1st home! help ideas and input needed

Deb M
November 6, 2019
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>Hello, we've just gotten our first home and have no idea where to start. the house was built in 1984 and it seems no renovations were done except for the addition of a bath fitter on top of the old tub. We're planning on staying here for about 5years so essentially we want to "flip" the home. the budget is very minimal for what the house needs.
budget 30k
my ideas:
- There is no ensuite in the master bedroom; only a small 2 piece in there and an adjacent small closet. I'd like to convert the closet into a walk in shower.
- update kitchen, the countertops and cabinets are too small for our appliances etc. would like drawers instead of lower cupboards.
- would like to open the kitchen to the dining room
- move the kitchen back towards the breakfast area/ garage. move fridge towards back
- change staircase opening to basement from hallway to living room side.
- slightly open up the walkway to the living room
Now obviously the budget has no room for all that but COULD YOU GUYS HELP ME DECIDE WHAT'S WORTH THE INVESTMENT FOR RESALE PLEASE?
I want to be able to enjoy my first home without having to think about resale but I also need to get back into the real world and make a sound decision. Please help I have 'decision paralysis'

Comments (20)

  • aprilneverends

    -if you tried to attach pics, we don't see them(not surprizing since the site has been very glitchy lately) can you try and attach in the comments' section

    -where is the house? The codes, labor costs, etc vary geographically. Here where I live one submits blueprints to the city to do 80% of things you mentioned (touching plumbing, electricity, certain openings in the walls, etc) , get permits, and has to go through inspections etc. Whoever works on it should have a license. 30 K would cover either creating an ensuite (wich might be my priority) ..well one needs to see the plan first...or completely redoing the kitchen, With hopefully something left for another project if materials are on a cheaper side/labor is cheaper/some things are DIY ed

    Slightly opening the walkway seems the simplest. But until we see pics-no idea how much will play a role in how one experiences the house.

    While in other places rules can be more lax in terms of what city wants, etc. I even read here about some places no inspections are needed at all, no permits, nothing. Very different rules.

    Labour can be cheaper. Etc.

    One can DIY to a degree he can/feel confident with. To save on labor,. But not on time/energy. That are also important resources.

    Don't forget maintenance..and the moment you move something/open something-you always have an element of surprise. We had many we didn't account for. Yet they had to be addressed.

    Hoping to hear more, see some pics. Congrats on a new home! I know it's overwhelming, so you start right..determining your priorities.

  • aprilneverends

    BTW I'd change one of the subforums you tagged, to "Remodeling" one. If possible. Seems more fitting to the topic.

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  • Paula A

    I agree ^^ without pictures its hard to give good advice. But if your kitchen really is from 1984 -- that would be my #1 priority. And no matter where you live, I'm guessing that will eat up most of your $30k budget. Start there, keep saving, and move onto the next project. Congrats on your new home!!!

  • suezbell

    No pics loaded.

    Painting is often the least expensive change. Pictures would be needed for advise on that.

    Opening up a room by removing an entire wall means electrical work and work on the flooring. As you consider your budget priorities, remember that you can open a room with out removing the entire wall. There are a number of different ways to achieve that.

    A half wall (with or without a post at the end depending upon if it is a weight bearing wall) could become a peninsula/bar or pass thru window cabinet. There are a number of different ways to achieve that.

    Invest in a pad of graph paper and draw, to scale, the size and shape of the floor plan of the home, particularly the rooms you want to alter and post that with pics for best results in getting answers to specific issues such as wanting a shower as well as a powder room in your master bedroom suite.

  • Denita

    Congratulations on your first home!

    It is a big step to buy a home and even a bigger step to enter into the remodeling arena.

    As a first caution, please do not use the word "flip" when describing your intentions. In real estate the word "flip" implies that an investor has purchased a property for very little money and remodeled it (usually) poorly. It looks good, but the remodeling job is not done well. You don't want to taint your home before you get started. Your home is not a flip, it's much better (usually) than a flip house. You especially want to stay away from that term when speaking to any contractor.

