Bracing for the Spend

Bracing for the Spend - picture of pile of banknotes

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The day we’ve been waiting for is almost here.  On Monday, my 34th birthday, we close on our new home.  Of course, I’m super excited to get started on our home renovations in preparation for our move.  But, I’m also dreading it.  Why?  Because we’re going to have to spend money.

Bracing For the Spend

Some things are inevitable.  Sure, we could’ve found a house that was move-in ready.  Maybe.  I might’ve been able to find a house where I loved all of the paint colors and carpet.  Highly unlikely.  But instead, we found a house that it a little bit of a fixer upper.  Mostly, it just needs new carpet, but not because of the color, but because it’s highly worn and somewhat stained.  The house also needs some work in the kitchen (cracked, mismatched countertops), a whole lotta paint, and some general TLC.  So, what are the costs?  Here is the basic rundown of our home renovation plans:

  • Carpet: $5,000 (approximately 1,500 sq. ft. of carpet at $3.00 per square foot including tear-up and install)
  • Countertops: $2100 (includes tear-up of old granite countertops, removal of sink and hardware, and installation of new countertops sink and hardware)
  • Paint and Supplies: $500
  • Tile Installation: $900 (includes installation of tile flooring in office and backsplash in kitchen)
  • Custom Kitchen Cabinet: $350
  • Minibarn: $1,000

Fortunately, there are all worst-case scenario estimates.  I am hoping that there isn’t quite that much carpet, for instance.  I just had to guess for budgeting purposes but we’re having it measured on Tuesday.  I go back and forth on the countertops- the estimate I’ve included is the a fairly low grade granite.  However, I’m still looking at other options including laminate and corian.  Unfortunately, the cheaper options are not all that cheap either.

Dreaming of DIY

I wish we could do more of the work ourselves, but we’re not all that handy.  We’ll also be short on time since we only have 19 days to get our house painted and remodeled before we move in.  And since we’re renting while we remodel our new home, we’re trying to speed up the process as much as possible.  After all, if we don’t move out in January, we’ll end up with a house payment and a mortgage payment in February, as well as two different sets of utility bills.  No thank you.

We’re doing all of the painting ourselves, but we’re having the tile installed by a general contractor that we’ve worked with before.  After all, I don’t have much practice installing tile and I certainly don’t want to “practice” on my own house.  I have to live in it, after all.  The company we bought carpet from is doing the carpet install, which seems like a smart move.  I would hate to see carpet that I tried to install myself.

Easy Come, Easy Go

I take comfort in the fact that we got an awesome deal on our house since it’s a fixer upper.  Obviously, all of these needed repairs were accounted for in the relatively low sales price.  Still, it hurts to watch that much of our hard-earned money fly out the window.

I’m also more than ready to put this spending spree behind us and move on once and for all.  And fortunately, our new house has a 2 year-old roof and a 4-year old heat pump, which makes it unlikely that we’ll have to spend much after the initial remodel.  (knocking on wood right now)

I know that spending is inevitable sometimes but it’s still painful, especially when we’ve worked so hard to save.  But, I guess that’s a good thing, right?  Maybe it should hurt. 

Have you ever struggled to spend a large amount of money?  Even on something that is important?

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  1. We do all of our painting as well- we’re getting pretty good at it by now! And in our last home we spent a week on Google and in Home Depot asking questions until we finally convinced ourselves that we could try tiling our laundry room. It actually turned out really great! The hardest part was cutting tiles for edges, etc., but we worked it out. I think a backsplash would be harder, though.

    1. We would do the tile ourselves if it were a square room. But, the room we’re having tiled is an office and it has a bunch of built in cabinetry. There are many angles and weird cuts that are above our ability range!

  2. Holly, DIY is overrated in my opinion. If you’re saving a good bit on the house and are able to make money doing things you enjoy, leave the DIY projects to the pros and enjoy your free time!

    I’m on my 4th house, all foreclosures or fixer-uppers, and I enjoy it less and less each time. I look back with pride on what I’ve done, but that’s a LOT of time I wasn’t working on growing my career or side hustles!

    I hope y’all enjoy your new home when you get in there! I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey in home ownership over the last few months.

