Mr. Gaunt and I recently decided to do some upgrades to our bathroom. Which is tiny folks, 3′ x 7′ (not including the tub), but it was just gross, and it annoyed me, and I was sick of looking at the gross flooring, and sick of leaning against the ghetto pedestal sink that was all wobbly, and wasn’t even big enough to hold a soap dispenser! Mr. Gaunt has been doing a lot of wedding DJing this summer, so we had a little extra cash. We had wanted to take a vacation this fall, but because he also has a new job, and no time off, that wont be happening. So we decided to go ahead and upgrade our tiny bathroom. Even though we probably could have spent a little more, we decided to put a $200 budget on this project. Well, with a few surprises, and some upgraded shelves, the project came out to be closer to $250, which is still SO cheap for a bathroom reno. Cheap however, is still more than a lot of people are willing to put into their rental. People are always surprised that we don’t own our house, because we have put a fair amount of work into it. Some of the work we have been compensated for (like if something broke) and some things (like the washer and dryer we bought) will come with us when we leave. But there have been a lot of cosmetic changes that we were not reimbursed for, so I thought I would explain why we think its OK to invest in someone else’s home.
5 Reasons Why We Put Money Into Our Rental
1. WE WONT BE BUYING FOR A LONG TIME: This is obviously the biggie. We don’t plan to buy a home for AT LEAST 2-5 more years. We don’t have the money to afford what we want (20oo-ish Square Feet in Bellingham), so we have made our long-term home in this rental. We are super lucky that our landlords really don’t care what we do. We don’t even ask them before we paint, or do anything. When we moved in, this house was in bad shape, so we have only improved it! We also have a long-term verbal lease, basically my landlords called me one day and asked “so do you think you guys will be around for a while” and I said “yeah, until you let us buy this house” which was met with a “lol, ok good because there’s a line waiting for it if you ever leave”. So yeah, of course they could decide to be jerks and up and kick us out, but let’s be real here, we BOTH have a good thing going here. So the point is, yes, of course we would love to be fixing up our own home, but until then, we are cool with fixing up our temporary home. Also if we one day we did decide to buy this house (if our landlords let us) look how much work we have already done!
2. ITS AN INVESTMENT IN OUR QUALITY OF LIFE: Some people are savers and some people are spenders. Some people are planners and some people are do’ers. We don’t go on vacations very often, but we have no problem dropping a little money to fix up our yard, buy some new patio furniture, because home is our vacation. When we are home we like to relax and hang out and enjoy our time together. The nicer our home is, the happier we are. Painting every room, replacing appliances, and faucets, and building closets. Laying patios, and repairing grass, all of these things make our home that much more enjoyable. A vacation lasts a week at best, a nice home is there 365 days a year.
3. ITS GOOD PRACTICE: One day we will own a home (God willing) and we will have so much experience with DIY projects and budgeting! Things we have learned through trial and error in this home will help us fix up our future home even nicer. If we sat in this house for 5 years and never did a damn thing, why would we think we could up and buy a home and fix it up? When you are learning to drive you practice on your parents car, if we all waited until we had our OWN car to practice on, we would never learn. So this is our practice home.
4. KEEPS THE LANDLORD/TENANT RELATIONSHIP HAPPY: We have a sweet deal. We pay $250 less a month than market rental rate. In the 3.5 years we have lived here we have never had to sign a lease, and our landlords have never asked to come over. When we moved in they had all new windows put in, a new furnace, a new roof and the exterior painted, and a new driveway laid. Once a year they have an HVAC person come in and check the furnace and replace filters. We live in one of the best family neighborhoods in Bellingham, many people would be quick to swoop in and pay hundreds more a month to rent this place. We are also good to our landlords. We keep the yard mowed and have landscaped it. We pay our rent on time, we ask very little from them. We contacted our landlords in the spring about replacing our back fence. We offered to do the labor for free if we could take the materials off the rent. They came over to assess the fence and commented on how nice the house was and how nice the back yard was, they agreed to our fence terms (which we haven’t gotten around to doing, maybe in September). So we all win. They have dream tenants, and we have sweet easy rental. There are many rental situations that would not make sense to do updates in, like a short term rental, or a property management type situation.
5. IT GIVES ME PURPOSE AND PRIDE: I love our home, and I love to do home projects. It keeps me entertained, it helps keep boredom at bay, and provides hours of entertainment. It also is something I can proud of, which I struggle with sometimes. My home is a good representation of me. Making DREAM HOME boards on Pinterest only goes so far, some time you have to put your money where your pin is. (;
So that my friends is why we are happy to put money into our rental. Onto the bathroom project!
Here are some (kinda crappy, its such a small space!) before & after photos. Please note the following issues:
-Pedestal sink was not attached to the wall (and the wall was all rough and yucky), as well as was not properly attached to the base. Just a hot mess of nasty wobbly-ness. It also could not safely hold a soap dispenser, nor anything else.
-Garbage can out in the open. My baby likes to eat trash, enough said.
-Toilet in need of a new wax ring (you can’t see this)
-Flooring hideous and horrible to get clean
-Shelving and art behind toilet was off center, unfinished, and left little to be desired.
-Crappy Storage for toilet paper, cleaners, and plunger (again my baby likes to lick plungers)
BREAKDOWN OF WHAT WE DID:
$30.00 – Flooring. We replaced our yucky sheet vinyl with Peel and Stick tiles. They are affordable and come in neutral colors, and are way easier than tile. If I owned, I would have probably done real tile, but not in a rental. This we easy enough for me to install, some trial and error, but not too bad. I may do my laundry room and kitchen this winter.
$124.00 – Vanity Cabinet. We bought this Special Buy Glacier Bay stock cabinet with top and integrated sink, plus medicine cabinet (that wouldnt fit between the lights). This is cheap stock cabinetry, but I actually like the way it looks and it doesn’t feel too cheap. We bought the floor model, so they knocked off $25, which made it super affordable. Removing the pedestal was tricky, and part of it had to be broken. Installing the plumbing was easy, but we have a slight leak that I will need to fix with some putty this week.
$30.00 – Shelves. We bought these White 24″ Floating shelves, that are cheap and super easy to install. They are also a little deeper for holding baskets with toilet paper. All the accessories and art we put in the bathroom we had around the house.
$7.50 – Knobs. We replaced the stock Oil Rubbed Bronze knobs on the vanity, and the old knob on the wall cabinet with these chrome geometric ones. We have a few chrom details that we didnt want to replace (faucet, mirror, towel rack, lights) so this helped tie that finish in.
$25.00 – Shower Curtain. This was a little splurge that I thought would change the room a lot. I decided NOT to paint the bathroom, so replacing the shower curtain helped finish the look. This soft neutral curtain is really nice. It lets light in, and it matches the geometric pattern of the knobs. It also goes well with the flooring and the cabinet. All earth tones. We kept the Denver curtain, because we love it, and will probably use in a future bathroom.
Other miscellaneous things we bought:
-Kitchen and Bath Caulk in White
-Toilet Wax Ring and Flange
-Plastic Shower Curtain Liner
In total right around $250!