Buying our first home together, we knew there were house updates we needed to make immediately.
Pride of home ownership will always show in the extensive renovations and the small stuff.
Everyone who views a home for sale visualizes what they would change if it were their home.
It’s nice to dream big, but when you buy a home, especially your first home, you’ll learn how expensive it is.
I’m not saying that in a mean way, but there’s no buttering up the truth about considerable costs to renovate.
Today I wanted to share with you simple house updates we made that were inexpensive yet effective.
The idea behind this post is to share with you that a showroom home takes time and money.
Completing renovations too fast will cost a fortune rather than taking time to save the money first.
Small House Updates That Add Value
Yes, a brand new kitchen and updated bathrooms will add value to any home if done correctly.
Often it’s the little things that homeowners don’t think about that add value to a home.
These home updates may not be expensive, but they are practical and show pride in home ownership.
Over the past two years, buyers have blindly bought an overpriced home without an inspection.
Now that interest rates are increasing, house prices are coming down, and sales have stalled.
According to a new report by RBC, Canadians can expect a “historic correction” with both resale activity and home prices “reaching lower levels than anticipated.”
You may worry about rising costs and interest rates if your house is worth less than what you paid.
Focusing on what you can control instead of what you can’t help you see the bigger picture.
Don’t worry about what anyone says if you have an old kitchen, stained carpet or a kitchen nightmare.
What you can do is tackle the small stuff first unless, of course, you need a significant renovation.
Rushing House Updates Is Asking For Disaster
With recent inflation highs in Canada and watching interest rates rise, we’re still confident we made the right decision to pay off our mortgage.
The most important lesson we’ve learned over the past 13 years of home ownership is not to rush.
If you want renovations completed before you move in and are willing to dish out the costs, you can.
We did the opposite by fixing what needed completion so we could pay our mortgage quickly.
To become debt-free, including our mortgage, meant sacrificing major renovations for many years.
We’d often pull our renovating card when we were planning on renovating.
Finally, getting into the real estate market but short on cash to do more significant renovation projects is not uncommon.
Visualize Our New Home From 2009
We bought our 1500 sq ft house in 2009 for $265,000 with an unfinished 1000 sq ft basement and double garage, so it needed work.
The lady we purchased the home from was the original owner and chose the colour and designed it herself.
Please close your eyes and imagine the following scenario to see our home surroundings.
- Pink carpets that are now beige
- White carpets with yellow smoke rings around the baseboard
- Crushed downspouts
- The front garden was dirt and weeds
- Hallway tiles that were pink with white grout that is now black
- Kermit green paint throughout, including all of the outlets and vents
- Vinyl kitchen flooring with ripped pieces and cigarette burn marks
- Smoke smell and stains everywhere
- White roller blinds that were now yellowish
- Patterned curtains
- Jacuzzi that sounds like a jet taking off
- Washer and Dryer in the master bathroom closet
- Water softener jammed with disgusting salt goop (not even working)
- Yellow smoke-stained white light fixtures
- Basement Insulation eaten through by mice
- Screendoor window wrong size with an open gap
- We needed a new roof
- Sun damaged vents outside of the home
- Black window sealant, which was once white
- Oak everything
- Massive remote-controlled dining room fan 20 feet above us, full of dust
Pricing Home Updates
Where does anyone begin with a house that needs updating from all directions?
We did have a list of the house updates we needed and wanted to complete.
Some would take more money than others, and with that extra time to complete the job.
However, after having our son in 2014, we decided to take the house updates individually.
Once we knew what needed completion, we priced out the project and started one by one.
The more minor expenses fell under our home renovations budget category each month.
The more extensive house updates we needed to save for, which is why they are taking us the longest.
Wants vs. Needs When Considering House Updates
Any house updates cost money, which meant saving first, so we didn’t create debt.
By this time, we had created our Budget Binder Excel Spreadsheet to help us understand our finances.
Over the years, our budget continued to change, as did our income but not in a good way.
Three months after we bought our house, Mrs. CBB lost her job, but we were still ok to pay the bills.
We had already started to ramp up saving money on groceries using any savings apps we could get our hands on.
Any extra cash came in from the extra efforts we put into paying the mortgage.
