By: Revanche

On the home(buying) front: rolling up our sleeves

July 17, 2017

Rolling up our sleeves, rehabbing an old, neglected house [Part 6] We’re officially the mostly apprehensive owners of a new-to-us home.

Without even taking a breath to let that sink in, we don’t have time!, we’re nose-deep in demolition and renovation work. Our final walkthrough revealed even more work that needs doing, if you can even believe that there’s yet more to do, and it’s been nothing but stress.

My credit card is melting from all the swiping, American Express’s emails about Large Purchases are tinged with a sense of alarm, and let me tell you, is JUDGY. Yes, I know our household spending is above average!

The contractors are hard at work tearing out walls, digging out dry rot and black mold, and filtering the air with air scrubbers until it’s habitable.

Our job is collecting all the materials that we need ready for installation once the demolition dust settles. We’ve bought: kitchen appliances, kitchen cabinetry, bath tubs, plumbing fixtures, lighting – soooo much lighting, doors throughout the house, and vinyl windows. We still have to buy kitchen countertops, bath cabinetry, flooring, paints, more lighting there is no end to the lighting purchasing this will be the most well lit home in the universe, tiling, closet doors, and about 23 million other bits and bobs and joes and marks and michaels.

Everyone who isn’t paying the bills says “oh it’s great, you can get the home you wanted, just the way you wanted it!”

I think “When will this horror show be over???”

The money is flowing out so fast, even though I have the ready cash to pay the credit card bill, it’s like watching a tornado slowly rip apart my home. It’s fascinating, and terrifying, and impossible to look away. We came within $900 of my generous credit limit which has never happened before.

Our styles are clashing

For me, and partly for PiC, the worst part of the process (even worse than the spending so you know it’s bad): having to research every single thing we’re going to buy – did you know that there were so many toilets you can buy? Did you know that toilets have lids that opened automatically? Did you know how creepy it was to walk down an aisle of toilets and have them all open their lidded maws as you pass through?

And LIGHTING. Holy mackeral, lighting. PiC spent one Sunday looking at 1000 chandeliers and lamps. That’s not hyperbole. Literally, 1000 lighting options. And that’s only one of 17 research sessions.

The sheer volume is one problem. Our approaches are another.

I research a thing, find out the quality parameters, and armed with a fair amount of information, choose the three I like best and ask PiC to pick his favorite.

PiC researches a thing, researches its history, the history of its history, the entire range of possibilities that exist, he researches down to a molecular level and then presents me with a dozen choices. His way drives me crazy. My way drives him crazy.

Shockingly, we have managed to negotiate our differences with only one tiff so far.

I don’t want him to feel rushed and like he’s compromising on pieces that we both have to live with – I would hear the grumbling for the rest of our natural lives. I also don’t want to feel inundated with information, bombarded in fact, and short circuit every time someone asks me a question because it’s one question too many – some unlucky soul would eventually lose a limb, or a face to my severely compromised temper.

Solution! He is now the man in charge of all the initial research, I only have to give occasional input to steer his selections and then we finalize our choices together. I am the woman in charge of all the money: paying the bills, approving budget for each item, finding discounts and promo codes, tracking all receipts, returns, exchanges, deliveries, and arm-twisting when something goes awry.

On that note… savings!

Or at least savings on spending we had to do – not to be confused with money that we keep safe in the savings account, there to stay, grow, and flourish.

We have ordered a handful of our materials from and I was skeptical at first but a friend confirmed that he’d ordered furnishings from Houzz and while it was imperfect, their customer service was good, so I was willing to give them a shot.

How I saved at At the time of this writing, you can get 2% off at ebates or 3% cashback at MrRebates. Check both to choose the higher rebate, of course.Β  That was stacked with a summer sale coupon code, and I asked their chat associate to give me the 5% discount from signing up for the email list which never arrived. They did me one better, assigning a discount that was equivalent to another 7% off the total.

The key here is to create your account and fill up your cart first, stay signed into your account, then hit up the sales associate. If they dig up a good discount for you, ask them to send you the link to the saved cart with the discount instead of letting them complete the order. Close the tab with your own cart, load the link and make sure it’s showing the right items and discount. Close that link, and then go to ebates/MrRebates to reopen You should then be able to load the cart from the newly reopened to show both the discount and proceed with your purchase.

