Art Decor

We Paid Off Our House!

Y’all, I am so giddy and excited about this. Matt and I paid off our house yesterday! We own our house outright. And since we don’t ever plan on moving, that means no more mortgage payments…ever!

And that, my friends, is why nine-and-a-half years ago, I was able to see a house that looked like this…

And instead of turning my nose up at it, or running away in horror, I was able to see the possibility. I knew it could be turned into something beautiful with a lot of hard work and determination, and I knew that if we bought this house and gradually turned it into our home, it could afford us a lot of freedom that buying a brand new, turn key home wouldn’t.

There were sacrifices to doing it this way, though. It meant that we had to live through years of construction, which wouldn’t be practical for many people. And there were certainly times that I wondered if I’d ever see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And while on one hand, these last nine-and-a-half years seemed to crawl by while I was in the thick of it, up to my eyeballs in old drywall, insulation, construction dust, and piles of tools and paint cans, now looking back at it, those years seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.

Matt and I bought this house on one acre of land in August 2013 for $83,000. While we were living in the condo, we had saved enough to put down $20,000 as a downpayment, so we only financed $63,000. That’s the benefit of buying a house that was in the condition ours was in!! 😀

I remember so many people, including my mom and brother, thinking we were absolutely out of our minds buying this house. (You can see the whole house in this post where I shared all of the pictures right after we bought the house.) When my brother saw it, he said, “Well, I’m just glad it’s you and not me.” When my mom saw it the first time, she looked at me with a look of horror and concern on her face, and asked, “Kristi, are you sure?! Are you really sure this is what you want? Are you sure you can do this?”

I was sure. I was confident. I was overly confident, but I needed that over confidence and naivety, because had I known what I was actually getting myself into, I may have skipped this house and moved on to something else.

Our plan was to pay off the house much faster than we did, but we also didn’t have realistic expectations of just how much it would cost to redo the house. So while we didn’t finance very much, and we thought that we’d be making double and triple and quadruple payments each month to get it paid off in just a few years, that didn’t really work out.

Let’s just say that we were so thankful for our tiny $320/month mortgage payments, because that allowed us to put more money monthly towards remodeling the house. (Try finding a rental for $320/month! 😀 )

The house had great bones, but aesthetically, it was in pretty rough shape. All of the rooms had to be taken down to the studs and ceiling joists, and three areas had to be taken down to floor joists as well. It needed a new roof, new HVAC system (it only had an old furnace and window unit air conditioners), all new electrical, all new drywall, new flooring in some rooms, all new windows, window and door trim, new siding, and the list goes on and on.

But from the very beginning, we were determined that we wouldn’t go into debt doing projects on the house. No matter what room or what project I was working on, we paid for it in cash as we went. That made some projects take longer than we expected, but on the big projects, it also made it more doable.

The very first big remodel I did in this house was the kitchen.

I did that entire remodel for $10,000. At the time, that amount of money was an absolute fortune for us, and had we hired a contractor and had to pay that amount (or half that amount) up front, there’s now way we could have afforded it.

But I did the whole remodel myself (with some help here and there from family members) over the course of seven months. So spreading out $10,000 over seven months made things kind of tight for us at the time, but it was doable.

I’m not going to say that it wasn’t challenging living through the construction for so long, but once I got all of the main “public” rooms of the house finished, life seemed to get a whole lot easier and much more pleasant for us.

Once the construction was only being done in areas that could be hidden behind closed doors, while the main areas of the house could be comfortably used and lived in, the house really began to feel like home for us.

So looking back, those challenges paid off. Living for a few years through construction, inconvenience, DIYing, and paying as we went along, remaining committed to not taking on any more debt to fix up the house, has been worth it. Because now, here we are nine-and-a-half years later, with a beautiful (to us) home that is nearly complete on the (current) inside, and that we own. No more mortgage payments…EVER!!

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d still buy the cheap 70-year-old fixer upper, live with the tiny mortgage payment, put that extra money that would have gone into a higher mortgage or rent payment towards gradually fixing up that fixer upper with my own blood, sweat and tears, make extra mortgage payments when the opportunity arose, and have a beautiful home and be mortgage free in less than 10 years.

Now don’t get me wrong. When I scroll through Instagram and I see these people building their large, sprawling 6000+-square-foot houses with their four-car garages with all of the latest finishes, do I find myself longing for that? Yes, but it only lasts a few seconds. Because it only takes a few seconds for me to look up from my phone, look around my house and what my own two hands have created, and be thankful for my relatively modest but beautiful home. And now it’s a modest but beautiful home that we own. That freedom is exactly what I’ve been working so hard towards these last nine-and-a-half years.