Budget Basement Reno Rundown!

Download PDF

Woohoo! I am proud to report that my basement renovation is finally, totally, completely, almost done. There are just a couple of minor repairs (shaving off a door that can’t clear the new, plushy, cushy, awesome carpet and repairing a leaky toilet) and then hanging some pictures on the walls when my photo prints arrive in the mail.

I am even prouder to report that it came in … over time and over budget! Not a surprise, but thankfully the overruns were not too extreme. Continue reading Budget Basement Reno Rundown!

Basement-in-Progress Update

Download PDF

I have been working my butt off recently on my mini basement renovation. So far, so good, but like many projects there are more moving pieces than I had included in my initial budget-and-agenda list. I suspect I may end up over my budgetary goal of $4,000, but I’m feeling confident that everything (so far, at least!) is worth it and that I’m making the most of my pennies.

The biggest ticket item is much-needed new carpet. I went the high end route from Home Depot — just under $2,000 including installation and removal of the old narsty stuff — and it should be here next week. What the duck, you can’t schedule installation until the carpet arrives at the installer warehouse, even when you know there’s a scheduled date, so who knows when it will actually be in, but hopefully soon.

I have to move out all furniture and wall decorations for the installation, so it’s a bit like a giant game of tetris. I’m trying to buy furnishings on Craigslist as I find good deals (and I’ve got some good ones!), but I can’t acquire too much because it all has to fit in the non-carpeted kitchen while the work gets done. I’m trying to balance that with the goal of getting it totally done as soon as possible after the carpet install, with a hoped-for-but-unlikely move-in date of October 1. Last-minute moving is going to be a physical and intellectual challenge!

In terms of the heavy-lifting work, I’ve been doing a lot of painting. A LOT of painting. So much I’m starting to think the t is superfluous and it should just be called paining. . . . Even the walls and ceilings I thought were OK start to look dingier the more time I spend staring at them (a lot, apparently) and I’ve created various blemishes of my own as I do things like removing ugly-butt track lighting from 1996, or buying $5 chairs on Craigslist that need 14 coats of spray paint. (Also, turns out I don’t know how to spray paint — hooray for learning new skills the hard way?) I keep reassuring my back, neck, and wrists that it’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK, right?

Next up is some minor electrical work (repairing a loose outlet box, replacing the one hard-wired light fixture in an awkward “window” between the kitchen and living room), prayers for no major plumbing needs, making art for the walls, and almost-final furnishing acquisitions.

I’ve also put out some short-term lease feelers on Craigslist, but since I don’t know a certain ready date or budget, I’m wary to commit to too much. I’ve gotten several responses to my first ad a couple of weeks ago, so I’m thinking I’ll start again soon with a new posting, but it’s hard to motivate without final pictures . . .  it turns out I seem to be most excited about final pictures! Here are some in-progress gems:


icky things, like carpet
sexy things, like carpet
safety things, like electricity
safety things, like electricity
minimal-skillzy things, like peel and stick flooring
minimal-skillzy things, like peel and stick flooring
and adorbsy things, like these finds from Goodwill
and adorbsy things, like these finds from Goodwill



A Short-Term Rental Experiment

Download PDF

Three years ago I moved to Seattle and bought a house. For someone accustomed to tiny New York City studios and one-bedroom apartments, it’s HUGE — three bedrooms plus a separate two-bedroom basement apartment. (By normal standards, it’s normal — your typical Seattle 1902 pre-craftsman.)

I immediately rented one of the bedrooms upstairs to a dear friend of mine from grad school, Roomie Pie, and the basement apartment to two 30-something students at a nearby university. Roomie Pie is still around (yay!) and the students just decided to move out after graduating at the end of August.

I appreciate having the extra income, but I also love having more people around — an entire house of any size is way too much for just one person! But, feeling like I could never be so lucky to find as great tenants again, I’ve decided to take a risk and try a new experiment: update the apartment, furnish it, and try renting it out as a short-term rental. I live near several hospitals so I’m hoping to appeal to travel nurses, residents, or other professionals who might be in town for a few months at a time. I might also try AirBnB, though I’m reluctant to take on the work involved in weekly laundry and cleaning … need to make sure I can keep my lazy habits lazy!

I’m in the process of fixing it up, including new paint, lighting, and carpet (which I had hoped to avoid but was unquestionably necessary, thanks to an initial poor quality install and various rips, snags, and stains). My budget for everything is $4,000 and I’m hoping I’ll be able to make that up in a year — worst case scenario, if it doesn’t work, I’ll go back to a long-term tenant and hope for the best. In the meantime, I’m scouring Craigslist and Goodwill to see what gems I might find, and nurturing my back that’s already sore from too much painting.

There are some serious design challenges — low ceilings and poor lighting are the most obvious — as well as some great aspects, like several closets and a huge kitchen. I’m excited to see how it turns out — stay tuned!

Some “before” pics:

P1070255 (1) P1070259P1070260

P1070258 (2)