After losing our “dream” home to foreclosure in 2007, then 10 years of renting (3 houses, 3 moves), we took the plunge back into home ownership in December 2016. We had been reasonably content in a lovely house just north of downtown Indianapolis. The neighborhood had seen borderline blight conditions for many years, but a revitalized urban landscape in recent years spurred a frenzied pace of rehabs to meet housing demands and, naturally, led to a significant rise in property values.
We hadn’t plannef on buying quite yet, but at the end of a two-year lease our landlord opted to increase rent from $2,000/month to $2,200/month. That’s pretty steep for Indy. We decided it was time to get serious and commit to a forever home.
An initial search for homes in or near downtown was disappointing, but not surprising. Much as we liked the option of enjoying a quick walk to one of the new trendy restaurants rapidly popping up, we just couldn’t justify paying $300k for a 1,300 square foot house in Fountain Square or $500k in Herron Morton. What’s more, the available ultra-hip homes, while updated and adorable, could not shed the inherent limitations of historic properties, especially with bathroom and closet/storage space. What’s that? You also want a two-car garage to shield you on those snowy winter mornings? LOL, that’ll put you into the $600k+ price range for homes that had, less than a decade before, gone for $30k.
From an investment point of view, we were skeptical that the trend in rising home values could be sustained for much longer, even with the shiniest of updated kitchens and baths. We didn’t feel comfortable jumping into that market at its summit, so we widened our search radius to all parts of Indianapolis. We also enlisted the help of our friend Joe Shoemaker, who happens to be a superstar real estate agent with Sotheby’s. His guidance was invaluable throughout our search and eventual negotiations.
After about 6 weeks, we made an offer on a 3,500 square foot house in an established golf course community on the near-northwest side of town. We saw the promise that lay beyond the home’s desperate cry for rescue from an early-90s heritage that reeked of honey oak and laminate. We loved the open design and flow of the house…plus, it had a pool, which I really wanted (and missed, after having one in the past). At under $250k and a 15-minute drive to those restaurants we could have walked to (if we were really motivated), it was a no-brainer for us. We decided it was our “Forever Home” – we will sooner die than move again.
After a few short weeks of settling in from our December move, we jumped right into figuring out what we wanted – and then, what we could afford – to update our new house and really make it our own. We were well-equipped with ideas, but lacked the time and most of the skills required to implement them. And then, “the Boys” came into our lives.
Ryan and Sean, partners in a two-man operation called Distinctive Home Solutions, basically lived with us for the better part of 10 weeks. Since Rob and I both work at home, most days started by welcoming the Boys to work and then each going about our business. Ryan is a skilled carpenter, while Sean is a licensed electrician and plumber. Between them, they were able to handle everything we dreamed up, plus a lot of other little surprises along the way.
By April, most of the interior work was done, including painting most of the main level and basement, painting kitchen and bathroom cabinets, replacing ugly carpet with beautiful bamboo hardwood and building out an extended kitchen island. In early May, the Boys tackled painting our enormous deck and building raised garden beds. During the many weeks of projects, there were lots of challenges and occasional changes in course, but we worked as a team to come up with some pretty great solutions. See my9 for Before, During, and After highlights.