A Much Needed Break

Well, as the title of this post implies, D and I took a much needed break from house stuff last weekend.  After gathering all those quotes, in the end, we decided not to go ahead with the plan to roll the line of credit onto the mortgage…it was just too stressful and complicated!  BUT, we are still planning lots of projects and renovations – we’re just going to take them one thing at a time. 

As I mentioned in previous posts, we’re still planning on painting the cabinets.  We also hope to get that dishwasher installed sooner than later.  For anyone wondering, we didn’t end up buying the Kenmore during the sale…we figured we should wait until we have access to the house so we can measure and make sure it fits. 

Another fairly imminent project is our plan to install laminate flooring throughout much of the main floor.  And this has been the source of some contention between us.  We both agree about putting in the flooring, but disagree on which rooms to put it in, and exactly what type of laminate to get.  D favours this easy install flooring from Windsor Plywood (manufactured by Kaindl), and while I like the idea of the easy click, I’m not happy with the colour choices, and won’t rest until I find the perfect (in an aesthetic sense) floor.  I figure, what’s the point in spending all this time and money on a floor we (I) don’t love?

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July 9, 2009 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

More about our kitchen…and dishwashers!

I recently posted about our plans for making some changes in the kitchen.  Well, plans change, and we’ve received so much advice (from our families, and online) about waiting before making any major changes, that we’ve decided to hold off on project “remove annoying hanging cabinets that cut off the kitchen” for a while, until we’ve lived with it for a time and decided whether we can live without the extra storage and/or how much storage we really need.  Once we’ve lived in and cooked in the kitchen, we’ll have a better sense of how truly annoying those cabinets are, or whether they’re something we can live with (at least for now)  Also, we’ve got to save our money for some other projects we have planned, and we don’t want the whole cabinet removal thing to end up resulting in a big mess that will cost a lot to fix (for example, if we end up tearing a giant hole in the drywall or wreck the countertop in our efforts to remove said cabinets).  And, I failed to mention previously that we are also planning on installing a dishwasher as soon as possible, which will cause us to lose even more cabinet space.

Speaking of dishwashers, here is the one we are thinking of getting:

Kenmore dishwasher

It’s currently on sale (but only until Sunday!) which is a plus, and as far as dishwashers go, it seems like a happy medium.  It’s not a fancy stainless steel interior, or expensive brand name, like this Bosch that we would love to get, but it seems like a decent buy, plus, our fridge and stove are Kenmore also, so at least it’ll match!

 

As for the cabinets, while we’ve decided to hold off on tearing anything apart, we are still planning on doing some painting.  I think a nice fresh coat of white paint and some new hardware will do wonders for updating our little old kitchen.  Besides, if we really mess up, we can always tear the cabinets out later…(ha!)

July 3, 2009 at 5:14 pm 4 comments

A Few Tips For First Time Home Buyers

Since we’ve just gone through the process of buying our first house, I thought I’d post a few ideas and tips for first time home buyers (or any other buyer), inspired by this question:

Tip #1: Know what you’re looking for.  Searching for a house can be completely overwhelming, and if you don’t know what you want, it is easy to be swayed by a beautifully decorated home that is not actually a good fit for your lifestyle.  Having a good sense of what you are looking for (lots of space, potential to add value, turn-key, etc) can help you sort through it all.  Talk together about what is most important, and what can be compromised on.  D and I spent hours (and hours, and hours…) talking together about what we wanted in a house.

Tip #2: Look past the small stuff.  As long as you don’t mind putting in a little bit of elbow grease, many things that often put buyers off (dated light fixtures, ugly wall paper, paint colours) can actually be changed quite easily and inexpensively.  And remember, their furniture and belongings will be gone, so look at the house itself, not how it is decorated!

Tip #3: It’s what’s underneath that counts.  This relates to the previous point, in that paint and other aesthetics are not a big deal.  What you want to look for is a house with good bones.  If your home is structurally sound and in good shape, then you can focus your time and effort (and money!) on the fun stuff, rather than on expensive repairs!  We were lucky to find a home that has been really well-maintained, with great bones, but lots of room for putting our own touch on things and adding value.  It’s a blank slate!

Tip #4: Think about your future plans.  The house you buy will depend not only on where you are now, but where you are going.  When looking at houses, you should think about how long you plan on staying in the house, and how your life may change during that time.  If you plan on having children and want to stay put, you will want to factor that in, in terms of the size of the house, number of bedrooms, etc.  If you plan on moving in two years, you will want to think about resale, and plan your purchase and your renovations accordingly.

Tip #5: Location, location, location.  The one thing you cannot change about your house is its location.  You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the neighbourhood and make sure its a place you can be happy.  Talk to neighbours and others in the community about the area, and visit at various times on different days.  We actually ended up buying a house on the very same street that we were already living on, so we knew and liked the area already.

Tip #6: Inspect it!  You will definitely definitely want to hire a reputable inspector to check out your home before you finalize the purchase.  Make your offer conditional upon conducting and approving a home inspection, so that if it does turn up a host of expensive problems, you can always back out of the deal.  You can also bargain with the seller to see if they will take on the repairs before you move in (which is an even better idea than reducing the price accordingly, in case the repairs turn out to be more expensive than first thought).  And completing a successful home inspection is very reassuring…you can also learn helpful tips about maintenance and so on from your inspector.

