Number Cruncher

Well – late last week our house officially closed. Since we had to move down to NC before the buyers were ready to occupy the property, we presigned before we left and they came through and did their round of paperwork later. I thought I’d feel kinda sad about it come closing day, but in complete honesty it feels so incredibly good. Like a complete new and fresh slate is before us, just ready for us to write the story. It’s quite invigorating and I’m so dang excited for all that’s to come.

Selling Home Quickly

Since you guys were along for almost all of our Michigan house journey, I wanted to provide a really comprehensive cost breakdown of how much we put into the home, and how things looked at the end of the day as we walked away from the property. Renovating a house is expensive. Even though Jay and I have always tried to do everything that we’re able ourselves, it still gets so pricey and adding it all up can be quasi depressing at times! 😉 Since this blog is all about the good, the bad and the ugly (aka full disclosure) I thought all you renovating fa-reaks like me out there would appreciate a thorough cost breakdown.

Let’s start with the biggest ticket items … our kitchen.

Persian Rug in Kitchen

This room was a complete gut. Not a single thing, other than the walls and the plumbing stayed put. Well, that’s not even completely true since a wall in the middle of the room got the ax, as well. 😀 We wanted this to be a selling feature for the house some day, so we decided to go with higher end finishes, but it definitely came at a price.

  • New Gas Line: $250
  • New Appliances: $6,041 – $750 rebate = $5,291 (DAGGER, Dagger to the heart)
  • Diamond Cabinetry: $5,018 – $565 rebate = $4,453 (Yeah, I think that’s another dagger right there)
  • Counters: $2,050 ($71 per square foot)
  • Sink: Free!
  • Faucet: $220
  • Hardware: $45
  • Herringbone Tile Installation $39

Total out of pocket: $9,998 – (After sale of our appliances and old kitchen and rebates)

We got $1,500 for the counters and cabinets, and $850 for all the old appliances and racked up $1,315 in cash rebates. All in all, we had a total savings of $3,665 from craigslisting our old stuff, and submitting rebates. Snap dragons and lollipops, I’ll take it.

Our general theory with this space, was to splurge on some things we knew we didn’t want to live without. I.E. Matching appliances and nice counters. And save where we could, too! Like the $45 total we spent on all hardware.

Where to Splurge and Where to Save

Our attic was the other big ticket item in this house. Although it was quite the before and after, it was a hunka chunka change to make the magic happen in this room, too.

  • Insulation: $1,175
  • Drywall: $1,270
  • Built-in: $325
  • Stairway: $350
  • Board & Batten Wall: $20
  • Closets: $170
  • Carpet: $1,800

Total out of pocket: $6,590

Converting Attic into Bedroom

We also installed a half-bath upstairs. Turns out when you put a bath in a space that was bathless before, that’ll cost ya. Y’all seeing a theme here? 😀

  • Wall framing: $74
  • Pocket Door and hardware: $65
  • Door: $70
  • Vanity: $518
  • Mirror: $28
  • Faucet: $139
  • Marble Floor (including backerboard, grout and mortar): $212
  • Paint: $18
  • Board & Batten: $20
  • Toilet: $168
  • Sconces: $82
  • Art: $12
  • Basket and Towels: $30
  • Plumbing for Second Bath: $690
  • Total: $2,126

Staging Bathroom for Sale

And although this space is so teeny weeny wittle, I know that it without a doubt helped us to sell off this little home of ours, so I’m very glad we made the investment. The slanted ceilings and cozyness of this space aren’t ideal but people, it’s real. This is what 1940’s charm and character is all about – just watch your head! 😀

My favorite feature in this space is definitely that lovely looker of a floor.


The attic and the kitchen took the most out of our wallets, but we had lots of other projects that still put in a dent 🙂 Our downstairs bathroom, being one.

