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Before and After House Remodel Pics & Tips

DIY YNAB Team Edition

Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. No commute? Amazing! Pets and babies interrupting meetings? Funny every single time! An “anything goes” dress code? Yes, I am wearing a button-up shirt with sweatpants and it looks quite nice, thank you.

Here at YNAB, the whole team works from home. And although that’s awesome, it also means that we spend a lot of time working in our living spaces and living in our working spaces, which allows for plenty of opportunity to envision our fixer upper fantasies…and several YNAB Team members have recently made theirs a reality. Check out some of our home improvement projects complete with budgeting tips and before and after house remodel pics below.

YNAB’s Budgeting Tips & Before and After House Remodel Pics

Kat’s New Old House Remodel

Before and after house remodel pics
Kat’s Kitchen went from cozy to chic.

What remodeling project did you undertake and why?

I like to joke I gutted all the kitchens and bathrooms (and closets) —you know, the cheap parts of a house. I tore out the existing kitchen and dining room (and the semi-load bearing wall between the two), which became one big eat-in kitchen. I gutted two closets on the first floor to transform them into a powder room and a pantry. I did a complete tear out of one and a half baths and two closets on the second floor, which became two full baths and then I added a primary closet. I also tore out all the carpet, had the wood flooring refinished, and re-painted the walls and trim in the entire house.

What did you do in order to budget for/save for/pay for this project?

I chose this house because I could afford the monthly payments on my own salary after my divorce (I know this because my budget told me!). Because of the timing, I took out a personal loan to do the renovations while I was still living in the old house, with a plan to pay it back after the family home was sold.

Any helpful/specific category groups you set up for this project?

Oh, for sure!

Renovation categories in YNAB
Renovation categories in YNAB

I also had a category for Furniture: bar stools, kitchen table and chairs were the big two I needed right away. The rest I brought from the old house to tide me over and replace one at a time once I knew what we needed.

Learn more about how to save for big projects in YNAB with a video from Hannah.

What surprised you the most when it came to completing the project?

I initially was shocked how many tiny decisions there are in a renovation. To be fair, I did take on a fairly large renovation for a first project. But I didn’t realize how tired I would get of having to make decisions! I was glad I had hired an interior designer, but wish I had let her do more of the day-to-day managing of the project.

Toward the end of the project, what surprised me the most was my satisfaction. Every home I’ve bought in my life had been with my ex-husband. I’d never had a chance to decorate a room or a home entirely myself. The night before I moved in, I went to the empty house to walk through it and I just wept with joy. I had made a new home for me and my children. I had literally torn apart the old and designed and helped create something completely new. It was incredibly gratifying.

Phase One of Terra’s Fixer Upper

Phase one of Terra’s Fixer Upper project brought more light and loveliness into their living area.

What remodeling project did you undertake and why?

My husband, Josh, and I bought this house at the beginning of the housing market craze in 2020 and although it didn’t check all of our boxes, the price was right and we knew we could put a bit of work into it to make it ours. Eventually, we’ll update the entire house, but we’re nearing the end of phase one now. In this phase, we decided to tackle the kitchen, laundry room, dining room, and living area. This included a complete gut job in the kitchen, moving a wall in the kitchen, taking down a wall and filling in the step-down in the living room, scraping popcorn ceilings, and new paint and flooring throughout! We still have a few things to finish up but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

What did you do in order to budget for/save for/pay for this project?

Along with using savings from a previous home sale, we also decided to do a cash-out refinance because interest rates were in our favor last year. With all the craziness of the housing market right now, our home had increased in value significantly so we decided to take advantage of that. This gave us a set amount of money to put toward this project which helped us know exactly how much we could tackle at once.

In order to save along the way, we did most of the work ourselves (with the exception of hiring out concrete and drywall finishing work) and purchased supplies wisely where we could. This included selling our old appliances and purchasing (new) used appliances from Facebook Marketplace. We saved over $3,000 by doing this and don’t mind the gently used ones we found! We also opted for budget-friendly Ikea cabinets over custom or pre-built ones. This saved us quite a bit of money and we got to customize our cabinets and storage options to our space perfectly.

Any helpful/specific category groups you set up for this project?

We created a separate budget for this project (aptly named Demo Day!) and created category groups for each area (kitchen, laundry room, dining room, etc.) In each category group, we broke out the individual categories based on things we knew we needed (like cabinets, tile, light fixtures, etc.) but also included a “Miscellaneous” category in each group–it surprised me how many things ended up in there!

We also created a general “Can of Worms” category that we assigned 10% of our total budget to for unexpected expenses. Thankfully we didn’t have to touch it much and get to put the remainder toward the next phase of our project, but you never know what you might run into, especially when opening up walls in an older home!

What surprised you the most when it came to completing the project?

How quickly a large sum of money can be used! Things add up quickly and if you don’t have a budget set going into it, you may be caught off guard. Because of this, we’ve broken our project up into multiple phases that we’ll tackle once we’re able to save a bit more (I’m lookin’ at you, avocado-colored shower tile!)

