Thursday, February 9, 2012

Budgeting and planning for the dark half of the year

(originally written December 19, 2011)
Winter always depresses me. Where we live the skies tend to stay varying shades of grey for what seems like forever until spring finally arrives. It certainly is hard to get excited over anything when you know that all there is to look forward to in the immediate future is more grey.
So, I’ve been trying to keep myself busy. The grant rennovation projects are coming along painfully slow. We haven’t heard yet from any of the general contractors and I’m starting to get a little worried that we won’t be able to “get to that.” I mean, worst case scenario we have to do it ourselves with the exception of a few things.
In the meantime, I’m looking at the list of projects that WILL be accomplished and some of the other projects surround it that we will have to complete – like the kitchen countertop.
We weren’t really prepared to have to replace the kitchen countertop right away. Honestly, we thought it could wait a year or two. Since the grant will be installing our diswasher that we purchased in September they will end up destroying some of the countertop in the process. Our current countertop is just cream, 4×4 ceramic tile that’s pretty old and brittle. At some point we’re going to pull out the crowbars and start the demolition of the backsplash (want to get all of that done before we do the countertop) and the countertop. It should be interesting…
Before we bought the house this kitchen was very clean...
There was quite a bit of time spent on what type of countertop we wanted. We have a small budget and wanted to make the best use of our funds with something that will be sturdy, but nice. We talked about concrete (which I love), but in the end the project was WAY too big for our level of DIY-ability. It required a lot more effort that either of us could potentially put in.
We thought about the pre-made countertop sheets you can buy at Lowes or Home Depot and just weren’t sold. Sure, they’re certainly affordable, but it’s the same countertop we’ve had in every apartment we’ve lived in.
Oh the joys of apartment living and cheap laminate counter tops
We also gave solid surface a thought, but it really is just out of our price range. Even laminate and formica is pretty expensive, plus it’s not something we can really DIY – we have to pay someone to come in and do it. :-/
Looking at the tile countertops and backsplash again I said to Garry “Why don’t we just do another tile countertop and backsplash?” For a second him and I both thought I lost my mind. I did a little internet surfing and found some granite (yeah, granite) tile for less than $4 a square foot. The large tile would look really nice, and the granite is really flat, unlike the ceramic tile that is currently on our countertop. If we grout it correctly it won’t be nearly as much of a pain to clean AND Garry has some tile experience, putting this project into our comfort zone.
Sure, it’s not a solid granite slab countertop, but it will behave like one. For the size-worth of our house, something like this will increase the value of it, but not so much that we wouldn’t realistically get our money back. Not that we’re looking to sell anytime soon, but if we had to, we want to get the most out of it.
We’re planning on using pebble tile for the backsplash. I know it’s uber trendy right now, but we fell in love with it and you can’t help what you love. 
Add some slate tile floor to the mix ($3 for 18×18 squares!) and it will look gorgeous! We’re planning on using the same tile for the bathroom as well only in the 12×12 size since our bathroom is tiny.
Part of the problem is that we haven’t exactly measured everything yet. Trying to estimate costs without knowing exactly how much of something you’re going to need is like trying to draw a picture blind. You really have no clue. Once I find that tape measure, there will be some serious measuring at our house.