Jenn: I’ve had a countdown tile on my phone (modern day paper chain) for our close date since our offer was accepted in early December. We even took our Christmas card photos in the front yard, oblivious to the fact that we could look like total creepers to our future neighbors. I figured we’d get the keys on Monday night, start plumbing, electrical and painting on Tuesday and move in on Saturday. Looking back, that was crazy unrealistic!
Tyler: As a real estate broker, I see clients go through remodels all the time. I thought ours would be a breeze. I’d heard the conventional wisdom, “Whatever your budget is, double it. Whatever time you think it’ll take, triple it.” I’ve even communicated that to other people. But actually living through it is a completely different story.
Jenn: Yeah, living through it with a 6-month old while also getting our condo ready for the market! Reality is harsh.
Tyler: Everything hinges on the step before. If your electrical work is delayed because of rain, your drywall can’t be repaired. Therefore, you have tarps all over your house for another week and can’t walk around barefoot without risking tetanus or at a minimum, dust and stray flecks of caulk between your toes. In Seattle, you're also working against the elements. My dad and I were trying to finish cutting the subway tile for the shower one night and it started pouring. I was running in and out of the house cutting tile in the dark. I was soaking wet but we couldn't delay the project another day because we needed to return the saw we rented.
Jenn: The unpredictability was and is pretty challenging for the planner in me. The first morning at our house, I woke up early to make some coffee and sit in front of the picture window in my PJs to just have this epic moment alone… and I saw our plumbers drive up into our driveway and walk up to our front door. Apparently, they were there to hook up our showerhead and faucets. Surprise! All good things but no moment is sacred.
Tyler: Being able to make it our own. Seeing the progress is thrilling. I won’t take my bathroom for granted. It’s not just a bathroom. I put a lot of hard work into that tiny little thing. When a friend walks through the front door, I am going to want to awkwardly walk them straight into the bathroom to show them my tiling and grouting skills. Sorry friends.
Jenn: Getting the most bang for my buck. Did you catch the before photos of our bathroom? Orange countertops, hanging marbled glass dual light fixture, BEAR WINDOW (#savethebear). If we sold this house now – with its completely updated electrical system, plumbing lines, and updated bathroom, I know we could sell it for more than we paid. Not that I would do that. I’m not leaving this place. Like, ever. Because that means packing and moving again. Nope.
Q: So would you do it again? Buy another fixer?
Jenn: Yeah, I would. I’m all about the budget and buying something that needed a little work allowed us to land a 2,000sqft house in the neighborhood we wanted, with the ability to gain equity quickly. It’ll get a little more complicated when Addie can walk though. It’s been nice to be able to sit her in her bouncer and know she’s not going to chew on a tube of liquid nails or something.
Tyler: Absolutely. It’s not for everybody. But for the dreamers out there who can see a diamond in the rough, it’s the way to go. Maybe one of these days, I’ll convince Jenn that our next investment should be flipping a house…
Jenn: Umm… let’s finish this house and then we’ll talk.
Tyler Davis Jones is a Windermere Real Estate agent in Seattle who, with his wife Jenn, recently traded in their in-city condo for a 1940s fixer-upper. Tyler and Jenn, along with the help of some very generous friends and family members, are taking on all the renovations themselves. You can follow the transformation process on the Windermere Blog or on Tyler’s website and Instagram.
Next week on the blog: the guest room, part I