Ask the grumpies: Worthwhile renovations?

Chacha1 asks:

Well, I am deep in the throes of remodeling angst so this is a house-and-home but also finance-related topic that people might like to discuss:

What do people think was the BEST money they spent on home improvement, and what do they wish they had left alone?

This is partially a cost/benefit question, because a lot of people think of owning a home as an investment (I think of it as a forced savings plan with really high barriers to entry), but also a Greatest Domestic Happiness question. e.g. I read anecdotally that people love the idea of a huge multi-stage bathroom (separate tub & shower, toilet in a little room with door, double sinks) but personally I see that as a gigantic waste of space. And from a ROI perspective it is also, not anecdotally, a waste of money. So has anyone done such a thing, are they happy about it a few years down the line, etc.

Note, as renters we are not considering any such thing. For us it’s more “do we get the entry door with sidelight that requires reframing or do we choose a standard door with half glass which would mean we can replace BOTH entry doors.” (You can probably guess which way I’m leaning.) :-)

This is definitely a personal question for each homeowning (or formerly home improving) individual of Grumpy Nation to weigh in on.  We have done remarkably little home improvement other than replacing things when they break or when feral kittens or toddlers destroy them past the point of regular aesthetics.  I guess our kitchen looks nicer without gingham wallpaper and our window dressings look better with new blinds.

We have one of those multi-stage bathrooms as our master bath.  The first few years it made me feel kind of dirty, since it literally is the same size as our first efficiency apartment (100 sq feet).  I’ve gotten used to it, but don’t get any additional happiness from it than we would get from a normal bathroom like we have in our MIL suite.  I don’t feel at all deprived at hotels or visiting relatives.  The water closet is one of DH’s favorite places to escape when the kids are going wild– if we can’t find him, chances are he’s in the water closet.  But I’m sure a normal-sized bathroom would function the same way so long as there’s a door to close!

So, grumpy nation, what home improvements have you felt were worth it?  What home improvements do you regret?


56 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Worthwhile renovations?”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    when we gave a tour of our big house to a renovation flipper buddy of ours, he wanted to turn every “extra” room into a big crazy bathroom. The room next to our bedroom we turned into a big walk in cedar closet instead of a fancy master bath. A lot of people are obsessed with having that attached master bath but it just wasn’t a priority for us. Was it the wrong decision for resale? Maybe but I don’t care that I have to take 5 extra steps in the hallway at night to get to the toilet.

    We also created a mud room with cubbies and lots of hooks. So I think for me, spending on storage and organization projects brought the most joy. Even the $40 wire shelving in the basement made a difference.

    Same deal with the kitchen. A well thought out layout and storage Space is heaven. Everyone hangs in the kitchen so that’s pretty high on my list.

    I love my new bathroom too but it’s only because the before was SO BAD. Picture your grossest college apt with a cramped Stand up shower and 12×12 mirrors glued to the wall and no place to even put a toothbrush. Towards the end the shower head would only turn on to one temp and it was a little too hot and low flow so you were burning and freezing at the same time. The floor was a painted piece of plywood and it Was super cold cuz no insulation.

    I am used to living in really dilapidated places that most people would not live in while renovating, so every project brings joy.

    Sometimes you can get a lot of joy out of a $30 can of paint to make that room a color you don’t hate. Renovations don’t have to kill a budget. You do what you can afford and what makes you happy and don’t do it as an investment. It almost never pays back what you put in but there are places like the restore and craigslist where you can do things much cheaper. When I knew my moms house was going to lose money when we sold, I exclusively shopped the used circuit.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Walk-in closets are pretty darn useful! (We have them on either side of our master bath…) It’s hard to believe how little storage our parents’ houses have compared to what we’ve got. (Though they do have pretty stuffed garages whereas ours has … cars and bikes.)

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    What first-gen said about paint. I repainted the old faux-wood paneling in our bedroom, so now we have yellow walls. I also rearranged the furniture so that I can see the moon setting when I’m in bed. Both of these make me super happy, all the time.

    In my previous house, the kitchen was super small, and I did a cut-through (like a large window, or portal) to the dining room, with the counter along that portal. On either side of the cut-through, we put in new cabinets that had glass doors on both the kitchen side and dining room side, so we could get out/put away plates from either the dining room or kitchen. I loved that I could be in the tiny kitchen and talk to people in the dining room, and that I could pass things through the portal without having to walk through the door, and that there was more light all around.

    • Leah Says:

      ooh, what a cool idea to have double-sided cabinets! I love that. Super slick.

