Renovations and Homeownership

In every home my husband and I have owned, we’ve done some sort of renovation, home improvement or home repair project. In some instances we did this to make our house feel like our “home”–by making changes to the interior or exterior to better reflect our taste. Other times we’ve undertaken these projects because they were necessary, such as the time the ridge vent blew off the roof of our first house or when an ice dam formed on the roof of our second house. Regardless of the scope of the project, nearly all of them started with a HomeAdvisor request.

That aforementioned ridge vent emergency was more than 10 years ago and the very first time we had heard of and used HomeAdvisor. We were in a panic at that time, with an impending rainstorm and a gaping hole in the peak of our roof. Thankfully, a neighbor had successfully used HomeAdvisor to find a contractor and made the recommendation. Within hours–and before those dark storm clouds gathered over our Pennsylvania home–a roofing contractor that HomeAdvisor had connected us with was at our property and up on the roof, replacing the ridge vent. Everything home improvement in our lives changed from there on in.

Since that auspicious day when we first became HomeAdvisor customers, we’ve undertaken more than 20 home-related projects. We’ve come to rely on HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to help us price those projects and HomeAdvisor’s contractor matching service to help us find the right contractor for the job. Sometimes we end up deciding to do a project ourselves, due to budget or other considerations, and sometimes we take a hybrid approach–doing DIY for part of the project and hiring someone for the other part.

For example, when we put our old house on the market, I repainted much of the interior so that everything looked fresh and new. I’m the painter in the family so re-painting the kitchen, family room, entrance hall, etc. was no big deal. However, we also needed to have the exterior repainted–we knew it would be good for curb appeal–and that was simply beyond my skillset. So we hired a company to come in and get that job done.

house exterior with peeling paint
Image provided by Leah Ingram

We’ve also taken the hybrid DIY approach with new hardwood floors. My husband had gotten a great deal on hardwoods at a flooring warehouse, but there was a catch: all the hardwoods were unfinished. He knew he was able to install the floors–which he did–but he wasn’t sure he could sand and refinish them. So we turned to HomeAdvisor to find the professional who did that for us.

Now that we’ve settled into our newest home, this time in New Jersey–it’s the third we’ve owned in 24 years of marriage–we are starting to put our stamp on this house as well. Once again we’re taking a hybrid approach to home improvements and repairs. For example, we are going to have this 1971 house re-sided, something it needs badly. The original owners were woefully neglectful with the batten and board siding, painted yellow, that was installed when the home was built 45 years ago. We’ve tried our best to paint over the bare spots and replace boards that have rotted, but it’s gotten to the point where the project is simply too big. So we’ve hired a local contractor, thanks to HomeAdvisor, who will be installing vinyl siding in the coming weeks. I’ll be chronicling how that project is going in future blog posts.

On the inside we’re doing some DIY work as well. I’ve started painting over the dark wood paneling in the family room/den that really dates our home right back to the 1970s. I’ve got one wall painted in a cheery celadon green, and already I can feel the room coming into the 21st century. At the same time we’ve ripped up the ugly family room carpet and are in the process of removing the worn out linoleum in the kitchen–only to discover even uglier linoleum underneath. Our plan is to have my husband install new wood floors throughout the kitchen and adjacent family room/den. We’re making sure that this time around, the hardwoods are prefinished so we don’t have to hire a refinisher.

Image provided by Leah Ingram
Image provided by Leah Ingram

At the same time that this is happening, we are updating the 1970s kitchen. Of the HomeAdvisor-referred contractors that came out to give us an estimate on the re-siding project, we asked each to give us an estimate on renovating the kitchen. And we quickly realized that we couldn’t afford to do the remodeling we’d envisioned. So rather than rip out and install all new cabinetry and get ourselves into a pile of debt, we’re working with our local home improvement store to have our cabinets refaced and new granite countertops installed. This option will save us about $15,000 over what the contractors had quoted us for the major kitchen renovation.

In my next update on the siding project, I’ll share with you how we came up with the budget for the project, how we compared the bids we received from the three contractors we met with thanks to HomeAdvisor, and how we eventually decided to hire the contractor who will be starting on the siding project in the next month. I’ll also be sure to post pictures as that project comes along as well as how the kitchen, den and new flooring are all taking shape.