Emily Dillinger and her husband, David, purchased a house in historic Cherry a couple of years ago, not knowing they’d be doing a full-on fixer upper.
“Once we did the inspection, there was a lot wrong with it,” Emily said. “It was a pretty heavy project — we gutted it.” But luckily this wasn’t the first time they’ve done a home renovation.
“I think we’re slightly crazy,” Emily said. “Our first home was a foreclosure without a kitchen. My husband and I have a vision; we always find ourselves in project houses.”
Project scope: The Dillingers re-mastered the kitchen, added a bedroom, bathroom, dining and laundry room — taking it from 1,000 to 1,600 square feet.
Resale value: Emily said she and David worked with Realtor/Brokers Cackie Morrow who helped them make renovation decisions based on return on investment — would the project increase the resale value of the home or set them back?
Loan: “We financed a big portion of the renovation through a renovation refinance loan, based on equity we would put into the house,”Emily shared. “It was coordinated through a local lender, Krissy Oxidine with DHL Mortgage, and she helped us with a lot of options – whether it was looking into a HELOC or this renovation loan.”
Contractor: Emily and David interviewed 10 contractors. They ended up going with Paul Kowalski Builders, who Emily said wasn’t the most or least expensive — but the one they trusted most. Emily said any reno project is going to go over budget, so for them, they needed a contractor who’d be willing to let them do some of the work themselves to save money without compromising their vision. Emily suggests paying attention to the contractors communication style, because house projects always bring big surprises (usually with big price tags) and you need someone who’s up front and honest about that.
Do it yourself: The Dillingers saved money by doing a lot of the work themselves. David has a background with carpentry which definitely came in handy, but Emily said if you’re willing to try sourcing or even scheduling installs on your own, you can save a lot of money. For their house, they installed semi-custom kitchen cabinets, laid tile, and rolled up their sleeves whenever they could.
Enough with the project’s background, here’s a look at the before and after.