When we decided to move back home to Florida, I started looking for a house with good bones that needed some updating. I love a small DIY home renovation and I wanted to find a great house, in a great neighborhood, at a great price, that just needed a little love. (Side note: A big house, for a family of nine is not a small DIY home renovation project)
I saw a diamond in the rough, and a house priced significantly lower than every other house on the street. An opportunity to take a house with great bones and make it the perfect house for our family. Well, we found one that needs a bit of work, so we are doing it ourselves as much as we can. With my dad’s help and the internet, of course.
This was a picture of the home on the real estate listing. I’m not sure when this picture was taken, but the house did not look like this when I first saw it. I would guess that picture was probably five to seven years before they listed the house for sale.
Since I’m a home remodel junkie, I can only assume some of you are too, I’ve documented most of the work. We’ve done a lot of it as a family, but haven’t been afraid to hire out when necessary or if we do not have the skills required to complete the job.
I’ll also be sharing costs and how we did it. I’ve spent hours researching DIY, remodeling projects, and renovations internet, so why not share what works and what doesn’t with the rest of the world?
Pre Move-in Renovation Projects
Our goal after purchasing the house was to get the “main things” finished before we moved in. The main projects are:
- Kitchen remodel
- All wallpaper removed
- Entire interior of the house painted (walls retextured where necessary)
- All flooring replaced
- All trim replace (holy moly was this a cruddy job!)
- Replace sliding glass door with a wall in living room
- General repairs due to age/ water damage/ neglect
- Renovate small half bath
- All lighting replaced
If you’ve ever started a small or large home renovation project, you will quickly learn that a project usually isn’t just a project. A kitchen renovation exposes wiring and plumbing issues. Wallpaper removal ends up being three layers instead of one. Ripping up carpet on the wall exposes mold issues, and so on.
Post Move-in Renovation Projects
We had never taken on a remodeling project this large and I’m pretty sure I underestimated the time and money it would take to complete the tasks listed above. After we moved in we planned to continue working on these projects:
- Redo pool deck, pool surface, and screen in the pool. (finished)
- Relocate the door to the garage. (finished)
- Divide large space into a mud room and home office. (finished)
- Remove door to exterior in office and replace with windows. (finish)
- Build barn door for office. (finished)
- Add cabinets/ shelving to mud room.
- Build a second pantry. (finished)
- Cut/ trim trees. (finished- thank you hurricanes!)
- Remove two wooden trellis structures in the yard. (finished)
- Replace wood siding with hardy board and paint the exterior of the house. (finished)
- Remodel four bathrooms.
- Landscape exterior.
- Replace roof. (finished)
- Remove popcorn ceiling.
- Add built-ins to family room.
- Add shelving to hall closet. (finished)
It took approximately two months for us to finish phase one of the DIY home renovation and move into the house. We ended up moving in before the kitchen was finished because we were so desperate to be in our house! Now, almost five years later we are working through phase two of the project as time and money allows.
Did a DIY Home Renovation make financial sense?
When we purchased the house it was priced about 40-50% less than other homes of the same size in our neighborhood. After five years we’ve spent approximately $100,000 in renovations, which includes the complete pool makeover, but does not include the roof (which was damaged in a storm and covered by insurance).
My goal is to live in this house as long as possible, but never invest more into the house than it we could sell it for. As with any home, some repairs and renovations end up being necessary – like replacing a roof or air conditioning unit. But other projects are optional (adding pantry or removing popcorn ceilings). I want to make sure any optional project we take on will add to the value of the house. Or bring me so much joy (like building a barn door) that it is worth the time and money.
One thing I learned during this entire process is it’s ok to hire people to do the work. Especially if you don’t know how to do it! When we started ripping out tile, it ended up being a huge project and was a total mess. We didn’t have the right tools to remove the tile without destroying what we needed to save. I priced out having a professional remove it and it was well worth the money!
Other projects, such as installing ceiling fans, removing wallpaper, and installing trim were not fun, but we were capable of completing them ourself. We did it ourselves to save money.
How we found contractors
To find reliable contractors we used Thumbtack, which is a free service to use. You put in the job you need completed and contractors bid on the projects. You can read verified reviews and find the perfect company for the job. In five years of using Thumbtack we’ve never been disappointed. I can’t say the same for the people we hired off Craig’s list. (I love Craig’s list but I wouldn’t hire someone for repairs/ projects off there again).