From cracked paint to flooded basements, reno with kids, and managing finances – we are answering your questions! Don’t miss this fixer upper house Q&A with Zach and Ahna as we spill all the details from the last 10 years.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- How we got started with home renovation
- The difference between flipping and fixing up your home
- All the nitty gritty financial details (what we did wrong and what we did right!
- What we profited on each house
- The house project that nearly ended our marriage
- Our favorite home reno projects
- Tips to home renovation projects with kids
- What’s next?
- Before and After Vintage Victorian Kitchen Renovation: https://hammersnhugs.com/diy-kitchen-renovation-budget/
- Before and After Vintage Victorian Family Room Renovation: https://hammersnhugs.com/vintage-victorian-family-room-renovation/
CONNECT WITH US:
- Website: http://www.hammersnhugs.com
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/AhnaFulmerHammersNHugs
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ahna_hammersnhugs/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hammersnhugs
Enter your email below for daily inspiration to empower holistic wellness and reclaim a healthy heart and happy home – one imperfect day at a time.
As they got older, we were really intentional about teaching them what the tools were for how you used them. I know we bought like the little play tool set and so they’d have their little drill and sit there going ye into whatever project I was working on. They’d work with me. And I enjoyed that.
Welcome to the imperfectly empowered podcast with DIY healthy lifestyle blogger on a former empowering you to transform your life. One imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host. Anna Fuller today is a super fun episode. My husband, Zach and I are answering your questions that you submitted about our fixer upper journey.
For the last 10 years in case you do not know our story, Zach and I have been renovating the homes that we lived in. It started as a side hustle. It became a huge part of our story and our family life. Over the last 10 years, we have renovated all three homes that we lived in, made a significant profit on all three.
And we are sharing details of the numbers, the nitty gritty details that people don’t like to talk about, how we managed finances. Did we do it? Well, the answer is no, not initially. We share our mistakes. Things that hopefully will help you not make the same mistake, but also encourage you that mistakes happen.
You learn from them, right? Failures can all be turned into lessons learned. We share all those details. What we did with the profit on each house, what we put into them. How we maximized that money in and money out, things that we would’ve done differently. Some actual renovation, mistakes, how we renovated with kids.
We actually gave life to and raised several children in these processes as well. We share so much more, including an uplifting word of encouragement. Supernatural story that happened, that led us to the rental house that we are currently in as we wait. For our dream property and kind of see all this work come to fruition.
If you need a little bit of encouragement, divine inspiration, that the impossible is possible with a divine creator, who cares about your story, all the details of it, and wants to be involved in your life and make himself known, hang tight to the end. Cuz I share a story that’s near and dear to my heart, what it meant to me, to my kids, to us and why.
We are ultimately here today because of it meet my husband, Zach though, this is the first time Zach has been on the podcast. Hello? Hey, Anna, it’s kinda excited to finally be on it. I know his buddies were just here for the weekend and they were making fun of me. They what’d your what Brandon say his favorite part is when I start slamming you on the podcast.
Yeah, Tim, Tim, Tim said he just looks forward of me. Yeah. Tim telling me to get my, get my act together. yeah. Get off your butt. Well, the one thing that my husband is not is lazy as you will very quickly figure out during this conversation. So for everyone listening and watching. What we did is we had, or I had followers and listeners submit questions.
What do you want to know about our fixer upper journey? For those of you who are not aware of it in like a super speed version? The bottom line is over the last 10 years, we have renovated three homes as a side hustle, to be clear, this was not our job. We were not. Fixer upper influencers, if you will.
That was not what we did for a living. For those of you that don’t know, Zach is a computer programming teacher and also a football coach. He’s my nerdy Jack and I for 10 years, worked in the emergency department, was a nurse practitioner. I have now stepped away from bedside medicine and doing this blogging, virtual coaching and podcasting world full time, which I.
But for 10 years, we renovated the homes that we lived in and we’re going to talk about that. And we did it with kids and all the things, and basically that’s where we are today, which is now in a rental home waiting to find our dream property to build our forever home. So that is what instigated where we’re at right now.
We’re finally, really finally at the finish line, I would argue light is at the end of the tunnel. So this episode is all about our fixer upper adventures and answering your questions that you submitted. And the first one was simply, how did you get started? Where did it even begin? How did you get into this world, Zach?
You wanna take that one? Uh, let’s started when we were moving back to back home, uh, after our daughter was born, we’d finished master’s degrees at Hopkins, and we were looking for a place to live and a lot of the things that were in our price range needed work. We happened upon one that needed a little bit more work than I think we, we anticipated, but the Victorian, the first house, but we enjoyed doing it.
And you add a talent or well enjoyed is a strong word for that first house. I’m trying to make it sound good. Is a strong word. I, yeah, so he’s. That was basically, I like to say we were energy rich, but cash poor. So the bottom line is when we got back from Baltimore, we moved back R was like 11 months old and we decided that a good investment to try our hand at was a home.
It just seemed like a good use of what little money we did have and to be clear, people, you know, always have questions about the financial aspect and they’re scared to. Ask because for whatever reason, people get real uptight talking about money in my world. So, you know, for the duration of this episode, I see money as a vehicle, not a destination, it’s just a tool.
It’s not the end goal. It’s never the end goal, at least not in my mind. And so I’m going to share some of the nitty gritty details of the finances, because this is, this is an essential piece to stuff like this. And nobody talks about it. No one shares with you like the messy backstory and how you got to where you are.
