I didn’t realizer “fixer upper” meant…

P1080465At the beginning of the year, my husband and I moved into our new house. A fixer upper. It’s a 1977 ranch that hasn’t seen much love since 1977. We were really excited to make this house our own, and had so many ideas for how to accomplish that. We knew it would be a lot of work. We thought we knew what were were getting into. But here are some things that I didn’t realize I was signing up for when we bought a fixer upper:

  1. That something is always broken. I knew we’d always be working on something, but I didn’t realize that meant something is always broken, inoperable, or otherwise out of commission. I imagined doing projects, and I imagined the finished results, but I didn’t imagine what it would be like to live in partially completed projects.
  2. That the house will often insert it’s own priorities. I had made a list of the projects that were important to me. Based on our budget and time constraints, I guessed how long it might take to get things done. I never realized that the house would present it’s own projects, like when the septic system failed or we realized (in the heat of the Texas summer) that we have NO attic insulation.
  3. That there would be tons of stuff the home inspector missed. This probably says more about our individual inspector than some universal truth of buying older homes. I thought I understood the limits of home inspections. I knew they could only see what they can actually see. I knew they couldn’t guess what was going on in the walls or in any other hidden place. But it seems like our inspector missed A LOT of stuff he should have been able to see. Like the lack of attic insulation I just mentioned.
  4. That we would regularly have to choose between regular ol’ home maintenance and “fixer upping.” We have 2,500 square foot house on two acres of land. We could easily spend an entire weekend just doing yard work and some basic home maintenance. But if we spend the whole weekend doing things that “need” to be done, when are we going to do the projects that we “want” to get done? And vice versa. It’s a constant balancing act.

I don’t regret buying a fixer upper. And I don’t think I walked in completely blind. But there are definitely challenges that I didn’t expect. Some days when I’m really frustrated, I say that we should have bought something newer and nicer, but I don’t really mean it. We have a beautiful property right in the middle of the city. I’m just looking forward to the day when I can say my home is beautiful too.

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DIY Adventures: In Pictures

Since I never got around to posting updates about our home improvement projects, I thought I’d share the pics I have from our adventures. So far, we’ve stained the fence and painted the kitchen, living room, and master bath, although I don’t have any pics from the later and very few from the kitchen. We also did some very minor landscaping, but I don’t have pictures and it’s all dying now anyway with the colder temps setting in. Andy took a lot of the fence staining pictures and, as you’ll see, helped a lot with the paining. I definitely thought we’d have way more accomplished by now, but I’m slowly becoming ok with our work in progress.

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By the way, I hate our living room paint. It’s lovely at night, but during the day it turns this awful peachy orange color, as seen in the pictures. I’ve already picked out a lovely new color, caramel, that will eventually go up in the foyer, living room, laundry room, back hallway and kids bathroom. I said I wouldn’t do an all over color like that but have since changed my mind, partly because painting sucks and I’ll do anything I can to make it slightly easier. Also, I am so grateful we took the builders seriously and stained our fence. Our next door neighbors didn’t stain theirs and it’s already turning that awful grey old wood color. Ours looks as good as the day we stained it. Unfortunately, on one side, their fence is our fence, so their lack of staining is making our lovely stained fence age quicker. Oh well. It’s just one of the many joys of home ownership and sharing with the neighbors, right? One day, when my house is clean, I’ll take some “after” pics of the kitchen and master bath.

DIY Crazy

Official reports indicate unanimously that I have gone DIY crazy. And we haven’t even closed yet! From spending hours at a time at Lowe’s to watching DIY Network clips online to reading how-to books to making a list of about 100 projects, priority ranked, it’s safe to say I’m definitely obsessed. I’m just so excited to finally have a home that we own, that we can make our own, that we can make real improvements on. I suppose you could be wondering what I could possibly need to improve since we bought a brand new home, but trust me, there’s lots of room for personalization and upgrades!

Speaking of upgrades, we were very careful to ensure we chose a neighborhood where we could upgrade away without worrying about pricing ourselves out of the neighborhood. There are plenty of homes larger and more expensive than ours. So, all of our projects should go hand in hand with increased equity. Ah, sweet equity. I am absolutely thrilled that we will finally be building equity instead of fattening some other Joe Schmoe’s wallet with our rental payments.

So what’s first? Well, the week we close I plan to have the interior painted (no more boring white and beige!!), seal our privacy fence, build our compost bin and rain barrel, and of course move in. I’ve already picked all the paint colors, except for the boys’ room. We went out to the house after church on Sunday to make sure everything worked with the cabinetry, counter tops, tile, carpet, etc. Aside from matching the paint, I’m SO glad we went out there. It was so much fun to see all the finishing touches going in. Our beautiful front door is up, the fence is built, the 2 in blinds are installed, and they extended the tile in the foyer like we asked. I was so, so excited to get an even better idea of what it will be like finished.

According to Andy, we should paint his room and the playroom blue, the living room gray, the kitchen white, and the master bedroom brown. While I love his ideas, that’s not quite how things are going to work out. He’ll be getting some of his wishes as the playroom ceiling will be blue, a pretty pale gingham blue, and a brownish color, Delta Sandbar, will run throughout the house. Other than that, I’m afraid he’s out of luck.

I’ve really been surprised at how much Andy has gotten into our pre-DIY research. He sits right next to me on the couch and examines paint samples, looks through how-to books, and watches video clips with me. He even picked out two of the paint colors we’re using after I completely missed them. I think he’s most excited about all the tools we’ll be gradually acquiring and planting and working in the vegetable garden in the backyard, which is pretty high on the priority list after unpacking.

It’s definitely safe to say that I have become consumed with planning home improvement projects. In fact, it’s probably completely counteracted my giving up facebook for lent. Initially, I had a lot more “extra” time to spend in prayer or reading or whatever. Now, all my free time is completely absorbed. I guess I just replaced one time-killer with another. At least this time-killer is a little more worthwhile than monitoring status updates and picture uploads, as if those activities somehow imply that I have a real relationship with the posters, but that’s a topic for an entirely different post all together. Feel free to follow our DIY escapades here. Since it’s all I ever talk about anymore, I’m sure I’ll be writing about it a lot too! And if you have any helpful tips along the way, feel free to share them. We have no idea what we’re doing; we’re just learning as we go.