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. The reality of home renovations is that they’re very expensive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Here is a better shot of that wall during Christmas time this year.
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.
And the After.
I know half of you screamed “Where are the grids?!!” right now. Well, we took them out.
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.
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.