So I am. Totally open to talking about that. I wish somebody had talked to me about it really 10 years ago. So to be clear, to even buy this house again, I had paid my way through my second master. Zach had very little debt, but we did not have 20% down for our first house. So we had a very generous. Loan, if you will, from family members.
And the idea is we were able to then set up an eight year payment plan and we paid them back over eight years with interest. So it was, you know, making money for them, but it also enabled us to make our first investment on our home. So that is how realistically we even got our first home, our very first fixer upper.
It was an old Victorian. That is how we got started. Why did we keep going? The simple answer is. When we sold that Victorian, two years later, we took home a nice paycheck and we were like, you know what? Enjoy again, is a very strong word. That first house, um, could have been a deal breaker in marriage for a lot of couples.
It very nearly was probably first we learned, we learned a lot we learned a lot about each other. Lot. a lot. One of the next questions was you usually live in the flip for a few years before selling. So to tie all this together, each of our homes, we did live in for two to three years, because if you buy a house, renovate it and then resell it for more, you will pay capital gains tax on the profit if it’s less than two years.
So we lived in these for two to three years. Prior to reselling in order to avoid capital gains, that’s basically a much higher percentage that you would pay on that profit, cuz it’s basically income. It’s like a paycheck to yourself. Just we lived in, we lived in construction zones for a long time. I mean construction zones now, again, to be specific with the degree of construction that we did in a lot of these houses.
The first two, we actually moved in with my parents for several months. We’ve literally lived with my parents in and out so many times. like, what if they have ever guessed? When I graduated from high school, that I would be moving back in with them, with my family, several times, Caleb was conceived in my bedroom.
Hashtag real talk TMI. how uncomfortable was that kinda Bobcat didn’t know it was that kinda podcast. It is that this episode is like, I’m telling you we who would’ve guessed. Let’s just put it that way. And my mom’s gonna now like decontaminate my old bedroom. Maybe my dad will . Anyway, the bottom line is we moved back in with them several times while, I mean, we gutted like.
The third one, we ended up, we stayed in our second house while we were doing some of the renovations and did a bridge loan. But for the first two, we totally gutted them. So we had to live somewhere else before we could actually start. One of the other questions was how much did you save up before starting your first flip?
I kind of answered that we had next to nothing saved up and then we used our income to actually do the renovations. And this is where. We learned a lot. We did not manage the finances. Well, especially with that first one part of it is I primarily did the finances for us. That was just, I don’t know how we landed in that or why.
I primarily did them, but I grew up in a very financially responsible home and I was never necessarily given like financial planning type of principles. And again, in my mind, money is a vehicle, not a destination. So I was like, yeah, I’ll put this on the credit card. Like, I’ll pay it off. Eventually. I’m not worried about it.
Like we’ll make money on this down the road. And. And so I didn’t have quite the respect for debt that I should have. We were in credit card debt pretty much the entire time we lived at that first house. Wouldn’t you say? I think that’s pretty accurate. Yeah. For a lot of it. I think for the majority, I don’t think, I think for the majority of the time I had a balance on our credit card and this was due to several things.
One, I did see it as an investment. It didn’t scare me. Like it probably should have to have credit card debt. I was like, oh, when we sell it, like, we’ll make money. I’m not worried about this interest. We did make money, but I should have had a healthier respect probably for the debt aspect. Part of it was, I was impatient.
I struggled with being able to live in the mess. I wanted a project done. This was really hard for me. People like Don. It’s so easy when you’re on social media and people see like what you’re currently doing to be like, how does she like deal with that? She just must be so, you know, okay. With like dust everywhere and mess everywhere where I am today is not where I was 10 years ago.
Like Zach can contest that. I very much agree with that. There were, there were some, uh, nights at the Victorian where I was up still standing drywall at two o’clock in the morning, having to teach school the next day and thinking about how much I love my wife. I love my wife. I love my wife. I do love my wife.
Um, cause that project just had to get done. Yeah, like I STR and some of it was like, I probably legit have a little degree of OCD. I clinically I’ve never been diagnosed, but it’s certainly never been incapacitating, but definitely like a degree of anxiety feeling like this project has to get completed.
It just needs to be finished. I need to close the loop here. It was really hard for me to leave. Projects open until we had the finances to get them done. So I wanted them done in real time. And that also was partly what you know, added to the credit card debt. So I think that’s tip number one is be willing to take your time with the project.
Do the financial planning, get the numbers always get multiple bids. No less than three bids per project. Certainly we DIYed a lot of it, but that took me a long time. The second house, I was better, the third house, we were never in credit card debt, the second house, maybe for the first year, but I did much, much better think it was just at the beginning when we had all the big projects.
Right. Or what the heavy hitters right away. Yeah. Yeah. So I made. Again, all about and perfectly empowering progress here. And the reality is I did not do it well with the first house. Now, that being said, we did still profit significantly on the first house. Maybe not as much had we just had, I been more patient and not run up the interest on our credit card, but.
Really quick. I just wanna, I wrote this out for you. So people understand, like, what is the benefit? How do the numbers actually break down when you buy these houses and then roll them over? And what is. What is the benefit to it? So we bought the Victorian for 130,000, right? Zach, I think it was 130,000.
That’s crazy. Can you imagine right now in this market, not get like a garage for that crazy. That is crazy. Actually. I’m now just thinking about that. That’s insane. Yeah. We bought this including the basement. It would’ve been 3000 square feet. It was pretty rundown though. It was rundown, but still 130 grand.
