C and I bought our house 8 years ago, 3 months before our wedding and I'll be the first to admit we had no idea what we were doing. At the time we were both living in relatively small apartments so every house we looked at was totally awesome because it wasn't an apartment. Eventually we found a 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch that we thought would be perfect and for a while it was. Then, we started procreating and two kids later, our house feels like it is the size of a shoebox and we are anxious to move. We love the school district we are in so we want to stay in this area but the other neighborhoods are way out of our price range. We like to joke that we live in the one poor neighborhood in this massively rich area and we aren't too far off the mark. The housing market in our area isn't as bad as some but it is definately a buyer's market. You can get a lot of house for a little bit of money and this leaves our little house in a bit of a bad spot. Since it isn't a good time for us to sell, we have decided to make lemonade out of the housing market lemons and do a lot of improvements to our house. We think we'll be here for a while so why not enjoy the changes before we sell?
The only problem with doing the improvements is C and I are not super handy and we don't have a ton of money to spend. I think we can do a lot of things ourselves, thanks to advice found on the Internet, a couple of very handy brothers-in-law and classes at Home Depot. C is worried that we are going to screw things up and then have to spend more money fixing things than we would have if we had just hired someone. Right now we have struck a compromise- we are going to tackle things we know we can do ourselves, things like replacing toilets and vanities, painting, redecorating, etc. and let the professionals replace tile, put in hardwoods floors, etc. There are some things we don't have any desire to do, like replacing siding and gutters because honestly, neither C or I are really crazy about heights. A lot of the work will be done piecemeal so we can make sure we will have one project competely paid for before we start on something else. No debt for us! Our first projects are going to be kind of boring, starting with replacing concrete board and shower tiles in the master bath and then moving on to the outside of the house. Basically our thought is if something is damaging the integrity of our house (I'm looking at you rotting chimney wood), it gets fixed first.
One interesting thing I am now finding out, even after almost 13 years of being together, is how different C and I cope with pressure or the unknown. C is a bundle of stress right now and beating himself up over things he could have done in the past. I am more philosophical- what's in the past is past and now we move forward. C is dreading all the work that will have to be done and all the money we will have to spend. I am actually excited that we are going to make our house more "grown-up" and that we actually have a plan in place. Of course I have an aversion to spending a ton of money so I am looking forward to the challenge of coming in under budget and finding the best, yet cheapest solution. I'd rather skimp on decorating and spend more to ensure that the structural stuff is done correctly.
Of course this wouldn't be one of my blog posts if I didn't get a little philosophical. There is an old saying (I am paraphrasing here) that women are like tea bags- they get stronger in hot water. I think marriages are the same thing, or at least mine is. When things get hairy, one of us is always able to calm the other one and keep an eye on the bigger picture. I am sure there are going to be a few times when C and I are going to want to kill each other during these home projects but I know in the end we'll be happy and thrilled with the strength of our house and our relationship.