Updated: Aug 18, 2019
It was February of 2018. I was nearing nine months of pregnancy and desperately desired a place to call our forever home. My husband and I were on Redfin when I received a call from my mom. "Kelli! I found the most adorable renovation for you two!" Per usual, she was enthusiastic and convincing. My mom had been in real estate for more than 20 years, tackled countless renovations, and is a bundle of knowledge with an optimistic outlook on homes in need of a little TLC. I like to think that I have adopted a fraction of her perspective over time, so I was eager to see what she had found. My husband and I headed into the city to meet my mom for a walk through.
A backstory on our home search:
Since graduating college, my husband and I have primarily lived in the city. When we made the decision that it was time to start trying for our first child, we did what many do, packed up our city home, and moved to the suburbs. We lived in a spacious home, with a gorgeous yard that backed up to green space. There was ample amount of room to grow into. However, it took about a month until we realized that it just wasn't for us. Our routines had shifted immensely- We longed for our morning coffee shop visits, our quick strolls to the neighborhood grocery stores and restaurants, and our workout studios. As beautiful as our new set up was, we knew that we wouldn't last there long. However, we were up for quite the challenge when we started looking for our forever home...
We wanted to be in a neighborhood, but also in the city limits so we could be walking distance to shops and restaurants. Location location location.
We desired a home that we could grow into, so we needed ample amount of square footage.
We wanted an updated & open concept home with outdoor space.
We needed a driveway and preferably a garage.
We wanted at least 3 bedrooms, with a bonus space, an office for Anthony, and at least 2 bathrooms (ideally 3).
There were multiple problems: Most of the homes in the city limits of Portland are built in the early 1900's, the current market was and continues to be insane, and most importantly... We were shopping on a budget. Our check list and budget wasn't feasible for the area that we wanted to live in. Therefore, that brings me to the overall purpose of my back story: We knew that in order to get the things we wanted, we would need to tackle a renovation.
Visiting Our Future Home:
When we plugged in the address, we quickly realized that the home was in our dream neighborhood. We had stopped looking there months prior because we had yet to find something remotely close to our budget. My husband looked at me and asked, "Wait, what was the price on this home again? Something must be wrong with it." I reassured him that my mom promised me that it was well below our budget AND there was enough room for renovations. After we pulled onto the street, it didn't take long to realize what house we were headed towards. To say that it was an eye sore is an understatement. We could immediately tell that it was far more of a project than we ever anticipated... And that was just the exterior.
The first words out of my mom's mouth: "Okay, you two NEED to keep an open mind." Yeah, I've heard that on HGTV before. Let's just say that we needed a whole lot more than an "open mind." I'll let the images speak for themselves:
What the pictures don't reveal is the urine smell that was imbedded in the floors, walls, and woodwork. We walked through the house holding our breath and breathing within our shirts. It was obvious to all of us that the house would need to be stripped to it's bones.
Despite the difficulty to acknowledge the positives at the moment, there were some undeniable potentials:
The house was in our dream neighborhood and walking distance to coffee shops, restaurants and bars, grocery stores, daycares, and schools. There were kids playing outside, parents socializing, and positive vibes everywhere. Location... check!
The footprint wasn't huge. However, If we tackled all of the unfinished spaces (attic and basement), we could maximize the living space to approximately 3,200 square feet. Not to mention the potential of the backyard space as well.
We only needed to take down a few minor walls (one load-bearing) to make the living space open concept.
Anthony would be able to get his "man cave" as well as his office.
There was the potential to finish a couple additional spaces that would give us a total of 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.
Finally, we would truly be able to customize the space top to bottom. That was exciting.
Believe it or not, there were several offers on the home. Long story short, my mom worked her realtor magic and we were lucky enough to get our offer accepted. How? In summary, all of the other offers were from investors. Like us, many saw the opportunity to flip the property. However, the others wanted to immediately sell the home and make a profit off of it. We wanted to start our family and grow into the house which spoke to the seller. We were lucky enough to end up with the keys.
First Visit After Closing
Home sweet home.
Follow me as I dive deeper into the renovation. I'll focus in on each of the main spaces and go over all the details of the design. I'll get candid about our buyer's regret and share everything we learned in the process. You can subscribe at the bottom of the page <3.