Anyway, we bought it for 130 grand. We sold it for 2 25. These are estimated numbers. It’s obviously been a long time, but these are the numbers that we had, roughly. Those are, those are right. No, those two numbers, but what I’m about to say, we invested approximately 50 grand. We profited 45. So you have to remember when you look at those numbers.
So that’s the difference, right? That’s $95,000. That’s the difference between buying it for one 30 and then selling it for 2 25. So that difference is 95,000. We put into the house 50 grand between we, between projects and selling. Oh, we did selling for this house and things like that. Oh, we did so much in the house.
I mean, the heating, the, there was so much, we converted tons of stuff in that house, so, but we profited 45,000, however, We were cut a check for like 120,000. So you have to remember, we put 20% down. So when you actually then go to closing, we were given a check for one 20, but here’s where that money then goes to 50 K then went to the next house, our second fixer upper.
So we rolled 50,000 of that right into that’s the down. That was the down payment. It took more than that for projects and things like that. Right. So we took 50,000 of. For the 20% down because Zach tell everyone, why do you want 20% down in a house? I won’t, as I not gonna assume people know this, why do you want 20% down?
You don’t have to pay mortgage insurance then. So the mortgage companies and to protect themselves when they have certain percentage of investment in a house, they actually charge an insurance, an extra cost every month. Until you get it have paid off a certain percent. It basically protects them. So we did 20% down with, with every house.
So we, we immediately took 50 K and put it into the 20% down payment for the second fixer upper specifically, how we did that. We did a bridge loan, the bridge loan enabled us to take the 50,000 out of our. Prior to actually selling it. The interest, the extra costs were incredibly minimal to be able to capitalize on this second house that we really wanted.
It was an incredible buy. It was a foreclosure. The basement flooded when we went through it, we were like, we want this house. We’re so strange. Most people are like the basement flooded and you, you bid higher for it. We were like, um, Absolutely. Yeah. Basically what happened is the basement flooded superior wall system meant no water could get out.
It is, it’s a great like advertisement for the superior wall system. However, the basement superior wall system is actually meant to not let water in, but it also didn’t let water out a pipe broke in this foreclosure, flooded the house. It was like Titanic in the basement. And then the bank, cuz it was bank owned.
It was a foreclosure paid to have the entire basement thousand square feet sanitized brand new. Oh my gosh. What was it? That brand new electric panel, furnace furnace, water heater, electric panel. And then they gutted it down to the walls and. Like cleaned and sanitized everything. Yeah. So we had a blank, we had a blank late and new mechanicals.
Yep. So we basically bid 5,000 more than what they were asking because you know, full well, all of that was worth well more well over 5,000 and we got it. So anyways, we jumped on that. It was definitely worth the little bit of interest in a bridge loan between the first and second houses. But for those of you wanting to know logistics, that’s how we did it.
So then 50,000 went to the 20% down on that foreclosure, but here’s what else that we did. We wiped out all car debt with that first check that we were cut. We only had two kids at this point but that was the first thing that we did is we wiped. Card debt first, cuz car debt is just dead money. I mean, it’s there’s you can’t write anything off for taxes.
There’s no investment opportunity. So I don’t exactly remember how much we actually put in to wiping out car debt. And then we put some to Zach had a little bit of college debt. I saw undergrad. Yeah, my graduate school would be mostly paid for, but I had some undergrad debt. Yeah. I think we wiped out a fair portion of your undergrad.
We did debt and then left a tiny bit for renovations. So you think about all those numbers? We actually put next to nothing in savings, like looking at our bank account at that time. Like, you’d been like, wait, where did it all go? But here’s the thing we paid out off this debt and all the interest we would’ve paid on the debt.
So it was a long term investment. So that was our second house. That was one to two. The second house we bought for two 20 sold for three 20. We profited this was actually the one we profited the least on. We profited 40 K. And again, got a check again. Remember, you know, the check that you’re actually. Cut is also including the 20% that you put into it and whatever you paid off while you lived there.
So then again, same thing. We rolled this money into 20% into the third fixer upper. Unfortunately, in this time we needed to buy a van that really isn’t unfortunate. I said that wrong. We had Lily, which is. By no means unfortunate. She is, the cutest little bundle you’ve ever seen. She is an adventure and we love her for it.
She came in that second house and so we had to buy a van and upgrade since we had three kids. So a large chunk of that again, went to wiping out our van debt and, and. I have been asked before, like, do you wish you had put more into savings? And again, if you actually break down the numbers, the numbers don’t lie.
The amount of money that we have saved in paying off car debt alone is thousands. Yeah. I don’t think we’ve made, I don’t think we’ve made an interest payment on a card in 10 sets. Since the first house since the first house. I don’t think so. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t think so either. So that’s thousands and thousands of dollars.
I would argue we could not have made the money by saving that we would have by saving the debt. If that makes sense. So paying off car debt is. Always, always a win. We wiped out all of Zach’s college debt, selling the second house and put a portion of it to the only student debt that I had left was from my second masters.
Cuz apparently I just couldn’t stop going to school. . So I have two masters. Zach’s actually wrapping up his second masters as well, but all of are paid for second, second. One’s done. That’s true. You’re just almost done with classes. I have still taking some more, another cert. Yeah. For those of you who are teachers put it this way.
He’s M plus 60 already. He’s been pounding out school. So anyways, bottom line wiped out all of Zach’s college debt selling the second one. Put a portion of it to my second masters. And again, put neck very little in savings. Again, we’re just like consolidating debt with the sale of every house, 20% into the third fixer upper.
