Decor

How to spend an extraordinary amount of money the first year you own your home

I was going to title this post something boring and SEO friendly for Google like “5 things you should know before you buy a home” or “Home Ownership: Not just granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances”. But let’s face it, this title is far more realistic given our past year.

Because this a post about the extraordinary amount of money we put into our new home this year that I can’t style, stage or remotely benefit from on Pinterest. I am a blogger. I rely on your click through’s from Pinterest. Usually those clicks are from pretty pictures like renovated kitchens or beautiful living rooms with Holiday decor. There is nothing conventionally pretty about what I am about to show you. Well it’s “prettier” because the After shots are nicer, but in a very logical, matter of fact, did we really have to spend money on that versus hardwood stairs type of way.

Yes I just wrote that. I have carpeted stairs and they mock me.

Long story short we moved into a new home last Fall. It is a 21 year old home that has not had a lot of updates (read: almost none). Meaning that when we purchased our home not only did we go in 40K under market value with our asking price, we knew we would be in for a lot of renovations – hence the lower asking price to reflect that work that needed to be done.

All that being said, even when you do the logical home projects and watch your bank account dwindle down to pennies, spending a lot of hard earned income on things that are necessities to make your home function vs decor flat out sucks.

Why?

People like pretty things. I like pretty things. I pin enough of them. I want my house to full of pretty things. I want to do pretty things to this house. The problem is the stuff that you *should* look for in a home is not necessarily the pretty stuff. It’s all the necessity stuff. The roof. The furnace. The water heater. The foundation and so on. No one walks into a house and goes let me see if there is a vinegar bucket in the attic laying on plywood to prevent the leaky roof from pouring water into your bedroom. No one cares about the state of the windows or how old the furnace is or why there are bees flying into the living room from a hole in the wall. No one cares about the ugly and dangerous state of the garage doors.

Well some people care. They’re probably not the ones on House Hunters demanding stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops but we cared about it all and spent money fixing it. Actually we really didn’t have a choice after those sale papers were signed. And I want to write about it, because well, it’s my blog and I write about what we do to our home on here. So this is what we wound up upgrading in our home that ate up any hopes of my getting my ugly kitchen renovated.

For now.

THE ROOF

Let me share with you a photo of the previous roof on the back of our garage. We have an older model home with a detached garage at the back and bought the house specifically because of the detached garage as we do a lot of projects and wood work.

roof-before-in-terrible-condition

That roof, in that state you see up there, was all over the main house. It was horrific. The first time we had a thunderstorm, the water poured down from the ceiling through the walls and windows in our daughters room all the way to the basement. When I say the state of the roof was bad, when we had our house inspection done, they found pieces of plywood laid out with buckets made out of old vinegar canisters on them to catch the dripping water.

I can’t make that up. I wish I had a photo of it actually.

That’s one of the many reasons to actually have a functional roof. Not sleeping under mother’s nature shower. You know why else it’s important? Because when roof shingles disintegrate over time, they break into pieces. Those little pieces then slide down into your eaves trough, clog it and weigh it down. Then it becomes so heavy it snaps off your house if you don’t clean it. So now we have a broken eaves trough because of the crappy old roof. Bonus present!

Who re-did the roof: CD Roofing

Our Review: Great company whose co-owner Ryan lives in our town – which to us was pretty important because it’s great to support local work when you can, but also because if there is a problem, you don’t want a contractor to just run away after the job is done. They gave us the fairest and most cost efficient price as well as explained the whole process so there would be no surprises. Such as when this happened.

cd-roofing-fixing-our-roof

They had to remove the boards that were covered in mold and so badly damaged by water vs just not telling us and covering them up (believe me, I have heard horror stories). They were in and out within a day, perfect clean up with no damage at all to the property. We’ve been extremely happy with the roof. No leaks or damage. They even said to check it over in the Spring and if there are any issues, they will come back to fix it free of charge. That’s great customer service.

Product used: BP Shingles – Mystique in 2-Tone Black

cd-roofing-mystique-42-bp-shingles-in-2-tone-black

THE GARAGE DOORS

When we re-did the garage doors, our neighbours (who have since retired and moved) were so grateful as they had spent years (read: a decade) staring at this from their back sunroom in front of their pool.

old-broken-garage-doors-before

I had to scour some old photos of this because we didn’t take many for obvious reasons. Even an Instagram filter couldn’t save this.

garage-doors-before-2

garage-doors-before-1

Ugly aesthetics aside, they just did not work. The mechanism to open and close one of the doors was destroyed so if you wanted access to the door on the left, you needed to open the door on the right first. The garage door opener was broken as well, so you had to manually open them. They constantly got jammed and got stuck midway.

