10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Working on our Fixer Upper

Chip and Joanna Gaines would cringe if they saw my first attempt at remodeling our out-dated bedroom in the “Headache House”. Luckily, I was able to salvage the room after learning from my mistakes the first go-around. Now, as I move to the other rooms in the house, I am learning things I wish I had known before working on our home.


  1. The Inspection Doesn’t Include Everything That Is Wrong With The House

Luckily, we were able to get a really thorough inspector who took over two hours to inspect every inch of our new home. Unfortunately for us, the house came fully furnished (including trash and miscellaneous items) so the inspector could only see so much with trash and furniture covering most of the floor space in the house. About a month after the inspection (and a month into cleaning the house), we found water damage in some of the trim in the bathroom and in the drywall around the shower. The bathroom was arguably the most cluttered room in the house, so it was completely understandable that the inspector didn’t see it. Still, the unexpected expense of replacing trim and drywall is a pain in the butt!

2. Do Not Take Any Short Cuts

Short cuts, however cost effective they may be, will bite you in the rear-end eventually. Cutting corners and being lazy will only cost you money in the end. Real Estate Agents, contractors, and house inspectors can see right through your badly done DIY drywall repair and they will not be impressed. If you can do the job as well and as safely as a professional, do it yourself. If you can’t, pay the money for a professional to do it right.

3. Check Out Architectural Salvages And ReStores

]There were a couple of really awesome architectural salvages in the city (which you can check out here and here). These places sell building parts salvaged by demolished or remodeled structures. What is really cool about these places is they usually don’t have set prices on their items. Its a great place to negotiate prices and get some really great deals on unique items! These salvages usually have more than just architectural pieces! We’ve seen items anywhere from lamps to antique candy dispensers. The other really great place to go to is Habitat for Humanity ReStore. People and businesses donate goods (flooring, doors, random clutter) to Habitat for Humanity for them to sell in their ReStore! The best thing about the ReStore is the money you spend there helps Habitat for Humanity provide housing around the world!

4. Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

Patience, during our house remodel, has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I am a “Let’s just go and get this done” type of gal and unfortunately remodeling a house takes time. Come to the terms that your “fixer-upper” will not be done in a day or a week or maybe even a year. Finances and life plans can get in the way and that is OK. Take a deep breath and know that beautiful things need time to blossom.

5.  Make Your House A Home

It is very easy to get carried away by the perfect “farmhouse look”. Make sure you make your house personable. As I remodeled our bedroom, I realized I had been so focused on making the bedroom look beautiful that I had forgotten to put up family photos and the unique things that make a home, a home. Put up your kids paintings. Put up those family pictures. Your house can look like it came out of a Home and Garden’s magazine and still have things that mean something to you.

6.  Expect The Unexpected

As I washed out the kitchen sink the other day I noticed a small spot around the drain. I became curious and as they say curiosity killed the cat. I started to scrub at the spot, only realizing after I scrubbed the spot for a few minutes that I had scrubbed away all the sealant from around the drain. After messing with it for a few more minutes (trying to figure out if I had really been that dumb) I realized I was also making a crack in the kitchen sink. Great…like I said, expect the unexpected.

7.  Check The Renovation Value

If you are looking into buying a fixer upper and selling it in the future, you should be familiar with which renovations will have the best return of investment. Essentially, you don’t want to be throwing your money into a project that won’t add value to your house.


Source: 2015 Cost vs. Value Report


8. Record What You Spend

Whether it is in excel, on a flash drive or in an old notebook, record what you spend!! It will be easier to budget for your future renovations if you know exactly what you’ve already spent. It is time consuming and a little tedious, but it is worth it in the end to know, down to the penny, how much you really spent.

9. Get Help

Free help is great, but there isn’t always an abundance of it. In a few weeks, we will be hosting a “painting party”. I’m planning on inviting friends over to paint and paying them in beer and pizza once we are done! What might have taken me days to complete will likely take a few hours at most.

10. Enjoy The Ride

As much as I hated the bedroom renovation, I sort of miss it. Crazy, I know, but I had fun arguing and working hard with my significant other while painting and putting flooring in. Nothing beats the joy I get walking into the bedroom and remembering us on the floor laughing about how much it sucked! The room looks great now and we are able to say we did it!


Fixer Uppers are stressful but hopefully you can avoid some of the mistakes that I’ve made with ours! If you have anything to add to the list comment it down below!


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Small town dog mama talking about my life!

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