Reminder: Gratitude

Even while the money flows out like heart’s blood, here’s perspective for you: We could be in Make Smarter Decision’s boat – budgeted but without anyone to hire! We have acquaintances who have been paying double mortgages for months and still don’t have a good contractor on board. We know people who chose to manage the whole project themselves and hire the subcontractors themselves, they’re all in a world of hurt. Demand is so high that it’s not uncommon for subcontractors to walk off a job for a better paying one without a word, and they just don’t care!

Yes, we are paying big bucks for this work to be done, but at least it’s getting done. Those folks carrying double expenses have spent nearly half our budget on just owning two properties and that’s before a lick of work has been done.

:: Have you had good or bad experiences with contractors? Are you into Do-It-Yourself for home repairs and renovations? Would you splurge on the best fixtures and appliances and doo-dads if you were outfitting your forever home?

Before: Background, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Next on our Home Buying Adventure: Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11

25 Responses to “On the home(buying) front: rolling up our sleeves”

  1. I cannot imagine making all those decisions! We’re not into do-it-yourself, but if we lived where you do, we might have to be. Whether or not we splurged on the best would depend on how much money we had and how much more the best costs (not to mention– how easy it is to figure out the best). We’ve had mixed experiences with contractors. Nothing horrific yet, but we have had to go through and fix what they did after the fact sometimes. Oddly, our best experiences so far have been when we’ve given up on finding someone and just ask Home Depot.
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  2. Cindy in the South says:

    It is a different situation here. You can find many competent folks to help you, if you are careful. Best of luck to you.

  3. I love your solution to work with your husband on the remodel. Jon and I have similar temperaments…I just want a decent decision that can be made in a reasonable amount of time, Jon wants perfect. Letting him deal with most of our remodeling-type decisions works pretty well, too.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Tales of a Wannabe Gardener: First Fruits and Scorched EarthMy Profile

  4. It is impossible to find a GC in the summer out here so I had to vet, hire, and schedule all the subs myself. It turned out okay, but it took me a year to recover (emotionally and financially) from renovation madness. I personally would definitely splurge out finishes/appliances/materials. At least for us, the cost was a trifle compared to labor but obviously that depends on the project.

  5. I am SO not looking forward to all of those decisions! Just the ones in our small house reno’s (to get our house ready for sale) make me crazy! Trying to renovate our lake house will require a lot more decisions (and apparently by ourselves because we still don’t have a contractor for some parts of the process!) We definitely have some sunk costs in holding the house (a $400 mortgage/taxes payment) but we don’t have much of a choice. It’s not much compared to a lot of people πŸ˜‰ We just DIY’d our hardwood floors and our carpet person just put us out another 3 weeks. That was going to hold us up putting our house on the market… So we’re laying vinyl plank instead! Taking things into our own hands! So glad you have someone doing work. Here’s to those credit card swipes – you’re not alone!

    • Revanche says:

      Oh yes, we’re also soon going to be doing those small things as well!

      Your monthly costs sound downright friendly in comparison πŸ˜‰ Good luck with the vinyl plank, a friend chose it and it looks fantastic but apparently they felt it was a nightmare to work with. I hope that was just their experience and won’t be yours.

  6. Linda says:

    Wow, you sure did get a fixer upper! It sounds like you had to pretty much tear it down to foundation and framing!

    I’m OK with tackling smallish Do it yourself projects, but I’m past the point where I want to be putting up drywall and installing cabinetry. (Been there, done that in my early 20s and that was enough.)

    As for fixtures, finishes, etc…I no longer believe in “forever homes” so I don’t sweat those details anymore. I looked at my house in Chicago as my “forever home” when I bought it, but then I decided I needed to get the heck out of the snowbelt and it quickly became a not forever home. I chose the house I currently live in because I should be able to live here until I need to be carried out, but there are no guarantees I won’t decided to sell and move elsewhere before that time. Life and life goals change, sometimes even quite quickly. (You know, I could meet an amazing person I want to marry and move to Spain, who knows?)

    From a practical standpoint, I try to get the best or better option if I can afford it, but that is also a subjective measure. What I find “best” isn’t necessarily what “the market” as a whole finds “best.” Plus home appliances, fixtures, and finishes go through technological innovation, too. A particular appliance or fixture may be able to last 20 years, but I may want to replace it earlier than that because some new tech meets my needs better. (Of course this would happen only if I could afford it.)
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    • Revanche says:

      We knew it was going to be a lot of work but goodness gracious it is A LOT OF WORK.

