5 Things You Need to Know About Buying a “Reno”

At the beginning of December, Theo and I bought a house. We moved in just four days after we bought it. The house was built in the 60s and we bought it from the couple that built it. The house was also decorated in the 70s, so it had a lot of aesthetic work to be done.

So for the past month we have been living in a renovation (otherwise known as a ‘reno’). Here are five thing that I have learned so far:

1. You will hate it.

We walked through the house, we put in an offer, and then all of a sudden it was ours. I pictured it in my head, and thought of all the ways I could decorate or rearrange furniture. But when we turned our brand new key in the lock and opened the door, it was completely different than I had pictured. Smaller. Messier. Less easy to work with.

I cried.

I cried a lot in the first week or so that we owned the house. I was convinced that we had just made the worst decision in the world, and that I would be spending the next 30 years (or however long it takes to pay it off) regretting this decision.

2. You will always pay more than you budgeted for

It doesn’t matter how much you budget for. It doesn’t matter if you budget and then double your budget. You will always find something that costs more money than you expected. It might be an extra wall that needs to be cut down, or a mold problem in the basement, or that the ‘new’ hardwood floors need to be sanded, or that the ‘free carpet installation’ actually means ‘the first two feet free, and then we charge per inch’.

No, but seriously. Just learn to do your research, read the fine print and decide where you will cut your losses (leave the wall up, or shell out some moola).

3. Each ‘fix’ will uncover at least 3 problems

This one kind of goes along with the budget one. You might think that your kitchen faucet needs to be fixed, but when you take the faucet off, you discover that not only does the faucet need to be replaced, but also the piping and then the well that you get your water from.

Haha. Hopefully it’s not that extreme, but you always need to remember that there are also unseen fixes, and they usually get uncovered when you are fixing something else.

For example yesterday Theo decided to knock down a wall. It’s an interior wall, but it used to be an exterior wall. Usually an interior wall is just drywall, maybe some insulation. Nope. Not this one. Theo cuts off the paneling, and then pushes through a layer of drywall. Behind the drywall is insulation. Behind the insulation is some weird wood siding. Behind the wood siding is more insulation. And on and on it goes.

4. You will probably fight with your spouse/significant other/family

I read in a renovation magazine that 26% of people who buy a reno get divorced!

I know…you think that your marriage is wonderful and it can stand the test of anything, and a renovation sounds like a piece of cake. Well, let me tell you…you will fight. And argue. Remember how I explained above that I hated the house at first? Well, Theo has loved it from the  get-go. There you have argument #1, when tensions and emotions are already high. Second, think of my 2nd and 3rd point…budgets, finances. I want a particular kitchen faucet, but it turns out that replacing that faucet leads to sooooooo much more. It’s dissapointing, it’s frustrating, it’s stressful. I don’t know about your marriage, but in my marriage, all those things often lead to disagreements or arguments.

Then add all the opinions of HOW the house should be renovated or decorated. Paint our bedroom PURPLE? Cue disagreement. BUDGET for painting the BATHTUB? Cue disagreement. Buying a MIRROR in that room? Cue disagreement.

It’s possible to live in a renovation and work on a renovation and have harmony in a marriage…but it does take work. It takes communication, it takes listening to different opinions. It takes agreement and prayer and mutual decisions made as a couple.

5. You probably won’t get featured in a magazine

When I found out that we were buying a renovation, I checked out all the house renovation and decoration magazines from the library. It has been super helpful as they give me lots of great ideas and inspiration. However, I got a little carried away and figured it would be EASY to get myself into one of those magazines.

Ha. It’s not as easy as it looks.

So, while it may very well be possible to get yourself into a magazine, don’t count on it. Just get inspiration from those magazines (and Pinterest), and do your job well. It will be worth it.




Oh, and I think I will add in just one more bonus thing:

6. You will love it.

You get to make your house a home. 

Your great disdain for the house will soon morph into pride, pleasure and comfort as your projects get finished up. Not only do you get to choose what and how to renovate and decorate your house, but you also get to put the elbow grease into it, and enjoy the finished product. You get to know every nook and cranny of your home, and you get to take great pride in the entire house.


So, while buying a renovation is not for the faint of heart….I think that it is worth it.


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