Salvaging The Budget

It’s really easy to go off budget with renovations, and with a husband that can build anything I sometimes have to remind myself that just because he can build anything doesn’t mean that he has either time to, or that we have the budget to. It’s extremely important for us to stay on budget. I figured I should do a post about our budget, and about how we’re staying in line with it so far.

There are four big things we’re doing to keep ourselves on budget.

1. We are paying for this entire renovation ourselves with no financing. We are not rich by any means of the word, it’s taken a lot of work on our part to put our money where our mouth is. Not eat it, save it. I’m not being literal because that would just be straight up wasteful. Our budget is well under $20g for the entire house including the new deck, addition, porch, complete gut and re-layout of the original house, finishes (millwork, trim, casings, etc.) and appliances.

2. We are taking it one project at a time. We do not have all of the money we’ll need for everything at this point but we continue to save. We saved enough to do the addition and porch. Our hope is to get the area to a complete-enough place so we can move into it. It won’t be painted/decorated, etc most likely right away. We may not even have a solid wood floor in our bedroom for a while. Taking it slow.

3. We’re doing the work ourselves. I understand that not everyone can, or should, do this level of a renovation themselves. We’re fortunate enough that Andy was raised in a very hands-on environment where he was taught these things from a very young age. Doing the work ourselves will save an exorbitant amount of money.

4. Salvage salvage salvage. We’re no strangers to salvaging considering Andy built most of our current barn with the plywood and pieces from our old barn. At work, if a client has a nice piece of furniture they want to get rid of you can bet they often call Andy first. Salvaging everything we can simply saves a lot of money. If the insulation is good, salvage it. Plywood still good? You bet I’m pulling all the nails out sheet by sheet so we can either re-use it on the addition, or another project down the line. Those $15-20 dollars here and there add up. We most definitely aren’t afraid of a little extra work when it will save us a lot of money. When we pick up nails with the magnet, if I find one that is perfectly straight I set it aside. Now, I’m not sitting there inspecting every nail but if I happen to catch it, I’ll grab it.

Andy is very good with budgets and as a builder he really understands the process from negotiations on product cost, to the technical execution of the actual building process.  I won’t lie and say his knowledge and know-how doesn’t help, it most definitely does. We do get some of our materials at a discount but truth be told, not by much. Salvaging materials and doing the work ourselves is the biggest help of all for our budget.

For me, the hard part for budget will be further down the line when it’s time to do the interior design. This isn’t part of our overall budget, it’s something we’ll save for separately (new couch, rugs, new mattress, etc.). It’s going to take a lot of ingenuity and creativity on my part to pull off the looks I love. If you follow me on Pinterest (link in the upper right corner of the side bar under “P”) you can tell that I have a fairly specific taste. I’m looking forward to the challenge of how to execute an updated farmhouse/cottage interior. You can bet there will be plenty of flea markets in my future and lots of crafts.

If we continue to follow a simple rule we learned in elementary school we should be just fine: “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Whether it’s saving money for the project, with actual building materials, or finding/making a specific decor item I’m pining for we can just reduce to save money for it, reuse what we have, or recycle another items to stand in for it (or to barter for the item you want!).

Salvaging our budget all comes down to one overarching principal: this project really is a true “DIY” adventure, but that’s what makes it so much fun. Why let someone else do it, when you can do it yourself?



Making Your House A Home During Renovations

When renovations are in full swing, sometimes it’s hard to keep your house feeling like a home. With the drywall dust, construction debris, and in our case moving two huge rooms of our house into tiny spaces, it can quickly make you feel like you’re living in a construction zone. This isn’t a fun feeling for anyone, and I assume it’s one of the biggest reasons people get stressed out during renovations. Lord knows a few months ago I had my moment of “what if this process is bad?”. Then, I got over it, pretty quickly. Attitude is everything in life. There are a few key things you can do to help lower your stress levels and keep your house a home when it looks like this:

