Exciting times around here! We refinanced our mortgage last month, locked in a great rate on a fixed 15-year, and took out cash for a home remodel. When you look around Austin and see how crazy the housing market is, it quickly became a no-brainer that simply staying put and making improvements to this house was the right decision. Houses are going for $50,000 over list price pretty routinely, I’m hearing, so winning a bidding war is getting very costly.

We have met with three home remodeling companies and have received some jarring responses that vary wildly from one to the next. Our basic goal is add more square feet because we have growing children and I work from home full-time regardless of pandemic and we have nowhere for guests to stay.

Lauren and I have some differing opinions on how to achieve adding on. One option is to go upward—tearing the roof off the living/dining room area and building a second level. The first company said it would easily fit in our budget and would take 6-12 weeks. The second company laughed and said there was no possible way that would fit in our budget and even if it did, it is a 6-month project. The third company felt it was probably a little out of our budget, but we could get there with some sacrifices, and agreed that around 6 months was probably likelier.

Another option floated by two of the companies is going outward, not upward. Doing so would be far less expensive and not displace us during construction and not tear up the hardwood flooring. However, it would take away from what is already not that huge of a backyard, something Lauren is reluctant to sacrifice. I am much less concerned about that, as we really don’t use the yard space for anything special.

Other home improvement ideas, budget pending, include expanding the kitchen. That could mean either knocking out walls and moving stuff around, or expanding outward. And regardless of which route, we also need to re-side the house and get new sliding glass doors, windows, and garage doors, all of which are on their last legs. And if there was anything left after all of that, I would want to put down artificial turf in the backyard and install a hot tub!

Many challenges remain. Which company is giving us the best advice? Who are we most comfortable working with? How much are we willing to spend just for the design/architecture phase? What is the real timeline? Will the ETJ sign off on our project? How long will permits take for approval? If we moved forward with one of the companies/plans and it required us to leave the house, where would we go in the meantime?

Here are some other news and notes!

  • Yes, John’s game project is still going on, but I do not have the energy to document the games anymore. Sorry to anyone following along with that project, haha. It was doomed to fail.
  • We got Super Mario 3D World on Switch and Lauren, John and I are all addicted, each playing on our own accounts. John is already on the last world.
  • Lauren and I are also both still addicted to Super Mario Bros. 35, the battle royale Mario game which apparently goes away forever at the end of March.
  • We are thrilled to welcome fully vaccinated Grandma Marcie to Austin next week for the kids’ spring break! She will be our first visitor since pre-pandemic. We will be driving down to the Gulf Shores, Alabama area and staying at a quiet Airbnb to pass the week.
  • Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama will be my 39th, 40th, and 41st states visited. The others remaining are Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and West Virginia.
  • John’s baseball season begins on Saturday, and he’s a Blue Jay this time. I love that the teams are all MLB teams with the real uniforms and everything. He’s in coach pitch now, and will unfortunately have to play a live game before ever having even practiced. He got violently ill at school Monday and missed practice, which upset Edie greatly as she was looking forward to practicing with the team.
  • Edie is getting good on the potty at just 2 years, 4 months old. She and her friend Dani sit side-by-side on their potties for fun, peeing together. She is rewarded with chocolate chips for her successful pees.
  • I don’t think I ever really wrote anything about the big ice storm from a couple weeks ago, but for those who have asked, we were relatively fine. We never lost power or anything. I’ll have to write about that before I forget everything.

That’s all for this time, folks!

Edie got her face painted at Wyatt’s birthday party.
Can you envision a second level here?