Last week, I brought up the subject of New Construction vs. Fixer Upper and shared some of my journey of how new construction was the right choice for my family. However, on the flip side, I mentioned my best friend Ninad who bought a fixer-upper and went through a full renovation of almost the entire house. When I say reno, I don’t mean she removed some crown molding and painted. I mean renovations in all its glory. Walls were torn down, beams being put up to support the house. Kind of like Property Brothers Style. Who doesn’t love that? Ha!
A little backstory on her house, it was built in the 1960s, but definitely has strong bones. Also, it’s rare nowadays to get a lot of backyard space in California, so this one had a good amount of backyard space for her son to run around and for her to host parties. And the most important part of all this is she was able to see past the old walls and closed off rooms to picture an open concept space. When she told me she purchased the home, I was so excited for her and knew we would have lots of design sessions and I remember getting facetime calls from her about a new piece of décor or furniture she bought.
A few weeks ago, her family came to the east coast to visit us and see our new home. It’s been a while since we got to just really relax without an agenda so I got to nitpick her brain on how she dealt with going through renovations and if she had any advice for others who chose to go that route. So, let’s get started!
R: What made you want to say yes to buy an older home?
N: After looking at nearby cities and researching school districts, Fountain Valley is ranked in the top 10 in Southern California. And the Elementary school is ranked #1 in Fountain Valley. And I fell in love with the city of Fountain Valley and always wanted to live in this city but never thought we could afford it. So when we found a home that was $100k below market value, we couldn’t pass it up. Even with a renovations budget, I knew we still got a steal.
R: How long did your renovations take?
N: The house is 1500 foot, so it took approx. 5 to 6 months. We were hoping it would take 3 months, but not everything went as planned.
R: Did you have a vision going in?
N: I did have a vision going in of how I wanted things and for the most part I was able to get those fulfilled, but there were a few things that we did not get to do.
R: Are you overall happy with the way things turned out?
N: Overall, yes! Sometimes, I stand in the kitchen and say, “I love my house!!”. * haha, she is my best friend, because I do the same. LOL)
R: What advice would you give to those who are thinking about buying an older home and renovating?
N: Well, there are a few things I would say. The biggest one being deciding how big your renovations will be, and needing to be open with the idea that not everything will go as scheduled or planned.
Second, when deciding on designing your space, always come up with not just a plan B, but also a plan C and D. Because a few times, even my plan B couldn’t happen so then we struggled to figure out what our next steps should be.
Third, research, research and research on good contractors because you want to make sure you know what quality of work you will get at specific price points, especially in my case because certain parts of the house had to be completely re-done, so it’s important you’re getting the right people for the job. We had two contractors one that was at a higher price point and one that was more in our budget. We went with the one that was more in our budget and that caused some issues and bumps along the way. For example, our bathroom tile had to be re-done 3 times. There were a few more, but you get the gist. Next time, if I need to get anything else done, I will make sure to do more research to ensure the quality of work is good.
R: Did you set a budget for your renovations? Or were you more flexible?
N: Yes, we did set a budget for the renovations. I think..looks at her husband for the real answer LOL. And for the most part, we kept to the budget.
R: How did you cut costs on your renovations to make sure you were not overspending and do you have any quick tips?
N: To keep costs low, we really had to think hard on where I wanted to splurge and where I wanted to compromise. For example, we splurged in the master bath so we didn’t spend too much on the guest bath. We also purchased a lot of the material ourselves for the contractors because we looked at discounts and such. We also wanted to make sure we did not get carpet (our son has asthma) so when we looked at floors or tiles, laminate was the budget-friendly choice.
R: Would you do it all over again, if you had the chance to?
N: Being a first-time homeowner was really stressful, so to add on a full renovation was added stress. However, the fact that I got to choose how I wanted certain things did help ease some of that stress. And I knew at the end, it will be close to what I envisioned my forever house to be, at least for now 🙂
I hope you enjoyed a quick Q&A with my bestie. Below are some before and after pictures of her beautiful home. Since she has moved into her home, we’ve had quite a few design session over facetime and can’t wait to continue with updates and our catchup sessions. And just to get a little sappy here…. she has been one of my biggest supporters of the blog and continues to push me when needed and lifts me up when I’m down. It’s the best kind of friendship. Love you Ninad!
Until next time,