The Small Family Home Bloggers are back! (And looking for new members if you’re reading this and write a small home blog of your own.) This month’s topic is, “If I could change one thing about my small space…” to which I reply, Ha! As I can’t even count the changes we’ve made over the past 18 months. Or count the changes we still hope to make.
However, our most recent project of kitchen countertops has almost maxed out our $100,000 renovation budget. Alas, there are still things on the wish list — things like a door on the den, landscaping pretty much everywhere, drywall in the hallway (nbd to just have lath hanging out everywhere, right?), an updated tub/shower surround, a new back deck, a shed for storing our earthquake kit and, most likely, a new furnace within the next few years. Probably a whole new HVAC system, too, since the previous owner cut giant holes in the ductwork to run shoddy plumbing for a gross basement bathroom.
But, because our budget has been tapped, I suppose we are really getting into If I could change territory. Except, our existing back deck is unsafe, we need a shed to keep potable water and other supplies accessible during a disaster and our 1970s furnace will break (or we’ll just get tired of paying $500 in bimonthly heating bills).
In our case, fortunately, our $100,000 budget was less a reflection of an actual number that we had to spend and more a careful consideration of what we shouldn’t exceed spending based on the market value of the house. I like to always know what that number is (and build in a buffer of profit) so that if we have to sell at a moment’s notice, we’ll come out on top. (It’s extremely unlikely that we’ll be moving anytime soon, but I would’ve said the same thing a few months before we listed our Toronto house in early 2017!) It was also a number that felt reasonable for our square footage (1177 square feet). I’ve always felt that one of the big benefits of living small was the ability to renovate on a budget. That is, you can choose designer light fixtures or expensive tile and — since your house contains just seven light fixtures and one small bathroom — you’re not actually spending that much in an overall sort of way. Well, turns out small can also be spendy, especially if your house is of a certain age and on a seismic fault line.
We will continue to move ahead with our changes, more slowly so we can do things ourselves (now that there’s a little less than everything to do) and perhaps looking at multiple quotes and ways of solving problems, seeing if there are compromises we can make to keep costs down. Like, instead of redoing the entire tub/shower surround (why does anyone choose a solid fibreglass surround in almond?), I’m troubleshooting the (totally free) option of removing the frosted shower doors and chrome track and suspending a really nice shower curtain (and then just keeping it closed all the time to hide the almond fibreglass). We also plan to consult with a Realtor before we commit to any more big projects, like the back deck, so we can set individual project budgets moving forward — figure out where it’s a good idea to spend and where we’re better off making-do.
How do you approach setting renovation budgets? Is it based more on what you have to spend or what you’d like to spend or a little bit of both?
Also: I received a question on Instagram yesterday about how I prioritize house projects and/or set our yearly project lists. I plan to write a post on this topic in the near future so please do leave any related questions below!