      I like pass throughs too, and it’s interesting that they’re considered outdated compared to an open concept kitchen. I wonder when the pendulum will swing the other way and people will want their kitchens concealed again. I wonder if this is related to how much people cook (or don’t) at home. My mom didn’t like open concept that much because everyone could see your kitchen mess, so she felt pressured to keep her kitchen spotless.

  3. Leah Says:

    I have never owned a home but have lived in plenty of them. Money spent on things that make your space feel more comfortable are always worth it to me. I think of upgrades as “is the cost worth it to change this about my space?” rather than as an investment that will pay back later. I will say that I felt MUCH more at home in the apartment we repainted the week we moved in versus the apartment we never bothered to repaint and hated the colors in, and we spent roughly the same amount of time in each of them.

    Because we’ve always lived in apartments, our storage solutions have been things we could potentially move with us. Some haven’t fit well in future apartments, but I haven’t regretted the purchases (fair enough that most were in the $100-$600 range). My dad moved into a new house and is going to spend somewhere between $20k-$40k to build in some custom storage along a really long wall that will also match the kitchen (along with new flooring and a gas fireplace). I think we have him talked out of new and extra windows, so maybe on the lower end? That cost would give me pause, but I also think it will add a lot to his house. I am unsure if he’ll get his money back, but it will put in some much needed storage to the house and add a lot of beauty.

  4. Bardiac Says:

    It seems to me that the best money spent on home improvements (beyond basic safety rewiring and such) are things that make you happy to be in the space.

    The change Miser Mom made to her kitchen sounds fabulous!

    In my current house, I’ve made two huge changes: I had a deck built (the main floor is ground level in front, and second story in back, so the deck is off the back) and then big sliding glass doors onto the deck from the living room and master bedroom. The doors bring in LOTS of light and make the rooms feel so much bigger, and the deck is an extra lovely room in summer.

    And then I had wood floors put in on the main floor. They look great and I really enjoy them (and they aren’t gross and dirty as the carpet was getting to be). But they do make the rooms darker, so now I’m planning on some painting…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I really want a screen door in our office so I can open the door to get a breeze without the cats getting out and mosquitoes getting in, but getting that implemented looks like a much bigger project than I had initially speculated, so it’s moved down our “possible renovations” list to after the kitchen. (Replacing carpet with wood floors is down the line sometime after that.)

      • Kelly Says:

        Would your cats walk through this magnetic curtain like screen door? Ours would not but you could probably find an easy mod to keep them in if you didn’t need to walk through it frequently.

  5. jjiraffe Says:

    We did a big renovation of our living space: you can check out a post I wrote about it here:

    What I love about it is we spent a lot of time thinking about exactly how we wanted to use the space, which led to an extremely functional design. We literally use every square inch of the space so even though we didn’t increase the square footage, it feels like we did. The layout is great, everything is organized and that makes everything we do in the space easier.

    One caveat about an open space living layout: it can be challenging for someone more on the introvert side. It’s loud and very, well, open. No real quiet nooks. FYI…

  6. SP Says:

    We are 4 years in and still have mostly been in the “fix what is causing problems” stage.Our bathroom is the first thing that is visible on a day-to-day basis, but even that was prompted by water damage behind the walls. A giant multi-stage bathroom is not an option for houses in our price range in our city, but I don’t really care. If we ever get to doing the other bathroom, I would like a better/deeper tub, but I think we’re stuck with a tub/shower combo.

  7. becca Says:

    My favorite renovation was putting in a bath (instead of only a shower) and making the layout into a “normal” bathroom instead of a jack-and-jill. My least favorite was moving the kitchen around to swap the sink and the stove. We did this so the fan would vent outside, which is great in theory, but the kitchen already had a large glass door to the deck and the fan never worked so amazingly well that I thought it worth the sacrifice of a possible new window. Current house has window over the sink and it is great.
    I doubt any of those would pay for themselves.

    We most recently went from a 1.5 bath house to a 1 bath house, and that is a significant drawback. I am relatively motivated to get a bathroom put in, the trouble is the only place for it is in the basement and I worry about logistics. I do think the utility of adding a half bath *when you only have one* is pretty darn high. This *might* pay for itself in resale? It’s probably the most likely to have near positive ROI (say 90%).

    I got a shocking amount of utility out of having a little laundry room right off a giant walk-in closet, enough so that if I had the space for that as a renovation in my new house I would definitely consider it. I suspect the value of putting laundry on the same floor as your bedroom is high if you are older and can afford a nice new quiet washer/dryer. Probably wouldn’t pay in resale, because people who have always had laundry in the basement (we are in the midwest, so basement country) wouldn’t know how glorious it is.