    Next, take a look at the systems of your home (roof, HVAC, electrical, plumbing) and determine if they are functioning properly, and not a (now) dangerous element and not at the end of their useful life. A common example is the electrical panel. There are 4 outdated and unsafe electrical panels and your home may or may not have one. You can google for more info, but an example would be the highly unsafe Federal Pacific panel. I still run into those panels (and a few others) and it's 2019. This is not as sexy as a new kitchen, but it is very important. Same with plumbing - you are in the heart of the polybutylene pipe era (1984). It's possible you have those types of pipes (maybe) and they need to be replaced with pex or other pipes. Check everything. Do the systems so you aren't caught unaware and without funds if something (panel fire, roof leaking everywhere, HVAC dies). You may have none of these items, but it is worth checking now before beginning any type of remodeling project.

    Once you have taken care of the repairs/replacements, then check with your Realtor or another one that knows the neighborhood area well to see which of the improvements you want to do will give you the best ROI financially and which you will enjoy the most AND which helps sell the house. Some improvements help the house, others hinder. Please note: The higher the cost of the improvement, the lower your ROI. You don't get all your money back on high dollar items. The cost to make those improvements is local - local labor and materials cost. What costs $25k in one area can be double or triple in another.

    In my area, an ensuite is required except at the very lowest end of the market. But that isn't true in other parts of the country. Your agent can tell you what an ensuite will add to value to your home, if anything. Same with a new kitchen. Same with any proposed improvement. We don't know what will happen in 5 years, but the agent can give you an idea of how the market responds today in your neighborhood and surrounding area.

  • Deb M

    I had attached them on the original post but seems it didnt work hopefully this loads ! also no idea how to change the sub forum but indeed it would be more fitting.

    I've got no blueprints, I'll try to see with the city if they can provide

  • A Fox

    Deb, something isn't quite lining up right in the plans that you have. In the floor plans the second floor seems to line up over the first floor, with the master lining up over the kitchen and nothing over the garage. But there is clearly a room over the garage based on the outside picture.

    The kitchen picture that you posted is really small, but based on what I am seeing, it is more neutral and builder basic than it is out dated. If you were renovating for resale would only I shy away from a full gut if you could avoid it because you will likely never get your investment back in 5 years and it will eat up a good chunk of your budget. A kitchen like this could be made to look fresh with new counters, floors, and appliances. That said, I think a house of this size would be better served with a single dining area and larger kitchen. You might meet with a kitchen designer to give a rough budget or for basic pricing maybe even stop into your local home improvement center, but I suspect a new kitchen of even basic grade once you factor in opening up walls, running new electrical, lighting, plumbing, etc will use up your entire budget.

    In the master bath, it looks like your current bath has a toilet and sink across from each other? I think this will make it very challenging to add a shower without designing a new bathroom and moving all fixtures. A separate walk-in shower that faces into the bedroom might work fine for you, but anything atypical like that will really hurt you in resale.

  • Deb M
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>you're right! it's a little off. theres definitely a room above the garage but it is a little lower than the 2nd floor of the house (about 2 feet) and I think that may be why they do not include it in the drawing, they called it an extra room. its the only room that gets any sort of natural light but it faces the street(we're smack in the middle of a crescent)

    the kitchen(is small lol) has very little counter space once the coffee machine, microwave and convection toaster go on there. I may not have the budget for a big reno in the kitchen, would it be a good idea to extend the counter space and add some more cupboards ?
    theres a lot of unused space in the kitchen because of the breakfast nook they put there which imo isn't necessary because the dining room is 20 steps away.
    the photos aren't in order but theres the kitchen with the breakfast nook where the old owners had a table. now I have a table in the dining room and ive got nothing in that space in the kitchen. the other side of that kitchen wall is the garage; perhaps a better investment would be to put in a door to be able to access the garage from the inside of the house but it's a little odd because it's in the kitchen.
    the layout is the opposite of open concept lol

    current ideas :
    - update and extend kitchen counter,
    - update appliances (any recommendations)
    - paint cupboards??? *
    - update flooring; what do you guys recommend?
    - garage door from kitchen wall

    CANT do :
    - conversion of closet to shower, because I'd have to move all the pipes for the toilet and sink to reconfigure the whole thing. I'd really love to have a shower in the master though! *so maybe if the budget fits*
    - full Kitchen remodel, will not roi
    - opening walls, because again roi

