Late last winter and into the early spring when we decided purchasing a home together was a priority, Mrs. SPF and I knew we would have to perform some sort of house staging but we weren’t entirely sure how much to do. Our friend Jim, a contractor, performed a thorough walk through of our house and told us that in order to sell your house quickly you should consider staging your home by investing some money and performing renovation. Jim told us we could do costly work such as gutting our second bathroom but he didn’t think that the return on investment (ROI) due to having to hire someone to do the work or the inconvenience would make sure a project worthwhile. He did however have a grocery list of other smaller renovations we could undertake, some with his assistance, that would freshen and update our house while increasing the curb appeal immensely. Some of the work would be more complex, some more painstaking and some of the work would be a downright grind. There were a lot of “fixes” on the list and we decided to take on a bunch of them. We estimated we would need 2 months and about $3,200 to do the work to get a $20,000 ROI at time of sale. In the end we needed 2.5 months to complete the work and about $3,650 to the work and the ROI at time of sale was $17,500. Not too bad. The following is what we decided to do but in our style – attempting to do so as in a sustainable manner.
We felt that staging your home meant dealing with the home in its entirety. If you polish some areas and leave others looking shabby it would have the reverse effect we wanted to impart on potential buyers. Our house had 2 storeys and 2 basements that were not joined and a lot of work to do! We didn’t do each and every improvement Jim suggested but we did complete a number of these investment options. I’ll start at the top and work our way down.
The 2nd floor of our last house had 4 bedrooms, a large 4 piece bath and a handy 2nd floor laundry room. One bedroom was finished nicely with brown laminate flooring and a unique paint job that included a pretty funky tree mural in one corner and a landscape covered the walls in the rest of the room. The bathroom had been renovated by the previous owners about 7 years ago and was in good shape. The only work Jim said he would do would be to tile (stick and peel + grout) the bathroom but we ultimately decided against doing any work in these two rooms aside from staging and a small fix to make sure the bathroom window closed properly.
The laundry room was another spot Jim said we could tile but we decided against that however due to time and budget constraints. Mrs. SPF did remove wall paper trim and added a fresh coat of paint to the laundry room as it was obviously old paint. One note: we used recycled paint from Rona for the entire 2nd floor paint job. The stuff is cheap and re-used! A coat of fresh paint is a great thing to do at a low cost when you are staging your home with minor renovation work.
One very obvious feature in our house was the lush, thick carpeting that ran up the stairs to the 2nd floor, throughout both of the front of house bedrooms, down the hallway and into the master bedroom. While the carpet was in great shape and not too worn, the stairs, hall and smaller bedrooms were a straight out of the 1980s turquoise. The master bedroom was a plush rose colour (more on the master later). Awful colours for anyone entering the house through the front door (to turquoise stairs) and walking through the 2nd floor. This type of carpet has to go if you are staging your home. Not only did Jim mention it, both real estate agents who gave us opinions brought it up too. Jim advised that laminate flooring could look clean and sharp throughout the entire 2nd floor and he was willing to show me some tips and tricks on installing it. He also mentioned that laminate is very sustainable as it contains very little freshly cut wood. So, I tore up roll after roll of carpet and underlay and pried up countless carpet tack strips and the nails holding them down. Thank goodness for contractor bags!
Prior to laying the new floor down I removed the pine stained trim from the baseboards and Mrs. SPF proceeded to paint the walls. I painted the trim white to make it look more clean. The hallway and one bedroom were a worn down blue grey and the hallway had yet more eye level trim to remove. The other bedroom was a deep dark sea blue colour and that brings us to the master bedroom. Earlier I mentioned the plush rose carpets in the master bedroom but what I failed to mention was that the entire room was painted pink! Not only pink but it had roses painted along the top of the walls as “trim” – big roses. Why I never painted this room in the years we lived there, I just can’t justify. It was horrific. (see below) Throughout the entire floor I filled in holes in the walls where dents had occurred and where pictures once hung and Mrs. SPF proceeded to paint pretty much the entire 2nd floor.
Jim was going to help us buy supplies he felt we needed (again, his advice was invaluable) and he estimated we needed 34 boxes of laminate flooring. He caught wind of a sale at a box store for $0.89 per square foot and he figured he could get the underlay for $0.15 per square foot (it ended up costing $0.20 for the underlay) and we pay 13% sales tax here in Ontario, unfortunately. I had the den to complete as well so in all Jim figured i’d need:
- 540 square feet of laminate @ $0.89 per = $480
- 540 dquare feet of underlay @ 0.20 per = $108
- sales tax (13%) + cost ($588) = $665 for flooring. Another $25 for the proper tools, $120 for “transition pieces”, $5 for No More Nails product, $5 for a caulking gun and $30 for a back brace I quickly discovered i’d need to be bent over flooring for weeks on end and we had eaten about 25% of our budget (~$775 total, after tax).
Laying laminate flooring isn’t quite as easy as you would think it is. Well, at least if you plan to a) run continuous flooring in and out of rooms and b) finish closet floors (which means working around vertical door trim). The house we were moving out of was 100 years old so any preconceptions I had about 90 degree angles to make my life easier were quickly dismissed. Between non-flush walls, working around doorways and cutting custom fits for closets I got quite handy with my jigsaw making fine cuts. I removed all of the floor trim in order to cover up inevitable gaps. One other trick Jim taught me was to use brown caulking where I had made mistakes around doorways. The caulking expands and contracts. Jim sure understood staging your home.
The painting and flooring were easily the biggest jobs but we did some cosmetic things as well. These included:
- Replacing 4 very dated overhead light fixtures (Mrs. SPF’s brother helped us with this)
- Replacing old doorknobs on bi-folding doors with new pewter handles
- Fixed two broken bi-folding doors
- Fixed one broken window screen
- Fixed bathroom window that would not close properly
- Re-caulked the bathtub sealant as it was old and covered in grime
As you can see, when it comes to staging your home in order to sell your house quickly, we were thorough. We did what we felt needed to be done while balancing buying a home at the same time. House staging is an entailed activity and we gave it our all. To follow this article I will discuss how we tackled the main floor of the house, the basements and the exterior of our house. We sold in 28 days and our ROI was 480%. The extra effort works.