Before & After: Our St Augustine Home
If you follow us on Instagram, you've likely seen some photos of our house renovation. Last summer, Rachel and I bought a true fixer-upper and have spent the past year remodeling to make the place our own. The house was in terrible shape, but we loved the location and had confidence that the structure was sound.
Our home loan didn't include construction costs, so all renovations were out of pocket, forcing us to adhere to a tight budget over the course of the year. We tackled the projects in order of priority and did most of the work ourselves. We consistently tried to find ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality. We incorporated as many original details as possible, DIY'ed our way through each room, and focused the larger expenses on more impactful features that required skilled labor like the poured concrete patio, AC ductwork, & exterior paint. We're a year in and have done the renovation work throughout the house for just under $20,000.
3 Bed / 2 Bath, Built in 1953
1560 sqft, 1/3 acre
$20,000 Renovations, 1 Year in Progress
Davis Shores, Anastasia Island
St. Augustine, FL
Before & After
In all, we found 8 different layers of flooring in the house including ceramic tile, carpet, asbestos tile, concrete poured over tile, etc. We removed it all, skim coated the concrete floors, and stained / sealed them. It was really important that the floors be durable and easy to clean.
The sunroom went from the worst room in the house, to one of our favorites. This room is an add-on to the house and the only one without a concrete foundation. There was no flooring when we moved in, just a plywood substructure. We added whitewashed wood floors, painted over the bright yellow and green walls, added lighting, replaced broken windows, and converted the leftover "interior-exterior" windows into pass-through shelves.
The exterior concrete was our most recent project. We poured a large back patio, extended our driveway, and added a small patio area upfront.
The natural setting of the house was one of the few things it had going for it when we bought it. We aimed to leave the ferns and all of the growth as intact as possible.
In the kitchen, we chose to refinish the original cabinets and retrofit them for a farmhouse sink and Beech wood countertops. The tile is also original but refreshed with black grout for added contrast.
We demolished most of the wall dividing the kitchen and dining nook. It required moving a panel box, but was ultimately really necessary in opening up the kitchen. We also demolished the soffit that encased collapsed air ducts (the area in the before picture with the nice Volcom logo painted on it).
We were told by the seller's agent that the AC unit was undersized for the house and that's why it wasn't adequately cooling the whole house. In reality, there was no issue with the AC unit or its capacity. Instead, we found that the ducting was completely collapsed inside of the drywall casing when we demoed it.
We've learned a lot going through this process over the last year. A couple of takeaways:
1. If possible, don't move in until you are done with the messy stuff. Some of the worst aspects of the renovation resulted from having to live in the chaos.
2. Consider the elements and/or systems that may apply to the whole house (plumbing, flooring, roofing, exterior paint, etc) and if they need work, address those at once. When those house-wide pieces are taken care of, take it room-by-room.
3. Home warranties seem kind of scammy, but can be totally worthwhile. The seller paid for the first year and we just opted to extend it. It was a major relief when we had AC issues the very first month and recently when our roof started leaking.
I'm sure there are many other things I'm missing, but feel free to reach out with any questions regarding process, sources, etc.
Photos: Kelsey Heinze