We bought a very ugly house in a very nice neighborhood because it was significantly cheaper and had many of the requirements we were looking for. The house was located in the Ivanhoe school district, only had a few steps to the front door, a yard that we could enclose for our dog, and an adequate flat yard space for our kids. When we bought the house in 2007, the economy and housing market were still crazy high- we paid $865,000 for our ugly duckling. At 2,175 sq ft, three bathrooms, and five bedrooms the place was huge compared to the other homes we were considering, but even with so many square feet and bathrooms, the place sat on the market for a year and half empty. Apparently at one point there was a sign on the front that said "Buy this house and get a free car!" A group of contractors purchased the place in 2005 for $825,000, did a pathetic remodel (one of the new bathroom doors hit the toilet when you tried to enter the bathroom) and then attempted to flip it, asking $1.1 million initially.
After getting a couple quotes, we picked a contractor- our relator's husband. We weren't sucker's I swear! He was genuinely the best quote. He and his wife purchased, remodelled and then sold several houses themselves. They both offered tons of input and help conceptually. I didn't use an architect. We moved into our house 5 months after we bought it. For the first three months of the remodel I was immensely pregnant, and then our second child was born. I learned most people in the building industry are extremely helpful to very pregnant women! I also learned picking subcontractors myself was a huge mistake, see window section. Other than giving birth and taking caring of kids, I spent the five months thinking, watching, and making decisions about the house. The best decision I made was hiring Geoff as the contractor! And picking out the bath tub . .
The big ticket item for our remodel was new wood casement windows for the whole house, new interior doors, a new french door for the balcony, and a new folding door system for the dining room. The exterior doors and windows came from Taylor Brothers, a great establishment, and the interior doors came from ETO, another great place to work with. I chose Dr. Door to install the windows and exterior doors, with that idea that Geoff could be freed up to work on the rest of the house. Turns out Dr. Door, a supposedly professional window and door installer, SUCKED. Awful on every level imaginable. Geoff ended up spending a giant chunk of time just watching the installation, and then informing that they need to do it over the correct way, again and again. I would have been so screwed if Geoff had not made these jerks do what I was paying them a ridiculous amount of money to do. In hindsight, I should have just deferred everything to Geoff and it would have been done faster, cheaper and better. Much better.
The whole remodel cast around $135,000.
PLease feel free to post any questions about price, vendor locations, and so forth! I am happy to help in anyway I can.