What Would Make My House Perfect?

My house

My house

Laura over at No More Spending and Move to Portugal is getting ready to move (and, interestingly, not to Portugal!) She’s been doing home and yard projects for ages now, but has to accelerate the process because of her impending move. Meanwhile, Sarah at livetolist is also moving and showing her home in its best possible light!

I got to thinking, what would it take to make my house “sale ready”? I have absolutely no moving plans, but why wait and do all the big projects for someone else to enjoy?

Since I moved in 9 years ago, I’ve only done 5 projects that were urgent:

  • The house has oil heat, so replaced the oil tank – required every 10 years or so by the insurance and oil companies
  • Replaced the leaky skylight in the bathroom (the room’s only natural light) and cleaned up resulting mould – luckily not too bad since it was discovered early
  • Replaced an unrepairable, leaky faucet
  • Replaced two lighting fixtures – the bulbs were blowing out too often, even CFLs, so realized it must be the fixtures!
  • Added carbon monoxide detector and more smoke detectors
Don't try this!

Don’t try this!

I had several projects done that were not urgent:

  • Replaced the lawn. This was a complete and utter FAIL. I had the old turf removed, new soil brought in, and had it seeded. It was gorgeous for the first year. Then the neighbourhood weeds moved in and it looks like everyone else’s. Herbicides are illegal here. I thought that strong roots and tall grass would keep the weeds at bay but they don’t. Nature does not want a monoculture! I am over it.
  • Replaced all the flooring in the house, removing carpet and putting in laminate. I now wish I had saved more and put in hardwood, but it’s still an improvement in terms of cleaning and dust control.
  • Replaced both thermostats with programmable ones
  • Replaced the tiny 2nd shower with a large one, adjoining Link’s room, so it became more of a “suite.”
  • Replaced the two toilets with low-flow models
  • Painted both bathrooms
  • Painted Link’s room deep grey by request
  • Painted deck and front steps (regular maintenance)
  • Replaced the wooden window boxes under every exterior window – they had rotted, and the house looked naked without them!
  • Added a fence. Rom and I joke that we were turning into grumpy old gits because we didn’t like local teens cutting through our property to get to school…or heading back home after a night out. Our neighbours on both sides had fences to contain their dogs, so we only had to add a straight joining section at the back!
My kitchen, pink counters and all. As you can see, it is dedicated to making coffee!

My kitchen, pink counters and all. As you can see, it is dedicated to making coffee!

So, after all that, you’d think the house would be move-in ready, right? Not at all. The upcoming project list is:

  • Replace or repair wooden garden shed. My brother is ace at this and will give me an objective evaluation. If anyone can save it, he can.
  • Save for roof re-shingling and roof vent. The house is 17 years old and it was estimated the current shingles would last 20 years. It doesn’t have a full vent, which wasn’t code when the house was built.
  • Save for complete interior painting. The house has only its builder’s coat of paint except for the rooms we’ve done ourselves. It is in very hard shape and would look wonderful with a fresh coat. I am not at all willing to do this myself. I will happily do without many, many other things to pay someone to do it.
  • Replace front and back doors, or the door framing. Neither door will close properly despite many adjustments. We have to double check them every time we come and go. The reason our cat escaped earlier in the month was that I had closed a door, but it didn’t latch properly, and it swung open later.
  • Think about non-air-conditioning alternatives for cooling down the house in summer, such as putting in more window blinds and ceiling fans
  • Replace vanity tops (counter tops) and sinks in both bathrooms – the existing ones match the previous flooring, the faucets are lower-quality and corroding, and the sinks are chipped.  However, they are functional, so this job will keep getting put off.
  • Replace kitchen counter top. Same as above – it matches some old flooring. The colour is kind of pink 😦
  • Power wash the vinyl siding and clean exterior windows

All of these jobs will get done over time…well, over the next 5 to 7 years…sounds fun, eh?

But I do spend a lot of time at home, and while I don’t have serious home repair skills (or enjoyment levels), I do what I can and gladly prioritize funds for these projects.

How about you – do you put a high priority on home projects, do them yourself, hire someone, or put them off as long as possible?


  1. Yes! I feel your pain. When I was home shopping and watching House Hunters religiously, I resolved to fix up my house the way I’d want it to look before selling and live like that so I could be the one to enjoy it. And it would make it easier to sell when/if I needed to. But with a 70-year-old house that has been much easier said than done. It seem like as soon as we finish one project, another three pop up. Plus, now that I’ve been here seven years (time flies!) some of the things I did once, need done again. Home maintenance never ends eh? We do DIY for budget reasons. Luckily my boyfriend is handy, because I’m not very skilled at it!

    I like the idea of making a “what would make my house perfect list,” but I’m a little afraid to see how long it would be!

  2. Thanks for the link! Even though I’m moving, there’s a handful of things I wish I’d done (and will have my arm twisted if the tenants want them) – like a screen door, and covering my storage area neatly. I do recall how much you loathe painting, and I’m impressed you’ve lived there so long without painting getting done. It makes such a difference to the appearance, if the colour changes particularly, but even just to make it look ‘fresh’! Aside from your blog, you’re an equal favourite with Young House Love, who inspire me, as they are constantly updating their house!

    • Thank you very much! Having the house painted is (not so) secretly the number one thing on my list, when funds allow, because it would make such a difference. But it would also be a massive job because of having to move all the book cases and unload the built-in shelving!

