Category Archives: DIY

We’re officially broke – aka we bought a house

Well folks, we finally did it. After months of sorting through MLS listings and bemoaning the state of the Denver housing market, we found a house and put in an offer, which was accepted. Then we had a minor panic attack when the home inspection revealed a horizontal crack in the basement. Which led to us shelling out $500 to a structural engineer to examine the foundation for about an hour and tell us that it likely won’t be collapsing in the next 5 years. From there, we submitted every financial piece of paper and scrap of information to the loan officer, signed away our lives and those of our unborn children, and acknowledged no less than five times that our loan could be packaged up and sold (because 2008 never happened or anything). Then we were given the keys to our first home.

The front of our house.

The front of our house.

Although built in the 60’s, our home was purchased by a flipper, who majorly updated the kitchen (which is what sold me on this house), bathrooms, and basement. All the windows and the roof are brand new, and extensive work was done to make the basement water-tight and the back yard was properly graded to help keep it that way. Nevertheless, we are quickly learning that an updated home is by no means a cheap home. Upgrading from a 1 bed/1 bath 700 sq. ft.  apartment to a 5 bed/3 bath 2400 sq. ft. home is expensiiiiive. We’ve racked up $1000 in Home Depot in the first week alone.

Did you know that a watering hose is $50? Or that a gallon of paint is $45? Or that a ladder to get onto the roof and trim overhanging tree branches is $150? Or, or, or…I could go on and on and on.

My happy place! We also convinced the seller to swap out the electric stove for a gas model, and I am beyond thrilled to finally cool on a gas range!

My happy place! We also convinced the seller to swap out the electric stove for a gas model, and I am beyond thrilled to finally cool on a gas range!

In addition to the Home Depot supplies, we are paying a lot of people a lot of money to do incredibly un-sexy maintenance projects on our house. The sewer scope we had done as part of our home inspection (side note: have you ever seen one of those being done? They put a camera down your sewer pipes and then send you a video of it. Seriously. I’ll be happy to share if you’re curious. “Now these are deposits of fats and oils…” Blech. Anyway….) revealed some tree roots growing into our lines as well as some buildup of the aforementioned “fats and oils”, so we spent $250 for a man with a big machine to go into our sewer lines and scrape the walls of the pipes, ensuring that we should be clog-free for another year. As I type this, I’m sitting at our thrift-store dining table (more on that below), waiting for another guy to come clean out our air-ducts, because we’re pretty sure that’s never been done and with all the recent remodeling/construction work, we’d feel better knowing we’re not breathing in 8 pounds of dust every time we run the AC. His price? $100 + $20 for every vent. We counted last night and we have 15 vents total, so uhhhh….you do the math because my head is about to explode.

Our front room - living/dining area. The kitchen is on the other side of that wall/counter thing. In this photo alone, there are four visible AC vents. Let's count together! Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-chinnnngggg...

Our front room – living/dining area. The kitchen is on the other side of that wall/counter thing. In this photo alone, there are four visible AC vents. Let’s count together! Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-chinnnngggg…

On top of the services and general maintenance, there’s painting to be done. The paint in these photos looks far more gray-toned than it actually is. In reality, everything (including the ceilings) is a beige-khaki color. Nothing against a nice neutral palette, but when we first walked in, it felt like being trapped in a beige box. Not my idea of relaxing and, let’s face it, seeing beige everywhere you turn is flat out boring. Over the course of three days (and $200 in paint and supplies), I painted the walls and ceiling of our living room a gorgeous blue gray color and painted our master bedroom a darker blue gray from the same paint strip. At the time, painting the ceilings was the worst (I have never before has so much empathy for Michelangelo and all that time he spent on the Sistine Chapel), but now that it’s finished, I am in absolute love. Once we get the boxes unpacked and actually furnish the space, I’ll take some photos to show off my mad painting skillz.

The basement (another big selling point of this house) has so many garden-level windows that it doesn't feel like a basement at all. There's one bathroom (farthest door on the left) and two bedrooms (on the right - one door not pictured), in addition to a lot of open space and what will eventually be our laundry room.

The basement (another big selling point of this house) has so many garden-level windows that it doesn’t feel like a basement at all. There’s one bathroom (farthest door on the left) and two bedrooms (on the right – one door not pictured), in addition to a lot of open space and what will eventually be our laundry room.

[A note about these photos – they were part of the MLS listing and I did not take them, but I figure that since I purchased the house, I have also purchased the right to use them on my blog. Internet, please don’t sue me.]

There is so much we want to do to this house to make it our own, but it’ll come in stages as we save up enough money. Our first “big” project is having a contractor finish a utility closet in the basement to make into a laundry room. Right now, the washer/dryer hookups are in the basement, directly outside the second guest bedroom (not pictured in the photo above), and there’s not enough space to install a full size washer/dryer with the way the bedroom door is set up (the door opens out toward the washer/dryer hookups and the hallway isn’t wide enough to accommodate both a dryer and the open door). We have a contractor set up to complete that project later this month, which will align with the (hopefully major) Labor Day sales on appliances. (If you love your washer/dryer, I’d love any recommendations!)

Also high on the priority list are painting (2400 is way more square footage when it comes to painting), furnishing the main living areas, and installing an electrical outlet so we can have the TV against that middle wall in the basement. The back yard also needs some major TLC and we’d love to have chickens and bees back there (our neighborhood is zoned for chickens, goats, bees, and ducks), in addition to a banging vegetable garden.

DIY diva I am most certainly not, but with our budget (minimal), I guess I’m gonna figure it out. I found a small table (with a hideous laminate top – the one at which I’m currently blogging and drinking my morning coffee) and 4 wooden chairs at the thrift store yesterday ($16 for the table plus $13 for each chair) so my first DIY attempt will be to stain the chairs, then spray paint the table and give it a concrete top, similar to this gorgeous dresser. Depending on how disastrous the results are, photos to come!

Or maybe I’ll give up and wait 20 years until we can afford to buy new things that don’t require any artistic talent on my part. Only time will tell.