“Let’s buy a fixer-upper.” Says my wife calmly, as though she was telling me we should go get groceries. “A fixer-upper? Why for? We have full time jobs and 3 kids, we don’t have time to be fixing up anything, especially anything that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.” I was not for this insane idea. Then she sat me down and gave me a lesson on the pros of buying cheap and increasing value by fixing up a house that needs a little TLC. “We could build equity then withdraw against it.” She explained. I will be the first to admit, I am not very savvy in money matters but I usually support her fully when she proposes we engage in some financial activity as she has proven she knows what she’s talking about, so I cautiously I agreed but first I had to be schooled by her on the basics of the business. She introduced the BRRR Method to me. No, not the the cold in Winnipeg. Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, that’s what it means.
Real estate was never my thing. My wife on the other hand was passionate about it. She attended information sessions, listened podcasts and followed the successful movers and shakers on social media and excitedly pillow talked me to sleep about it. Watching HGTV was our Netflix-and-chill time.
It was less than a year ago that we waded into the world of real estate investing and purchased a condo that needed no fixing up. It was a turnkey investment and it was more my speed. Buy it rent it and go home. My BRG Method.
Cutting to the chase, last June, we contacted Jesse Carlson from RE/MAX, who was also our agent on the condo purchas and let him know we were ready to start looking at houses again. We looked at some real gems, or should I say pieces of work that made Amie salivate at the prospect of fixing them up but made me cringe. To me, they were ready to be torn down. They needed more than a little TLC and I jokingly asked Jesse what were the implications of buying some of them and setting them alight.
After dragging our poor realtor all over the city from house to condo to house, we were starting to think of packing it in until the following year, but we still had this last house on our list that was a convenient couple of minutes away from our home that Jesse had recommended to us. We were in for quite a surprise, and not the good kind. This house looked as though the previous owner gave it too much TLC and ended up loving it to death! Every square inch of wall was covered with decorative panels and every room had mirrors that would have been the envy of many gyms! We were taken aback, we were aghast. We were dumbfounded. We laughed then but after going home and crunching numbers we decided that for the right price, we could hit our BRRR. We didn’t know what was in store for us. (A picture is worth a thousand words)… (You could also skip the pics and go straight to the video at the end).
We called Jesse and let him know we were ready to put in an offer. No more dragging him around like an unwilling mutt on cold morning walk. Except he was more than willing. In fact I think he enjoyed seeing these storied homes as much as we did. We bought the house! Yayy! High fives all around! Not so fast, let’s see what we faced.
We headed to our new rental property early on possession day, June 26th, armed with a carpenter’s bucket of the necessary tools that we would need or thought we would need for our renovation. We were ready. Well we thought we were.
First order of the day was to sell the half wall partition with the stained glass that separated the living room from the foyer. The buyer was removing it himself while we concentrated on our tasks. After seeing the magnitude of what was to be done, we hired the guy to help us remove the panels that covered every inch of the house. We also borrowed a couple of his tools!
Renovating a fixer-upper like this takes a toll on friendships and relationships. It also takes a toll on your weight! We lost about 20 pounds between us!
I have always stated that I have the best friends. Renovating the rental was proof of this as a few of them dropped in to help us tear down walls, paint, clean up or kept us filled with food and treats! Our real estate agent Jesse and his wife Heather spent an entire day with us and put in a herculean effort that saved us a few days work.
Along the way we found some nostalgic and interesting treasures and interesting alterations that were done to the house. Fortunately we were able to sell some of these cast-offs.
This was literally a house of mirrors! They adorned the walls of every room. We were able to sell most of these also.
I drafted this post after our renovation was completed but was too busy to proofread and published it. It was sitting in my drafts and I figured it was worth sharing. This was a tough project. We ended up doing way more than we expected but we were able to make it worth it in the end. We also have a great family renting the house and we are already feeling the itch to to get our next project! We would like to thank our family and friends who helped to make this project less stressful for us with their help and encouragement.