      I totally agree with you about not believing in forever homes – not really. We PLAN to live here forever but we know that things can change.

  7. Cassie says:

    Oh man, PiC sounds a lot like my husband. He suffers from Analysis Paralysis. If I don’t gently nudge him forward (read: shove), he would stay in limbo on decisions for months.

    The mental image of an entire row of toilets auto-opening creeped me out. Also, there’s enough auto-opening toilets for an entire row of them?? That blows my mind. It also sounds out of my price range.

    We’re definitely more the DIY type. As for splurging on fixtures and appliances for a forever home… maybe. I’d probably spend the money to run gas for a nice kitchen range, but I wouldn’t pay too much for the other appliances. Technology is changing too fast, and designed obsolescence is a big issue for long term purchases. I’d pay for soft close lids on a toilet, but not a powered lid. I may not buy super fancy light fixtures right away, but I’d run the wiring and make sure the behind the scenes stuff was in place to install it if we picked up a fancy piece down the road. As long as the house is solid and secure, nice to haves can be added as finances allow down the road. Then again, try asking me again in 4-5 years πŸ˜‰

    • Revanche says:

      I know, if we didn’t have deadlines, boy howdy we’d be making one decision a year.

      Those toilets ARE creepy!

      Our priorities are similar, the gas range is important but I don’t care about a top of the line dishwasher. And it’s so easy to forget that planned obsolescence is a thing.

      We’ll see how much DIY we will still have at the point of moving in!

  8. Wow! It brings back such…uhmmm…fond memories.

    “Did you know how creepy it was to walk down an aisle of toilets and have them all open their lidded maws as you pass through?” Heeee! If the chair didn’t have arms on it, I would have fallen on the floor laughing!

    Keep that sense of humor…you’ll need it.

    We spent 40 grand on my son’s house. I probably spent about that much on the house I had before this one — the present domicile was generally habitable except for some out-of-code do-it-yourselfery that had to be rebuilt. No mold, thank god!
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  9. Mr. Groovy says:

    Hey, Revanche. Thanks for the update. Mrs. Groovy and I renovated our one-bedroom condo in New York and it was a nightmare. Can’t imagine doing a whole house. I admire your grit. You and the hubby are shouldering through. Great compromise on your different decision models, by the way. And the tip concerning is a gem. I’m sure that will help a lot of people. Best of luck on the project. Looking forward to the pictures of the completed job. Cheers.

  10. Karen says:

    Ugh just reading your post was stressful for me, I can’t imagine how it is for you! Lots of calm , positive vibes for you! πŸ™‚

    I’ve had bad experiences with GC. I think my (previous) area is full of bad ones! The one I hired left the the job and so I became a DIYer for my kitchen with a friend.

    I pick a few stores/sites to chose things from. I don’t need a million choices to increase analysis paralysis!

    I tend to buy what I like for the home with decent quality but I don’t splurge much. Although, I think whenever I have to replace the refrigerator I will go with counter depth. It’s not the most economical choice but I have a small galley kitchen and I think it would be better.

  11. Lol, money flowing out like heart’s blood XD and Mint being judgy. That’s why I’ve stopped reviewing mint daily. It even emails you about those purchases so it’s kinda a double whammy. So yeah, I feel you there. The spending hopefully will come to an end soon!

    • Revanche says:

      I rarely look at Mint either, now, I prefer my own manual tracking. But I always forget to turn off the notifications.

  12. Erin says:

    Oh man, I can’t imagine going through all of that. My boyfriend and I have been house hunting since January, and our original strategy was to look at fixer-uppers, but then I realized the cost of the fixes would bring us up to around the cost of a decent house anyway. It’s definitely exhausting having to make so many decisions, and I’m like PiC, although I’m very much aware my triple research method drives others (including myself) crazy. πŸ˜‰

    Another reason why I decided against a fixer-upper is that my boyfriend is fairly handy, but neither of us wanted to dedicate tons of time to repairs. We also don’t know of a trustworthy GC. The middle ground is finding a home that needs some repairs, but not major and can be done within a few weeks.

    It sounds like everything will pay off soon! I hope the work continues to go smoothly. =)

    • Revanche says:

      It’s true, the fixers do bring us up to the cost of a decent place πŸ™

      If only you were out our direction, we could send you an excellent (so far) GC πŸ™‚

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