But most of all, they were dangerous. I’ve had the experience of seeing what happens when a garage door slams to the ground when a wire breaks at our old home and it’s terrifying. Especially if you have young kids. To hear and see how fast one this heavy and made of wood, can crash to the ground is not something I cared to relive. I was scared every time I used them, worrying that the wire would snap. So it became a necessity to replace them (aesthetics aside).

Who re-did the garage doors: Team EDS and the installer was Academy Overhead Garage Doors Inc.

Our Review: My husband James used to work at Team EDS when he was younger and has a great relationship with the owner. So when it came time to get these done, we reached out to them and hired their contractor to redo ours. The installer was so thorough and explained every detail of the new doors to me. They took one day to complete and are absolutely stunning.

Products used: Clopay Garage Doors – Gallery Collection in the Steel Carriage Style. We almost had a war over the top window part as my husband had originally ordered the curved windows and I was like noooooooooo, we have 2 curved glass motifs over the doors and if you get windows that are curved, it will be like a double blinking emoji. So rectangular it was.

The garage door openers are the LiftMaster Elite Series 8550W and they make us feel like we’re Marty McFly because we can’t believe all the stuff it can do. It has MyQ technology which lets you open and close your doors with your smart phone or even be notified when it’s open when you’re not home. That’s peace of mind.

Yes. These doors are pretty so technically I have a pretty photo. But more importantly, they work, they’re quiet and much safer. We still have to replace the broken glass above them so pretend you don’t see that because my OCD self sees that so often I am ready to break the other 3 pieces of glass just so they all look the same. Because surely that’s a logical solution for impatient people.

clopay-garage-doors-gallery-collection-a-review

THE WINDOWS

I joke that the reason our kids aren’t going to be able to afford to go to University is because we had to redo all the windows in our house. We knew we they would cost a lot but I don’t think we fully realized how much some of them would cost.

These were the 20 year old rotting wood windows before.

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old-wood-windows-before-2

window-before

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old-rotting-windows-before-2

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windows-before

windows-before

Cracks, rotting wood, condensation, no sealant, mold, really shitty awful disgusting trim around them and oh yes, bees were making a home in them in the backwall and had burrowed their way into our living room. So whenever we walked in, we saw new bees flying around.

Did I mention I am allergic to bee stings?

This was the first project we did.

Who re-did the windows: Exclusive Windows and Doors Inc.

Our Review: Steve and his team are really great to work with. I joke with him that he needs a website already for his business but yet that hasn’t hurt his business. Mainly because when you’re good and do good work, word of mouth spreads and majority of they get are all referrals through customers to their friends. They re-did all but 3 windows in our home in two days. That’s over 16 windows. Their pricing blew every other window quote out of the water.

Products used: North Star Windows is what they used for our home. To say we saw unicorns when the back wall ones first went in would be an understatement. The room was SO much brighter because the frames are narrow, so you get more glass window vs bulky frame. They’re the reason our heating bills went down, it’s quieter in the house as they provide so much sound insulation and on the outside, people can’t see in them during the day.

exclusive-windows-and-doors-redoing-our-back-windows

Here is a better shot of that wall during Christmas time this year.

fireplace-mantel-for-the-holidays-from-lowes

The last 3 windows they did were a specialty window because our house has 3 arched windows. I’m not going to lie, the cost of the these 3 windows were half of what ALL the windows in the house cost us.

Re-read that sentence.

The next time you want to buy a house with architectural windows like arches and cathedral shapes, the first thing you should do is ask how old the windows are. I nearly choked on my corn flakes when I found out the pricing. It’s because unlike square and rectangular shapes that are constantly made, these are not. They have to be made as a special order. I started to understand why so many people in our town wound up capping that top round half moon with wood and only doing the rectangle under it.

This was the Before/During.

old-rotting-windows-before-3

exclusive-windows-and-doors-2

exclusive-windows-and-doors-1

old-arched-window-before-with-grilles

And the After.

arched-window-interior-northstar-windows-exclusive-windows-and-doors

window-ledge-after

living-room-white-with-ikea-hemnes-wall-unit

casement-window-with-arched-top-northstar-windows-exclusive-windows-and-doors

I know half of you screamed “Where are the grids?!!” right now. Well, we took them out.

For now.

