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Big Dreams and Small Beginnings

Big Dreams and Small Beginnings

 Hi and welcome back! In this post, I am thrilled to share a little more about our story and how we actually got started on this DIY journey!

I have spent many months learning the software (not my thing at all ) and years thinking about starting a blog and now that I have started it, all I can do is give it my best shot!  So here I go again, posting my second blog post and digging in a little deeper!

I am going to start off at the beginning!

Our story, the story of how we started, and the journey is not your typical story. We’ve done things a little different…different enough that I get strange looks when I  tell people our story.

My husband and I have been married17 years and we have lived in MANY homes, as in 17 homes  (and I have lived in 29 myself). The first house my husband and I bought (our second year of marriage) was a little chalet style home. It was only a few years old, but the owners had let the place become very run down and it was about to slip into foreclosure. We got a great deal on the place and spent the next four years renovating every room! We had a list of everything we wanted to change about the place and tackled each project as we could afford it…paying cash for each renovation and doing it all DIY.

We would research code and read as much as we could before starting another project (think WAY before Youtube)!  I hated just about everything about the place except the layout….the layout was perfect so no walls had to be removed or added! We learned so much working on that first house.

We learned how to tile, refinished hardwood flooring, remove and install carpeting on 2 sets of stairs, plumbing (the bathroom was a total gut job) as well as exterior work such as landscaping, dug out the basement for a walkout, replacing siding, shutters, and roofing. We also added a 30×30 attached garage so we learned the ins and outs of new construction as well….foundation, cement work, constructing walls, roofing, running electrical, installing windows, hanging and mudding drywall, as well as installing headers and installing garage doors, trim work…you name it we did it! We would enlist the help of my dad or my FIL or brothers whenever we needed help!

 

Both of our kiddos were babies in this home and we lived there for 4 years ….all under constructions! My kids have spent very few years NOT living in a construction zone, now that I look back:). Hmmmm…makes me wonder if either of them will become an architect or ever renovate their own homes:)?!?! We’ve moved 17 times….nearly all our moves were due to relocating for my husband’s career. The company he worked for would relocate us and put us up in a temporary condo, we’d then look for a short-term rental, and then while renting we’d scope out our new town and find a house to buy and fix up!

It always makes my kids laugh when we watch HGTV’s FIXER UPPER and Joanna Gaines asks at the start of the show ” Are you brave enough to take on a “Fixer Upper”?” My kids always shout “Are you kidding?!

LOTS of times….and we did all the renovations all ourselves!” I usually add….” and we lived in it the whole renovation”!  I think for a momma, that could be the hardest part of any DIY home renovation….mess, mess, and more MESS!!!

Skip ahead a dozen years and a dozen houses or so and we were living in a mid-century modern, two-story home that needed more work than I cared to think about. By this time we had renovated a LOT and we were pretty capable of just about any work that this house could need…but, to be completely honest, when I walked the house the first few times, I absolutely hated it!!! It was UGLY…..like  “different color shag carpet in every room” ugly!!!! Like, “carpet in the entire kitchen” UGLY….seriously, WHO carpets a kitchen!!! YUCK!!! Like…it even had a bidet in the 70’s master bath…….so bad!!! And you’ve never seen so much orange 70’s brick on the interior of a home EVER!!!!  What it had going for it was the neighborhood, schools, and that it was sound and only 30 years old (and a custom build which we had the blueprints for)!

The neighboring homes were selling for 700k and up and we paid 240k for the UGLIEST house on the block!  You may be wondering and this point why we would buy a place that needed a total overhaul. I guess we’re a little crazy and we love a challenge…a lot!!!  We spent 4 years renovating that UGLY home. We gutted 3 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, kitchen, den, living,  replaced flooring, windows, and siding, added patios and landscaping…I could go on forever:)! When it was time to list the home, I had over 40 showings in the first 48 hours and had 4 offers above asking in the first day! It was a crazy whirlwind….but our hard work paid off.

Our realtor said that our house set a record at Remax for selling a home! It was incredible!!!!

The craziest (and also the coolest) part of this story is that my husband had already started his new job in another state ( neighboring our hometown). So this meant the last 4 months of renovations were left up to me and the kids during the week. My husband traveled back every weekend he could, to help finish up the big things that I couldn’t do alone. You guys, the things he came back to help me with were things like replacing huge windows and slider doors. The things I was working on during the week, where things like tiling kitchen backsplash, tiling showers stalls, laying hardwood flooring throughout the entire first floor, painting, replacing the mailbox, building window boxes, I even installed an entire entry patio with flagstone (the HUGE flagstone you guys) by myself and the list goes on.

 

The reason we chose to do all of these things DIY is simple…M-O-N-E-Y or lack thereof!  You guys, DIY is a game-changer for anyone on a fixed income. These days we have access to all the information we could ever want or need online. Before “YouTube” we asked friends, family, uncles, church members or whomever we knew was in a trade, for help. Honestly, if you know of an electrician at your church or maybe a retired grandpa from your kids school, maybe they use to own a drywall company or maybe a heating and cooling company…if you ask them to come and teach you how to DIY something on your home, for an hourly fee, they usually say “yes”. We’ve learned so many things that way…and usually for the fee of $20 an hour! That is a major dollar saver if you ever plan to renovate more than one space in your home. Over time, it adds up. Its the whole “Teach a man to fish” scenario for sure!

Our beginnings were so small and our dreams were so big!

Big Dreams don’t happen overnight you guys, but I’m telling you they do happen when you want them bad enough to work for them. Right now I am sitting in the loft of our DIY cottage looking out the second-floor window overlooking a very BIG dream! At this point, I’d say we are at least half way there. Our dream was to move back to our hometown, buy land in the country and build a house! After the sale of that last house, we were able to move back to our hometown, purchase our “dream” acreage and start our plans on building our home!  We even built (all DIY) a “barn” with living quarters (that we call Fletcher Creek Cottage) to live in while we build our main house! God has been so incredibly faithful to us each step of the way.  We look back and can’t help but be so grateful for every house, job, teacher, school, church, pastor, and friend that was a part of the path that led us here. We definitely had a LOT of hard times, struggles and seasons of discouragement. But even in the discouragement we just didn’t give up. Thank God we didn’t give up on the dream and we didn’t give up working towards it!

~Dena

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