You know how last week, I was all: “It’s House-iversary week!!” And then it got to be THIS week, and I’m still going on about it? I meant “week” in the sense of: “a period of time whose length is still undecided.” I guess I had more to say about the last five years than I realized.
At some point, someone’s going to need to learn how to shut me up.
Good luck with that.
I spent my whole childhood moving from state to state, so the idea of finally putting down roots and settling for a while had so much appeal to me. It spoke right to my little heart and romanced me to the core.
Still, it hasn’t been the smoothest ride. There are a few things we would’ve done differently, if we could hop in a DeLorean, scoot back in time McFly-style and have a little chat with then-childless-and-optimistic Andy and Kelly.
If we could change things…
- We would’ve hired out the hardwood floors! We are DIYers to the CORE. I mean, it’s in our blood. But gluing down hardwood floors is a tough, tough job. (Nailing them down is a totally different story.) It took us six months of backbreaking work completed in three- or four-hour chunks after our full-time day jobs to finally get the whole downstairs covered. We love it now, but in retrospect? It would’ve been money well spent to pay for that.
- I would’ve handled the kitchen TOTALLY DIFFERENTLY. I made every design mistake you can make: listening to what others thought and not choosing what I love, making choices to try to “work with” other things I didn’t love, etc. More on this in the next post. (Unless y’all can figure out a way to make me hush before then!)
- I would’ve spoken up! We only hired out three jobs: painting the exterior of our house, installing our silestone countertops, and installing our carpet. In the latter two cases, the subcontractors made errors and I let them slide because I didn’t want them to think I was a jerk. Now, we live with weird, unstretched spots of carpet and imperfect countertops – for which we paid full price – because I just didn’t want to create conflict. “Get a backbone, sista! The subcontractors don’t have to like you!” That’s what I want to scream at myself.
- There are about four million decorating decisions we made that I’d probably do differently, but I think they all stem from a few mistakes I’ve made over and over: choosing paint colors too soon (more on this in another post!), buying what “works” instead of what I love, and just a good ol’ lack of patience.
- This is mostly because of blogging, but GEEZ how I wish I could go back in time and take some “before” photos! Even without the ol’ blog though, it’s nice to be able to look back at how far you’ve come. (It was fun for Andy and me to do when we shared before-and-after photos in last week’s posts. You know, the first seven days of House-iversary week.)
But we wouldn’t change…
- The location of our house. I’d heard the real estate mantra “location, location, location!” just like you. But I didn’t really get it. Your neighbors matter. Without actually trying, we accidentally ended up with a great location, but we really should’ve thought it through a little better!
- Living on a level lot. This wasn’t even really on our list of must-haves, but somehow we ended up with a house on a level piece of land. That’s not so easy to come by in the hilly Atlanta suburbs, but we’re so glad we stumbled upon this one! It gave us lots of opportunity to redneck-it-out and add our deck and DIY playground, so now we live in our backyard when the weather’s nice. (So, like, not in July. Or when there are mosquitoes. But I have high hopes for September!)
- DIYing most everything else. ESPECIALLY our iron balusters. I think it was going to cost $800 to pay someone else to do it, but Andy installed ours and it was a simple, easy job, that only cost us about $150 or so! (Here’s how to stain your railings and how to install iron balusters.) Beyond that, we found that hiring out work never resulted in a better end result. We’re more willing to take the time to make the job perfect than a contractor. There are still jobs that we couldn’t have done ourselves – like installing the quartz counters – but we don’t have any regrets about doing it ourselves in most cases.
- Buying within our budget. The bank was willing to loan us more than twice what we were comfortable paying, but we had run the numbers and knew our own limits. We wanted to buy a place we could afford even if only one of us was working, because we wanted the option to stay home with our kids. (If we had spent what the bank would’ve given us, it would’ve been a major emergency for us when this happened.) I never, ever, ever regretted buying less house than the bank would give us. Leaving freedom and flexibility within our budget has been one of our best decisions.
- On a related note: saving up for each improvement and paying for it in cash before we do it. That way, no home improvement projects are constantly lingering in the form of constant debt.
I have a million lessons learned from our kitchen alone, which I’ll be sharing with you soon! What would you do differently in the purchase of your house?