  3. I really like your kitchen – I have major kitchen envy reading blogs this week 🙂 I’d forgotten that houses don’t necessarily have fences in North America, here in Australia it’s normal to have a fence around your block.

    I’m looking forward to owning a house to be able to paint the walls how I like, but I’m enjoying the benefits of being a renter and not having to worry about home maintenance.

  4. I love your kitchen and didn’t notice the color of the countertop until you mentioned it. I have to paint as soon as I move in to a new home, that and clean. Of course I like to change things often so when I live in one place for more than a couple of years I start repainting rooms to give that new feeling again. My list of what would make my place perfect, I rent so its not all going to happen, would be a better screen door, new countertop in kitchen, removal of large mirror in kitchen, new vanity in bathroom, fresh paint in bathroom and a picture window that actually opened. Oh, and new faucets in both kitchen and bathroom

  5. Fiona

    I also love your kitchen! Our house is almost 13 years old, so I looked at your lists and nodded at everything. We have a very similar list, just a few years behind you in order. I have tried DYI and several times we’ve had to pay trades to fix our work. I’m trying to build knowledge on simple tasks, but trades people have professional knowledge and competence that I respect and am happy to pay for!

  6. EcoCatLady

    Oy! I fear my house is a never ending project. I’ve never really had the money to hire anyone to work on it, except for a few major projects like replacing the furnace & roof, building a deck, and replacing several doors. I have all sorts of things I’d like to do “for pretty” but unfortunately they never seem to rise to the top of the list, so I just live in the land of functional.

    I dunno… even if money were no object, I’m not sure I’d run out and have a bunch of work done, it’s just such a HUGE disruption, and I’m never sure that the benefit of having it done is worth the PITA (pain in the arse) of having to deal with the doing it part. Not sure what that says about me, but that appears to be where I always land on this stuff!

    • I would say I do most work on an “as needed” basis, like the leaky skylight. There are a lot of projects that will be bumped to the bottom of the list for years!

  7. Oh no now I feel guilty for making you think about all this…..it’s much easier to ignore things that need doing lol. But I suppose, if you plan to move one day, then it’s better to get things done and enjoys the fruits of your spending.
    I love you kitchen too!

    Thanks for the links 🙂

    • I don’t plan to move (unless age or illness force me to) but I don’t want to neglect substantial work like the roof. As for the guilt, no worries, this has always been my mental list, and it feels somewhat more manageable to see it in print!

  8. Our house was brand new when we bought it, so the only thing we’ve done is painted the rooms downstairs and our bedroom. We hired an electrician to add ceiling fans hookups and overhead lights, but I don’t regret that expense at all. I don’t want to do something wrong and cause a fire!

    • Those are great choices for a new house. Is it so new that some of the work is under warranty?

      • It’s been a little over three years, so tons of things are still under warranty – the countertops, the bathtub, some appliances, the windows. Then the whole house has a structural warranty for 7 more years. We moved here from a house built right before WWII and it has been such a relief! It’s much less stress than our old place 🙂

      • I would love to have that experience!

  9. Honestly the list is so long it’s crazy and I don’t want to think about it……. as it drives me insane. Still slowly but surely we are getting there.


  10. Juhli

    We are going to have to do a number of things to get ours ready for sale at the beginning of 2018 when Hubby has retired. Right now we are contemplating how little we can get away with in terms of remodeling the two bathrooms vs biting the bullet and doing them right and soon so we can enjoy it ourselves. I’m so ready for a house that doesn’t need a lot of work as I’d rather spend the money on traveling LOL.

    • I think I am opposite to you in that I like to spend lots of time at home and not travel so much! But I work full-time, so maybe when I retire someday I will want to get out of the house more.

  11. Lisa

    Tomorrow we will be moving to our new (to us) house on 32 acres (yes, I should be packing). I can’t wait! We have been renting for 2 years. This is our 3rd home and hopefully our last unless work, age or illness forces us to move or I can find a way to move to Nova Scotia!

    Our first 2 homes were fixer-uppers. On the 1st home we did all the of the work ourselves (flooring, painting etc.), but it was mostly cosmetic in nature. Our 2nd home needed a lot of work both structurally and cosmetically so we had a combination of hired professionals (roofing, furnace, kitchen counters/cupboards, toilets etc.) and doing-it-ourselves over the 5 years we owned it. Those 2 homes did very well on resale and we were quite proud of our work, but I have to tell you, it was very hard to live through some of those renovations with the upheaval, dirt, noise etc.

    Our new home is 13 years old, but has, it appears, been well maintained. There is only personal taste changes (e.g. paint colours) and functional changes (e.g. screen door, clothes line) to be made in the short term. I don’t think we will be as in a rush as we were with the first 2 homes. Having said that, to answer your question, I do tend to place a high priority on house projects and because of the feeling of home it gives to me when they are done. The smarter move economically would have been to go the fixer-upper route again, but we just couldn’t find that here with the space we wanted and I am older now and less inclined to ‘rough’ it.

    I agree with Sarah – painting does make such a difference and I love the Young House Love blog too. Sorry for the long post, it is just such a timely topic for me. Love your blog too 🙂

    • Thank you, Lisa! I admire that you’ve been able to take on so many projects yourselves. The flooring project at my place was huge; I moved so much stuff around, it was almost equal to moving house. And I didn’t even install the flooring myself! I hope you can check in after your move and tell me how it went! Maybe when you are settled in, you can start a blog (hint, hint!)

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