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Old 09-03-2007, 02:24 PM   #1
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any help is needed...

Hello everyone! Me,my husband and my 3 year old daughter are moving into my husbands dads old house. Its very small and was built in the 30's and is pretty worn down. The basement is unfinished and is nothing but cement. The carpet old and ugly. The walls are horrible. It really needs a complete make over. The problem is we dont have a lot of money. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to turn and ugly house into something nice looking and livable on a really small budget? I know I need to repaint everything and would LOVE to do something with the basement. Can someone please help? Any suggestions would be great!:confused1:


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Old 09-05-2007, 03:49 PM   #2
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Well come up with a list of what you think is critical and what is not. Take the list and start doing jobs one at a time, don't rush into anything.

With a small budget it is the only way to go.


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Old 09-12-2007, 07:01 AM   #3
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I live in a 1930's house. I'd put money on there being a wood floor under that carpet. Pull up a corner and see. Even a not so pristine wood floor is better than old carpet. No cost there (and once you see the yuck under an old carpet you will never want one in your house again). Cut it in strips about 4' wide (so the garbage guys will take it) and start rolling it up. Same with the underlay and then pull up any staples and fill any holes with a matching wood filler crayon. You could have it all done in a day or less. If you want the floor sanded and refinished, call around but it will probably be about $2 - $4/sq ft.

Also get rid of any old wallpaper and repair any plaster (an electric hand sander is a big help there) and paint. It's a big job but worth doing. Where the walls are too far gone or you are bored with it all, use a paint glaze to make the walls look old (as if you wanted them to look like that on purpose, no one will know the difference and will think you are very clever to come up with such a cool effect). Again, if you take your time and do it yourself, very low cost. If the walls are just too much, you can also wallpaper with paper that will hide the flaws.

The beauty of small houses is things don't cost much. New cork or laminate in the kitchen will only cost you for 100 sq ft or so (my kitchen in cork cost me $400 and it's gorgeous). You pick things you can do yourself because labour triples the costs. Even peel and stick tiles would get you a new look until you are ready to really get into it and only cost about $150 for decent tiles.

In the bathroom, put up some beadboard to wainscott height (up to 48" which is convenient because it comes precut to that length), paint it, and you have a whole new look that covers wonky walls. That works in kitchens, halls, stairs, you name it. I'm doing my bathroom and materials cost $50.

Find some really good home reno books that show all the basic tools and techniques of fixing things up. There are lots of projects on the Internet you can see. Christmas is coming, start putting books and tools on your list.

Don't worry about the basement right now unless you have some need to use the space for something other than storage or laundry. You'll have enough to do fixing up the main spaces anyway. Those rubber puzzle floor pieces they make for kids to play on can cover a basement floor really fast and cheap and you don't have to worry about moisture. Cheap and cheerful. I saw them in a house when I was buying and they had them on the floor and up the walls in one section of the basement for their kids to play but just as a fast way to add colour, they work. You can also get them in grey now. If the basement floors are reasonable, paint them.

One thing that makes a big difference is lights. Lights on their own are very reasonable, electricians are another matter so if you know someone who knows wiring, see about replacing old lights (although original anything in a house that age is worth money when it comes to restoring a house to original, so keep them around somewhere in case you can use them later). Otherwise, figure out all the electrical you want done (maybe a larger electrical panel because some insurance companies won't cover you if it's under 100 AMP (I paid about $2500 to have mine done last year for that reason) because if you have an electrician there you are going to pay for a min. number of hours and you want to use them fully. Change lights, add outlets so you don't have extension cords everywhere.

With my first old house I had to learn to be patient. I had ideas but had to wait until things went on sale or I had the time/energy. Just as well as by the time I was ready I had changed my mind and had a new idea anyway. Once you live somewhere a while you really do get better ideas for what to do. There are also need to haves and nice to haves. Figure out the need to haves as they can be the expensive things. Then you can figure out how much you can spend on the nice to haves.

With a small child too you will need to allow time. Get one room fixed and take a break (unless that room didn't drive you nuts). Do another room when you feel ready. Nothing goes as fast or easy as they TV shows would like you to believe. If you really want some changes fast, paint. If the walls are icky, still paint but use a flat or matt finish as that doesn't show the imperfections as much. You can always fix them properly later but new paint really changes a place. Special note: if there is original wood trim in that house, unpainted, leave it alone until you have been there a while and are absolutely sure it requires paint. Stuff like that can't be undone as the patina will be removed with the paint so best to be sure.

Maybe you'll learn to love the house like those of us who wouldn't be happy anywhere else. There is some real satisfaction in fixing up an old place to look like no new house can ever look. Great wood, glass door knobs, original wood floors, you name it, it's character that may be worth keeping. It's slowly but surely and before you know it you have a really cute warm little house with some real personality (and if it's like here, worth a lot more than a new build with twice the space).
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