    We spent a large amount of energy making a porch like mudroom into a room like mudroom. It was not well spent time (though it was cheap), but that was largely learning-curve. I would not discourage that kind of a renovation, though planning storage seems key to making it work better! We bought the best screen door ever. $180 for the ideal screen door is money well spent (EVERY time you come in with groceries you appreciate it. EVERY time your kid CANNOT slam it you appreciate it. EVERY time you open it and get a great cross breeze going on a beautiful day you appreciate it). I think if your windows are old and crappy enough you don’t use them, new windows that open nicely are worth the money (especially if you live on a relatively quiet street). Those projects could have moderately good ROI (say 70%) because they are part of the initial impression the house makes.

    We will get a dishwasher at some point. That renovation is usually worth it if you have a house where one person is terribly delinquent in washing dishes (guilty!). I would not get a super nice one in the hopes of ROI, but the total cost is minor enough it’s not a huge deal.

    One thing that doesn’t have the ROI to justify it, but probably is still worthwhile, is a new roof or replacing knob and tube wiring. We did both of those. I do NOT recommend either for joy purposes, and you probably won’t come out ahead on money unless you like difficult or dangerous work and put in sweat equity. BUT there is a peace of mind with having done it. If it is the BIGGEST problem your house has, do it for the ease resale maybe? Otherwise, it just gets added into the budget like oil changes for your car as a necessary chore type thing. Except much pricier. A good argument for renting, frankly.

    We are considering some kind of modification, likely to the garage, to be an ideal place for cat litter boxes. If any grumpeteers have suggestions of how to best minimize unpleasantness (tracking litter and smell), they are appreciated. I don’t imagine that one will have any ROI.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I can definitely give high marks to having a second bathroom in the basement. DH’s parents put one in and it is amazing (though their basement is finished). My parents had one and though we almost never used that shower, having a second toilet was a lifesaver.

      Re: laundry– one really great thing in my parents house is that the laundry room (which is also the downstairs bathroom) is right below the upstairs bathroom and there’s a laundry chute connecting them (really just a single big cabinet that goes all the way down). Laundry still has to be carried upstairs, but it doesn’t have to be carried downstairs.

      We got some really great mats off amazon that help with the litter tracking. I’ll see if I can dig them out, or you can just search. In terms of smell– regular scooping is pretty good there, but you can also get fragrant litter and covered litterboxes if your cats allow for those. (We also keep one box on the patio and have twice as many boxes as we have cats.)

    • Debbie M Says:

      I am fascinated by the idea “of having a little laundry room right off a giant walk-in closet.” I always think in terms of having roommates, and the roommate(s) that have the other room(s) would not have easy access. But of course in real life, most houses are owned by families, so that wouldn’t be a problem. I have seriously never considered anything like this before.

      I have thought of making that kind of laundry room like they often have at the end of kitchens, only between two bedrooms so that either side could open a door and there would be a washer on one side and a drier on the other. Of course you would need quiet machines if you were going to run them at night!

      I’ve also been thinking of adding a screened-in back porch and putting the washer and drier connections there. A breeze would help things on a drying rack dry quickly. But you’d have to go outside-ish to do laundry.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Renting in paradise, the w/d was in the garage!

      • Debbie M Says:

        In Houston, my parents’ washer and drier were in the (attached) garage. You could go out there, move the clean clothes from the washer to the drier and go back inside and already be dripping in sweat!

  8. chacha1 Says:

    Great comments! I recently posted a listing of the scope of our house renovation on my blog. Still can’t quite get my head around how much we did … and what I posted didn’t even cover what was done in the adjacent studio unit. We spent a good chunk of money, our landlords/friends spent 5x that much. As long as we live in L.A. we will never move again.

    Big projects we still have to do: insulate the attic over the kitchen; bolt the house to the foundation; fix a main drain leak that runs under the front yard. The first two won’t cost much but the last one is potentially scary. We aren’t going to tackle it until the mutant grass gets so high we can’t see out of the driveway.

    Re: bathrooms: this move would not have been do-able if there had not been two separate full bathrooms (one in the house, one in the studio). After fourteen years living with two, cutting back to one would have been an intolerable reduction in quality of life (given that we were also adding to commute time). If we were buying a house with one bathroom, I would definitely require a purchase price that enabled an addition for a second powder room, at least.

