well, so that is the only flooring we kept.  We had Home Depot install the flooring for us. They had a killer deal, if you get more than 200 square feet of "Special Order" laminate flooring, they will install for $397, plus the whole house of carpet for $99. I picked a color of laminate that looked good with the honey oak, but will also look good once I painted them.  (I already knew the color I wanted to go with, thus working from the top down!)  We also got new baseboards, since the oak 1x2's didn't look pretty!  I also slapped a fresh coat of paint on the fireplace, and painted the mantle to match the fireplace.
  2. Paint and Primer.  I am not a smoker.  If you smoke, that's your business, but I do not want to come home to an ash tray after a long day at work, no offense!  So we ended up priming and painting the entire house, ceilings, trim and all! 
  3. Painted the kitchen cabinets.
  4. New lighting fixtures through out the whole house.  The 1986 fixtures were hideous and didn't put out much light at all! 
  5. Replace the toilets, as I said, this house was filthy!  I didn't want to touch those things!
  6. Install new shower heads in both bathrooms because there weren't any. 

The things still on our list:
  1. Replace lavatory faucets (These are piled up in the closet!) as well as install new towel bars.
  2. Paint the bathroom cabinets and laundry cabinets.
  3. Repaint all the bedroom doors and closet doors (those are piled up in my garage)
  4. Replace appliances.
  5. New counter tops throughout.  (I am working on my husband on this one!)
I hope this helps!  As I have said before, it's very important to get help if you don't know where to start.  A realtor can help you with this, as well as a designer.  You are investing your money, invest it like it's a business, and that is the best way to make your money back.  We sure have, in just 18 months!