How we Fixer Upper’ed our house on a budget (part 1)

Have you ever wanted to renovate your house on a budget? Earlier this year Emily and I bought a house near Waco, TX and renovated every square foot of it! From replacing the flooring to tearing out some walls, we did so much we could have filmed a show for Fixer Upper (also in Waco, TX)!

According to, the average cost of a house (multiple room) remodel is about $35,000. I’m going to walk you through how we renovated OUR ENTIRE HOUSE for only $25,000! If you’re considering doing some house renovations, you’ll definitely want to keep reading! I’ll show you how we renovated the house we bought into our dream home!




The basics

Our total out of pocket renovation cost: ~ $25,000

How much other people would have paid for the same renovation: ~ $35,000

Total Saving: ~ $10,000

Renovation time: ~ 3 weeks

As discussed in a previous post, we bought the “ugly duckling” on the block. While other houses were selling for over $200,000, we bought our house for $165,500. I had neither the knowledge or the time to work on the house, so we decided to find a quality contractor that could do all the work we needed. If you’re construction savvy, though, and have the time, you could save quite a lot in labor costs just by doing the work yourself.

There are a few different ways we cut costs, which I’ll go into detail about in part 2, but the main ways I stayed on budget were:

  1. Shopping around for cheap BUT reliable contractors
  2. Researching & buying everything @ a discount (using coupon codes, leveraging sales etc.)
  3. Using discounted dollars to buy everything (buying discounted gift cards and using those to make purchases)



Here’s a couple pics from when it was listed on the market:


Living Room







Master bathroom

Master bathroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom













It didn’t really look bad from the pictures. When I walked in the house, though, I could see why I it hadn’t sold. Overall the house just wasn’t updated, and felt relatively closed off. There were about 5 sheet-rock repairs that were being worked, the master bathroom shower was removed for repairs, and the backyard looked like a muddy mess. So, although the pictures of the listing looked great, when you actually walked through the house it looked more like a poor attempt at some bad repairs.


Major Renovations

We closed on the house in late January and had the contractor start work immediately! There was so many items we wanted to complete, but wanted to focus special attention on the kitchen, bathrooms, lighting, updating the floor plan, and replacing the floors.


Floor Plan Modification

We removed two walls. The first wall we removed was between the kitchen and the living room. The second wall removed was between the living room and formal dining room, which is now my office.

Two walls we removed

Two walls we removed (AFTER)



Another overhaul was the flooring. We removed all the flooring in the kitchen, living room, dining room and master bedroom to match the tile in both bathrooms (which was already dark cherry tile).

Flooring Removed

Flooring Removed

Living room flooring

Living room flooring (After)

Kitchen Upgrades

The kitchen’s original cabinets were in great condition, so we opted for just re-painting them. The original countertop was a laminate top, so we decided to remove it and bring in silestone quartz.


Ktichen cabinets / countertops / lighting (BEFORE)

Countertops removed, cabinets painted

Counter-tops removed, cabinets painted



We decided to change up quite a bit of the lighting in the living room and the kitchen, mainly adding can lights. We also removed the ceiling fan in the living room which made the room feel quite taller.


Updated living room lighting

Updated living room lighting

Updated kitchen lighting

Updated kitchen lighting


The front and back yard were in dire need of some new landscaping. The front yard had mud throughout most of the yard. We added a walkway from the driveway to the front door so guests would have easy access to the front door. The previous owners had a pool that they just filled with dirt, and didn’t level. So, the backyard was extremely muddy and un-leveled.

Muddy / Unleveled backyard(BEFORE)

Backyard: Muddy / Unleveled backyard(BEFORE)

Backyard: Leveled & w/ fresh sod

Front yard walkway

Front yard: Installed walkway

The numbers

Throughout the renovation, I kept a detailed log of everything we did, and that’s important if you’re on a budget!

Here’s a budget breakdown of what we spent on the renovations / upgrades:

Appliances (Fridge, cooktop, stove, microwave, rangehood, oven): $4950

Flooring (Black walnut tile throughout entire house): $3,300

Landscaping (re-level back yard, bring in fresh sod, install sidewalk): $2,000

Labor (Contractor and his 4 guys): $7,000

Countertops (Install Quartz countertops in kitchen / bathrooms): $3,500

Small projects (removing two walls, removing popcorn ceiling, painting, texturing): $2,500

Replace back door (Install door that has built-in doggy door, including labor):$700

Supplies (Paint, texture, thinset, grout, trim): $1,000

GRAND TOTAL = $24,950


There you have it! All in all we made very strategic decisions to renovate our house on a budget. But after all is said and done, we’re thrilled to be living here! Hope you enjoy the pics and seeing our transformation!

Backyard with fresh grass + our dogs!

Backyard with fresh grass + our dogs!

Kitchen with pass through wall

Kitchen with pass through wall










Front yard with fresh grass

Front yard with fresh grass

Living room w/ walls opened

Living room w/ walls opened











Kitchen + dining room

Kitchen + dining room

Living room + furniture

Living room + furniture


















What are the big renovations you’ve done to your house?  Did you do it yourself or contract the work to someone else?



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