The one that we just sold. Talk about a seller’s market. We bought this house for 2 0 9, this third one, and sold it for 360. I’ll let you do the math there, but so the bottom , there’s so much math so much. Didn’t wanna do that in the fly. No, I didn’t. And I did not write it down. I’m not doing it on the fly.
We, um, we actually invested the least into the third one and thanks to the sellers market profited the most that money. We we’ll talk about this in a little bit, the thought process into what we were going to do next. We wrestled with it a lot, Zach and I probably had the biggest fight of our. Having this discussion and it just, God worked in amazing ways.
But the bottom line is we rolled the profit into a CD. People have asked me like, you know, did you do an investment? Or we had really good advice from our financial advisor that because we could need it in three months, we could need it in a year. We just don’t know when we’ll find the property that we want.
So a CD was guaranteed. Interest guaranteed growth. And in theory, you’re not getting penalized as long as it’s in for at least three months. So it is in ACD. And then of course our adoption and now we’re just saving, saving, saving, and we have next to no debt except for a little bit left on my second masters, which at this moment I am choosing, we have a short term goal.
We are ready to accomplish. I’m leaving that little bit sit, cuz we want as much as we can for when the property comes up so that we are ready. We will talk about that in a second, but let’s address what has been the most challenging aspect of fixing up houses? This was asked by several people, Zach. Most challenging aspect was I think our different approaches to it, especially with the first house, like, like learning yours was wrong and mine was right.
no, that’s one of the things we talked about. Just kidding. Just, um, no, you, you mentioned marriage counseling, you mentioned it a little bit earlier. About how in your mind this was the project and it just needed to be done. And in my mind, it was, I was gonna go put in a lot of work and whatever got done that day got done.
And then I wanted to go home and I wanted to sleep. But the problem was, especially at that point, when we really didn’t know a whole lot about what we were doing, and it was 140 year old house where nothing was straight or square. Projects took longer. So you guys said just to give a sense of what he’s saying, when we talk about level or square, just to give you a perspective when we installed the kitchen in the Victorian, if you’re looking so again, you guys can go to the blog and you can see all of these fixed rappers that we’re talking about.
You can literally Google Victorian kitchen, and you will see this kitchen that we’re talking about. Looking at the kitchen from the dining. Oh, I hear our children. Huh? No respect for the podcasting world. So when you look at this kitchen in the Victorian from left to right the grade, like the slope of it was literally, it was inches different.
Do you remember how many inches it was different from left to? Right. I don’t remember exactly, but it was, it was two inches. And then that was, that was the skinny, uh, cuz it was a long skinny kitchen and that was the shorter distance where grandpa and I were putting that in. We, we like had a two by four at one point at the back just to try and get, let two by four on the floor.
Not just shims, we needed more than that to try and get it level for the countertop. Yeah. I mean it like literally nothing was level. And then the walls to do any type of like crown molding or baseboards or anything like nothing was 90 degrees used. It was, and this is where we started. This is the first one that we started.
Oh, Yeah, do your best. And then caulk the rest you live by seriously said every home renovator known to mankind. Love me. Some CA I can work some magic with caulk, no lie. I can work some magic with caul really, really quick hack. Let me tell you the list right now is if you’ve got this massive space, you take like a shim or a piece of something as like a backboard, tack it in with a Brad nail.
So that there’s some sort of backing in this hole, and then you basically just take your caught gun and you go over it, let it dry, go over it again, let it dry. And it creates. Yeah. And, and for example, we had to do that at the Victorian house on some of the crown molding, not in a corner, so many or any place like that, but we had to do it cuz it was old.
It was the old horsehair plaster, uh, and laughed behind it. But even just in a flat run across the wall, if you were to stand underneath it, the wall waved in spots. So the flat crown molding, there were spots on the ceiling or against the wall where there was just a gap. Cause the wall was the wall or the ceiling waved
Um, and so we had to try and fill that it was, yeah, it was a learning experience. And I feel like one of the differences too, that came out for us, that we had to deal with. And this is very true to our personalities is I would look at something and be like, we can do. We can make this work and Zach would just see it and instantly like, see all of the, this is not going to work and be like, this is not happening.
This will not work where I would say, ah, we’ll figure it out as we go. And he wanted like all of the. You know, plan lined up and I’m like, nah, we’ll figure it out as we go. So we also had to come to some sort of balance where I would have more willingness to listen to why he didn’t think it would work.
and then you, I mean, in fairness, you also have learned to trust me, like it is hard there’s because he initially had a hard time seeing what wasn’t there. That’s true. And it’s really hard to know how to like. Put what you see in your head into words. And so sometimes for me, it just came out like, let’s just do it where in my head, like there really was kind of a plan, but it was all visual and inside here.
And I couldn’t put it, you know, into like a graphic that he could understand. I think there’s a lot of couples like that. What would you say to that? No. I agree. I agree. That’s definitely something I’ve learned is that like, when you walk in and say, well, if we take this wall out and we move this here and we hang this here and we do this and, and finish it with this, it’s gonna look great.
And I would go what say what all I see is plaster falling off the wall. But then when we look would look at a project, you had that picture in your head and you said, this is what we’re gonna do. It’s gonna be great. And for me, I saw, well, that means we have to do this and we have to do this. And this job is gonna be terrible and that’s gonna take forever and this is gonna be expensive.
And we found a balance between the two, um, as not right away. Uh, there were some projects. That I pushed back on a lot that didn’t end up being very bad and looked great. And there were some projects that we ended up doing that were a complete disaster, and I spent more time undoing them, like all of your tech and you’re not bitter at all.
