As previously mentioned, we VERY naively thought that the renovation would take about a year to complete and cost roughly $25,000. It makes me laugh so hard now. In reality, it took closer to three years and about $100,000. Needless to say, there were a lot of unforseen costs with the renovation.
Our original plan was for Brian and I to do ALL of the renovation (we must have watched too much Fixer Upper). After it took us a whole weekend to remove the paneling from ONE wall (only about 20 walls to go!), we realized we were in way over our heads and enlisted the help of a friend and contractor. He gave us an estimate of about $45,000 and we got started.
The biggest problem with the house was termites. Even though Brian's grandmother hired an exterminator, she was either taken advantage of or those termites ate the heck out of some wood in the six years the house was vacant. Homeowners, if you do nothing else to maintain your home, make sure to have pest control in place!!! The worst part about termites is that often the extent of the damage is not known until walls and floors are taken up. Once we were able to rip out floors and walls in the Myrtle House, we knew the $45,000 budget was out the window.
Our contractor had to put in all new footings (there were none before) and replace basically all of the joists and framing since almost every stick of wood in that house was eaten. Essentially, we completely gutted the inside of the house. All that was left after demo was the roof, siding, beadboard ceiling, and floors in two rooms. We didn't just take it down to the studs - we took it down to the dirt. At this stage, we were in too deep (pun intended) to back out, so we continued. I cried a lot during this time period. And drank a lot of wine.
The nice thing about demoing basically the entire house is that there is nothing left to surprise you. ;) We knew at this point we needed new everything: joists, framing, electrical, plumbing, hvac, drywall, and subfloor (handled by our contractor). After that, we had to put in all of the finishes that make a house a home: paint, hardwoods, vinyl, tile, toilets, tubs, vanities, cabinets, appliances, trim, doors, light fixtures, and landscaping (handled by us). Basically we built a new construction house in the shell of a 115 year old house.
Another benefit of the termite damage was that I was able to re-work the floorplan. Since all of the walls had to be replaced, it wouldn't cost us any more to put them in a different place. I am so thankful for this because it completely changed the function of the house. You can see the old floorplan and current floorplan below.
Due to the increased costs of the renovation, Brian and I decided to take out a $30,000 construction loan as to not slow down the project. We were not happy about this at all, but knew that if we didn't keep the crew rolling, they might have to go on to another job and we are stuck with a half gutted, half renovated house. The $70,000 balance of our total $100,000 renovation was paid in cash by us living frugally and saving.
So here we are with this quite literal money pit, living with my parents, and racking up even more debt. Not exactly the scenario I pictured when we decided to take on this project. This is when we started weighing our options and considered selling one of the houses - but which one? There were pros and cons to both houses. The idea of being a real estate tycoon was becoming less and less attractive. I think deep down Brian and I really enjoy a more simple life and for us personally, owning multiple properties was more stressful than it was worth. At least at this point in our lives.
Throughout the 2.5 year renovation, our Brooklyn Street house was rented and their lease was up in April. We decided the most logical thing to do was bust our butts to get the Myrtle House done, move back into the Brooklyn Street house, and then decide which to sell. We started joking that there is "no sleep till Brooklyn" as we were burning the candle at both ends installing hardwoods, tiling, putting up cabinets, and all.of.the.little.things needed to get Myrtle House close to done by April.