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Renovating my Impulsive Purchase

May 4th, 2011 at 07:25 pm

Well itís been a long time since I posted on here. I checked in once and that was it. Iím not sure if Iíll return to my regular blogging or not. But this is the first week where I have earned more money than I have to pay out.

My husband and I impulsively bought a run down section 8 historic duplex in the center of town about a year and a half ago. The location is so good that I still canít believe we get to live there. The plan was to put $40k into it and convert it from a duplex to a SFH and move in.

Iím not sure where it all went so wrong (financially).

I guess the trouble started once we owned the house and we were able to start ripping into things. We discovered that the load bearing walls were not on load bearing piers under the house, so the weight was causing the floors to sink in spots and cause a lot of unevenness. And we found out that some very important supporting beams had been cut and shortened to make way for interior walls, but nothing was done to support the beam, or support what was on top of the beam. So the things on top of the beams (like the 2nd story) were kind of staying afloat by their attachments at the exterior walls. The exterior walls couldnít handle so much weight and our rear exterior wall was sinking from all the weight on it.

So structurally we had problems. Then our carpenters took forever to get nothing done- so we fired them and got new carpenters. Now Iím in a law suit. I actually havenít even worried about that yet. Itís more of a lien on my house than a law suit.

The plumbers failed their inspection 4 times. FOUR TIMES! That really ate away at our timeline. The plumbers also lost our original negotiated contract and then tried to charge us the original price after the job was done. We also lost our negotiated contract (it was a 7 month long process) and so it was ďhe said/she saidĒ for a while. We ended up meeting in the middle.

The framers didnít frame so well and it was not noticed until sheetrock was up. Then the sheetrock had to be torn down and things reframed straighter. I asked the workers to leave it as is until one explained that it would appear to a home inspector that our walls are tilting when we go to sell the house. We just paid a lot of money to fix tilting walls- so down the sheetrock went. That ate up almost 2 weeks and a lot of money in labor.

I paid $400.00 for 2 beautiful stained glass windows and then paid another $500 for them to be framed in and secured to the side of the house. The inspector came in- saw the windows and asked for our paperwork from the historic society that they were approved. Paperwork which everyone told me I didnít need to get and after I was not allowed to keep the windows without that paperwork, my contractor told me that informing the historic society about the windows would open a can of worms for the rest of the work being done. So out of the wall the windows came. They are now in the attic. We had to piece together boards to use as siding to cover the holes in the exterior wall.

And then everything costs more than anticipated.
Some good things thoughÖ

I love my kitchen. Though it was about $5k more than budgeted. Originally we were going to go IKEA for $5k (including appliances) but BB (husband) had an attitude with the sales guy and decided we were not going to spend our money at IKEA. We went to Home Depot and got beautiful Thomasville cabinets for $5700.00 plus $5000 more for appliances. That really ate into the budget.

I love my Heart Pine floors. Our house had a good amount of original Heart Pine flooring in it but I wanted the whole place in the wood floors. We had to throw away a good chunk of the existing floors due to damage- so we purchased a lot of the flooring that we had already thought we had. So purchasing materials that we were already counting on having in the house ate into the budget.

I love my vaulted bedroom ceiling. We were having issues with the electric company. They wouldnít give us a separate source of power without a firewall between our unit and the next door neighbors. So we had to tear into the 2nd story ceiling (not part of the plan or budget) and once I realized how high the ceilings could go- I wanted them. So my vaulted ceilings were not part of the budget or timeline but they are impressive.

I like my moldings. The molding was a big drain on the money. I asked for dentil molding in one room and my contractor told me it was an expensive upgrade. Then he ďsurprised meĒ and ordered it for me. I love it. Glad he did it. He also told me to get rid of the original molding (not 1900s original, 1980ís original) and let him redo it historical looking. It looks goodÖbut I think the 1980ís molding would have looked fine too. The molding ate up about 2 months of labor and a big budget buster- not sure I would have made the same decisions.

So thatís a tiny recap. Iíll have more to come as I get back into blogging.

All in AllÖ$118,000 spent on my $40k project.
I did keep a very detailed account of where every dollar went. Still not sure what caused it to go over so much though. I think it was the timeline. Paying hourly labor of 4-5 men for 7 months instead of 4 months really costs a lot. So glad I dont have to pay them anymore.

6 Responses to “Renovating my Impulsive Purchase”

  1. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    ok, deep breath!! you seem to have a fairly balanced evaluation, knowing what worked and what didn't and where to do it better.

    1stly - this is your first house and hard to be objective (wait'll your first child!!).

    2ndly - working with contractor's is tough and you ALWAYS have to be on the defense (even if you think they are honest). Stay polite, professional, and accurate.

    I have learned through experience and years only that KNOWING THE QUESTIONS is important. Even if you don't know all the right questions, you have to figure out how to communicate that you don't know what to ask!! This goes for buying a house (ask about foundations, beams, fire rules, etc.), working with a contractor, and hmmmm, having a baby??!!

    Just hang in there and take pictures of the before's and afters for your future enjoyment!

  2. Ima saver Says:

    Gosh, I sure wish we lived closer to you. My dh is so talented and has been doing some big remodling jobs the past few months. Sorry things went so wrong, but I am sure you will enjoy your house. When are you moving in?

  3. gamecock43 Says:

    I moved in about 2 weeks ago. I learned a lot along the way. I learned to say "is anyone else going to notice this or just my contractor because he is a perfectionist?" I also learned that his view of what the finished product would look like was very different than mine. Even without the structural issues- I have no idea how we could have done it for $40k. So I think his vision was way downgraded than mine...because I like my house- but I dont think it's anything really luxurious.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    I thought the rule of thumb was to always assume these things cost twice as much as quoted. (Maybe 50% more). But, when you think of it in those terms - it's not so bad?

    This is why I find nothing appealing about renovating and landlording. Wink I hope you enjoyed it on some level. Hope it was worth it in the end?

    No wonder you haven't been around. I am exhausted reading this post!

    I am sure you learned a ton from the experience.

    P.S. We want pictures!

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    good to hear from you! It sounds as though you've had quite a lot to deal with during the renovations.

  6. Jerry Says:

    Wow, you really went through the wringer on this one, but it sounds like it all leads to a lovely place... and if you like it then it is probably worth all worthwhile in the end. Huge headache, though, and there is never any insurance when dealing with contractors, of course.
    Jerry

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