  1. Plan: As important as it is to plan your actual renovation, planning the space you will be living in during renovations is crucial. Maximize your space so disruption of flow from room to room is kept at a minimum. If you’re renovating your kitchen, you can cook dinners ahead of time that you can easily heat up in a microwave. Think of moving your fridge to another location so you can still store food. Keep things in place for as long as you can, but have a plan so when it does come time to move them it’s not stressful. If you’re doing a bathroom it’s a little more tricky but can you try and plan it so you have at least the toilet and shower back up and running in one day? We’re moving our bathroom to an entirely different room, so we’ll finish the new bathroom before we tear out the old.
  2. Phase Construction: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you take a hammer to every wall “just to see” what’s behind it, you’re going to leave a lot of dust in your path. Every time you look up you’ll see that hole in the wall and be reminded you need to fix it. One room, one project, at a time. Not only does this help you focus on the task at hand, it’s also helps in case you can’t finish the other phases as planned. The last thing you want is to run out of money, time or help and be reminded of it because you’ve ripped apart every room in the house.
  3. Get Creative and Be Flexible: Yes, it would be great if we all had the budget to afford whatever it is we wanted to do during renovations, but be realistic. You might have to get creative to make some of the things happen that you want. It may also be about picking the most important things and scrimping for them. Do you want lunch with the girls/guys, or do you want a marble counter for your bathroom sink? This goes in hand with being flexible. Sometimes walls just can’t be opened as much as you thought because it would be too expensive for the added structural support.
  4. Stay Within Your Budget: You’re probably thinking “duh” but honestly, when you’re caught up in it and you’ve already spent a bunch of money you might say “what’s a few more thousand?” That’s only a question you can answer, but be careful-it’s a slippery slope. You will be much happier in the end if you don’t have looming loans over your head, just so you could have a bunch of minor details. If you’re stressed after it’s all over, you’ll be too consumed with it to even notice or truly appreciate them. All you’ll see is the debt you’ve incurred. Be smart about it, get creative when you need to in order to attain the things you want, and be flexible. A blown budget just isn’t worth it.
  5. Don’t Forget Your Routine: Let’s face it, when you’re both working full time (I include stay at home parents in the “full time” category), it’s not easy to find time to renovate. Your schedule will be thrown off – but at least try to maintain some normalcy. For Andy and I, we make our dinner and sit on the porch. I do laundry, brush the dogs, take them for walks, play with them, weed the garden, etc. We aren’t letting our lives fall by the wayside just because we’re renovating-it’s just a new part of our lives. This often means Andy is doing a lot of the renovations, while I’m helping to keep the rest of the house running. Dinners are a little less prepared than they used to be, but we aren’t eating out. If you have kids, keeping some routine will help them a lot (and everyone) with the transition.
  6. Keep A Clean Job Site: This is one Andy stressed hugely to me. Messy job sites are the sign of a sloppy job. At the end of the day, no matter how tired you are, do a quick pick up. You will find yourself way less stressed if you don’t have to see everything everywhere when you want to get work done. This includes putting your tools back in a designated spot when you’re done for the day.
  7. Keep A Clean House: Just like a clean job site, a clean living area during renovations is extremely important. You’ll feel like you’re in your home – even if it feels like your home crammed into a tiny box. In our case, because all of our belongings are in a very small area now, it’s incredibly important to stay on top of any messes. With our bedroom being 8×8 it means clothes get put away immediately. No baskets of clothing sits around waiting to be put away. Small spaces force you to be more conscious of not only what you have, but how cluttered it can get. Keep it to a minimum. If you have to, do a once a day clean sweep through the house to pick up any odds and ends. You’d be surprised how good it feels just to keep your floors vacuumed, your laundry put away and your coffee table picked up.
  8. Remember The Little Things: I love having fresh flowers in my house during the summer. To keep our house feeling like a home, I’ve been picking wild flowers and keeping them in a case next to our bed. Not only do they last longer than anything store bought, and are free – but they are significantly more beautiful and diverse. Whatever the little things are that make you feel like a cup of tea and happy, then do them still if you can.