  • Marble Flooring (including grout, mortar, a new tile blade, a few new tools and sealer) $296
  • Subway Tile $84
  • Backer board $42
  • Paint – Free! (used a color already in the house)
  • Sconces – $80 (Lowes)
  • Built-in (including wood, supplies, veneer and accessories) $74
  • Sink (splurge…) $282
  • Tub Hardware $108
  • Sink Faucet (including plumbing) $162
  • Spray paint for tub hardware $4
  • Privacy screen for window $17

Grand Total: $1,149 

Not so shabby, since this room was a complete gut, too! 🙂 Ahh, such fond memories. This room is where my love of herringbone tile began 😉

Bathroom After

Down in the basement, we had a few projects that we were able to keep a bit more reasonable through lots of elbow grease. We had the built-in, the bathroom and some sprucing in the laundry room. Everything down here came in under $1,000. Shake your booty like a Polaroid picture – shake it, shake, shake, shake, shake it. That’s right under $1k for the whole shabang.

This wall of holy hotness makes me miss our Ann Arbor home a little too much.

DIY Built In Bookcase

In our dining room, the main cost (pretty much only cost other than paint) was installing a new set of french doors. This room felt so dark and dreary before, so we were really happy with our choice to put in these new doors. Including some labor, our total for this improvement was $1,100.

French Doors Off Dining Room

Even though we hired a contractor to cut through the brick, it helped that we did a lot of the pre and post work ourselves. Although we knew we didn’t want to take on certain parts of the reno, offering a hand in the process brought our total out of pocket costs down a lot.

Here’s Jay in full on Bob the Builder mode 😀

Framing Around French Door

In addition to doing some major reno work in each of the rooms, one of our larger tasks was refinishing our hardwood floors through the house from orange to dark mochalicous. Since this one was all us, the cost was not too steep… Phew! 😀 At the end of the day, we spent $480 on the stain, poly and sander rental. Not insignificant, but certainly less expensive than hiring someone to do it!

In complete honesty, although this DIY turned out a-ok in the end, it wasn’t our best work in my opinion. We went into it a little over confident (since we’d refinished floors in the last house) and found this house had a few monkey wrenches in it for us. Namely, after almost 20 hours (yep, not a typo!) of sanding, that tricky stain and poly was still not coming up in some areas (JESUS CHRIST, you’ve got to be kidding me was all I said and thought for like 48 hours straight during that reno) 😉 AKA, lesson learned here, I think I might splurge and have someone come in for the sanding part next time around to save us some heart ache.

Here are a few shots of the floors, after.

Installing Trim Under Door

Dark and lovely – but high maintenance, too!

Dark Wood Floors

Alright, y’all ready for the moment of truth? We are so humbled and keep pinching ourselves, but we totally made a killing on this house. Chalk it up to the red hot Ann Arbor market (we had FOUR offers (!), but we walked away with more than double the cash we put down when we purchased the house. Hot dog with a side of onion rings – that makes me one happy little lady.

Although we put tons o’ cash into this joint, much more than I’m normally comfortable with, it paid off big time when we went to sell. The good news is that extra cash allows Jay and I to put down a much more substantial down payment on the next house, thus reducing our overall mortgage and keeping our monthly costs really manageable.

Thinking it over, I’d like to put in a few caveats to why I think we we’re able to do so well with real estate, after just (2) homes (and 4 years…)

  1. We are SO lucky to have gotten into the real estate market when we did. We avoided the nose dive that most people had to deal with, which helped us build equity quicker
  2. We always bought in markets that we knew would sell when we needed them to. Although our expenses (taxes, the actual property) are higher, it’s always paid off (so far!) for us to invest in urban centers where there is high demand for property. Plus, we love the environment and all the amenities and wouldn’t have it any other way.
  3. We pinched our pennies and saved like a boss. We could only afford to put down just north of $10,000 on our first house, but we scraped what we had together and kept scraping! No matter how little we could save, we always did, and after 5-years some of those investments are finally starting to generate interest.

Well folks, I think that’s a complete wrap for our sweet little Ann Arbor bungalow! Time to shift gears and start searching for our NC home!

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