One Project, Five Years: Then and Now

Five years ago my wife and I took on a major project – we partnered with her parents to invest in a rental property.  Bettina and I decided that we could handle the renovation job pretty much on our own, so we chose to handle the majority of the work and only bring in hired help when necessary.

The renovation included a new kitchen, new bathroom, landscaping, cleaning, some flooring, painting, and many other odds and ends.  The house was on the market as a foreclosure that hadn’t seen any updates since it was built in the 1940’s, so we definitely had our work cut out for us.

We’ve now had the house for five years and we’ve decided it’s time to sell.  So guess what we get to do?  We get to do it all again.  Luckily the kitchen and bathroom don’t need to be remodeled this time, but there is still a great deal of work that needs to be completed.

Time Keeps on Slippin’…

It’s amazing what a difference five years can make.  When we took on the project the first time we were married and “busy”, but this time we also have two toddlers to throw into the mix.  Five years ago we started the project at a time when I was laid off for the season and Bettina had set hours that she worked.  We were involved in other activities, but it was nothing we couldn’t step away from for a brief time.  So we were able to give as much time as we wanted to this project.  We were able to set goals that seemed unrealistic, but we were still able to meet them.

Overall we wanted the project done in two months, and that’s what we did.  This time we have four days between the time our previous renter left and the time the house will be listed for sale.  We agonized to come up with a plan to actually complete everything in that time since we both have work and kids that are taking our time.  The project isn’t horribly difficult, but with our change in situation we are finding it harder to get things done well and quickly.

Where are We Now?

We have completed day 2 of 4 and we’ve made solid progress, but we still don’t know how we will get done by the deadline.  We know that we will, but we just aren’t sure how it’s going to happen.  It seems that each time we start to make progress we have to take a break to get the kids home or to get ourselves to work.  This makes it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel without fearing it’s a freight train at full steam.

The Difference, The Experience, The Blessing

This time around the project is different in so many ways.  There is a ton of uncertainty and even some fear.  We are creating and sharing new memories with our little ones.  We know just how far the house is from where it used to be, because we did the work to get it there just five years ago.  And we simply don’t have the luxury of time.

Yet we are still confident that we can complete the project to our standards and within the allotted time.  While doing so we are able to hear our oldest ask, “Where can I clean?” and see our youngest walk over and pick up a broom and then start sweeping the floor.  We can learn what it’s like to work an entire morning with a 13-month-old on our backs—ok, so only Bettina did that one.  We can encourage each other when frustrations rise, and we can commiserate together when things just won’t go how they’re “supposed” to go.

Each day is this project—both in 2009 and now—we have been able to learn a little something about ourselves and about each other.  And this time we get to learn a little about our girls as well.  I’m enjoying this project again, but I can’t wait until it’s done and the house is sold.  I’m thankful for the memories we’ve had while working this project, and I’ve truly enjoyed my time in that house.  Not every day or every moment has been floating-on-a-cloud fun, but the good has outweighed the bad.  It may take some deep reflection and some funky math, but the good does outweigh the bad in this one.

Ultimately, this was an investment property, but we may not make our money back.  Nonetheless this has still been an investment property for me, because I have gained numerous intangibles like memories and experiences (but it would still be nice to make our monetary investment back).  I hope that future projects, no matter what size, are able to provide me with similar value throughout my life.

I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s journey through my brain.  Check back Friday for another dose of weekly ridiculousness with my new Top 5 list.

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One thought on “One Project, Five Years: Then and Now

  1. Jeff, I love reading your blog. I have learned so much more about you since you7 started this. I am so proud of you. Love, Mom

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