Uh, only about that paint only about that textured, whatever that was. That one, I will be bitter. That was the first I’m gonna take that one to my grave. that was also the first house. Oh yeah, that was you put on a. Wanted to give like a textured paint. I just didn’t want, like, it’s an old Victorian house. I wanted to give this faux plaster.
Look, I didn’t want it to just be what was y’all know that paint BOS me, paint alone, bores me. So I need something in my life. Some texture, some dimension. So I wanted to give an old world look to this house, but I had no idea what I was doing well. And so she decided she would test it in a small area. And for her, the small area was the entire hallway and she put it on and I don’t remember if it was something didn’t work, right.
Or didn’t we didn’t use the right something. Wasn’t right. So it, there was something about the oil. It had something to do with the primer that we used. There was something with the oil and the latex. I don’t re even remember what the situation was, but, but it, it cracked, it looked like, you know, like the salt flats that you see is just cracked and spidered everywhere.
So I had pictures of it are on the blog. If you Google the living room in the Victorian. Yeah. . And so after she put that up, I then spent several days scraping it all off. not like the one small, like three foot by three foot test area you would do to make sure it worked no the entire hallway. And so she did that and then we did some research and thought we figured out, put down a different base layer.
And so she said, well, I’ll do it again. I went to a different spot that was slightly smaller, the front wall by the front door and it cut cracked and did that all again. So for the second time I had to spend days. Scraping that off by hand, tiny little chunk in time. Ah, my mind now you understand why, and now you understand why I’m taking that to my grade.
it’s so funny. Cause I asked him like, what was the worst? And that was not the one I thought he was going to say of all of the terrible projects. So you really do have some bitterness. You might need some therapy for that one. The fact that you’ve held. Held onto that one. That’s not what I thought you were.
Well, there’s a, we’ve had some there’s other projects. There’s other projects that are just dirty and not fun, but had to be done or, or, you know, there’s no other way around it. Or we just saved thousands of dollars by doing it ourselves. But that one was one that so unnecessary is that’s what irritated you about it?
You have tried it all worried. You will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy you once enjoyed. Want to achieve bat loss without spending hours in a gym or eliminating entire food groups from your diet. Well, now you can, in the virtual faster way to fat loss with Anna, my six week fitness nutrition program, you will learn how to pair effective 30 minute workouts with all natural evidence based nutritional strategies to leverage what you eat.
And when you eat to reset your metabolism and burn fat fast, even that stubborn belly. I am a dual certified nurse practitioner, passionate about teaching sustainable strategies to promote fat loss and prevent disease. I have cheered on thousands of clients who have done just that with the faster weight program in my six week program, the average client currently sheds seven inches of body fat.
93% report, more energy and 89% state that their mental health has improved 100% of clients report. They feel this program is sustainable. Curious to try the program, but not sure if the strategies will work for you. Try the faster way strategies for free head to www.hammersandhugs.com and sign up for.
Free seven day fat loss accelerator course today and start your own transformation story. Well, we are back wardrobe, change shocker for whatever reason we lost power during that interview. So here we are on a positive note, I’m having a much better hair day today. So we’re counting on many blessings we were talking about the most challenging aspect of.
Fixing up houses. And Zach had been talking about the idea of communicating and it took us a little while to learn how to take our personalities and then communicate them a little bit better in terms of projects and expectations. Cetera. We talked about finances being a challenge. I mentioned some of that and certainly time.
Challenging aspect as well. The other thing I had written down to answer this question was also just lack of knowledge and resources. We had a lot of help on the first one with family. Tools just knowing what tools we needed. We did the most ridiculous projects with the wrong tools. We’ve talked about this before a while ago, we did an Instagram interview and we talked about it.
But bottom line, one of the most memorable ones is we tried to install crown molding in this Victorian with a circular saw. No lie, Zach, our marriage may or may not have been on the brink of disaster after that project, but it did get done. And I used my caulking magic. So let’s talk about the more positive aspects.
Another question. What was the most rewarding project or the project that you were most proud of? We’ve also mentioned this before, too, but. I like talking about the happy things, the things that we are proud of, Zach what’s the project you’re most proud of, of all of our houses, probably just the, each of the basements in the last two houses that we did.
Cause it was a blank slate. Something that the house, the living area, the house didn’t have. And we were able to turn it in some pretty cool. Pretty cool places to hang out to hosts, to watch TV, whatever it would be. You know, those two basements turned out really well. And I have to give Zach credit with the, I still remember this cuz it was like light bulb, such a great idea in our second house, the basement that we redid.
I remember when we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do underneath the stairs. And I had this plan of creating a bar sink across from the eight foot island that we. With the most amazing cabinetry company li and cabinets throw them out there. They’re a wholesaler. I’ve used them many times.
Lily and cabinets. Absolutely amazing. I’ll make sure the link is in the description or the show notes. You can see tons of pictures from our kitchens that I used Lily and cabinetry. 60% less. Uh, anyway, they’re amazing. I’ll do a whole different podcast on Lilian cabinets, but underneath the stairs of the second fixer upper basement, I wanted to put a bar sink and Zach said, why don’t you instead of doing the typical two feet, why don’t we actually make the countertop go the whole way?
To the back, because for those of you that don’t know stairs are more like 32 to 36 inches wide. So what was really cool is that enabled me, then I did that stone backdrop and it gave a really cool dimension in the basement, but pushing it, the Hoy back to the wall was this guy’s idea. So kudos every once in a while.
