I want to answer some of the frequently asked questions we get about our home renovation process, but I want to give a bit of background info on the area we live in & why we chose to renovate.
I know I’m not the only one whose had a white counterpart say something along the lines of, “I live in an up & coming area that’s a little rough but will be a great place to live in the next few years!” What they really mean is, “my neighborhood is home to minorities who are being bought & pushed out of their homes, due to gentrification. So one day soon, it’ll be a “nicer, safer” place to live.” Complete bullshit. Black and Hispanic people are being forced out of their homes and displaced, with the continuous rise of shifting neighborhoods.
With some of the business ventures Orlando & I have planned, we hope to make it easier for our black & brown people to keep their homes, plus reap the benefits of the development around them. In the meantime, we wanted to work toward developing a valuable asset for ourselves & our children, knowing that it will get harder to do so as gentrification progresses.
Our current neighborhood, a historically black neighborhood, was once inhabited by my grandparents, They were one of many residents who helped develop this neighborhood, working with the original builders back in the ’70s to construct their home. Many of today’s residents are either individuals who were here during that time, or descendants of them. Actually, my mom lives around the corner, on the same street that my grandparents built their former house on.
Our house was previously owned by a family friend. It experienced major mold damage when a waterline burst so there was extensive cleanup that had to. be done. We sort of lucked up on it, realizing early on that it would be of great value if we chose to renovate it. With white “investors” & homebuyers specifically seeking lots in urban areas, people of color are either losing their homes or being bought out of them for very little benefit. It sucks because most people aren’t aware of the value in these homes, or how much these investors & knowledgeable homeowners gain by updating a house in a sought-after area. We knew that renovating our house was the perfect opportunity for us to live out our ‘HGTV dreams’, while upholding the integrity of the house & neighborhood.
So let’s get into the FAQs!
What areas of the house did you renovate?
We renovated over half of the entire house! We kept the original layout pretty much the same, except for opening up the kitchen/front sitting room/living room, by making it all one open space. We also turned a 2nd living room/laundry room into our master bedroom/bath.
How long did the renovations take?
It took 11 months to complete the renovation. We had extensive mold damage, damaged water pipes & an outdated electrical system that extended our reno schedule.
Did you work with a contractor?
Yes, initially. However, he was wrapped up in several other jobs & was unable to hold up his end of the contract so we decided that it was best for us to take over.
How did you reconfigure the space?
In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing specifics, room by room but here are a few major updates we made: we created a more open layout in the main living area, added a bedroom & bathroom, expanded the foyer, added a new laundry room & removed the fireplace.
Why did you decide to renovate?
Orlando & I always knew we wanted to renovate a home at some point. Both of us are really into design & whatnot. We made a short list of components we wanted our first home to have but looking for a home in a seller’s market, is exhausting. We knew we wouldn’t be able to find what we really wanted. When we first looked at our house, we knew immediately that it’d be a great value. & once we realized how much the mold damaged the house, we took it as an opportunity to completely change up the layout & check off items on our ‘must-haves’ list.
Did you do a typical home loan?
We did not do a traditional home loan. We actually did a 203K loan.
When buying a fixer upper, what’s the most you’d spend on renovations before it’s considered not to be a good deal?
Personally, I’d say that depends on the area you buy into + the type of renovations. If major aspects need to be updated (i.e. the roof, plumbing or electrical systems), sometimes regardless of what is spent, having those components brought up to date is extremely valuable. I think having a good contractor review the house & having an inspection done can help you determine if the buy is good before purchasing. That way you’d have an estimate on what work would need to be done beforehand, & you can determine the current + future value.
Also, the amount you put into the house should sometimes be based on the quality of the homes in the area. If you put $80k into a home you bought for $150k (bringing the value to $230k), yet the comparable houses are around $180k, you may have put too much into the house. This is especially true if you want to rent or sell it.
Did you outsource the work or do it yourselves?
We outsourced a majority of the work (roofing, flooring install, mold remediation, plumbing, electrical). Orlando works in HVAC so he actually updated our home’s system. He helped his dad & uncle do the carpentry, framing, window/door installs & a few other custom features. My grandpa is a painter so he did all that for us.
I hope I answered some of the major questions you all had. If you have anymore, I’ll be glad to answer as the summer home improvement series progresses!