After purchasing three homes in Portland in the past 15 years, I have come to a firm conclusion that houses choose us! Not in some mysterious way or anything, but rather, just practically speaking. As a home buyer, we don’t exactly drive around and pick a house off the street that meets our specifications and strike a deal. Often, buyers must submit offers on several houses before a match is found.
1951 - 2017
In May 2017, a house selected my wife Mandy and I as it’s new owners. It was a 1951 two-story house in the Raleigh Park neighborhood of southwest Portland in a beautiful, quiet neighborhood, well beyond what we hoped for, the type of home we actually couldn’t afford.
There is always a catch and in this case, the house had maintained its original floorplan and décor from 1951.
I grew up in a family where we did not hire anyone to help with anything, ever. My parents both worked hard around the house and yard to maintain our three acres in Pleasant Hill, Oregon. My dad could build and fix nearly anything. There was very little my parents couldn’t do.
With this outlook in my mind, my wife and I dove head-first into remodeling our new home. While we didn’t have prior experience with most of the tasks ahead, over-confidence set in and we did it anyway.
Rather than tackle the whole house at once, we decided to focus our efforts (and our cash) on the main floor of 1,100 sq feet. We changed the layout from a small and cramped 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom plan to a more open concept that included a master suite and expanded kitchen, dining and living rooms.
Demo day started out strong! Twenty-eight of our family and friends showed up to help us bash down the walls and kick-off the remodel. Instead of taking it all down in one day like they do on the shows, our demo day turned into a demo month as all the walls were cement board rather than drywall. Those 1950’s homes were built to last! For those who like to keep score, it was house 1… Todd and Mandy 0 and a sure sign that this would take WAY more time and effort than we ever anticipated.
One of the carry over skills from consulting to home improvement is knowing when to call in experts and ask for reinforcements. While we willingly took on the plumbing, electrical and finish work with help from my Dad, Mandy and I had no interest in moving windows, installing drywall, or re-roofing the house. We left that to the professionals.
The biggest challenge
Perhaps the most challenging part of the project was making decisions. Decision fatigue is REAL! From the layout, kitchen design, wall switch placement, shower tile, the list goes on and on (and on). Some days in the middle of the project, all we did was talk about design issues. With plenty of talk, analysis, and contemplation, there was more said and less done. Mandy took on the brunt of this work, but it exhausted us both.
Throughout my life, I have been well aware and accurate with expectations, but I could not have been more ignorant about this project. Everything was TEN times more difficult, and each phase took FOUR times longer than anticipated. Not surprisingly, we spent multiple evenings a week, nearly every weekend and most vacation time for a year and seven months before finally moving in. The saying ‘blood, sweat, and tears’ could not have been truer. It took all three, many times, before moving in.
We were so grateful to my mother-in-law who allowed us to live with her in Tualatin for the duration. We are also indebted to my parents, who camped in our driveway for weeks at a time.
When will it end?
We love how the main floor is coming together, but as most homeowners know, the projects never end. Next up is the backyard patio cover, then a new deck and finally the daylight basement remodel.
Will I ever do this again?
Regrettably, the answer is probably yes, but hopefully nothing like this for many years.
My biggest take-away?
Ambition and hard work go a long way, but I wouldn’t have been successful without the help of key professionals along the way.
About the Author
Todd Kimball is a Partner with CFO Selections and leads the non-profit practice in Oregon and SW Washington. He is also the Accounting Solutions Partners practice leader in Oregon and SW Washington.
Todd is a senior accounting professional with over 15 years of expertise in the non-profit and government sectors. He has a proven track record at tackling the most challenging not-for-profit accounting issues and finding solutions that work and move organizations forward. He excels at creating process efficiencies, motivating and utilizing staff to their full potential, implementing internal controls and providing sound technical expertise.
Learn more about Todd here: www.cfoselections.com/consulting/team/todd-kimball