  3. Yep, I would love a new bedroom set (and to upgrade to a kind sized bed), but I know it won’t happen for a few years. For one thing – debt. The other? I’ve tallied how much it would cost to get a solid wood bedroom set (that is not the questionable hard woods from wherever) a new mattress, and new linens. Let’s just say it shocked me into loving the queen bed for many more years.

    That being said, I need to work on opening my fist a little bit. Not a lot, but I’ve gone from being a “wild spender” to a spend-thrift. I think I course corrected a little harder than anticipated.

  4. No matter how much something is a need or a hard earned want, it’s always tough to bite the bullet and pay for something expensive. We’ve definitely postponed things longer than we should have…

    Also – what the heck is a minibarn? A shed?

  5. Ugh I hate to see that carpet figure. We definitely need new carpet, most likely once our cat passes away (as sad as that sounds). I have a number of projects I need to pay for in our house over the next 5-10 years, and the sad thing is once we finally get everything done and paid for we will probably sell the house and move! I hear you on the DIY part, and I think the biggest thing is time. It’s a big job to do some of the things you mentioned, and I also am with you on not wanting to practice laying tile on my own home, but I’m not sure I will ever learn because of that logic haha. Best of luck getting everything done and I’m sure it will all be worth it in the end!

  6. There could be some spending, that’s for sure….but there doesn’t HAVE to be – at least not all at once. There’s the temptation to change everything all at once, but you can change things gradually. You can always “learn” to be DIY as well…learning new skills is part of the fun of being a homeowner!

    1. We’re remodeling before we move in. It’s a lot easier to change paint and carpet in an empty house!

  7. I’m the same way when it comes to spending a big amount. Even though we save for it and generally need whatever it is, it’s still hard for me to swallow the pill of dropping some serious money. It has gotten worse since we run the business, but thankfully my wife balances me out a bit though.

    Like Mrs. Pop, I want to know what the minibarn is as well. 🙂

    1. Just a little backyard shed. The two-car garage isn’t big enough to park in plus keep all the kids toys and lawn mower, tools, etc.

  8. We didn’t have the money to make any changes when we moved in. We had to save for a w/d! Fortunately we did have an emergency fund as there were some emergencies.

    One of these days we’ll fix the kitchen and get rid of the bathroom carpeting.

    1. Bathroom carpeting!!! Hey, maybe you could DIY tile it yourself. =)

      1. That was on DH’s list of things to do while unemployed/self-employed but he didn’t. Now we’re back to having no time.

        1. That’s what’s funny about the personal finance community. Everyone’s just like, “oh, take a class and learn to do it yourself.”
          But when you have kids, it doesn’t matter. There just isn’t time to do such a thing…other than maybe at 10:00 at night.

  9. Happy birthday early, Holly, and huge congrats on closing on the new place! You guys got such a great deal on this place, it seems, so spending the money, in my mind, is lower than what you would’ve spent had you found it already updated, so, win-win. That being said, we’ve got stuff to do here this year (new roof, new washer/dryer, etc.) that are totally freaking me out. We’ve worked so hard to spend less and start saving, and now we’ve got to blow thousands of dollars!

    1. Yeah, I know. And we factored the remodeling into the price when we bought it. Still painful, though!

  10. Even though I plan out the spending when I have to spend a large sum, so I know what I’m getting into, I always panic about it. I hate spending money in large sums. Getting a fixer upper can be a good idea, though.

    1. Yeah, it definitely is in this case. If this house had all of the upgrades we’re adding, it would’ve cost a whole lot more!

  11. Hey first of all, congratulations! It is indeed great to own your home! On renovations, take it slow and plan ahead! The satisfaction is worth it!

    But yes, sometimes it also feels like a money pit! Smart of you to realize this even before closing! 🙂

  12. It’s definitely a lot of money up front, but it’s stuff that you do/pay for once and it lasts for a long, long time. And that’s awesome your roof is relatively new! That’s a biggie to not have to worry about. Hope the improvement projects go smoothly and you guys are able to get in your new place asap! 🙂

    1. Hope so too. We’ve got 3 weeks to get it ready before we move in.

  13. I always struggle spending money. 🙂 But, it’s better to get all the renovations and spending done and out of the way before you move in. Congrats on the new house!