    I don't intend to really flip the house as Denita advised not to put it this way. I want to enjoy my first home but not over spend.. isnt that what we all want haha isn't that why we're all on Houzz
  • Deb M

    apparently the pictures don't ever work on a long post
    ive attached:

    • the master bedroom, I've positioned my bed directly opposite what the picture shows.
    • the extra living room (carpeted above garage) fireplace to be updated as well at some point diy kind of thing maybe?
    • the foyer adjacent to the kitchen that shows the previous owners breakfast nook set up
    • my current drinking table (round)

    all suggestions and comments welcomed!

  • Denita

    Can you post additional pics here in the comment section of the entire kitchen, breakfast and dining areas? It will help us to help you. There are some very talented people on here that can see what works when no one else can :)

    Edit: Your pics just showed up! Thanks. I see there is no access from the garage to the interior of the house currently. Is that common in your neighborhood?

  • Deb M

    @denita I think we got the cheapest build offered for our house. most have access to the garage and their layout is slightly different (powder room isnt right behind the kitchen/fridge wall like it is for us) seems like a builder upgrade they chose.

    we get a lot of snow in the winter and it would be better to have access from the inside. but I don't really know how I could fit a landing there it's a weird configuration being in the kitchen and all? "and all" entails having a wall that seems to be a supporting wall right between the kitchen and the foyer/extra room.

    I have contacted the city and they do not have the blueprints or plans for my home on record. I have spoken to a few contractors but most of them ask me to have architectural drawings done(3k+ last I checked)

    @nahomi for decoration, I'm not really sure lol! I'm all over the place really but I like neutral tones and a natural feel. Earthy and comfy zen if that makes any sense. The house is very dark inside not much natural light gets through. The front of the house faces SE but the garage takes most of it and the room on the top does not really give out natural light to the rest of the house.

    I'm thinking of painting the "big room" - the room above the garage, all white or off white something bright but soft enough and painting the fireplace the same colour. I'd like to change the floors of the big room but I'll wait a bit and then probably do an engineered wood or something of the sorts.

    I'm thinking that MAYBE i need a designer. i feel I cannot make all these decisions myself!!! my partner has no input besides he trusts my style and decision but I feel slightly overwhelmed O_o'

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    If your budget is $30,000, and there's a kitchen and a bathroom involved, you need to make every dollar count. First off, pace yourself for a marathon and not a sprint. This is the time to do a lot of thinking and planning, and also to see how the house functions while you live in it. Don't do any painting right now. You mention the house is dark -- think where it would benefit to maybe add some can lighting, and also outlets for table lamps and floor lamps.

    As part of that thinking and planning, I would do what Denita suggests and talk to your realtor/real estate agent/broker about the comps in your neighbour. For flooring, find out if most people do engineered wood or even vinyl plank flooring. Ask about the other houses in the neighborhood as far as ensuite bathrooms etc. Without seeing any proper plans of your house, just spit balling, I'd look into making the bedroom on the top left (over the dining room) the master bedroom with the big bathroom as an ensuite, and then let the other small bedroom and the currently designated "master" share an updated, expanded little bathroom (the current "ensuite" off the current master). Just something to look into.

    For the kitchen, I would definitely post your photos, layout with measurements, etc. in the Kitchen forum. You might want to wait on the kitchen for a few years, which gives you the chance to save up more money. If you're able, I'd do an Ikea kitchen. You can then take your Kitchen forum plans to Ikea, have them plunk them into the computer, and get a price for the cabinets etc.

  • Deb M

    quick update : have spoken to my agent and she says all I've got to do is paint the walls neutral colours and I'll be able to sell. she doesnt think any upgrades are necessary but I do....

    is it recommended to work with an interior designer since I don't have any contacts for contractors etc ? and my ideas are all over the place. is it worth contacting and getting a designer before I've even made up my mind on the projects?

  • Denita

    Yes, I highly recommend working with an interior designer especially since you are considering some major work. You will need to screen for experience and compatibility. I once hired a designer and we could not communicate well at all - and the results were reflective of our lack of communication. I broke the cardinal rule and didn't listen to my gut instinct about our communication issues at the beginning. Don't make the same mistake I made - there are many talented designers that can communicate that works best for you.