My husband and I learned a TON through this process and are so proud of what we accomplished! It’s been so rewarding to have a vision of what it could look like, and then put the work into making that a reality.

Ernie Goes Green

The day before Ernie’s lawn improvement project.
Waiting until the spring to see the full effect, but there was improvement after just one week!

What remodeling project did you undertake and why?

We moved into our current house the year before, and the lawn needed—or I just really wanted to give it—a lot of TLC. The goal was to improve the health and quality of both the soil and the grass so the plan included aerating (pulling plugs from the soil so it can breathe better), adding lime (to give the grass ideal growing conditions), overseeding (to fill in bare spots and introduce high quality seed to the yard), and fertilizing (to give the grass the nutrients it needs)—a pretty basic lawn renovation (a more complex lawn renovation would have involved killing everything off and starting from scratch).

What did you do in order to budget for/save for/pay for this project?

I have a Yard category that we assign $50 to every month, so a lot of what I spent came from what we had available there. Overspent dollars were covered with a surplus we had from the sale of our previous house (the purpose of that surplus was to fund house/yard projects like this one).

The other thing I did was buy some of the supplies (lime, seed, fertilizer) a month before the project so I could spread out the costs over a couple months.

Overall, I spent about $350 on lime, seed, fertilizer, and a 4-hour aerator rental.

Any helpful/specific category groups you set up for this project?

I like to keep things simple, so just the one Yard category under my 🏡 Home group. If I was smart, I would have flagged these transactions or used the memo field so I could easily go back and see exactly what was spent.

What surprised you the most when it came to completing the project?

After being dragged around the yard for a couple hours by that beastly aerator, I told my wife, Christy, that I’m NOT renting one of those again. Next time I’m hiring someone, I don’t care how much it costs! Generally, I always want to do yard work myself, but I guess I’m too out of shape and old for some of these things!

But knowing me and my short memory, I’ll be renting one again sometime within the next couple years. I just love working in my lawn, so it’s more about the time I get to spend outside than the finished project, but it felt really good to give the yard some TLC after the neglect it had endured over the last 20+ years.

Haley’s Bathroom Rehab

Haley’s bathroom went from drab to fab.

What remodeling project did you undertake and why?

My husband and I have been on a lengthy renovation road for nearly two years. (And we still have work to do!) We moved into a house that required work on most of the property, and that scope has certainly felt overwhelming at times. The good news, though, is that not every project is an immediate priority, which has helped maintain our sanity (and budget!) One of the larger projects we took on first was a complete remodel of our bathroom. Why? Well, to us, the bathroom was the least functional (and, to quote myself: “the grossest room in the house”).  Taking on a space that solved an immediate pain point made it the natural choice for project number one.

What did you do in order to budget for/save for/pay for this project?

First, we had a wish list of renovation projects to tackle, but we had to look at that list and think about which projects were the most important for right now. With our focus zeroed in, we started working on our saving plan. To “find the money,” we looked at all the areas of our budget and put every category into question. Were there categories we were able to re-prioritize into our renovation fund? The answer was: yes. At the time, the bathroom renovation was more important to us than our well-cushioned travel fund (thank you pandemic), so we could shift funds and re-prioritize savings goals. We then adjusted our monthly targets accordingly, and looked ahead at expected windfalls and considered whether we could use any of those funds to help us reach our renovation goal.

Any helpful/specific category groups you set up for this project?

I love a simple budget setup that isn’t over-flowing with categories, so we have one “House Projects” category in our primary household budget, and everything went into that. That said, for the sake of planning and keeping a more detailed log of our spending, we created a second budget specifically for this project.

So technically, we tracked our project in two separate budgets (one that fulfilled my need for a streamlined household budget and another that allowed us to go into more detail). In the renovation-specific budget, we organized by “rough phases” and “finish phases,” then broke it out like this:

  • Rough Phases: Framing, Electrical, Plumbing, Insulation, Windows, (and anything structural).
  • Finish Phases: Drywall, Paint, Electrical Fixtures, Plumbing Fixtures, Cabinetry and Hardware, Stone/Tile, Decor, etc.

We also added a category for Unexpected Expenses, and if it’s necessary for your project, consider “Permits.”

What surprised you the most when it came to completing the project?

How long it took to complete! We started the project thinking that our relatively small bathroom would be a speedy-fast project, and boy, oh boy, were we wrong. From waiting for materials and fixtures to arrive to all the nuance and detail that goes into proper plumbing, electrical, and even making sure each tile is placed straight, everything took longer than we had initially planned and expected.

For us, the bathroom renovation brought a level of relaxation and peace that we didn’t have before. This new space felt more like an expression of our taste and creativity and turned an old and tired room into one of our favorite places in the house! So worth it!

Ready to take on a home renovation project of your own? Creating a home renovation budget is the first step towards getting your very own before after house remodel project pics! Check out our project expense tracker and then try YNAB for free for 34-days to build your own budget!

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