Building on a Budget

Fun Fact Friday: Another life event Jo and I had occur within a year of each other (unplanned) is moving into (if all goes as planned) our forever homes.

The difference: She bought and I built.

The similarity: We both wanted to do things on a budget. Your first mortgage as single income family is scary!

Jump over to the vlog to hear about some amazingly cute hacks Jo spills on how she decorated her beautiful new home. Her closet island is to die for!

On the flip side… I had to figure out ways to save while building so our loan could go further. We honestly did not mind to have some things unfinished in the house when we moved in, but we both knew the reality of how long it would probably be before we did complete those things, so we chose to aim for having as much complete as possible. addtext_com_MDExODExMTgxMTY3

If you don’t take the time to read it all… at least read this:
If you don’t do these things… You’ll check in on the progress only to realize you really dislike something or something was done wrong, and the correction, at that point, could be much more complex than if you addressed it right away.

…Ok… Here are my pointers for saving while building.

Saving during the BUILDING process:

Choose a flexible contractor
A big selling point for us was the fact our contractor would bill as he went and hand over copies of all receipts and bills to us along with his master bill. We could easily see the breakdown. He also gave us the option to purchase things ourselves and avoid his mark-up. (Example…We took care of purchasing the metal for our roof; therefore he didn’t add a management fee.) Read more about our decision making for a contractor here. 

Shop around and shop wisely
Take the time to compare prices. The internet makes this so stinkin’ easy that there is no excuse. Additionally, don’t automatically purchase every single extra THING just because a label says it works best with products X,Y&Z or because a Home Depot employee is trained to tell you to do so. It’s like when you’re making brownies and the recipe calls for HERSHEY chocolate… It really just means use chocolate. So do a little extra research to know if (a) a specific brand does matter and (b) if it’s even something that you need anyway. Sometimes the advice is legit

Decide what you can do yourself…
We did a lot of steps ourselves. (And by that I mean, I was keeping up with a baby while pregnant with #2, so my husband did a lot.)  This saves money but takes time and…time is money, so… Choose wisely! Our building process ended up taking about nine months; I’d say half of that time came from doing things ourselves and having limited weekend time for those projects. The things we did can be done by anyone, given the right tools, and don’t require an specialist. (If you don’t own them or want to invest in them, you likely know someone who has them.) Also, know there are a plethora of DIY videos and articles out there to help you with any projects you take on yourself. 

  • Acid Stained Concrete Floors: This was a lot more involved and labor-intensive than anticipated, but that also had to do with the fact we were building in the middle of nowhere with no running water alongside no experience. We kept it pretty simple, but there are a lot of really cool things you can do with stained concrete.
  • Wood Floors: We did not use real hardwood, but I LOVE the laminate snap/tap-and-lock we chose. It was a fraction of the cost, and it was about as simple to install as it gets. You can buy a kit with the tools for install as well as room-to-room thresholds that match your wood. There was about 2,000 square feet to cover, so it took some time, but it was well worth it. 
  • Painting: We painted and primed the entire house. Oooohweeee… It was  a LOT of painting, but the tools available today make it a lot easier to do yourself, like the extenders, the pouring lids and (my personal favorite) and edging brush. Oh that thing was a life-saver! (I still didn’t trust my husband with edges!)
  • Exterior Stain: We were fortunate enough that our builder left his scaffolding on site, which allowed us to use it for staining our cedar siding. We had some mighty high areas to reach. Again, this was time consuming, but we were doing it in early Spring, so at least the weather was nice. 
  • Trim: There are different ways to hang trim, but it really comes down to precision and patience. We gave ourselves an extra step of staining the wood. (We chose to save money and use plain 1×4 boards. Home Depot & Lowes have great options available for actual trim wood and even some you won’t have to paint if you are going with white.) I won’t say trim work is easy… But hard isn’t the word either. Just be patient… and know an entire house will take some time. 

You can sneak a peak of most of these things in some of the picture further down.

