The Budget Planners Guide to Renovation

The moment we laid eyes on our 1920s teal cottage home, we had to have her! We jumped at the opportunity and contacted our real estate agent immediately. Luckily we got to it before an open house but that didn't stop one other buyer from putting in an offer. You can probably imagine me chewing through my nails anticipating our offer being declined BUT IT WASN'T. Amongst a few other bridges we had to cross and four months later, we were in the teeniest fixer upper of our dreams.


Reid and I aren't exactly made of money so while we did purchase this house knowing there is a lot to do, we went in with a mindset of patience and perseverance.


We started our renovation journey with a series of lists. The first being all the changes we wanted to do to the house. I mean ALL of them. Then we organized our list in order of the most importance; less important needs were prioritized by what we wanted done quicker and what would potentially cost less.


Our list looked something like this:

  • Paint walls

  • Paint teal BLACK

  • Sand down & refinish floors

  • Fireplace makeover

  • DIY book nook in Ezra's nursery

  • Built in shelves in office

  • Kitchen Renovation

  • Bathroom Renovation

  • New front & back doors

  • Board & Batten Kitchen

  • Make office closet into shelves

Once we finished, we started with the first ten and PRICED IT OUT.


I mean we priced workers, we researched paint, we were running numbers and booking trips to Home Depot. We made sure to round up on any costs we found to give us a little wiggle room in our budget and then the next list was born - this time in an exact order of how we were going to do things. We prioritized it based on what needed to get done IMMEDIATELY and added in cheaper, fun projects to break it up and keep it interesting - making sure to keep the list to five things, of course, to prevent us from feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Paint walls - NECESSARY EVIL (estimated cost: $600

  2. Fireplace makeover (estimated cost: 40$)

  3. DIY book nook (estimated cost: $60)

  4. Paint Teal Black (estimated cost: ($1200)

  5. Sand & Refinish Floors (estimated cost: $800)

Cutting costs wherever we could was super important. In that final list of five, we knew we wouldn't be hiring workers but doing it on our own. We finished it knowing everything down to the exact paint we were going to purchase. Getting the house to it's bare bones was going to be A LOT. I mean just look at this slide show walk through of what the house looked like when WE first saw it. Reid and I honestly don't have the kind of money to just drop and finish our top five within a couple of months.


We'd have to SAVE.


That final list became our stepping stone for creating a personal budget. Reid and I sat down wrote down all of our bills and income. We calculated the difference and set a budget based on that. We split our money into categories: Personal Spending, Groceries, Dates, Ezra & House. We kept track of every dollar we spent and sorted them into their allotted category (we used Apple Notes - old fashion, we know) and guess what - WE SAVED.

We've now been in this house 7 months and we have FINISHED painting the walls. We've checked off DIY book nook and fireplace makeover. The house has been halfway painted black (it's a work in progress) and the carpets have been ripped up to a beautiful hardwood floor (also a work in progress). All of this while we have been furnishing our home as well. We still haven't finished our list of five and we won't create our next list until this one is done but the progress we've made shows and brings us joy.


Renovating a house on a budget is HARD.


It takes motivation and PATIENCE. My best advice for all the other budget planners out there is to celebrate the small victories. Lists are your friend. DO YOUR RESEARCH. And make a budget that works best for you and your home. This process isn't a competition. It's different for everyone and if you are like us and you just don't have disposable income, it takes TIME. My hope in sharing our process is maybe to help any number of you guys find simply where to start. Enjoy it, my friends!


"Anyone can live in a house, but homes are created with patience, time and love" -Jane Green

Ashton Forzley

Your avid reading, writing, thrill-seeking local enthusiast. When I'm not at home being a mother or styling, catch me on the trails or in a tavern. I'm the force behind a Forz of Nature.

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