  14. I’m bracing myself for the end of the year. My husband wants to finish up school and we’ll be cash flowing it. Education is expensive! Although tuition is lower here than what I paid for a state school in Ohio. Weird…

    I’m always amazed when people DIY home renovations! Seriously awesome skill, but not one that I possess 🙂

  15. I remember all this all too well. Although, we ended up spacing out our renovations so they weren’t such a big hit all at once. Sure you probably want the walls painted and the carpet dealt with, but you could always space out the rest. We had our flooring installed as well, but one of the things that helped us out, was we got the carpet and hardwood installers to lower their price, if we ripped out the carpet and prepped the floors ourselves. It cost us $4 for two carpet cutters and a day’s work and we were on our way. Ah, the joys of home owner$hip. Congrats on your new digs!

    1. Nice!

      Yeah, Home Depot and Lowe’s charge .40 per square foot for carpet tear out. The company we are buying from only charges .15 per foot which makes it worth it for me to pay someone. We’re on limited time here as well so we won’t be able to tear up the carpet ourselves.

  16. It was a little painful writing the check for our car. Even though I felt like we were getting a great deal on a car we think could last us 10-15 years, it’s just a lot of money leaving the bank account. At least if you’ve done your research, which you guys have, you can fall back on knowing objectively that you’re doing the right thing. Good luck with everything!

    1. It should hurt a little though, right? If it doesn’t, there’s a problem!! =)

  17. I feel the same way about buying our fixer upper! We wanted to do so many things when we bought the house, but there’s just not enough money to go around. So, we invested on electrical work, fixing the garage door. Next up is the servicing the furnace. Then, we’re going to save our pennies for a while. We decided paint and other things will have to wait a bit.

  18. Can you do some things more gradually after you move in? I know it’s tough and I would want it in tip top shape before I moved in too…I’m impatient. But maybe at least that’s not so painful to the pocketbook? I think for me right now I need to shell out some money to help my left shoulder heal. Part of me doesn’t want to do it because I keep thinking it will heal on its own like my right shoulder did, but then again I’m sick of living with the pain and not being able to do certain activities.

    1. Nahhhh….its not that big of a deal. The biggest expense by far is carpet and it makes no sense to replace the carpet after all of our furniture and stuff is in there. We planned for this and factored the upgrades into our purchase price….its just painful to spend that much!

  19. Tell me about it! I feel your pain. We are still recovering from our huge home renovations in 2012. As first time homeowners we had a huge learning curve. We also wanted to get most of it done before moving in. We still have a few things to complete outdoors but we are taking it slow. Good luck with your renovations. I look forward to reading about your progress.

  20. I think that by making your estimated costs based on “worst case scenarios” you’re in a good place. I feel that I’m always watching people spend MORE than they anticipated on renovations, if anything, you’ve already budgeted for that and can hopefully, only spend less.

  21. I’m all for doing DIY projects that are within the scope of my abilities. Carpet would be well beyond my scope as would tiling. I know everyone says tiling is easy and I am sure it is, but I’m not anal enough to make sure everything is super straight and I know I would jack it up.

    Hell I have been putting off a needed bathroom remodel for a few years now because I know it is going to hurt. But I am going to have to do it at some point, pink 1950s tile just isn’t going to cut it if we every want to sell our house.

    1. I hear ya about “scope of abilities.” My DIY abilities are basically painting and cleaning. I am an awesome painter and hiring painters is expensive so we’re definitely saving money there.

  22. It’s awesome that you guys are able to do so much on your own, and you know what you’re getting into. Our house was an awesome deal because it needed a lot of work, and I didn’t realize just how much work was involved. Since we didn’t have but 2 days before closing and when we had to move in, we lived in a constant state of renovation for quite a while (in fact, there is always something that I’m working on, or need to be working on). Definitely good idea overestimating what you’re going to have to spend. I didn’t do that with a couple of projects, and when I went over my tiny and unrealistic budget, it was harder than if I had planned to spend that money. It’s always hard spending big chunks of money, even if it’s for something like a home reno. You’re not alone there. I look forward to seeing how it turns out for you!

    1. Thanks Ryan!

      Yeah, we thought it would be easier to update before we moved in. Our little kids would not making living in a construction zone very easy!!!

  23. Is that a minibarn or minibar? Cuz I totally drop a grand on a minibar stocked to the gills!

    Dang, carpet is expensive. My house is getting to the point of needing new carpet but after seeing that number it can wait a few more years.