I have a good idea. Yeah, he does. It’s. It is true. We’ve learned to listen to each other. So mine is not shockingly. My, my kitchens, the first house actually is still probably the one I’m the most proud of because I had never done anything like it before. I mean, when I look back and I think I really didn’t botch that first kitchen design considering I had never designed a kitchen before, I actually felt pretty proud of myself.
And it was actually what sold the house as well. Kind of the. Crown and glory, I would say of that first fixer effort. So that was really, I think what I was most proud of my very favorite room though, just aesthetically speaking, without a doubt is the view of the breakfast nook of our third house. The one that we just sold and the brick that we did there with the reclaimed Douglas fir wood table that I designed, which has its own story to it.
But anyway, I really, really loved the look there. So that’s probably the overall room that I’m most proud of in terms of the aesthetic look. That was another one of my, yes, what’s that? So that was another one of my ideas getting the brick to go step down. Yeah, well that one kind of came. Yeah, you did mention that.
That was something we had both noticed. I think, incidentally, I think I just didn’t want to do an entire, another role of brick by that point. no, well, it was some, I remember that, cause it was something that we were both noticing at the same time when we were installing the brick, it was naturally going in a like descending, stepwise pattern and kind of at the same time, we were both looking at being like, oh, I really like that.
And then you were mentioning, well, we could just leave it like that. So it was kind of one of those. Coincidental. Oh, less brick that we have to install. And it, it gave, again a really nice dimension to the room. So basements kitchens, I guess those are kind of our specialty. Now at this point where I had the question, where do you get your design ideas from the then versus now, if it has changed, I, my brain really.
Ironically, I actually probably scour Pinterest now more for ideas than I did for any of our three house renovations. I didn’t have any social media when we did our first house zero. I had no idea what Pinterest even involved. I knew it was a thing, but I had never been on it. And, um, I didn’t have any social media at all, including Pinterest.
Until we were done renovating the second house. So truly, and honestly the ideas just come from my brain for good or for bad. I will own them both now, actually, in terms of building a house. I have gotten more ideas from other sources than I ever have. And Pinterest is one. I also, um, I know my style. I love the French country style.
I’m looking right now at, to shelf where I have probably two dozen. Books on the French country style, some written by French authors of homes. I have flagged so many pages because I really want an authentic French country. Look despite the fact that it’ll be a new build. So books and Pinterest for when we build the previous three, my own brain.
Uh, Zach’s answer it literally says on our cheat sheet here from Anna either from Anna or a design idea, because I think it will take less work than the original idea. trying to be efficient. So from my brain or Zach’s efficient brain uh, another question we got, how do you do it all with kids? This is a really, really good question.
And I have had this conversation multiple times over the last 10 years with peers, with friends, because people have a really hard time moving forward with projects when they feel like, well, I need to have something to do for my kids. I’ve heard this so many times. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard this and truthfully.
You just need to learn how to do projects with your kids. I mean, we literally, I was using power tools with a newborn around, and that sounds like eyebrows raised don’t make any calls yet because you can safely do it. You have to have the right setup in place. And. I know, for example, with, with really young kids, actually, who aren’t mobile, it’s easier, right?
You can strap them in, make sure that they are safe. That’s actually a little bit easier. And then you move them in their little rocker to wherever you need them to go. Actually, the hardest age is the crawling age. I would argue the crawling to when they’re first walking. That we had to be a lot more careful about what we were doing.
We still did projects. The difference is we timed power tool use. For example, especially if there was sharp blades involved or painting to when that child was either not in the room. One of us was in a different room with them. Sometimes we got babysitting. In that first house, we had a lot of help. We were living with my parents.
So, and we only had Gracie for the majority of their renovations, but for the next two houses, we did the bulk of that with them, with us, as they got older, we were really, really intentional about teaching them what the tools were for how you used them, what you absolutely did not touch. I mean, I don’t believe in luck.
I’m not gonna knock on wood, but we’ve not had one injury, which is truly shocking for either of us, for any of us. It’s more shocking that I haven’t hurt myself, but yeah, I mean, it really, it really is kind of amazing that we have not had a significant injury considering the boards and the nails and just the amount of chaos.
Well, I was always, I was. Was really careful because I knew that if I cut myself that you had a suture kid at home, but nothing to numb it with. So you would’ve just told me to like, bite about and stitch it up and , or thank you. Why run into the ER, when I can do it here, that was one of the things I was really good at yet.
I did not wanna be a patient that’s actually probably one of the only things I miss about the year. I, I really loved suturing. That’s a little weird. A little bit. Yeah. Yep. I loved procedures. I love suturing. Anyway. He’s absolutely right. Suck it up. Yeah. One, I mean, Zach mentioned some of the other things that we would do.
We always unplug, well, Zach was better at this than me actually always unplugging like Mir saws. Circular saws things always got unplugged things. The safety always got put on or got set outta reach, you know, locking a blade down or taking it out of like a jigsaw or a chop saw. But then as far as just working with kids, I can remember plenty of times giving a container of fasteners of some sort to one of the kids and their job was to hand it to me.
And yeah, it might slow down a little bit cause I could just go grab a handful myself, but. At this point, they were, they were working with me, just hand me one when I needed it or to hand me the tools at one point, I know we bought, or my, some somebody else bought for our kids, like the little play tool set.
Yep. And so they’d have their little drill and sit there going ye into the whatever project I was working on or a little saw that they’d go against it. So they’d work, work with me and I enjoyed. Yeah. And again, I think it’s creating age appropriate ways for them to be involved. The biggest downside. And I think this is what makes a lot of people pause and they keep putting off and procrastinating their project because they don’t feel like they can do it with their kids around.