Meaning that I didn’t want (my husband honestly does not care at all about this issue at all) the windows with the faux grids inside the glass part. We’ve lived in homes that have had them inside the glass for the past 5 years and over time, the faux grids get dirty. Dust settles on them. Condensation occurs between them and the glass pane and then more dirt and dust show up. So you can clean your windows more easily without the grids on the outside of the glass (grids, muntins, mullions – for all those debating online on what to call them and man do you ever have your fights about the proper term for these) but you can’t do anything about the ones in between the glass panes.

Secondly, we’re blinds and shutters people. Meaning almost every window in our home has blinds and if you have ever seen blinds under a grid window, it’s like a really bad jigsaw puzzle. If you have OCD, this is not the look for you. Elaine from OMG Lifestyle Blog has a fantastic photo of this as an example and wrote a great post about why she took out her grids.

I like the look of traditional grids that are attached to the exterior of the home. For me those are the ones that down the line I am considering getting done. Ones like this and this. But then I don’t want our Bay window covered with those. Maybe we’ll make up some DIY Grids and put them up just to see if we like the look enough to make it permanent.

Because that is a pretty big decision, I am sitting on it for the time being and I am reallllllllly loving the natural light pouring into the house with these new ones. Right now I need to sort out some window covering for those arched windows without selling a kidney to pay for them.

exclusive-windows-and-doors-north-star-windows-bay-window-and-two-arched-casement-windows

Blog Disclosure: Nobody sponsored this post. LOL! (I know you didn’t think that was possible in this day and age of decor blogs but it’s true).

We have the empty bank account to prove it. But I wanted to write about it so that if you’re searching for the companies or products we used, you can find this post and feel a little better about seeing a real life persons experience. Which hopefully is more helpful than an anonymous review online. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments.

7 Comments

  • Reply
    Jessica devlin
    December 29, 2016 at 11:07 am

    We just purchased a fixer upper. It’s from 83! Eek scary
    A few things that are new were furnaces, heater heaters, roof and insulation. Those were big ticket items I was happy not to worry about.

    But! Windows, garage door, need to paint the whole house. Plus all the pretty stuff.

    Going to be an expensive year

    • Reply
      Alex
      December 29, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      I am so appreciative of people who replace them because truly it’s not fun to spend money on stuff like that. I think a lot of people want to move in and personalize a space with aesthetically nice things. Yet when we have to spend our money on water heaters, it’s just so…well, crappy. I get that it’s a part of the deal but it doesn’t make it any fun. Mind you I appreciate the warmth and dry factor of the roof and the windows more than anything this winter.

  • Reply
    Tash @ The Dreamhouse Project
    December 29, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Great post Alex. I have no doubt that a bazillion people will find this helpful even without the super boring SEO friendly title. 😉 And I totally feel your pain about the cost of custom windows. My God our windows ate up almost 1/4 of our entire reno budget for the whole house! And I think your house is beautiful. You have WAY more pin able pics than you give yourself credit for. xo

    • Reply
      Alex
      December 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      I am honestly shaking off the costs of the windows. The arched ones that is. I couldn’t even wrap my head around it. I am very very very appreciative of how warm our house is now with them but the sticker shock is going to take awhile. Listen, your windows (and your entire home) are the reason I struggle with my old meets modern decor dilemnas. Our house is obviously a gingerbread house and trying to blend in my Scandi decor is well, interesting. I am just waiting to get hate mail about the grid removal from the windows.

  • Reply
    Nicole MacPherson
    December 30, 2016 at 9:33 am

    In 2000, we bought a house that was built in 1962. It was (and is) very solidly built, but extremely outdated. For example, the kitchen was original, with HOMEMADE CUPBOARDS. And not nice homemade cupboards. But we got a steal of a deal in a great neighbourhood and now, many years later, it’s perfect (to me). We had to re-roof AGAIN this fall, for the second time in 16 years. But I live in Calgary, home of massive hailstorms. We also re-did the windows when my first son was born, in 2004, and it was expensive but worth every penny. We did a lot of very practical things when we first moved in, but then later we did some pretty ones too 🙂

    • Reply
      Alex
      December 30, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Oh my God you made me laugh! I need to see a photo of these homemade cupboards? Do you have any on your blog?

  • Reply
    Amanda
    January 15, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I really liked this post. It’s very honest! And when I lived in a sorority house in college, we had to replace all the windows! The house was built in the 20s and there were 42 of them. Many of them had to be custom built. I was shocked with the final price. While I was on the board that worked with the house we also had to replace all three furnaces and a/c units. Three units all at the same time. Money money money.
    Can’t wait to see all the future fun and pretty posts that are coming, you have a great house!

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