The story of our first “Flip”, part 1
Once there was a young newlywed couple living in a 720 sqare foot apartment they could barely afford with their newborn baby girl. But, they dreamed of owning a piece of land they could call their own.
Then, one day while looking through Craigslist ads, the husband said to the wife: “I think I found the perfect house for us! Its kind of run down, but we can fix it! …. It’s such a good deal!”
Wife (a Raleigh brat): “Where is this house?”
Husband: “It’s way-way-way out in the country in a little town called Holly Springs….”
The doe-eyed wife looked at her husband, as only a newlywed could, and thought… Oh, I just love him SO much.
…. so she agreed to see the house.
As she looked up at the 3 bedroom 2 bath ranch, she saw a house with rotten siding, horrible landscape in the middle of NOWHERE. The inside was filthy: faux brick linoleum flooring, ugly ungrouted 12 x 12 tile and exposed plywood subfloors were under her feet as she walked through the house. The kitchen cabinet drawers showed evidence of a rodent issue, countertops were an awful ocean blue marble. She turns to look at her husband with disgust … seriously?? “Kind of run down”, he says, “we can fix it”, he says… please (insert eye-roll).
The Craigslist House: The Purchase
Despite the let-down of that initial walkthrough, she couldn’t deny an underlying feeling of excitement. This house offered the potential to just start over, wipe the slate clean – to build something together with her new husband, something that was just theirs. Lord knows she needed a re-set button with everything going on in her family. The house in the “middle-of-nowhere” started to sound really nice.
… Plus, by the look in his eye, she knew he loved it, so they signed on the dotted line.
Read “part two” of this house “first flip” story and visit our Flips page to look through our other projects!
This house, purchased for $98,000 is integral part of our story and the beginning of something beautiful. Over the next 4 years, Uriah and I poured our heart and soul into the Craigslist House. Would you believe that to this day, it is still my favorite one? The house that held ALL the first’s.
The Craigslist House: A penny Pinching Renovation
Have you ever lived through a renovation: like a big one? If so, you know that it is no joke, especially if finances are slim. We’d just bought a major fixer upper, I was still in nursing school and in the midst of figuring out the whole parenting thing. It didn’t help that Uriah only made $35,000 per year, so as you can imagine, monetary reserves were almost non-existent. Our families thought we were crazy. Pinching our pennies, we saved for materials one project at a time. Uriah and I worked hard to put our stamp on that Craigslist House, renovating through blood, sweat, and tears… so many tears.
I’m sad to say, project documentation was not a priority back then. I suppose I was a bit pre-occupied with preventing toddler related injuries on the jobsite (AKA our home). You’ll have to settle for reading words and looking at “before” pictures with our kids in them. I could only find a few. Just note what’s in the background.
We did not change the layout while renovating The Craigslist house, but here is a rough floor plan to give you a better idea of the space. (PS: not to scale)
As you can see, bedrooms and bathrooms were all on the left side of the house, leaving the main living space nice and open. A wall separating the kitchen created the only division of space from the main living/dining area upstairs. We considered knocking it down, but I wasn’t conviced having a bulkhead wood look good.
How ’bout them floors, eh? Faux brick linoleum – classy. It was everywhere except the hallway and master bedroom. You may not believe that the flooring our little girl is standing on at the entry is actually outdoor carpet. We hastily stapled it down just before closing, so the USDA loan would actually go through! Their standards were obviously low.
Faux Finishes Galore
This image gives you a sneak-peak of the fine finishes that graced the entire home, in all of its faux beauty: faux brick linoleum, faux ocean blue countertops, and fo-real ugly cabinet hardware.
I wish I could find more before pictures, especially the bathrooms, but this one shows the back deck and exterior!
At the point this picture was taken, we’d already replaced the siding (it was awaiting paint), but at least this images shows you the deck’s original condition. It was rough. We ended up saving a good amount of money by giving the deck a refresh.
The Craigslist House: What’s Next?
Part two of The Craigslist House: Our First Flip tells you what happend next in our story, what projects we prioritized, and ALL the numbers.
When the Struggle is a Blessing…
I believe seasons of struggle are often blessings in disguise. On a more personal level, it is worth noting that we experienced more times of financial strain during this season than I can count. It was hard. We saw each other’s weaknesses, argued, did without, and made many mistakes. But, you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world. Because we also learned how to love each other anyway, to see each other’s giftings, to budget, and develop a counter cultural mindset about money and real estate.
Perhaps you need some encouragement today. Remember that seasons come and go: they are temporary. Without the challenges of yesterday, you’d never fully value the blessings that are right in front of you today.