Saving during the FURNISHING process:

Moving from our first apartment, we weren’t coming in with a lot. As much as I wanted to fill the house with all new appliances and furnishings, we didn’t (don’t) have the money for that. We actually managed to put our kitchen together with the stove being the only brand new large appliance purchase. Here are some work-arounds we used for furnishing the house

Hit up second hand stores:
There is SO MUCH out there with a lot of good years left in it that gets tossed to the side. Mingus and I spent a lot of time in and out of different second hand places (A personal favorite: Habitat for Humanity Restore) and ended up with some major wins. We would have utilized Craig’s List a LOT more if we lived in an area where scouting and pick-up was more convenient. Check out these wins:

HUGE Master Bath mirror: $10 at Habitat Restore
Repainted Bookshelves: $7 each at local consignment shop (Entire setup was $550 including the TV stand, 48″ TV and Sound Bar!)
Bedroom Shelf: $7 at Local consignment shop (Repainted white)

We also got interior doors for approximately $15 each. They are all off-white and some have imperfections, but we plan to replace them in time. (We already have some amazing old wood doors in possession that just need some love before we swap them out.) We also got our double-bowl, stainless steel kitchen sink for $10.  

Put word out to the family and friends
Everyone has connections… Everyone is always getting rid of stuff. You might be surprised at the treasures you’ll find… in someone’s barn!

  • My aunt’s barn: Woohoo for the rustic look being TOTALLY in right now! We snatched some steals from my aunt’s barn… I literally did nothing but wipe off the dirt and we had an awesome pantry and trash can. (And remember those old doors I mentioned? Yep… From the barn!) 
  • Family: We added a perfect table in our kitchen for some table top appliances that fits the rustic look we started building. Additionally, we took a little end table. I actually still need to repaint it, but the character in it is adorable! We also got our coffee table from Mingus’s grandmother who was moving and no longer had room for it.
  • Friends of Family: Maybe my family is weird, but in our case, when people knew we were building, we always had people asking us about things their friends were getting rid of. We got our dishwasher this way. We also acquired two beautiful wood drawer chests. (One we’ve refinished; the other we more recently acquired.) We also have a beautiful piece of glass we have yet to find a place for but it was a must-take when offered. 
End Table from Aunt’s house (Project in the works)
Pantry from my aunt’s BARN! Table from aunt’s house. Barn wood beam (top) from old tobacco barn on family property

Just keep your eyes peeled…
Not everything we ended up getting a deal on was sought out.  It was more about just paying attention and then actively taking the time to do something about the opportunities that arose.  Here are a few examples:

  • Liquidation Sales: A local store was closing down and going through liquidation. It’s of course risky because you can’t return things–and honestly, not everything at this particular place WAS a deal. But we did take the opportunity to get some things; for example, curtains and blinds.
  • Accumulate over time: I often remind myself this is our “forever home” and we don’t have to have everything at once. Rugs is a perfect example of this. I wanted to utilize area rugs because of having little ones but no carpet. If you have ever rug shopped, you know they are NOT cheap. I shopped long and hard to find the best deal on the one most important to me: one for the living space. I settled for some 5×8 rugs that were not what I would have specifically shopped for, but $20 clearance at Lowes? Heck yes! Now our kids’ rooms and their toy room have carpeting. I’ve picked up others here and there as I’ve found deals.
  • If you have a rustic look: With our wood trim throughout the house, a rustic look fits the home. This is great because of things at our disposal. We used a giant old barn beam as an actual beam support near our stairs. (The barn it came from is on our property so we have access to more wood which I am slowly incorporating into projects. Yay Pinterest!) Also, the rustic look goes well with old wood furniture in general.
  • Saved wedding gifts: Because we were living in a temporary space at the time of our wedding, we packed a lot of our gifts away. It was awesome to open those boxes upon move in and feel like we were opening them for the first time all over again. This gave us some fun “new” additions to our home. 
2.5’x8′ Area Rug: $25 (Liquidation Sale)
Bathroom Mirror: Family Heirloom Decor: Unused wedding gift
Blinds & Curtains: Liquidation Sale; 5’x8′ Area Rug: $20 Lowes Clearance

It’s safe to say, our home is far from being “done”. We have lots of projects we hope to one day complete (stoning around the wood stove, adding a sun room…) and lots of furniture and appliances we hope to upgrade (pretty lighting over my island!), but I’ve already found that actually getting to live in it allows me to better know what I want in it. It likely would have been a lot of wasted money if I’d tried to plan everything perfect before the house even existed.

If you’ve just built or just bought, know the home is yours and making it yours is part of the journey and fun. Enjoy the home DIY project.

Now do two things for me:
(1) Tell me what home decor projects you’re really proud of and suggest.
(2) Jump over to the vlog and check out Jo’s projects. Spectacular!


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