    The pass-through from kitchen to dining room is something I like. Especially with double-sided glass cabinets – that’s a great idea, especially for those of us with 60 pieces of stemware. :-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Insulation is unsexy but it makes a really big difference in temperature control and energy bills. After we got an energy audit, we replaced all of our bucket lights with newer versions with insulation (the older versions we had couldn’t be insulated because they got too hot!).

      • chacha1 Says:

        Most of the attic has a layer of batt insulation, but the area over the kitchen was never done … probably because the clearance is less than two feet, which makes this a very uncomfortable (and dark) area to work in. It’s going to be a horrible day, but well worth doing to keep the contents of our cabinets cooler!

    • Debbie M Says:

      What do you mean by “bolt the house to the foundation”? Aren’t most houses connected to their foundations? Or is this an affordable upgrade for withstanding some kind of natural disaster.

      • chacha1 Says:

        Bolting is a thing here in earthquake country. It’s kind of like how in tornado country, they’re supposed to add shear straps that will hold the walls to the floor when the house twists.

        Based on home-improvement shows and books, I’d say most new construction probably already has a mechanical connection between the framed part of the house and the foundation. However, old construction often doesn’t have more than a few screws holding the framing to the foundation. This house is on a block foundation that is 60ish years old and it does need to be secured.

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        I think that bolting the frame to the foundation was added to the building codes in California around 1979. Houses older than that often have a fairly weak connection between the wooden frame and the concrete foundation (similar to what is still used in the rest of the country). In an earthquake, the small attachments are easily sheared and the whole house can slide off the foundation—large bolts prevent this. (See for an consumer-oriented explanation.)

  9. Linda Says:

    Renovations have to work for YOU. All the hype about increasing resale is just that: it’s almost impossible to get all of your money back from the renovation alone, unless you’re buying a property for cheap in a good area and flipping it. However, I can’t think of any house renovations that I regret.

    In my last house I renovated the kitchen and was very happy with that decision. It was an original 1950’s kitchen layout with a poorly working range and no dishwasher. The layout was slightly changed, and I had new floors, counter tops, and appliances installed. I retained the original cabinets because they were sturdy and there was no reason to waste them. I didn’t recoup all the money on spent on the renovation, but it definitely made the property more marketable and sell quickly with multiple offers.

    My current house already has an updated kitchen, and I have no desire to change it. (I do wish I had a different faucet, but what I want wouldn’t require as many holes and I don’t want to replace granite for that.) I would like to change the bathroom, but that will be expensive.

    The single bathroom in this house is small, and the tub is very shallow. I’d love to have a deeper soaking tub, and a separate shower. I understand this was actually the original layout of the bathroom, and the shower area was converted into a deep linen closet. I’ve measured the usable space, and I could put a shower back into the linen closet area, plus extend it into the bathtub area to make it less cramped. Then I could add a small, deep soaking tub like this one: I just have to figure out where I would be able to store towels and other bathroom stuff if I did this, and I’d also have to come up with the $$, too.

    I’ve also considered bumping out the back of the house (it’s an 1100 sq ft 2/1 with a huge backyard) to make the back bedroom larger and add on another full bath, but that would be more pricey than I can afford in the next several years.

    • Linda Says:

      I should have also added that I got several years of joy out the remodeled kitchen in my last house. That’s why I remodeled it, not to make it more marketable.

  10. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    Our first remodel was to upgrade our bathroom. We didn’t increase the size, but we added a skylight, tiled all the surfaces, replaced the old tub with separate shower stall and soaking tub. at the time we loved it (so much light, so much less mildew), but after a few droughts we stopped using the soaking tub and would prefer the space be used for towel and linen storage. We still love the shower and the skylight. (In subsequent years we replaced the shower door with a better one and replaced the fluorescent fixtures in the cove of the skylight with LED strips.)

    Our second remodel was to convert half of our garage into our “book room” with 20 feet of 12′ high book shelves, high ceilings, skylights, bay window with window seat, and lots of floor space for desks and a sofa. We use the room daily, but it has gotten very cluttered. We never used the window seat, and the bay was poorly built and had to be completely rebuilt to remove all the dry-rotted wood a decade later.

    Our third remodel was to add skylights to our dining room, which was very dark, and to replace the old composition shingle roof with lightweight clay tiles (which are still heavier than composition shingles, so the roof needed reinforcement). We still like this improvement which adds light for half the house.