And finally…

Tip #7: Go for it!  Sure, it pays to take your time and make sure you know what you want, but once you do find that perfect house, make an offer!  If you over-analyze too much (often my problem), you’ll never make a decision.  And you don’t want to end up losing the house because someone beat you to the punch.

July 2, 2009 at 3:51 pm 1 comment

Renovation Fever

Isn’t it funny how you can walk into a perfectly liveable house, one that doesn’t NEED anything done, and somehow end up coming up with a laundry list of projects?  That is the case with our new house.  It is in perfectly fine condition…actually, excellent condition according to our inspectors, yet it seems the list of things we’d like to do is endlessly growing.  In fact, I would say that D has caught “renovation fever”.

InsomniaNow, I’m feeling a little bit differently.  At first, when we walked through the house, I looked around and said “oh yeah, no big deal, we’ll just tear this carpet out, throw down some new flooring here, paint this, move that…” and on and on.  But as closing date draws nearer, I’m starting to have doubts.  Last night, shortly before bed, I had a bit of a panic attack, and decided we were in way over our heads.  I made a giant list of all the projects we’ve talked about, and sat and stared at it, getting myself worked up and unable to sleep.  I awoke this morning, tired, but feeling much more optimistic about things. 

I do think we need to take a  step back though, and take things one bit at a time.  It seems easy to let one simple project spiral into a major renovation, and that is what I would like to avoid.  I think for me the stress right now is having to think ahead to all these projects, even though some won’t be happening until later on.  We decided to apply for a line of credit that will then be added onto the mortgage, which means we’ll have some money right away to do things, and our mortgage will only be increased by a very small amount each month, since its amortized over 25 years.  But, in order to do this, we need to get a whole bunch of quotes and estimates to show what we’re planning on doing and how much it will cost, in order to take it to the bank and get things set up.  Which means trying to plan out what we’d like to do, figure out how much it will cost, make appointments to get estimates done, etc.  Since we’re both working full time, it’s proving difficult, both logistically and mentally…but I know it will all work out in the end!  Right??

June 30, 2009 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

Our Kitchen

Our very sexy kitchen

Our very sexy kitchen

As promised, here are some more pictures of our place.  We’ll start with one of the most important rooms in the house – the kitchen.  Above is a view of our kitchen: note the stylish curtains and dark, dated cabinets.

P1000176

This is the dining area in the kitchen

And here is the dining area.  At the left, you will see the back of the cabinets that are shown on the righthand side of the top picture.  That row of cabinets really closes off the kitchen, and our plan is to remove them in order to open up the space.  It does mean losing a lot of storage space however, and we’ve got a few options to deal with that little problem:

Another view of the dining area showing the buffet on the far wall

Another view of the dining area showing the buffet on the far wall

In this picture, you can see the giant buffet against the wall on the far side of the dining area.  Now, we’re debating whether to leave the buffet as is (it does create a lot of storage, but also takes up a lot of space), leave it and also attempt to install the cabinets that we’re removing above the buffet (creating a giant wall of storage), leave it and install some open shelving above, or remove the beast and figure something else out for creating additional storage.  If any readers out there have thoughts, advice, or suggestions, we would absolutely love to hear it!

Now, as for the rest of our kitchen makeover plans: the biggest change will be painting the cabinets a nice crisp white tone.  We think it will really update the room and brighten up the space.  We also plan on updating the hardware on the cupboards and drawers at the same time.  We would love to put in new counters and flooring, but that will have to wait until we have the budget for it.  For now, in addition to painting the cabinets, we also plan to update the light fixtures (the chandelier above the table and a really ugly flourescent light above the kitchen sink that you can’t see in the photo).  And the curtains have to go!  I’m thinking green curtains would be lovely in the window by the eating area, like these from this young house.

Let us know what you think!

June 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm 2 comments

And here it is!

Our new house - with a SOLD sign!
Our new house – with a SOLD sign!

Just as I had hoped, the sold sign was up when I arrived home!  More photos of our house are on the way…

June 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm 1 comment

Sold!

Now that we’ve done the house inspection and sorted out our financing, we’re ready to take the conditions off the offer to purchase.  That means the sold sign can FINALLY go up!!  I’m really really really looking forward to seeing our house with a nice big SOLD across the “for sale” sign!  In fact, since we signed the condition waiver form last night, I’m hoping that by time I get home from work, that sold sign will be up!  Perhaps when I see that sign, it will finally sink in that buying a house means moving, and moving means packing!  Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Luckily for us, we’re buying a home in the same neighbourhood that we currently live in.  In fact, our house is on the very same street!!!  We’re also taking possession of the house two weeks before we give up our current place, meaning that we can move somewhat gradually, rather than in a huge rush all in one day.  So that should make things easier.  But packing and moving is still never fun.  If anyone has any tips for making moving easier and less stressful, please do share!

June 23, 2009 at 3:21 pm 2 comments

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