When you’re done, it will be so worth it and even more so if you aren’t fighting the entire time. These are tips we are using in our own renovation, and I hope will help you get through yours. It’s a new and exciting time in your life – embrace it and have fun.



House Tour {The Before}

These renovations are going way faster than I thought since we unexpectedly started on Thursday, so I need to stay on it so I don’t fall behind!

Before I get into the other stuff in later posts – let’s house tour it up. This house tour is long overdue, and I did it right in the nick of time. I actually wasn’t intending for this to be the house tour because I had wanted to get the laundry taken care of, our bedroom furniture moved downstairs and the current master bedroom vacuumed, once empty, before I did it. On Thursday however, Andy came home and started tearing down some of the molding in the living room just to get an idea of what was behind it (don’t get me wrong, I was on board—more like jumping up and down). While he was out getting something else done, I decided to take a video of the excitement and then somehow it all got put into a regular old house tour. The only room I missed was the basement. I’ll try and remember to get that the next time I do a tour. Thankfully I had vacuumed when I got home, but I didn’t prep in anyway for the video so you’re in for quite a treat.

By treat I mean laundry, dinner items all over the counter, a messy pantry, some dishes and a super dirty window because of dog noses pressing up against it.

A few notes before the video:

  • The outside of the house tour was done before we fixed the deck in May and the inside of the house tour was just done last Thursday so it’s a bit of a mish mash.
  • When I went into the bathroom originally the seat was up so I cut to another part of it. It’s right outside the office/brother in laws bedroom though, which you see when I turn back around. It’s a really messed up transition in the video, so I apologize. I didn’t realize it until after it was completed and exported.
  • For some reason I call the patio set “the porch”. Nope, the porch will be on the other side of the house, though, it may have a patio set on it too.
  • It’s hard to hear me outside because that day was crazy windy, sorry.
  • I talk with my hands – even on video, when I’m holding it. Hence all the “let me point everything out” for you.

You love it, admit it. Or so I choose to believe this is your reaction.

Poor Winnie did start to get the basketball (that’s why her head was in her toy basket), but then I distracted her by walking around and ignoring her so she just left it. We did get  got in a big walk up to the farm right after all of this hullabaloo. While up there I took a video of the cows, with the intention of making a post about it–and then I got a straight shot of a steer unsuccessfully attempting to mount a heifer while at full *ahem* attention. So I most likely won’t be posting that video.

I will however be posting a video of the demolition work we’ve already done later on.

Drinking game: How many times can I use the word exciting in this blog or in my videos to reference the demolition? Nix that, you’ll all be drunk.



Laundry Room Shelving

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately. I’ve been traveling 3 of the last 4 weekends and I’m wiped out. I, by the way, am a terrible traveler. Everything I’ve had to do has been overnights, but all within driving distance. By the end of the third weekend away from home though photos like this tend to happen. I cannot be held accountable or for the fact that I tend to lose my tree when I am away from home for too many weekends. I have no idea how my sister travels around the world. I think she has super-acclimation powers. This, by the way, is one of my very best friends and I at her surprise bridal shower on Sunday. I’m pretty lucky to have her in my life, but not as lucky as she is to have a fox like me in hers. I plan on making this face in every wedding photo of hers. I’ve also informed her I plan on crimping my hair and wearing teal eyeshadow.

Point being, now that traveling is over for a while and I’m slowly acclimating back to normal whatever that is I’m going to be back blogging on here more frequently. So get ready friends, this shindig is about to get crazy.

By crazy I mean uhm, dogs and cows and house projects while I listen to NPR. I am out of contrrooll.

Back to the point of this post-this is our laundry area/pantry right off of the kitchen. What you aren’t seeing is the rest of the detergent and other stuff all over the floor. Frankly, I wanted a shelf. I needed a shelf. Without a shelf I was lost. *falls to knees with fists up in the air*

Okay okay, this is really much more boring than that,  but I really did want a shelf to hold all of our detergent, soap nuts, and other knickknacks that I deem absolutely necessary.