After we paid the mortgage, we continued to increase our side income through focus groups and the Canadian Home Stay Program.
We earned a chunk of cash from the program we stashed away to start our house updates.
By this time, we had also saved enough money in our emergency savings account and stashed a few thousand in our fireproof safe.
House Updates That Changed The Look Of Our Home
Upon finishing our wants vs. needs house updates list, we got to work sourcing the best deals.
Almost everything we purchased was online from Amazon Canada, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Rona, Lowes and Home Hardware.
Anytime we made an online purchase, we ran it through Rakuten to see if there were additional discount codes or savings.
You’ll notice both the interior house updates and exterior updates that changed the look of our home.
Small House Updates Are Just As Important
I know there are more than five simple ways to add value to your home which is why this list is long.
Anything in bold was what we considered to be simple and inexpensive to update our home.
- Wash the walls the best we could to remove smoke damage and smell
- Paint the entire house white apart from the kitchen, basement and bathrooms and master bedroom
- Replaced all of the outlet covers throughout the house
- Scrub and sanitize vinyl flooring and tiles in the front hallway
- I bought new white blinds from Home Depot throughout the house
- Replaced smoke-stained and outdated smoke detectors
- Change the locks and handles on all doors (bought at Canadian Tire)
- Remove and paint all of the entries in the house (white)
- New baseboards were purchased for the entire home from Home Depot
- Replaced all of the lightings in the bedrooms and hallways (Home Depot)
- Painted the garage door grey and replaced the seal
- Installed a new front door with an iron insert panel
- Resealed all of the windows on the outside of the home
- Purchased new downspouts and vents for the outside of the house (Home Depot)
- Installed a new insulated cold room door
- I bought a new water softener (must)
- Wash the windows with soap and water, followed by window cleaner
- Remove all of the mouse poop and insulation into a rented bin for $400. (Pricey Update)
- Cleaned up the weeds and dirt out front and eventually made a beautiful rock garden. I added new shrubs and plants along with a massive rock centre feature. (Pricey Update)
- I built a new deck out back as it was a bit of a drop from the back door. (Pricey Update)
- New wood fence for the entire backyard (I built the fence with two neighbours) (Pricey Update)
For 2023 we’ve been saving for a new deck and pergola, which I will be building. I’ll share the renovation with you once I complete it with photos.
Budgeting For House Updates
Building our deck was the most significant expense we put into our home besides the roof and fence.
As we went on, we’d continue adding to the list of wants vs. needs house updates.
Doing so allowed us to continue putting our money towards the renovations that needed attention.
Budgeting has been the number one key to keeping us on target with our home.
After 13 years, I’ve done many house updates and significant renovations.
- Gutting the upper-level bathroom
- New wood flooring on the upper level
- New roof installed (we hired a company)
- Front patio and walkway
- Basement insulation
- Entire front yard overhaul
All I can say is that the list is never-ending, so we’ve decided not to move.
I was the one who wanted to move more than Mrs. CBB, but I’ve changed my mind.
I have no intentions of spending my retirement years renovating a house when we could be travelling.
More Significant Renovation Projects And Less Is More
I’m working on the master bathroom and can happily say it was worth waiting for the upgrades.
I’ve gutted the entire master bathroom, and like all rooms in this house, I needed to level the floors.
The cool investments for our master bathroom are the deep tub, heated flooring and a heated towel rack.
Together we chose the Ancona Prima Dual XL 12 bar Heated Towel Rack with a wall timer from Amazon Canada.
We decided on white subway tiles from Home Depot and crystal lighting fixtures from Lowes to keep with the theme of the upper-level bathroom.
Completing this project is taking me a few months, and I’m not done yet and will update you soon.
Now that we are getting older, we aim for clean, minimalist home decor and home updates.
We’ve adopted the less is more movement which is already starting to pay off in significant ways, starting with my sanity.
Whether you’re updating to sell your home or to make it your forever home, don’t rush the process.
Have Your Say
Discussion: When you purchased your house, did you complete house updates before you moved in or as time went on? Did you add extra money to your mortgage so you could use it to renovate? If yes, why did you choose this option, and what renovations did you complete?
Please leave me your comments below.
Thanks for stopping by.