    1. Minibarn= shed. Apparently you guys don’t use the term minibarn out west, huh? A minibar would be nice too. Maybe I should put that on the list! =)

  24. We could use some carpet too! We got an estimate for our stairs and they wanted $10 per stair to install the new carpet plus the actual cost of the carpet. Suddenly our carpet didn’t seem so bad anymore. We are going to wait awhile to do this.

    1. Yep!

      The people we’re buying from charge $4 per stair in addition to the carpet cost. Sucks!

  25. I can empathize with the feeling, Holly. I don’t know what is better: to spread out the spending a bit, project by project, or just rip the bandaid off and get it over with.

    I had no idea carpet was so expensive, but 1500 square feet is a really big area. I’ve heard it’s a hard DIY job, as you need to get the carpet really tight along the edges. All in all though, the figures aren’t really that crazy. If you’re still paying less than you would for a move in ready home, you’re coming out a head (even if it doesn’t feel that way writing a check).

    1. I am more of a “rip the band-aid off” kind of person, I guess. I saved the money ahead of time and already have it set aside. I hope that it isn’t 1,500 s.f. of carpet. The house is a little less than 2,000 s.f. and most of the downstairs is hardwood floors. I just guessed high with the carpet s.f. for budgeting estimates. I hope I’m wrong =/

  26. Congrats on the new home! That’s so exciting (and expensive!). I’m putting in new wood look tile flooring and paintng the condo so I can relate! It almost feels like a spending spree since I’m usually very frugal.

    1. Yes! That’s exactly how it feels…a spending spree =/

  27. It’s amazing how cheap renovations are out there. Here carpenters and contractors charge $50 hr due to the unions being so strong and setting the price of labor. Since I’m not handy home renovations are worth it.

  28. Okay, I’m going to confess that I thought “mini barn” was a typo for “mini bar”. LOL! So … ummm…. sorry? 🙂 I can’t say that I love writing out big checks (although I DO love receiving them!) at the same time I am grateful that I can write a big check, rather than taking on debt. You’ll be glad you did when you’re walking on your new carpet in your new house! Woo-hoo!

    1. Minibarn, lol. You silly people. Honestly, we may not need one but I am planning for one nonetheless. The people we bought from only parked one car inside and stored their stuff on the other side BUT we both like to park inside. We don’t have a lot of garage stuff but the kids have bikes and we have a lawnmower, weedwacker, shovels, etc. I am hoping it will all fit plus the cars.

  29. Ah that’s a lot of spending, and I kind of know how you feel. We are updating a lot of things in our home that we have been putting off and the expenses have been adding up.

    1. Yep, it totally adds up! Good think we’re savers =)

  30. Totally. Wedding and honeymoon – even though I’d been saving for years, dropping the cash hurt like a mofo.

    1. It should hurt, right? Paying for Greg’s Prius was equally painful.

  31. We had a lot of similar issues when we bought our house. All those little projects really start to add up after a while! Thankfully most of our home projects are behind us, but now we’re preparing to drop a lot of money on a wedding this summer. I’m not looking forward to that part of it 🙂

    1. Hey, I hope you find ways to save on your wedding! Thankfully I’ve got all of that behind me.

  32. I always dread a big spend. With things like car and home maintenance, I try and remind myself that I will end up spending more in the long run if I don’t do it.

    1. That’s so true about home maintenance. You have to maintain what you have or shell out the big bucks to replace it.

  33. honestly, the cost estimates are not bad. afterall, you have a fixer and it has needs a little help. in the long run you’ll be happy you did it . congrats and happy bday! 🙂

    1. Thanks Sheri! I think I will be happy too. I like picking stuff out anyways so this works for me!

  34. It’s always tough parting with money especially in large sums BUT take solace in knowing you are investing your money in your home. You will enjoy it and it is money very well spent, you will likely have zero regret.

  35. I just painted our master bedroom to get it ready to list. I am not looking forward to this process because I am going to have to spend the money I have been saving for some time. I love seeing the money in my account and will miss it.

  36. Hmm, never had to buy carpet before, didn’t realize it was so pricey. Hardwood floors look even more attractive than ever!

    Beware granite countertops. Not only are they a hassle with the maintenance and fragility, they’re radioactive. Yes, you read that correctly. Granite is radioactive.

    Granted, it is low levels of radiation typically, assuming you don’t have some of the crazier colors. But thinking about it, do you really want to increase the levels of radiation in your kitchen where you prepare the food to feed your family?

