Breaking it Down

You guys – thank you SO MUCH for all the kind words of encouragement about our move! We’ve just gotten an outpouring of support and it’s really nice to have such an amazing group of people to share with us in our excitement!

So if the last post didn’t make it pretty obvious, the last few weeks have been a cluster of activity around here, so I’ll be playing catch up on the blog with some things that have definitely already gone down. I’m super excited to show you what we did with our old bedroom and lots of other updates we scrambled to finish in the last seconds before listing our house.

As promised last week though, I wanted to start off with a cost breakdown of our attic conversion. This project, by far, is the one I get the most inquiries about, so I wanted to provide a really holistic cost breakdown for those that might be tackling a similar project at home. Y’all ready for this?

Let’s start back at the beginning. Our first significant cost was insulation.

Foam Board Insulation

To make sure the house was as efficient as possible, we decided to do a combination of foam and fiber glass. Foam had a higher r-value per inch, but it was also more expensive. Overall, I’m super pleased with the solution we found for this part of the project (read more about the install here). We’ve already seen a significant cost savings over last year (to tune of heating bills under $150), and we’ve had a beast of a winter here in Michigan. #PolarVortex

Here is the cost breakdown for this part of the project.

  1. 800 sq. feet of foam board: $375
  2. 1,000 sq. feet of fiberglass bats: $400
  3. 3 cans of spray foam: $15
  4. 3 rolls of HVAC Tape: $30
  5. Thermal foil barrier: $340

After we had the insulation in, our next big chunk of change went to drywall. Well, the drywall and the extra contractor we had to hire after the first one jumped the coop. Geeze louise, I’m telling you.

Converting Attic into Bedroom

This one was a bit more expensive than anticipated since we had to essentially double our labor costs unexpectedly. :/ (Don’t you hate that!) Overall, we spent just over $1,000 on the drywall supplies and installation. More than we had budgeted, but obviously an essential component of the remodel. We just didn’t have the expertise the do this one ourselves though, so unfortunately we had to rely on others to make the magic happen. And ya know, in the end it just wasn’t that magical.

Adding Built-in to Knee Wall

Although the built-in wasn’t done until near the end of our renovation, we actually started it before we even put in the drywall. Since we’re certainly not carpenters, we opted to cheat a bit with this part of the project and purchase pre-fab cabinets to speed things up a bit. All and all, this project wasn’t crazy expensive, but it still set us back a few hundred dolla billz.

Master Suite in Attic

Now this project was one that we landed up coming way WAY under budget on. After pricing out everything in the stores, I just kinda got sticker shock and decided to try this bad boy ourselves. If we would have opted to go with the pre-fab railing available at the home improvement store, this part of the attic would have come in just north of $700. Ouch. I’ll take $350 😉 Overall, I’m pretty darn happy with how it turned out, too!

We also decided to add a DIY Board and Batten accent wall for behind the bed. At $20, I’d say it’s the project that definitely had the most bang for the buck with the attic renovation!

Converting Attic to Master

BAM. I’m telling you – that’s the sweet spot. Speaking of way too much sweetness you can’t even handle it, check out our finished closet doors.

The board and batten finish was only $20 on these beauties as well. The door hardware and wood panels added to that price, but including everything, these closets costs around $200. Not sooo bad.

Board and Batten Trim on Closets

Last but certainly not least in our attic cost calculations, came our carpeting. Chalk it up to lots of odd angles leading to lots of scrap, this part of the remodel actually landed up being the most expensive. Errggghhh.

Winterthur Potters Clay

Including a few other incidentals and our skylights ($1,500), our total cost for just finishing off the attic (not the bathroom), came in at $6,590.  Now that is so, so not cheap. It’s way more than most renovations we take on in this little house of ours BUT when we got quotes back in the day for adding a dormer out, we had (2) contractors tell us that finishing out this space would cost around $18,000 (sans dormer, mind you). Now that – that’s a lot of money.

Plus, as you all now know, with our house newly on the market, we feel pretty good about making an investment in a nice finished Master Suite. Gotta knock their socks off, people! 😀

And as a parting gift, I give you one more before shot of our lovely attic. As far as I’m concerned, this renovation was priceless!

