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Any housing market that has a quickly growing buyer pool without available home inventory makes “flippers” take notice. The decision to buy your own “fixer upper” property rather than purchasing a newly renovated home may not be an easy one.

Recently, my husband and I purchased a circa 1980’s home with many original features (including the kitchen.) We dug right into demolition the first week with only two months left on our current rental property to make the new place somewhat habitable.

The original thought was, do all the messy demo, especially removing popcorn ceilings, odor filled carpet and jack hammering floor tiles before moving in. We felt at least 2-3 rooms would have to have all painting done and flooring in so we had a place to put our furniture while we finished up.

Fortunately, no kids or pets live with us currently, so we thought “we can rough it” and considered ourselves weekend reno warriors! My only stipulation as we tore up ALL the rooms, was to keep one un-touched bathroom. Hot shower everyday, etc was a must!

So now, 10 months in, we are about 80% done and still loving our decision. (More “after” pics in coming posts.)

Here are a few pics so you can get a slight feel of the process we went through in the two months prior to moving into our Austin Fixer Upper (wear a dust mask…)

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The “before” kitchen had no island and the walk in pantry door was too narrow for my husband’s shoulders to pass through! Black mold was in the back and under several cabinets.

This pile of rubble was the existing kitchen just 7 days after purchase. As you can see, no cooking blog segments filmed here!

We removed a wall adjacent to the master, so the new kitchen would be larger. Took out all the soffit and put in can lights ourselves. Twelve feet(YES 12) of the back of the house was taken out for a new glass slider. We hired two “handy guys” to help us get the header up and shore up the small door we took out. The frame with two center sliding panels went in easily and then later we had a glass company do the glazing on the two stationery panes.

Moving the front door into a better location and taking out the odd chimney, meant demolition of the fire place as well. The oversized stone really swallowed up the 20×14 livingroom, and we had a more contemporary plan in mind. Demo went smooth with a light weight jack hammer and point tool rented at the local big box.

 

With structural changes done, we hired a sheet rock pro to put in the sheet rock patches and float and texture our new space except for the living room.

Before moving in, we managed to get the concrete floor ground down ourselves. The folks at Deco Prep in Austin, TX, actually delivered a huge floor grinder to our door as well as a high powered vac to suck up the cement dust. After a day and a half of grinding, our living room and kitchen were ready for a micro layer of new colored cement and a bled out white stain in places.

During this timeframe, the four bedrooms had all popcorn removed (myself and a few friends took on this task.) Our sheetrock pro textured those rooms as well and we painted them with friends. A few days before move in, we hired a flooring pro to float our engineered hardwood (hickory) in the bedrooms and hallway.

We opted to add the trim boards ourselves later as we took out all the dated 80’s trim throughout.

We took on one additional huge project to get the dust out before move in – all parallel in timing to the kitchen and bedroom work. Jack hammering the slab to put pipes in the house for the washer and dryer (originally in the garage) had to be done while the dust was flying.

I was glad I had planned out the space virtually first to get a new master bath layout, closet and laundry within the existing space. The 1980’s 84″ repainted cabinet and shell sinks had to go. They didn’t look bad, but open up the cabinet and smell the musty dampness underneath – ugh – and we needed to reconfigure the master to make the laundry room fit in the house.

Both of these mock plans show places to move the laundry room. But the location in the black and white image would have cost almost double since there was currently no water lines in that corner of the house.

Even with jacking the slab ourselves, the plumbing to move the shower and add washer and dryer was over $3500. Important to keep it close to existing water lines! The master sink and cabinetry was taken out and we built all the framing for a new shower area and toilet area. When plumbers had finished we poured sand and patch concrete on top and finally floated a leveler over the repaired floor areas in the master and laundry.

Fortunately we finished all this in conjunction with doing the livingroom/kitchen cement floor, so we kept going in the laundry area so that floor would be done prior to move in day. I would have a washer and dryer hooked up in the first week we lived in the house!

So with a marginally cleanable floor, and fresh paint in the bedrooms, laundry and kitchen we moved into our Austin fixer upper.

Here is the front of the house as we saw it on moving day….and the plan we had for conversion.

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