I’ve Never Lived in a Finished House

The rush to prepare the house to sell has begun, and I am again starting to feel the crunch as we realize we have quite a bit about the house that’s been left undone that now must be finished quickly. This is my third rodeo, and Ed’s second, of selling a house and having to scramble to “finish” the house. At least we aren’t facing having to find a new house at the same time. However, I’m thinking finding our boat is going to be just as difficult….

We have two major projects we need to attend to, and probably 100 smaller ones, before we list our house for sale. First, we need to repaint the garage, and second, we need to remodel the second floor. Exterior painting season is limited in Portland, so Ed and I have been slowly (but surely) removing most of the old paint on the garage for the past couple of months. We think we will be done with that step in about a week or so.

Our house is 90 years old, the paint on the garage is in terrible shape, and no doubt has lead on it somewhere. Hiring painters to do the removal would have been insanely expensive because of required lead testing and mitigation. We decided to bite the bullet and just do the removal ourselves–one cedar shake at a time. Because of our concern with leaded paint, we can’t sand it off; we are scraping it off with the help of a heat gun which is painfully time consuming. We have also been taking care to capture and properly dispose of the paint as we go.

Ed scraping off 90 years worth of paint.

We will soon be hiring painters to paint the garage to give the house some curb appeal when we sell.

We’ve also contracted with a general contractor to remodel the second floor for a few reasons. First, the stairs and floor are quite old and need repair and replacing, otherwise the house would just scream “project!” to a potential buyer. That’s never good for the bottom line. Second, the upstairs has a sort of hodge-podge of additions that don’t flow together very well which need re-configuring to use the space better. Third, because of the additions that have happened over the years, two of the five bedrooms don’t have closets, thus, we cannot legally list them as bedrooms. Again, bad for the bottom line. Finally, because of the age of the house, we have no master suite which is generally a turn-off for buyers. The reconfiguration will allow us to build a master suite, and add closets to two bedrooms, but at the expense of the smallest bedroom. In the end, we will have a 4/3 house that is updated almost entirely. After we got the bid for the work, I consulted with a real estate broker who assured us we would recoup the cost of the remodel, and maybe even add value. It’s full steam ahead with work due to start in early September.

Now, I have to keep reminding myself that every decision we make must first make economic sense. No costly personal touches allowed!! This is soooo hard for me because house remodeling and interior decorating is something I REALLY enjoy doing. It’s hard to let go of many of the creative ideas I had for our home. It’s also hard to realize that it soon will not be our home anymore. Selling a house where you’ve raised your kids is never easy. Life is richer, however, through experiences, not things, and I just have to remind myself that getting rid of the things will allow us to have more experiences. I am attached to my people, not my house. My house just serves as a reminder of my people attachments. I think our photos will do just as well to preserve the memories and are much cheaper to maintain!

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