When we first started discussing buying our first home I had huge dream of something that needed a complete renovation. A huge fixer upper project. He, on the other hand, wanted something already finished and move in ready. We struck a great balance with our house now with some cosmetic updates being needed but nothing major that must be done to inhabit the home. When it comes down to it, everything in our home is perfectly fine, just maaaaybe a bit ugly. It works out great! I still have projects but no real stress that something must be done. If I don’t get to painting the neon pink bedroom this weekend, oh well, next weekend it is.
Our home passed inspection but, as expected since it was built in 1952, has some repairs that should be done sooner than later. Our chimney needs a new liner and some touch up on the mortar, our windows are old, and the garage needs some foundation touch ups. Luckily, the kitchen is a real beauty. I’m sorry, wait, this is 2016. She was a real beauty in maybe 1980? Yes, our kitchen could use a gut job too but for now everything is functioning.
How have we decided which projects to tackle first?
What must be hired out?
As crazy about DIY as we are, we simply cannot do everything on the house. You may luck out and have a handy partner that can do more than the average folk but you will still need expertise somewhere whether it’s plumbing, electrical, or adding an addition. Experts are required for certain projects. For the renovations we knew were top on our list like a new chimney liner and windows, we knew these must be done professionally so we budgeted the money aside first.
How did you decide what is on the top of your list?
Home Inspection Results
The first things we budgeted for were the major things that came up in the home inspection. We don’t need the chimney to function in order to live but the chimney is not usable in its current state. One of the overused sayings in our house is
Plan for the worst, hope for the best
This may sound pessimistic to some, but we consider ourselves realists. In a perfect world we are in this home for a long long time to come. However, in case we need to move, why would we try selling a house we knew had certain issues to begin with? We wanted to check off what came up on the inspection so if it comes time to sell we know exactly the condition the home is in when we do so.
Return on Investment
Next, we did some research on what home updates have the highest return on investment. Not all home updates add significant value to your home. The full bathrooms upstairs are a bit dated. I would love to renovate them down the line maybe but, surprisingly, bathrooms have one of the lowest ROIs at sale. What this means is if we spend $10,000 renovating the bathroom, it may only add $6,000 to our home value. Conversely, new windows have one of the highest ROIs. Windows are one of the few investments you will immediately save money on in the future. Buying energy efficient windows will save on your heating bills in the winter and there are many government grants to help you finance them.
While we are saving for the windows and chimney work to be done, of course I want to still make some changes cosmetically. The easiest, cheapest, and biggest improvement you can do is paint. Painting a home in a color you chose is an immediate feeling of gratification and an easy way to make your new house feel like your home. Other quick, cheap improvements you can do include:
- Updating doorknobs or hardware
- Updating shower head
- Updating bathroom faucets
- Paint interior doors
- Paint trim
To keep track of projects now and in the future we use a budget sheet that we put in estimates and actual costs. Using this, we budget each year how much we will have to use towards home updates. We then brainstorm which home updates we will plan on that year and estimate the cost. For example, in year 3 we have a kitchen renovation. Once the update occurs and we have the real cost, we update the spreadsheet which automatically recalculates how much we then have remaining in the budget (whether we were over or under our estimate and have more or less in the budget).
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How have you planned for renovations? What did you start first?