We moved into our current home just over five years ago. At that time the house was a foreclosure, owned by the bank, and a major fixer-upper. In fact, we got a fixer-upper loan which rolled some repair costs into the mortgage.
Since we bought the house we’ve done quite a bit of work on it, but it is by no means finished. You could probably work on this house for a decade before finally finishing up! Here are some of the things we’ve done on it so far:
- Replaced screen door, front and back doors, garage entry door.
- Replaced all of the windows, except three.
- Re-carpeted the living room.
- Re-floored the bathroom.
- Painted: bathroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, four bedrooms.
- Replaced dining room ceiling fan.
- Had bats evicted from the attic and reinsulated up there.
- Some rewiring.
- Installed handrails on three stairways.
- Replaced bathroom toilet and showerhead.
- Replaced kitchen faucet.
- Replaced bathroom sink faucet.
- Replaced many of the curtain rods, window coverings, and blinds.
- Patched holes in the walls and ceiling.
- Had plumbing repaired because pipes had burst when in bank’s possession.
- Removed disgusting carpeting from stairs.
- Bought new fridge, stove and microwave (only came with a dishwasher).
- Fenced the entire yard.
- Repaired gutters.
- Repaired and replaced some fascia.
- Had three trees trimmed (two in front rubbed against shingles during storms).
There is still a fair bit of work to do on the house. Now that we’re trying to get it ready to sell, there are even more things that we would like to fix so that we can maximize our profit. That way when the right house comes along, we’ll be able to afford it. The following is a list of what we would still like to get done.
- Replace overhead garage door & install garage door opener. (We currently have an old 50’s-type model that tends to fall apart every once in a while.)
Replace door between garage and basement.(The “door handle” consists of a length of knotted rope. Not even kidding.)
Paint trim & handrail. Re-caulk. Re-shingle part of roof that has a leak. Weed flower beds, strawberry patch, rhubarb.
Remove wallpaper border. Paint walls.
Paint walls& ceiling. Install toe molding. Paint trim.
Paint walls& ceiling. Paint trim.
- Shampoo carpet.
Remove all wallpaper. Patch cracks in walls & sand. Paint walls & ceiling.
- Paint closet.
Replace 2 broken windows. Replace ceiling fan. Install toe molding. Replace window treatments.
BATHROOM (main floor)
Install 2 new bathroom lights. Paint vanity, plus new hardware. Replace bathroom faucet. Re-caulk. Install new mirror. Install floor transition. Replace broken shower hose.
Replace rotten subfloor. Install new floor & trim. Paint walls & closet.
- Install trim on cabinets. (skipped!)
Sand & paint cabinets. Install new hardware on cabinets.(Some is missing and one handle is held together with duct tape).
- Install new countertop (skipped),
sink, faucet& backsplash (skipped). Install new floor.(The kitchen & laundry room had rotted subfloor from when the pipes burst and the bank didn’t address the issue). Install new trim. Replace ceiling fan. Assemble new cabinet. Paint walls. Replace stove hood.
Replace light fixture. Replace broken light switch box. Paint walls & ceiling. Remove staples from stairs.
Replace light fixture. Install closet light. Paint walls, ceiling & closet.
Replace broken window. Install closet light. Replace light fixture.
Paint walls & closet. Install door jamb. Install closet light. Replace light fixture.
Remove hook from ceiling, patch &paint. Paint closet. Install closet light. Replace light fixture.
UPPER BACK PORCH
Replace broken doorknob. Rip down ceiling. Install insulation. Paint walls. Paint floor. Caulk & paint door.
BASEMENT WATER HEATER ROOM
- Paint stone walls with Kilz.
Paint walls & ceiling white. Paint stairs gray. Replace utility sink & repair its plumbing. Tape & patch large holes in basement stairwell wall.(The way our old house settled has caused some of the lath and plaster to bow out in this location a little bit.) Remove ancient freezer that the bank refused to get rid of(they left it full of old, leaky paint cans).
BASEMENT TOOL ROOM
Paint stone walls with Kilz. Paint walls white. Plug hole in chimney. Insulate coal chute.
BASEMENT REC ROOM
Replace 2 broken doorknobs. Paint stone walls with Kilz. Paint walls & closet white. Paint stairs gray. Replace light fixture. Replace ceiling fan.
Paint vanity, plus new hardware.
- Paint stone walls with Kilz.
- Install vinyl floor. (skipped)
Paint walls white. Put vision-obscuring cling on window.
BASEMENT ELECTRICAL ROOM
Paint walls white.
- Paint stone walls with Kilz.
Replace rickety shelf.
Remove nails, patch holes & touch up paint in all rooms. Replace dirty/painted light switches & outlets.
As you can see, we have our work cut out for us. We’ve already started on the kitchen flooring job, which is a big project. My dad has spent the last three days helping us cut out the rotten subfloor, remove all the debris, yank out screws, and cut and install new subfloor. In between his work, I got to remove old grout and sand the floor. I think we’ll wait to install the new floor until we’ve finished painting cupboards and installing the new counter and sink. I have this major fear of scratching up a new floor.
I’ve also decided to ask some friends for help with a few projects. Painting is something that I enjoy doing with other people, otherwise it’s very tedious and lonely. One of my friends already came over and helped me do some painting in the basement. It was a good chance to catch up!
I’m usually uncomfortable asking people for help, but in this case I know that it would take us a long time to complete all of this work by ourselves.
In the midst of our working, we talked with my dad about wanting to get into a house that would comfortably house my parents, as well. We asked him about what benefits he would be receiving once he reached retirement age, and it was as we thought–not enough to support them independently. My dad is a very proud and independent man, so he doesn’t like the idea of “depending” on us, though that’s not how I see it at all. I simply see it as combining households so that we can all live in comfort and not be struggling just to keep a roof over our heads. I don’t want my parents to lack in their later years, and I think that my dad understands that. We emphasized that we would be looking for a place that would allow all of us to have our own space, so that they don’t have to feel like they’re intruding on our space and so that they can have privacy and peace when they want it. I think that will be the key to living together successfully–we have to be able to go to our own spaces when we feel the need for some solitude. Just like in a large family, sometimes you need to walk away from the noise and activity so that you can keep your sanity. 😉
There is a couple at our church who are real estate agents. I asked the wife if she would come out and look at our place because we were looking at selling, but had no idea what our house was worth. We need to know what kind of profit we’ll make so that we know how much of a down payment we can make on a new place. I don’t want to start looking at houses that we can’t even afford! She gave us some good news–in its current condition, our house has gone up almost $20,000 in value. That means we would have a sizable down payment on a new place. She also said that if we did the kitchen updates and other improvements we were talking about, that figure could go even higher. That’s good news because a higher profit gives us more options.
The way I see it, we have a couple of options when looking for a new place–either a move-in ready house that will cost a decent chunk of change, or a major fixer-upper that is dirt cheap, but needs extensive repairs. Some of those old inner-city houses are complete gut-jobs. We shall see what happens…
*I’ll cross off the spruce-up jobs as they are completed.