    Our most recent remodel was adding solar panels to the roof of the garage, which meant replacing the old electrical panel for the house and reshingling the garage. This was clearly not a financially sound investment (our electricity is cheap enough that we’ll never recover the cost of the solar-panel installation), but it makes us happy to be using less fossil fuel.

    Some day we may remodel the kitchen, though it is not clear how. We’re also thinking of adding ADA ramps to the front and back door, before we actually need them.

    All of our remodels were to make us happier living in the house (we’ve been there almost 31 years and expect to live there another 20-30 years). We don’t care whether they are “good investments”.

    • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

      Oops. I forgot to include the “minor” improvements that did not need permits. We’ve replaced all the windows in the house at various times and added foam insulation and drywall to most of the reinforced concrete walls.

  11. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    We considered doing a passthrough like Miser Mom briefly but I decided that I was still feeling claustrophobic in that tiny space allocated for the kitchen since we use that space both for cooking and for entertaining and socializing and general hanging out. We paid some real money to move the kitchen into another large room and it’s quite large in comparison to our old kitchen – 3x larger? – and I am thrilled with it. And I’m firmly refusing to let the clutter take over, I insisted that we carefully consider ANY additions to the cabinet contents because I like having empty storage space and not feeling cramped. I think I regret not adding solar tubing throughout the house – it was an economizing choice but we’re paying for it in having to have the lights on during the day so I can work. I love our extra large sink and the extendable faucet.

    The only thing I can think of that I regret a little is our shower head, it’s not as efficient as expected and some of the little nodes just drip instead of spray, though that might be a problem with the water pressure.

  12. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    Although our house could use some bathroom updating (they are all functional but unattractive – we have 3 full baths and a half bath I KNOW), all the renovations I’ve done so far are about making it more usable for us. I just took a 10×8 foot closet and turned it into an entryway with a lot of hooks and storage. I put six shelves in the kitchen. I worked out a scheme with wire shelving for all the tools and hardware and construction supplies.

    The entryway is currently my favorite; it took a small space that was always a disaster filled with children kicking each other, and turned it into an attractive, well-lit, functional space just as you come into the house. My splurge was a big walnut slab which I’ve made into a table!

  13. accm Says:

    I have a smallish townhouse in a Crazy Expensive City, so cosmetic upgrades only. But I had a contractor do a bunch of those when I moved in, and (echoing the “paint is important”comments above) the first night the place actually felt like *mine* was when I came home to find the formerly blue, brown, and red walls primed in white. The final color was white, too, though now the kids have embellished the walls a bit.

  14. bethh Says:

    I bought my house 5 years ago when it had been freshly flipped, so haven’t had to do any upgrades.

    I chose to add air conditioning (I work from home, and climate change is real) and this fall I put in a big (16×20) deck that I think will be pretty awesome when the weather is nice again. I also added a screen door to my front door, and painted one wall. That’s really it!

    On my short list of nice-to-have: figuring out how to get hot water faster at the sink. I have to let it run *forever* before the warm water kicks in. One of those under-sink heaters would be so amazing, but I think it might require a rewiring project (and all of it is outside my skill set).
    On my longer-term list: either putting in hardwoods or significantly improving the carpeting; but that can wait probably 5 years.
    Likely to force my hand within the next 5 years: both the heating system and the roof.
    I would love to fit a half-bath in here somewhere, but the very idea is so stressful it’ll probably never happen.

    I don’t take resale into consideration, since I’m in the Pacific NW and we’ve got a stupid bubble on at the moment. I bought at an affordable time and thank goodness I got in when I did.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      What is the process of adding a screen door? Did you have to replace the regular door too? Or add something around the doorway?

      • bethh Says:

        My situation was very easy – when you walk up to my front door from the outside, the front door opened into the house. I just had big box store person come out and install a screen door that swings outward. Didn’t have to cut holes or add doors or anything.

        I also have back (really, side) doors that are a pair of doors that swing outward. I can’t figure out how to get a real screen door on that so I bought some hanging screens with velcro at the top and sides, and magnets along a walk-through slit, and they work far better than nothing, if not as well as a real door. So in the nice weather I’ll push open the side doors and then have the screen curtains hanging.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        This side door also swings out which is why we’re having trouble. I worry about the cats with the hanging screen door. Do you know what kind you got?

      • bethh Says:

        I got something like Magnetic Screen Door, Full Frame Velcro. Fits Door Openings up to 34”x82 – you can look that up on your favorite retailer. I really don’t think it would work to keep cats inside if they are at ALL interested in going out. If they’re apathetic, though, it might be okay.

    • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

      Oh, yeah, I forget we had AC put in after all the basement furniture grew green mold. The South, y’all.

    • Kelly Says:

      Have you considered a hot water recirculating pump? We have an efficient one that has a timer along with a sensor that shuts it off when hot water reaches your slowest location and it is fabulous! We never wait for hot water. In CA, water is such a critical resource that a small increase in our electric bill (like $2/mo) was a great trade off and it was really easy to install (and pretty inexpensive).

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        Hot water recirculating pumps can add a lot to the water-heating bill, depending on how often the pump runs. (The energy of the pump itself is small compared to the energy lost from the circulating water.)

        We had one for a couple of years and had it removed as major energy waster. We end up wasting about 5 gallons a day in waiting for water to heat up, which is a reasonable tradeoff for us (unless we get a serious drought).

  15. Debbie M Says:

    Interesting–our mold is black! Our bathroom didn’t have a ventilation fan because it has a window, but we never open the window, so finally we got someone to put in a fan. Then we scrubbed and bleached the walls and ceiling and painted them with special anti-mildew primer and then nice paint and now the bathroom is so much nicer.

    We have added more and more shelving to the broom closet off the dining room so that now it quite the pantry and I love this.

    We made giant bookcases to cover the long windowless wall in the living room and these are so, so awesome. (Technically, it’s just furniture and not a renovation, but they are too tall and wide to fit through the doors, so they are now part of the house.)

    We put some IKEA towel bars on the ceiling over the stove to use as a pot rack. First we put up some 2×4’s that we could nail to the rafters and then we screwed the towel bars into the 2×4’s exactly where we wanted them. We painted the 2×4’s to match the ceiling.

    When our A/C broke we got a new energy efficient one and noticed no difference at all. So sad. I mean, except that it worked again. :-)

    Some remodeling that my best friends did that they love include:
    * replacing sliding glass doors with French doors
    * adding a window to the bedroom for better access to the roof (for watching fireworks) (Yes, we’re 12.)
    * adding a window seat for reading

    I don’t care about re-sale at all except for the re-use factor. Like, if we add a super gigantic walk-in closet, I may try to make it look like a bedroom because that’s what normal people would want, because this would make it less likely that a lot of resources would be wasted on a re-model or tear down for future residents. Also, I’d rather use easy-to-change things for any loud colors we want. So, for example, I want red cabinets but neutral countertops and backsplash.

    When I do renovate, there will be sticker shock. I really want a dishwasher, walk-in closet, separate laundry room (currently there’s a washer in the kitchen and a drying rack in the bedroom), and covered parking for two cars. I also fantasize about re-roofing with Tesla solar tiles. My whole house only cost me $61,500, and took me a long time to pay off. My salary isn’t any higher now, but I fear I may spend just as much for these modernizations. I tell myself it’s reasonable to spend half my IRA on this.

    I used to move ALL THE TIME. And I have lived with all kinds of wackiness. But I have to say that living with the same wackiness for 20 years gets old. Super old. I love my location, though, so it’s worth spending a bit to fix it up.

    • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

      Anti-mildew primer and paint helps, but only for a few years. A dehumidifier also helps, but is somewhat expensive to run at about 300W (we didn’t get one until after we had solar panels). It is also noisy,so we can’t run it in the bedroom.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Yikes, sorry to hear that!

        Our paint is still in good shape after a few years, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the vent fan is working for us indefinitely.

  16. NZ Muse Says:

    Now I’m curious what a multi stage bathroom is! Googled it but only just got a bunch of results for water pumps…

    We have just been in fix mode and tiny additions mode (tiny as in, add coat racks etc). Also added roof insulation (SO WORTH IT) and now embarking on kitchen reno (trust me, by American standards you would be a bit disgusted by the state of our ancient kitchen). Now if cabinetmakers would actually email/call me back…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s just one where the toilet is in a water closet inside the bathroom and the shower stall is separate from the tub.

    • chacha1 Says:

      Yeah, that’s it. The multi-stage bathroom has separate everything, the idea being (I guess) that two adults can comfortably occupy the bathroom space without having to share a sink or a shower/bath. Since these bathrooms are typically in houses that already have another full bathroom and a powder room, to me they seem like a waste of space, but then it’s just two working adults in our household. No kids or other spare people.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Our shower is big enough to be shared… So is the bath-tub! But if the bather wants to enjoy hir bath bomb, zie doesn’t have to worry about the showerer getting water on hir candles(!)

        (And yes, it is a waste of space.)

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