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‘First Time Fixer’ Reveals a No-Brainer Secret To Save $3K Renovating a House

Magnolia Network

Many new homeowners don’t have the money to hire pros to renovate their home—but Magnolia Network’s “First Time Fixer” proves that the DIY option doesn’t have to be a total disaster, either.

In the Season 3 episode “Doing Homework,” dance teacher Erica and her boyfriend, Pat, who teaches physical education, have bought their first house together in Wantagh, NY, for $550,000. They want to update their home, even though neither one has experience with renovation.

“The most I’ve ever done, home improvement-wise, was paint moldings,” Pat admits.

Still, the two educators are determined to do their own home renovation.

“As teachers, we push our kids to do things outside of their comfort zones, to make mistakes, to try to go after it,” Erica says. “So, I feel like it’s only right that we do the same thing.”

By handling certain portions of this renovation themselves, they spend only $68,000 in total. Even better, the work gets finished in the short 3.5 months these homeowners have before school starts. And at the end of it all, Pat gets down on one knee and proposes to Erica, too.

Clearly this renovation proves this couple is meant to be!

The couple’s DIY home renovation led to a marriage proposal!

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Read on to learn where Erica and Pat spend their renovation dollars, as well as where they save. Their adventures might inspire you to dabble in a bit more DIY projects around the house, too.

Knock down walls for an open layout

“Throughout the main floor, as of right now, it’s very boxy, very closed off,” Erica says before renovations. She explains that they want to remove the kitchen wall and create a more open space.

“The kitchen is not terrible,” Erica says. “If it were up to Pat, we could be living just like this. It is a nice kitchen; it’s just not what we envisioned. We want it to be completely opened.”

brown kitchen
Before: This kitchen was in good shape, but it looked a little dated.

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They end up taking down the kitchen wall and removing the old cabinets with help from friends. They call in the experts when it’s time to install cabinets.

While it’s clear that Pat and Erica can’t do every bit of their renovation, they do a great job planning to take the dividing wall down and brightening up this dated kitchen with light, bright cabinets. This smart strategy helps this modestly sized home feel big and bright.

open kitchen
The kitchen looks new and open.

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A large living room may be worth sacrificing a bedroom (or two)

bedroom
This home originally had four bedrooms.

Magnolia Network

Erica and Pat take down a wall beside the stairs, opening up the two first-floor bedrooms and creating a new, large living room.

While removing two rooms may seem like it’s bad for the property’s value, the new larger living space makes this home feel much more like a place that’s perfect for entertaining—ideal for this young couple.

living room
Now, the home has a large living room.

Magnolia Network

New stair risers add a modern touch

stair risers
The black risers make this staircase look more modern.

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This staircase is the first thing people see when walking in the front door, so Pat and Erica want to update the feature. They switch out the turned-wood railings with a simpler, more modern design, then paint the risers.

“We were talking about whether we want to do white or black, went back and forth,” Pat says. “So I made the executive decision and decided we’re going to go black. I’m going to try it out, and if we don’t like it, we’ll fix it.”

They both end up loving the black paint, making this an easy, meaningful upgrade. The dark color modernizes the staircase, giving it a fresh look without costing too much.

Vinyl plank flooring looks like hardwood for half the price

carpet
Erica and Pat hoped there would be wood flooring under the carpet.

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Upstairs, Erica and Pat want to remove the carpet and, hopefully, uncover gorgeous hardwood.

“If you look down here, we see that there is wood floor underneath,” Erica says, looking under the carpet. “Hopefully it’s not like this little patch is wood and then the rest is plywood, because that would be horrific.”

vinyl floors
Vinyl flooring looks great in this space.

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While they do find wood flooring under the carpet, half the room also has tile on top, which damaged the wood, making it difficult to refinish the floors.

“I don’t think we are going to be able to just sand them, because they are in pretty bad shape,” Erica says.

Still, they also don’t want to install new hardwood floors, knowing they can be pricey. These homeowners end up installing vinyl planks themselves, and while this proves to be hard work, the end result is beautiful. With new, light vinyl flooring, the bedroom looks like a high-end suite.

These floors are a beautiful upgrade that saved Erica and Pat a pretty penny.

DIY painting can save tons of money

painting wall
Pat and his mom, Gia, paint a bedroom.

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Pat and Erica are doing this renovation to save money, and one of the ways homeowners can easily save is by doing their own painting.

“Because we’re spending most of our money in the kitchen, we need to save as much as possible,” Pat says. “So painting on our own is, to me, a no-brainer.”

Pat enlists the help of his mom, Gia, and by painting interior walls themselves, they save $3,000.

For complicated upgrades, call in the pros

bedroom
This bedroom was large.

Magnolia Network

While Erica and Pat do much of the renovation themselves, Erica’s parents gift the young couple with a new closet in the bedroom.

“They actually brought someone in to start the closet upstairs, so we can really just focus on the floors and we don’t have to stress about how we’re going to get the closet done,” Erica says.

mirrored closet
This mirrored closet adds value to the main bedroom.

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When they buy the house, the main bedroom does have a closet, but it’s clearly too small for two people. The couple decide to open up the closet themselves, but they leave it to the professionals to build the new walls to create one big closet that carries to the other side of the room.

It’s clear calling in the professionals was the right choice. With mirrored doors and built-in storage, this new closet is a big upgrade and proof that hiring experts paid off.

The post ‘First Time Fixer’ Reveals a No-Brainer Secret To Save $3K Renovating a House appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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