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3 Things They Don’t Tell You Will Cost Your Soul When Remodeling A House


Hey y’all, this is Sarah Smith and I’m back (if you missed last week’s intro post, check it out here)! See, I get to say y’all even though I live in Wisconsin because originally, I hail from Kansas City (Missouri not Kansas and yes, there’s a difference) and although we’re very midwestern, and will never claim to be southern, there’s this weird rash of folks who “warsh” their clothes when they’re dirty and carry that southern dialect a little further north than you’d expect. Which, is obviously fabulous and super sexy when mixed with Wisconsin’s tendencies to confuse their vowel sounds. Example: “Let me put on my boooooooots so I can help you bring in your paper begs from the store.” So between adding additional consonants from my upbringing and switching up vowels in my adult years, it’s pretty safe to say that I should never be given a speaking outlet, but here I am! So hey y’all let’s get to it, eh!

I have so many stories and crazy happenings that I’m ridiculously excited to share over the coming weeks, but I felt as though before I really got started I should clarify a few things that suck about renovating an entire home and the unexpected costs as budget (or lack there of) plays a very, very large part in how we do things. Make no never mind, we are not professionals at our craft, but my DIY-guru of a husband has a solid knowledge of the basics of construction and home repair. So, luckily, things like electrical, plumbing and the demolition of walls don’t scare him. Did I mention he has dreamy blue eyes and is the hardest worker in the history of ever? Here let me show you:


Seriously guys. *swoon*



Plus as an added bonus, he also allows me to “use his body as size reference so I can remember the size of something when I get home.” I mean — make him wear the world’s largest lampshade in a store while I giggle and take pictures to post on the internet later. What? You’d totally do it too.


Now, even though I’m married to a rockstar construction guy (who has learned most of what he knows by watching others and Googling it — so don’t think you’re unable to DIY if you’re new to it), no matter how much he knows about re-framing a wall and rerunning new electrical over every. last. outlet. and. fixture. in our entire home, some things that you think might not have a heavy cost to them — will. So, today, I wanted to preface my still-to-come-crazy-misadventures with a few of the ways we get the job done along the way without skipping meals — because we’re already at ramen level here, so starvation (I mean “new weight loss plan”) is really the next step down and homegirl likes her snacks y’all! *nom nom nom*

So without further ado, I give you 3 things no one told you would cost your soul when rehabbing a home. They make it look so easy on TV. Magic numbers suddenly pop on screen and even though we’ve seen folks exhausted and dirty, they never really show where the money comes from — it just appears. Like from the tooth fairy — and we all know who pays for that! Here’s 3 things that are still crazy expensive and how we’ve worked around the expense in recent months. (spoiler alert, it involves ditching expectations and getting creative)


1. Drywall

Yes, I know it’s roughly $7-$10 a sheet. Yes, I know that isn’t that expensive. Yes, a movie ticket on a Friday night costs more than that — I know. But when you have 40 different walls and ceilings that will require, roughly (very roughly), 300 sheets of drywall, suddenly $7-10 is a legit (2 quit) expense. Sure, we watch for sales, but we’ve also tried to purchase things when stores have deep rebates so there’s money coming back and kept an eye on our town as well as surrounding cities via Craigslist for the remains of other people’s projects. Often, folks over-buy building materials and just want them out of their garage and are willing to let them go for free or at next to nothing prices. We’ve totally driven 3 hours just to pick up a trailer full of drywall for $5. $60 in gas is well worth the $500 savings!


2. Windows

For most folks, the idea of replacing every window in your home isn’t a pretty one. 9/10 it will involve a loan unless you have rockin’ savings and didn’t spend all the money on your youth on back and forth plane tickets to Alaska because you thought you were in love with a boy — but I digress. Windows, seriously folks, are crazy expensive and holy-expletive-expensive when you actually want to replace them with ones that are the same size! Crazy right? For those with savings the size of the sum total of change found in your couch cushion, there’s a few options. The most accessible for many is your local ReStore from Habitat for Humanity. They’re an excellent resource and you can find an array of windows in all different sizes. We have 10+ ReStores within a 3 hour drive from us and we make that entire 3 hour drive in all directions usually once a month. Several of our windows came from said ReStore adventures, but the majority came from a storage unit auction. That’s right, we paid $5 for 90% of the windows in our home. Were they the same size? Absolutely not, but I’ll happily make my dining room windows 7″ shorter for an $800 per window discount! Did I have dreams of thin metal framed modern windows for my modern-farm-dream-house? Sure. But I also have dreams of being Beyonce and honey, that just ain’t in the cards.


3. Trim Work

Sarah — this isn’t a photo of trim work, or anything that could even be remotely considered trim work. Yes, yes, I know! But this is a trailer full of workbenches and cabinets we pulled out of a garage in Sister Bay, Wisconsin which is up on the thumb of the mitten (Wisconsin and Michigan are both shaped like mittens and folks who live there will tell outsiders where they lived by pointing at their hand — like it makes any sense outsiders, but that’s just the way they roll). It was far and the load was heavy, but for the cost of gas and $20 in overhead money, we were able to give these pieces new homes and pay for the trim and finishing work for the entire top floor of our home. We’re talking outlets, lighting, actual wood trim and more! The small details kill ya and likewise, make all the difference in the design of your space. They can make it chunky or bulky or light and free — but no matter what zen feeling they give you, it isn’t cheap! Make sure to remember to turn to your local, or not so local Craigslist for deals you just can’t pass up to sell to someone else who didn’t want to drive 4 hours each way to get them. #hustlebaby!

So hopefully this gives you a tiny insight on how we do our work. It isn’t often we walk into a big box retailer and purchase something outright. We’re always digging and scrounging while we’re out and about to acquire the pieces we need, even if we have to adjust our construction plans to fit them. Sweat and time is less expensive than retail pricing! What items are you having a hard time finding for less? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll help source them for y’all down the road! Have you had an amazing Craigslist or ReStore steal that you couldn’t pass up? Share your treasures so we can all be jelly (sidenote: It makes me cringe when people can’t be bothered to use the entire word jealous, but then again I say y’all because that extra syllable would be too much work!).



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About Ashraf Akkilah

Ashraf Akkilah
Architecture and design is my passion. I'm an architect who is interested in building design and decor trends. I'm also interested in sculpture design and landscaping. I'm "outdoor" architect who love to be involved in the project site and supervise finishing and final touches works. I had contributed to many construction and decor projects.

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