DIY House Addition: Month 12 Wrap-Up

Back when we first broke ground on this house adventure and people would ask when we were going to be done, I’d casually wave a hand in the air, “Oh a year or so.”

Well, we’ve officially passed the year mark and are heading straight into the uncharted territories of Or So.  I’ve already waxed as nostalgic as I’m going to get about all the work we’ve done and progress we’ve made over the last 365 days. What I have to say about the twelfth month of DIYing a house addition is that it comes with a vague sense of dissatisfaction that can best be summed up in this instance as, why do I still live in a garage again?

While there’s been quite a lot of progress, we also reached a bit of a bottleneck with some must-have items we need before we move in. Like doors. And a bathroom floor.

Here’s where we’re at.

Month 12 Progress: Mixed Bag

Since last month I’ve been jumping between tiling, building cabinets, and wrapping my arms around my new working washer and dryer and staying like that for the rest of eternity.

The full bath is just a few standing stones shy of being complete:


That includes doors for the vanity that just need to be painted and attached.


The master bath actually has cabinets in, even though I’m still working on the new doors and drawer-fronts:



And the floor of the master bedroom is in:


I also took the time to put a few “finishing touches” in the bedroom, including trim for the recessed lights and switch plates.



All we need is a couple of doors, some baseboard, and to poly the floor before we can move in. (Well, that and have a working toilet in the house. Priorities.)

The master closet is also just a few shelves away from being finished, which means we’ll be able to both wash our clothes and put them away afterward. I know, who knew laundry could be such scintillating blog material?



Month 12 Injury Report: Do donkey bites count?

I’m pleased to say that with all that progress no one shot a floor nail through their foot or poked somebody else’s eyeball out with a shim. One of my donkeys was trying desperately to get my attention the other day and actually grabbed onto my arm skin instead of my sleeve, so the extent of the injuries this month consist of one donkey tooth shaped bruise on my arm. But who can stay mad at this face?


Month 12 Financial Status: How much my sanity is worth, in actual dollars.

Here’s the answer to that question: One hundred and six thousand, three hundred and seventy-seven dollars. And sixty-five cents.

That is the estimated savings we’ve earned by DIYing (and essentially working second jobs building the house) for the last year.

According to the calculator, which separates material and labor costs for each part of construction, here’s the breakdown of what we saved by DIYing on a house our size:

  • Exterior finishing – $8900
  • Exterior trim – $1500
  • Roofing – $9000
  • Finish carpentry – $7300
  • Interior wall finish – $5000
  • Painting – $9000
  • Wiring – $8000
  • Flooring labor – $9000

Since we were acting as our own general contractor throughout the process, we also saved an additional $57,677.00

As for what we will actually pay for the house, the only loan we took out was to purchase the property and get us started on construction, which was $80,000. Between the cash from selling my old house, tax credits, and the money we’ve been dumping into it is we go (and will continue to do pretty heavily for the next year), our total cash investment will be around $120,000.  While that means we’ll be saving up cash for some big-ticket items like hardwood for the kitchen/great room and appliances, we’re of the mind that it’s better to do without now than be saddled with additional debt later.

Month 12: Lessons Learned

Things we could have done better:

  1. Order in advance, the closer you get to “done”. I mentioned above that we hit a bottleneck with things like tile and interior doors, and there was no reason to wait as long as we did to order them. Things started getting finished fairly quickly over the last couple of months and I think we were surprised how soon we’d be ready for some of those items.
  2. Solid pine and plywood do not stain the same. You may notice the corner shelves in our closet which were made from plywood, stained much darker than the other shelves. Unfortunately we’d already poly-ed the lighter shelves or they would have gotten a second coat.

Things we got right the first time:

  1. DIY baseboard. The baseboard in the closet image above is just 1x pine that we used the router to put a bevel on. Simple, rustic, and $0.40/lf instead of $2.50/lf.
  2. DIY bathroom vanities. I saved a couple grand easy by building the vanity for the full bath and using modified stock cabinets for the master bath. We’ve yet to see the finished result for either, but I think it will be well worth the time spent on them.

Here’s to hoping our Month 13 wrap-up will be written from inside the actual house.

5 Responses

  1. You have done a phenomenal job balancing full-time job, full-time relationship AND building a house. Sometimes life gets in the way of our plans (or we get in the way of our plans), but that doesn’t diminish how incredibly far you’ve come! Take a few deep breaths, and yes, have a glass or two of wine to celebrate this! THEN pick up your list, attack one project at a time and then CHECK IT OFF! You’re going to be done and have an awesome house AND home regardless of the self-imposed timeline that now needs to be adjusted! Cheering you on….maybe will have a glass of wine for you!

  2. What a great job you guys have done. Thank you for sharing the financial picture as well – it is helpful to know what a project like this is worth – in dollars, blood, sweat and tears! Soon, very soon, you will be in the house living like kings and only vaguely remember living in the garage – it will be like a blip on the screen on your life (and a great story to pull out when your future kids whine about some perceived hardship in their life!).

  3. I found your blog thru I love your closet. OMG, so pretty. Wish we had something like that. Oh, and your donkey…to die for!

  4. I just found your blog, this is very inspiring. I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by whether or not I could do somethings myself at our house. Nothing to this degree, but I feel like it’s worth giving it a try now.

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