Attic Bedroom

And … after!

Converting Attic into Bedroom

Drinking Up Some Drywall

Man alive, amigos. This drywall shabang has been a lot more painful than initially anticipated. Overall moral of this story and hard lesson learned? Never, ever, go with your lowest bidder. Care to hear my sad tale? Sit down, it might take a while 😀

So …. flash back a few weeks ago, and we were going through our normal looking for someone to assist us routine via craigslist. Although we do almost all the work in this joint ourselves, every once and a while you just have to call in the support troops. Drywall happens to fall into that category for us. We got (3) quotes. at .70 a square foot, $1 a square foot and $22.50 an hour. We went with .70 a square foot, and landed up paying $22.50 an hour. Do you hear that, it’s me, wailing in the corner. Loudly.

After a few days of drywalling (with the first guy), our attic was looking like this.

Adding Drywall To Attic

The status of the room didn’t change much after oh, day 3, cause the dude just stopped coming. Like I don’t know if he’s in jail, or hates our guts or moved to Tahiti but this guy seriously went awol. We tried contacting him for 3 days straight, and when we only heard crickets talking back to us, we bite the bullet and had to hire another guy to come in and finish the gig.  Go figure, the only guy available was the one that charges $22.50 an hour. Ouch. He also (kinda smugly) informed us, it would take 4 days of labor to do the job, when we’d already PAID the first guy who disappeared on us. Nope, sorry, I don’t have another $700 sitting around that I can burn hand over to you. GAH.

On top of the crap sandwhich of a reality that the first guy just up and left us, he also did the poopiest job possible on the initial work. POOP. The new guy also (kinda smugly) informed us of this reality and kept telling us how we should have hired him first. Thanks for the memo, Sherlock.

That being said, there is finally a light at the end of this tunnel. Although we paid up the nose for it, we finally got a guy in that can actually help fix our little situation. We’ve got one more day of sanding ahead of us, but right now our space is looking like this.

Drywalling Attic

Some of the problem areas for the first installer included our ceiling joints. He used WAY too much mud on them and basically just tried to fix all his bad hanging skills by slapping on tons of mud. We had (3) full buckets of drywall dust from the first pass.

Too Much Mud on Drywall

Overall, I think that the ceiling will be able to be moderately camouflaged since it will all be the same, matte white color. So although the seems are not perfect, they’ll at least be under some cover with the paint job.

You can see our wee little bathroom bump out, too. This room is going to be small, but ya know what, it’s still a bathroom so that’s a value add to an old house like this where you typically only find one bath.

Half Bath Attic Knee Wall

Speaking of bathroom’s lookie what landed on our doorstep this week. Color me PUMPED to get this beauty upstairs! It’s my new motivation – just get this babe of a vanity upstairs where it belongs 😀

Marble Vanity

Moving on to some areas I love … check out these skylights. The corners look nice and crisp, and they add so much light into the space, too.

Skylights in Attic

You can also see how nice the closets look now that they have a drywall surround as well.

Adding Closets to Knee Wall

Everything is starting to feel much, much closer to being done now. In all honesty, I’m just really excited to be at a point in the reno where we don’t have to depend on someone else to do the work for us.

Overall, hiring out has been such a pain for a control fa-reak like me. I can’t manage any of the timeline, how much it will cost me, anything. After our super awful experience with this first craigslist dude. we’re feeling a bit sour about the whole shabang of an experience. Especially when they come through and leave messes like this throughout your house, kinda adds salt to the wound (umm – drop clothes, ya heard of them?)

Contractors Leaving Mess

For reference, our total cost with supplies will be around $1,400 for the drywall. Way WAY more than we had initially anticipated largely due to our little mishap with the installer. At the end of the day, it was a valuable lesson for us and being so dang tired from the entire process, I think we’re just glad to finally see light at the end of this tunnel.

Has anyone else had a bad experience with a contractor? Any good hints or tricks to keep these things from happening? Bestow your knowledge!!