    It is preferable to have a master plan that you can implement in stages. A good designer can do this for you so you have an immediate goal and an ultimate goal. The planning part is very important. Don't skimp on your plans. Allow yourself time to explore different options.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    quick update : have spoken to my agent and she says all I've got to do is paint the walls neutral colours and I'll be able to sell. she doesnt think any upgrades are necessary but I do....

    Listen to your agent : ) .

    is it recommended to work with an interior designer since I don't have any contacts for contractors etc ? and my ideas are all over the place. is it worth contacting and getting a designer before I've even made up my mind on the projects?

    You don't necessarily need an interior designer if you can find a talented contractor with some design ability. This is another reason you don't want to rush into this. Take your time and start looking into contractors. Ask neighbors, friends, family, etc. Plus keep your budget in mind. That's not a lot of money for a whole house. People always say "paint is cheap", but a whole house full of paint, and labor to apply it to the walls, isn't. Subtracting just the cost of painting your whole house from your $30,000 budget won't leave a lot, especially if you want to add to the kitchen.

    And as Denita recommended, take a look at the systems of your home (roof, HVAC, electrical, plumbing) and determine if they are functioning properly. It's not nearly as exciting or sexy as hiring an interior designer and/or updating the look of a new-to-you house, but you can't beat it for ROI.

  • aprilneverends

    In my book: yes

    Why: because I didn't do it, personally. We had a very big remodel (gut plus addition). and I thought I can do it all myself, in terms of figuring things out

    I did (with inputs from my DH and GC of course..this forum, I found too late in the game)..and it was a full time job for two years, and three years after, I'm still recovering from it. And I'm not sure the recovering goes that well))

    Now we're finally doing hardscaping..were so tired we pushed it and pushed it. So now the outside looks a bit like a war zone..)) Oh well, that's already simpler. And I was already very realistic-will take longer, will cost more..has to be done.

    Of course I was naive and underestimated timelines and many other things

    I can't tell you how many times I wished to have someone on my side. It's a human factor too, besides ideas and sourcing stuff...


    Life does continue to go on at the same time, kids, elderly parents, your own whatever challenges, it-it doesn't stop when one is remodeling. It's not like it all stops and waits until you're ready.

    Had plenty of bad things happenning when we remodeled, and lots of people to tend to, and things to accommodate.

    If you do have money to engage somebody, even for a consultation, somebody good, it's worth it.

    At the very least read here. A lot. Research as much as you can. Everywhere, Everything.

  • aprilneverends

    PS pictures help but I agree-should be more of them, and plans with dimensions if you want useful input on Kitchens(amazing bunch of folks there, very talented)

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    One thing to look into, esp since you're in Mississauga (I'm in Alberta) -- interior designer Carol Reed, who worked in Toronto for many years and now lives/works in Halifax but does online e-design projects too. She has long been a champion for Ikea kitchens and has done some amazing projects. Even if you just look at her website and IG to get some ideas, it would be helpful.

    Her "Why I love Ikea kitchens" blog post back in 2009 was one of the first things I found when I started planning our new house (nine years before we finished building the house ourselves lol), just around the time I discovered the GardenWeb (now Houzz) forums.

    And a diy blogger from the TO area I used to follow, which might be helpful for inspiration is

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    At the very least read here. A lot. Research as much as you can. Everywhere, Everything.

    This. +1,000.

  • Lisa

    You asked: COULD YOU GUYS HELP ME DECIDE WHAT'S WORTH THE INVESTMENT FOR RESALE PLEASE? Your quote: have spoken to my agent and she says all I've got to do is paint the walls neutral colours and I'll be able to sell. she doesnt think any upgrades are necessary but I do....

    Paint. and listen to your agent. In general, most people recommend that you make no changes for 6 months - one year to see how the house "works". Then you start remodeling if you still insist. You will have a much better idea of what you need after living there for a while. But since you are focused on re-sale, I would just paint to freshen up the place. Save your remodeling money for the down payment for your next house. It's your money and your time so do what you want, but don't justify your expenses by saying the changes are for resale.

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