Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Home Renos - on a seriously tight budget.

Hubby and I are nearing the end of our most recent stage of home renos. This weekend, he installed new carpet in our master bedroom, our upstairs hallway and our stairs. From the beginning of February until now we have been sleeping on a mattress in the basement with bedroom furniture crammed all around us while our bedroom got new paint, light fixtures, baseboards and flooring. After hanging our curtains at 11:30 last night, we sat on the empty floor of our room and looked around at what we had accomplished in our house in the past 4 years.

Some people don't really need to worry about money. I am not one such person, nor are most of you likely. For the majority of us, home renovations are something we need to save up for, and plan out to make sure that we're saving the most money possible. Many of us will get our own hands dirty to avoid the cost of contracting out trades, and often renos can take a lot longer than you anticipated quite simply because you need more money, or since you're doing all the work yourself you can only get so much done after you get home from putting in 9 hours at your normal job.

I am very pleased to say that now that we are FINALLY come out to the other side of updating our house, we were able to look back last night at all we accomplished, at marvel at the fact that we spent so little money! Now, we were lucky for sure - given that my husband is a flooring installer, he was able to get a lot of stuff for a reduced cost and had almost every tool we needed, so we didn't need to pay full price for any flooring we got, and there were minimal tool rentals. Timing played a bit of a factor on our luck since the year that we bought this house and decided to gut our main bathroom, Canada announced a one-year Home Renovation Tax Credit as an incentive for people to spend money. We ended up getting awesome deals because everyone was hopping on board with this home reno incentive and we ended up being able to claim all of our costs for a tax credit. But, somethings that we did were very simply looking at what we had, and deciding we could rework it, or making the decision to get something nice and new without needing it to be the most expensive model in the store.

One of our best accomplishments is our bathroom. When we bought this house, there were two main issues: a squirrel in the attic and moisture behind the wall in the main bath. The squirrel was an easy enough fix (incidentally, we found out why Walmart sells Rat Traps in Alberta), but the moisture in the bathroom took some thinking: were we just going to fix the problem and renovate gradually, or were we going to gut that bad boy and get everything in order from the get-go? Turns out, we decided gutting was the way to go. What that meant was new toilet, tub, vanity, faucets, flooring and tub surround The room was 1980's original - and awful. The vanity was nice back in the day, but now it was quite simply ugly and impractical. It took up way more space than it needed to and didn't offer practical storage. The tub was very low and yellow, as was the toilet, and the flooring was just straight up awful. So we took everything out. And then we put everything new back in. And at the end of the day, how much did this little venture cost us? Less than $2000.

Cost breakdown:
Soaker Tub - $300
Glass-bowl Vanity - $300
Toilet - $150 minus $50 rebate for low-flow
Flooring - $200
Tile - $150 (Matt used to work in a flooring store warehouse and had saved up a few boxes of leftover tile since high school. In the end we only needed to buy one box plus a listello)
Medicine cabinet - $80
Faucet - $190 (this was our only real 'splurge' item)
Shower curtain rod - $30
Baseboards and mouldings - $50
Paint - $40
Misc. costs - $300 (drywall, mud, electrical wiring, plumbing, etc)

Through shopping for sales I found the vanity and tub for cheaper than I expected. And while I said that the paint cost $40, I think we actually got the gallon for free thanks to an in-store promotion. Not to mention, almost all of the $300 misc. costs were covered by giftcards that Home Depot was handing out at the time if you purchased bathroom reno products above a certain value. We reused the vanity lighting, the overjohn, showerhead and light fixture that were already in the bathroom, and they don't look the least out of place. Because Matt did all of the work himself (except for the full-shower custom tile job which a friend gave us as a wedding present) we saved literally thousands of dollars. We figure it would have cost roughly $10,000 to do the same bathroom without shopping sales, getting discounts and doing the work ourselves. Not bad if you ask me! Oh, and I forgot to mention that our realtor negotiated $2000 back from our house purchase price to cover the cost of fixing the moisture behind the shower wall, so technically this was all done on that dime.

Since then we've done at least something to almost every single room of our house, but besides putting in new flooring, this latest update has been our biggest one since the bathroom. And how much is it costing us? About $1000 total. The flooring was again super cheap for us thanks to Hubby's staff discount, but by savvy shopping we actually got a gallon of our primary paint color for free (a promotion with the carpet purchase), we opted to reuse blinds and curtain rods rather than splurging on fancy expensive ones, we asked around for a new dresser and found a relative quite willing to give us their old one, and our headboard was a dime-a-dozen kijiji find which we sanded and varnished to give it a custom rustic look. Even with the one splurge item that we typically allow ourselves (our new ceiling fan in this case), our costs are super low, and while it did take a bit of compromising to get there, we don't regret anything in our finished product.

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

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