That said, I decided to build a shelf.

By “I”, I mean I told Andy I wanted to do it, and it was my project, and I picked out the wood from the barn, and I picked out the brackets. Then I measured everything out, looked at Andy and said, “how do I do this?”, well knowing that if I used the table saw I would likely have two incomplete things-a hand and a shelf.

At first I wanted to leave the wood aged looking, until Andy informed me the “aged” look to the pine was dirt and other things one shouldn’t breath regularly. I didn’t even want it all gray and awesome anyway.

First, and completely out of order, I picked up brackets I liked from Home Depot. I think these were under $15.00. I decided to go with 10″ brackets because I didn’t want things crammed on my shelves and overhanging it. I knew this would mean I would have to make the shelf two boards wide, since we didn’t have any 12″ wide boards, but I was okay with that.

I did not buy these months ago and then let them sit around until I got to making the shelf, hence the dust. That is not how I roll. Not. In. The. Least.

The second thing I did (not months later) was measure how long my wall was, where the studs were, and then measure the same distance on my boards. To back it up, we have a barn with a bunch of lumber in it, so I climbed on up and grabbed pine that Andy said I could use. By “grabbed pine” I mean I picked out what I thought was pine and then pressed my nail into it to see if it was soft and then decided that it must be pine. I know a pine tree. I can tell pine when it’s all cleaned up. But dirty old pine? Fat chance.

Any of my husbands family reading this just cringed that I can’t identify pine on sight.  Also, I live in Maine. There are four very stereotypical things I feel I should be able to identify on site.

Moose. Check.

Blueberries. Check.

Lobster. Check.

Pine. Uhhhhgg.

Anyway, I needed to make sure it was long enough to overlap my brackets, and for my brackets to each be in a stud. Thankfully for me the two boards I picked out worked perfectly.

By perfectly I mean they needed to be cut to length…

sanded down…


edged on the joiner…

…biscuit joined together

…and then clamped.

For 48 hours. Or maybe it was 24. I don’t remember. But it felt like forever. I am so darn impatient.

After that I asked about a thousand times if I could hang it up yet. By a thousand I mean three times. Finally when the answer was yes I bounced downstairs. Then I realized I didn’t want plain wood.

So I painted it the same color as the wall, Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter (color matched at Home Depot to Behr). I used one thick coat, but I knew it would soak into the wood enough to show the grain, and I liked it.

Then, after a few more hours of doing stuff around the house and not repeatedly checking on how dry the paint was, I was finally able to hang the darn shelf. I didn’t get any photos of the hanging process since I was the one doing it.

I was reminded this was my project and since I made sure it was known it was my project, I got to hang it. Son of a bee sting. The quick rundown was something like this:

  • Marked the studs.
  • Use Andy’s long level to make sure everything lined up.
  • Screwed the brackets in.
  • Checked if everything was level again.
  • Put the shelf on top and stepped back a thousand times to make sure the overhang was right before I remembered the measuring tape on my hip and got it exact in about 3 seconds.
  • Screwed the brackets into the shelving.
  • Slipped the covers onto the brackets so you couldn’t see the screws.
  • Danced up and down because I finally had a shelf.
  • Put things up on the shelf and changed it about a thousand times.
  • Took about 100 photos at night because I was too impatient to wait until better natural light.

I love my shelf. Don’t judge my entirely unused beverage dispenser up there. I debated on putting laundry detergent in it. Then I bought laundry detergent and placed it directly next to the unused beverage dispenser. Or the fact that the edging to the ceiling isn’t finished. I’m betting you didn’t even notice until I said something so look away folks, nothing to see here.

As a recap since we all hate scrolling. Here are the before and afters again.

I love having shelves. Maybe someday I’ll get plate covers.

Oh forget that, we’re gutting this baby to the studs soon. By soon I mean in about a year or so. No plate covers reminds me of this fact though and I refuse to spruce up anymore until it’s for good.

Or so I say now.

Until then, I have a shelf, and I like it. And I built it all by myself.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Happy “Building”,