    1. I heard that about granite!

      Honestly, I hate the whole countertop subject altogether. I don’t even care what kind I get. I just need to pick something. I’ve priced out several materials at four different stores. Nothing costs dramatically less than anything else. I’ve ruled out all of the expensive stuff =/ Ugh.

  37. Holly, it’s so exciting to be so close to moving to your dream home and also so close to your birthday. A really nice present, too! Maybe the costs will prove to be a lot lower, so that the present is complete!

    1. Haha, I hope so =) That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

  38. I know you want to move in quickly. But here is my suggestion for carpeting. Skip the wall to wall. Live with what is there for now. DIY the rip out room by room, then DIY 3/4″ solid hardwood. If you insist on carpet in a room, place a dense wool area rug over the hardwood (with a border of hardwood showing). With such an area rug you can remove completely yourself whenever you wish for replacement. I for one, will never go back to the constant cleaning and replacment of wall to wall carpeting.

    Happy Birthday!

    1. This house actually does have hardwoods through most of the downstairs. The rooms I’m putting carpet in are bedrooms and a family room. It is probably nowhere near 1500 s.f. but I guessed high because I hate surprises!

  39. We completely renovated our first place and although it cost a lot it was lovely living in a place that was completely us. Hope you get some great deals to help cut costs Holly!

  40. Taxes. Since I’m self-employed, I have to write a fat check every few months for my estimated quarterly taxes. It hurts every time. I know I shouldn’t think of it as my money, but I get attached, lol.

    1. So, what you’re saying is that you’re excited to pay taxes again on Jan. 15th?

  41. I tore out my old carpet myself and it went quickly. What took time was pulling EVERY. STUPID. LITTLE. STAPLE. out of the subfloor. Some places charge to remove that- if I would have paid someone to remove those staples it would have added up quickly.

    Congrats on the new carpet! It’s awesome how quickly new paint and floors can transform a house.

    1. Also, for inexpensive counters, Lowes actually has nice looking laminate counters that look like granite, for about $150/10ft and easy to diy install.

      1. I’ve looked at those- Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards, and a few smaller places. Still deciding what I want! It’s all expensive to me =/

  42. Sucks to spend the money now, but worth not having to deal with the renovations once you’re living there for good. We got a lot of work done at our place before we moved in and couldn’t have been happier having it set. Even if you guys are having some stuff done when you first move in, it’s better than dealing with the hassle down the road.

    Good luck

    The Warrior

  43. Yep, we also bought a fixer upper. Before moving in we had to replace the well components/pump, install a new septic tank (the existing one was plywood! gross!), redo plumbing, new HVAC system, not to mention tear up all the nasty carpet. We also just renovated our kitchen and living spaces – it’s a lot worse doing the fixing up when you’re already living in the space! I hate having to spend that much money up front, but it will be a huge ROI in the future, if we move. Congrats on the new place!!

    1. Wow! That is a whole lot of repairs! We aren’t taking anything like that on this time!

  44. We’re plowing through money as well on home renos. Probably $2-$3k/month. You could save some money pulling up carpet yourself. It’s really straight forward. I’m also making concrete countertops for everywhere in our “new” house.

    1. Yeah, we’re not pulling up the carpet ourselves this time, but we have in the past. This time, they’re only charging .15 per sq. ft. for pull-up which works out to $225. We only have limited time to spend on the house so we’re choosing to use that time doing all of the painting instead. Hiring painters would cost thousands!

  45. Happy you chose a fixer-upper. Ours was a bit of a fixer-upper, but nothing needed to be done immediately. We learned that we can live with a not-so-perfect bathroom for a while to focus on paying down our mortgage. We want hard wood floors, but have opted for stained concrete for the time being. We live in a high rise condo, so the concrete floors provide a loft-like feel. Delaying gratification and using temporary solutions spread the cost of fixing up a home over years. In doing this, we’ve found that we appreciate each upgrade even more.

  46. Spending that money is an investment in your happiness with the house. You can always make more money.

  47. Congratulations and Happy Birthday! We just moved into a new home. Money does seem to fly away… helps to be organized though! Way to go! Thanks for sharing…

  48. Congrats on the new home! We purchased our new home last November and have tackled some of problems you guys will face.

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