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Home Renovation Q&A

We are in the thick of some major home renovations and I'm going to answer your questions on how we financed it, who we used, and how we planned each project!


PROJECTS:

Here is a list of all the projects we are planning to do:
- Convert 3 car tandem garage into a 2 car garage with an office

- Replace all carpet with tile (4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and our family room). We decided on tile, because the rest of our home is tile which we like so it made it easy.

-  Add custom built-ins to family room

- Add picture frame moulding to primary bedroom

- Expand 2 car driveway to a 3 car driveway 

- Replace bedroom and family room furniture

Why did you decide to convert your garage?
Since COVID hit, Alex and I both started working from home. I am fully remote now, and Alex will likely be working from home at least two days a week. Alex has been working from the dining room table, and I've been working from our son's bedroom. I really wanted a dedicated space that I could fully focus in and feel like it was mine. Originally we had thought of converting our attic in to an office, but after an $80k quote and realizing we wouldn't get much space we decided closing in our 3 car tandem garage would be better. I was surprised Alex was so on board, but he was supportive of me having an office and thought he would be able to consolidate his stuff from a 3 to 2 car garage. 

How did you choose a design?
I'm terrible with interior design so I used Havenly to help with the interior design of our primary bedroom and family room. They usually run specials throughout the year and I was able to get a full design for each room for $90 each. I put in my room measurements, photos, created a Pinterest board with images I liked and my budget. The designer came back with 3 different designs and then we went through a few rounds of revisions. Honestly the process was super simple and very helpful especially if you don't have a big budget for an interior designer. I have a referral link that will get you $50 off!

Are you doing anything to your yard? 
No, our yard is slanted and fairly small. We did contemplate using our money and putting in a pool instead of doing all the interior renovations, but decided against the pool. We have a neighborhood pool not far from our house and that suffices our need to cool off in the summer 😉.

Are you having price fluctuations? 
No, once we've gotten a quote from the contractor the price has stayed the same. Our projects are more labor intensive than material intensive. 


FINANCING:

How did you finance the renovation?
Once we decided we weren't going to buy a new home and instead renovate our current home we had a few financing options to consider.

1.) Save up additional funds - this was not ideal as it would take quite a while since we run a lean budget after our saving priorities unless we stopped/reduced 401k contributions (20% off our gross income), college ESA savings, and Alex's Employee Stock Purchase plan through Apple (10% of his income).

2.) Sell Stock - Alex has been buying Apple stock over the past 10 years, and we could sell that stock and pay for our renovations but we would have to pay capital gains taxes of at least 15% on that money. We'd lose out on potential gains in the stock value which has increased 23% since we started our projects!

3.) Refinance w/Equity Cash Out - This was the option we chose. We bought our home in 2019 for $440k, and in 2021 it appraised for $670k (we had a mortgage balance of ~$340k). In Texas, you are able to pull out up to 80% of the value of your house so that meant we could borrow ~$100k and still have over $200k equity in our home. The best part about this option was we payed $0 in taxes for this money. That said, we did have to increase our mortgage rate from 3% to %3.1 and with the increase balance on the mortgage our monthly payment increased ~$300/mo which was easy enough for us to cash flow. 

Photos by Madeline Harper

CONTRACTOR:

What builder did you use and what is the floor plan?
Our home was built by Perry Homes and the floor plan is Design 2916W (1 story, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 3 car garage, 2,916 sq. ft.)

Do you get a quote from the contractor before you start the project or estimate yourself?
We always get a quote before the project starts. I will say make sure to be prepared to include everything you want done because change orders can sometimes add a premium. 

How did you find your contractor?
I asked around to a few friends that had recently done some home renovations and they gave me the info of their contractors who did good work. We had two different contractors come over to give us quotes for our office, and ended up going with the contractor that gave us the lower quote but also lived in the area. The other contractor seemed great, but lived in South Austin and advised he would factor in mileage for our project since it was quite a trek to Georgetown. 

Our contractor's name is Luis of JBA Remodeling. He only has a Facebook page which you can find here. When it came to our tile, we thankfully found our exact tile and bought ourselves from Tedford Distributors to save money. 

Please let me know if you have any additional questions! I'm excited to take you along the journey and share before and afters. See my IG stories for a behind the scenes look at the process! 

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