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Friday, January 27, 2006

Well, we've suffered a setback. More than that, really. Don says that all of his dreams are shattered. A bit maudlin, but close enough to true. We had a contractor come out last night to give us an estimate on what the work we wanted done would cost. We talked to him for a couple of hours and then he gave us his estimate:

Two hundred thousand dollars.

Which is only twenty thousand less than we paid for the entire house-- and a new kitchen, master bedroom, and master bath are not going to double the value of the house. Even if they did, it wouldn't matter. If we HAD two hundred thousand dollars, which of course we don't, we wouldn't sink it into this house. We'd put a down payment down on, say, a four hundred thousand dollar house. Bigger. Nicer. Finished. Much as we love this house, it's simply not worth that sort of investment.

So. What now?

We're not totally sure. We currently have forty thousand dollars from the sale of the townhouse sitting in a high-interest-bearing savings account. It's time to sit down and figure out exactly what we can do with that amount of money. Extending the house, any major construction, is out. Hiring a contractor is out. The only definite is that we must have central air installed by summer; it's not an option not to, as I am extremely vulnerable to heat exhaustion and literally can't survive in a house without air conditioning during a Baltimore summer. I've tried. I got very, very sick. So. We do know that HVAC will cost us about ten thousand dollars. We have to remove the drop ceilings before we bring them in, but that's a do-it-yourself project (or maybe a get-the-fraternity-brothers-to-help project).

That leaves us with thirty thousand dollars. I did a little bit of research last night and determined that we can probably get the entire main floor done in hardwood flooring for another ten thousand, maybe a little less. Before we do that, though, we have to do whatever we're going to do to the walls. Which means making a final decision about what to do about the kitchen.

My opinion, as of this moment, is that we should break down the wall in between the kitchen and what will be the dining room, as we had originally planned to do, and put in a peninsula/breakfast bar. This will make the kitchen into sort of a long, skinny U. Then we'll open up the wall in between the dining room and the 'bonus' room-- which will turn into an office/library/family room-- and also open up a large opening between the dining room and the living room. All of these we could do ourselves, with the help of Don's dad and maybe some of the Lambda Chi Alpha boys. Finally, we'll re-do the kitchen with nice cabinets and plenty of counter space.

Don had discussed moving things around in the bathroom that's off of the kitchen, and turning some of the space from what is an unnecessarily large bathroom into a pantry. This would also be nice, and I think it could be done, although I don't know if we would include it in our immediate budget.

So. Ten thousand for the HVAC. Ten thousand for the floors. Twenty thousand for the kitchen and the walls.

It might work.

We're also going to go through the stuff in the attic-- it can't hurt, and it's very possible that some of those antiques could be worth money. Every penny counts, now.


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Claude said...

I had a designer come out to my house a few days ago. He said that renovating part of a house can actually get more expensive then building new because it's considered a "small" job and there's a built-in nuisance fee going on there.

They factor in things like: if you're going to still be in the house while they're working, they'd have to turn utilities off and back on, they'd have to be more careful about cleaning up every day, that sort of thing. And the project takes a long time because they'll work on your place for a couple of days, then go do a big job somewhere else, then come back to your place. It's a low-priority project for them.

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