Phase 1 Renovations and the Budget

Apr 28, 2021 | Whole House

We close on the new house tomorrow! Because this is a private sale and the seller and I are friendly, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to really look through each room and I’ve come up with a renovation list that we want to tackle even before we move in. The renovations have to be done in phases because there’s a lot to do and we have to pace ourselves (and our budget!). The house was built in the ’90s and other than the backyard, it really hasn’t been touched since then. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us and I’m excited to get started!

But before talking about the renovations, let’s talk about budgets (meh!)… I have a renovation budget and honestly, it’s the first time I’ve used one. At our previous house, I just renovated rooms without thinking of a hard number that I had to stick to and that was mostly because I’m money conscience anyway and did a lot of work myself to keep the costs down. Our last house was also smaller and I just renovated little by little. But this time around, because there’s SO MUCH TO DO and I want to move faster with making the home the way we want it, I have a budget for each phase of the renovation. Having a budget is no fun, but it has made me be super conscious of every penny I spend since once I’ve exhausted the budget, I’m done renovating.

We’ve decided that the budget will be re-funded every year depending on what we want to do that year. That’s not to say that there won’t be smaller renovations going on in between budgets but they’ll be more small scale and will be funded by my “side hustle” money (legal work I do on the side, my real estate commissions, rental income from our paid-off houses, etc.). But for now, here’s the breakdown for Phase 1:

Phase 1

Budget: $70,000 ($50,000 seed money and $20,000 side work)

Floors– We will be using luxury vinyl tile again in this house like we did in our last home. LVT is so durable and it stands up superbly to our 3 dogs. After three years, the flooring looked the same as the day we had it installed so we’re using the same product, different color. We’ll be installing the new floors on our main level and top level. Eventually we’ll redo the floors in the basement but that project is not in Phase 1. Total cost for 2 floors (with labor and materials): $36,500

Stair balusters and refinishing the stair rail– I like simple wood balusters and the ones that we have now are metal and very intricate. I’m leaning toward an overall minimalistic aesthetic in this house and the current balusters are very “Italian rustic” so I’m replacing them (much to the dismay of my husband who likes them…). I gathered a lot of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest and I’ve narrowed down that I want the balusters to be black, tapered, and 1 1/2 inches thick at the bottom. I had to have them custom made because everything that I found online just wasn’t what I was looking for. The rails will be stained to match the color of the stair treads and the risers will be painted white (just like in the inspiration photos). Total cost (just materials since the labor was rolled in with the floors): $1,000 for the balusters

Dining Room furniture and accessoriesAs I talked about last last week, we have little to no furniture for the dining room so I’ll focus on this room in Phase 1. Total cost of dining table, chairs, rug, pendants: $10,800

Fireplace removal– We have a 2 sided gas fireplace that juts out of the wall bisecting our master bedroom. It’s really dated looking and when the inspector inspected it, he said it gets dangerously hot and could burn people. So, it’s gotta go! We’ll cap the gas line so that later, we can install a wall mounted fireplace if we choose to. Total cost of removal: $1,500

Recessed lights throughout house– In Maryland, overhead lights are not regularly installed; instead people use lamps, especially in bedrooms. In every house that we’ve moved into, and every rental I’ve renovated, I’ve installed recessed lights and this house is getting 63 of them! All the lights will be on dimmers. We’re also removing low-slung ceiling fans in the gym. Total cost of lights and labor: $10,300

Painting Entire House (Interior)– Because I like painting and I’m pretty good at it after painting dozens of walls, I’ll be doing most of the painting to save us some money here. However, there are a few places where I can’t reach the walls even with my tall ladder so I’m hiring out the 2-story living room and foyer. I’ll paint the rest of the house though (as soon as I narrow down a wall color). Total cost of labor and paint supplies: about $3,180.

Invisible Fence– We have a runner, Billy, and even though we have a physical fence, he will absolutely dig under the fence to chase the deer that are in the nature preserve behind our house. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve gone on “Billy hunts” after he’s escaped. It’s like a game to him and although it’s fun to chase him, it’s also dangerous so we have to install an invisible fence to keep him safe. Total cost of invisible fence: Around $1,500 (This is a rough estimate and I’ll have a better number once I get a couple more estimates)

Billy, the Runner, looking so debonaire

Phase 1 Total: $64,780

I’m leaving some breathing room in the budget for when the contractors say “oh by the way, I need to buy _______ to complete your project.” That happens every time… The leftover money will get bumped over to Phase 2’s budget. Phase 2 will focus on enormous garden plots, a greenhouse, solar panels, a new front door, decorating each room, renovating the kitchen… We have so many plans! For now, I just have to focus on the walk through this evening and on closing tomorrow. Wish me luck!