Is it slows you down? Mm-hmm it slows you down, but in my mind, here’s the thing. Practically speaking, you look at the time standpoint. Okay. It slows you down, but you get it done versus you don’t get it done for. A crazy amount of time, simply because you don’t feel like doing it with kids. So I guess you have to weigh the pros and the cons, but the reality is start teaching your kids how to be around power tools, how to be around mess and projects and involve them.
There’s so many benefits to being able to do stuff with your kids. There’s teaching moments. I still remember our third fixer upper. We had this whole wall that we needed to knock down and. This was like the whole family was involved. We had all the kids with us and we gave Gracie a hammer and we said, go at it.
and she would’ve been age appropriate. She would’ve been what? I think seven, it was three years ago. So yeah, probably around seven. And she hit her finger. It’s like the only time I can actually remember a kid really hitting, hitting their finger with a hammer, even. And I remember she had her tears, we wrapped it in a bandaid and she said, mommy, I wanna keep going.
Like something so simple, but it was that whole concept speaking into, get it girl, like you hit your finger that hurt you, learned your lesson. How not to hold it and keep going. Caleb. I think we gave a hammer for all of one minute before we confiscated it. Not quite as ready for tools at that age education.
Empowering them to understand the process, to be involved, making sure it’s age appropriate, not being afraid of the mess, not being afraid of the messy process. We let our kids paint. So paint gets on them, make sure they’re wearing paint clothes. No big deal. Pink gets all over their face. You just take it off, you know, with a paint remover, won’t kill them, but it allows them to be part of the process and allows you to get the job done.
Any other tip Zach like practical things that I’m not thinking of? I think we covered a lot of them. It’s getting them involved in whatever way they can, even if it’s just holding. Screw. And, and to be clear, depending on the age, we did put a show on for them. We distracted them with shows. If they were not able to be involved in a safe manner, we absolutely did distract them.
The shows you do what you need to do, but just get it done. Just start it and get it done. Don’t use your kids being around as an excuse to not get it done. We kind of addressed this already. I, I had somebody ask what are a MIS what is a mistake you made? Throughout your house, flipping journey. We’ve chatted about that kind of many mistakes that we’ve made the finances, the using the wrong tools.
Communication. Do you plan to continue doing this? And would you consider becoming the next flipping reality TV show? I actually have been asked that more than you would think. I can still remember. I had a physician coworker every time she saw me, every time I consulted her and she’d come down and she’d be like, ask the future Joanna Gaines.
I’m like, oh Lord, that sounds so stressful. My life looks so stressful. they’re amazing. But, oh man, we have considered a degree of what we’re doing. In various shapes and forms many, many times. I mean, how many times Zach have we talked about, do we do this full time? Like, do we go into flipping house, like buying up homes and flipping and selling?
I also wanna clarify something really quick. We did not flip homes. This is kind of getting into semantics, but we renovated the homes we lived in. It is different, a true house flipper, you buy it, you are putting in budget. Everything is budget and as simple as possible while still maintaining quality and inspections, passing all of that.
But then you wanna get rid of it right away. If that is actually what you’re doing. And you’re flipping, it’s very different than what we did. We renovated while we lived in, we were not technically flipping, but we can, there were investment homes, but it’s just a difference in time. The time scale and the, and some of the decisions you make in, in yeah.
The projects you do as well. For sure. Again, flipping as a job looks very different than what, what we did like to truly flip a house. I would not put in nearly the amount of very, very, you know, minute detail that I was putting into the three homes that we lived in. So just to be clear, those are two different things.
We’ve also considered being landlords, like getting into the rental business. There’s so many. Options to buy like a fixer upper house, and then you put some sweat equity into it in maybe 10 grand, and then you get it. Reappraised you get money out of it. Then you put it on the market as a rental. I mean, there’s so many incredible ways to leverage this world and do really, really well.
But we have decided after this third house, and it took us a long time to figure out what our next steps were going to be after this. But we decided we want to focus on actually fulfilling our dreams and what we have been working toward for the last 10 years. At some point you have to like set aside the, well, we can make more money doing this.
So why wouldn’t we? And at some point you just have to invest in your dream, even if it is not like the most financially profitable thing to do. At some point you have to live, right? Not just work. Zach’s smiling. I’m preaching to the choir here, the choir being. I have nothing to say to that one. smart man.
Smart man. And so anyway, all that to say for right now, no, our goal is to work on our own individual goals that we have professionally. But from the house standpoint, we are in this rental. Which is like living in our own storage unit. The house is lovely, but we’re basically living amongst all of our stuff, crammed in any corner we can find and waiting for property to build on that is our next priority.
After that we will see, but I will have my hands full. So that leads into the next question. When are you going to build? I’ve also had several people ask, are you going to contract the build yourself or how are you approaching the house? Build. So there’s a lot of different options is the bottom line. We are willing to buy a property with a house on it and then deconstruct the house and build on top of it.
So basically totally renovate the existing house on the property. If we happen to find raw land that we can build on, that’s probably the ideal scenario, but we’re just playing it by ear one step at a time. But we have seen God work in really amazing ways through this. Fun house journey that has been, become a, a huge part of our story.
That was really just kind of meant as a, as a side hustle. And I just wanna share this, this one story quick as an example of how one Jesus is real. And he works in our life and he hears our prayers. Hallelujah. Amen. But just how the impossible really is possible when you believe that there is a sovereign divine Lord of the universe, and also that we are human and don’t be fooled by social media, Zach and I also fight and don’t have the perfect relationship.
So real quick, I, I just wanna end with this because. Really, I find it highly encouraging and it’s also real life, but we sat and had multiple discussions about what to do after our third house. The seller’s market was going crazy and we knew we didn’t wanna stay in this house. This was an investment. And so we were trying to figure out, do we sell.
And capitalize on the fact that we sell it. Do we, if we do sell it, do we rent? Do we buy a rental, fix up rental rent from ourselves and then rent that out. Once we find property anyways, Zach, talk a little bit about the different discussions and what that looked like, figuring out what we were gonna do next.
Yeah. Like you alluded to, there were a number of different paths we could. Moving right into a forever property. If it came up, I think your dad wanted us to move back in with them just so we could have the grandkids in the house again. that was probably brought up as an option. Uh I’m sure. I think he brought that up.
Uh, but yeah, what was, what went the most sense? Financially to be responsible there, but also not wanting to kind of start another crazy flip again. Yeah. Just trying to balance all of those things while still working towards our more short term goal of building. I mean, you and I. Didn’t see eye to eye at first and it’s like everything.
I mean, we talk about this so many times, like we’re fighting about this and then as like the argument continues and the conversation Andras you realize what you’re really arguing about is this like, things that have been going on for a long time, that all your fights end up being about this, but this is what brought it up type of a thing.
So it’s like, I don’t know how many arguments do we have to have before we were like, you know what. We’re saying the same thing, basically slash yeah. We can have more conversations about this at a, at another time type of a thing when we’re not arguing about the same thing over and over again. But eventually we did come to an agreement that we were going to do a rental.
It made sense. We met the financial advisor. We wanted to rent a house, but here was the problem. We wanted different things. And this is where we would get like real caught up in the details. Because for me, it was like, I don’t care if I have a big backyard. It’s temporary, it’s a rental. I want the space inside the house where we live.
Zach felt really strongly. He wanted a backyard that he could be doing stuff with the kids. Gracie. And Caleb were desperate to stay at the current school that they were in. And so it kind of got to the point where I was like, you know what? We need to pray because one, I have not seen a rental in not just to mention in our town, but for this particular school in like six months, not to mention one that has a yard one that has a house big enough, that I won’t go absolutely insane in.
And. Anyway. So I started encouraging Gracie and Caleb, but Gracie, especially she’s a little bit older on Wednesdays when I would pick my kids up from school. And I would go to pick up Lily, our youngest at my mom’s house. It was like a 15 minute drive. And so we got into the habit of praying and talking to Jesus just about things that they were struggling with at school or, you know, things that I was praying about.
And I said, let’s start praying specifically that God provides our dream rental. So grace was praying these really specific things. We want a yard. We want a big enough house that mommy doesn’t go crazy. I wanna stay at my school. And then one day this was kind of funny. Gracie came back and she’s like, I love my neighbors.
I don’t wanna move out of our neighborhood. And I’m like, Bring it to Jesus , I’m like, I’m really putting a fleece blanket out here, Lord, but it’d be so amazing if you would speak to my daughter’s heart in this way and just show her how much you care and you hear her and you’re real, and we will give you all the glory for it.
Which is what I’m trying to do right now, because low and behold, it was not too much longer. Later when we miraculously made this discovery with the family from church, they had a house they were considering putting up for rent. Not only was it in our neighborhood, it has a backyard, probably bigger than the one that we had before.
The house also actually was bigger than the one that we had before. And the timing worked. Absolutely perfectly. We were able to start the week before our house actually sold and we closed. We are so grateful for our landlords and they’ve now become friends. Anyway, listen. be impossible as possible when you believe that there is a divine God who cares about your story and is actively wanting to be a part of your life.
So it was really, really sweet. Now Gracie’s asking Jesus for everything. She’s like, I want this, I want this. And it’s not quite the way that it works. but anyway, the bottom line is. We are trusting that he will continue to write this story. We are excited for the next steps. We are incredibly grateful.
We’ve made a lot of mistakes, but we’ve learned from them. We, we made progress through the years and I’m sure we’ll make mistakes in the building process as well. To answer the question, are we contracting it out ourselves or are we hiring. Again, as is typical. It’s not all or nothing. My, my plan, my hope.
I have a, a, um, builder in mind. I’ve not officially met with them yet, so I won’t throw out the names, but they’ve been recommended to us by some of our favorite contractors that we’ve used. The plan is to basically pay somebody, to do everything from breaking ground to dried in. Meaning I would take over once, like the drywall is up.
Plumbing has all been roughed in electric has been run and then take over the contracting from there, basically all the finishing stuff like installing the cabinets and the trim and stuff that we’re very, very comfortable with. And I’ve worked with a lot of people and would probably be able to save thousands of dollars, not to mention so much fun material for hammers and hugs.
right. Zach should getting his head. Right, babe. Aren’t you excited about that? I can’t wait. He’s thrilled. Actually, we really can’t wait. We’re very, very excited. The property has been a dream of ours for many years. So that’s priority number. What did I miss Zach? It was perfect.
it was perfectly imperfect. That’s us. Well, babe. Thanks for doing this Q and a with me. If you guys have any other questions, feel free to drop them in the comments. You can certainly message me if you have any questions, but just get ready. We will be so excited when that property comes and there will be lots of fun material coming.
On its way, have a great day. Thanks for listening to this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I would love to hear your thoughts from today. Head to your preferred podcasting platform and give the show an honest review and let me know what you think. Remember, you cannot be redefined only redeveloped one imperfect day at a time.
Your story matters and you are loved.