Today is the 3rd installment of 24 articles in our year-long series called “The Simple House Project” – including the secrets to downsizing.Every 2 weeks, we will publish an article or video covering the process from start to finish. From permits, plans, and construction of the exterior, to the complete interior finish – we hope to document the challenges, trials and tribulations of creating a simple cost-effective, energy-efficient and earth-friendly house.

With the new house plan well underway, one of our biggest concerns now becomes our current house – as in finding the time to prepare it for sale and deciding when to put it on the market. We also need continue to pare down to prepare for living in a smaller home.

The before. The kitchen as it looked on Thanksgiving night. I think it may be blurry from my inability to focus after a big meal
The before. The kitchen as it looked on Thanksgiving night. I think it may be blurry from my inability to focus after a big meal

The good news is that we have been preparing for this for a while – the bad news is that time is beginning to run short – and we need to get the house ready for sale at some point next year.

As many of you know – we are both big believers in using daily to-do lists and yearly goals to help motivate and keep us on track – and those have both played a huge role in helping us get the house ready to sell, and us ready to move. About 18 months back – when we first began our plan to downsize and build and live at the farm – we created a simple list of a few things we knew we had to complete.

The first was to begin to simply live with less “junk” – and for that the “One a Day – 365 Project” has been incredible. I am amazed every day how much better it feels to live with less “stuff”.  See: One a Day – 365 Project – Removing Unnecessary Clutter and Simplifying Life!

Second- we knew there were five major items we had to address in our current house in order to get it ready to sell. (1) A new roof (2) Updating the dining room (see:Dining Room Project) (3) Updating the screened in back porch and deck (see: Creating an Outdoor Room) (4) Remodeling / updating the kitchen (5) New carpet for the majority of house

 The painting of the cabinet doors - a long process!
The painting of the cabinet doors – a long process!

Up to this point, we had 3 of those knocked off – the new roof went on in the Spring of 2014, we remodeled and updated the dining room last November, and we completed the porch project this past Spring. That left us with the kitchen and carpeting projects to finish off.

As for the carpet – thanks to our beloved but aging and oft-shedding black lab Jazzy – that one will wait until right before the house goes up for sale. I swear at times that we could create an entire new dog from the piles of fur that can come off of her after a brushing!

So with a few days off and a long Thanksgiving weekend – we decided that instead of dealing with the craziness of Black Friday shopping – we would use the time to tackle the kitchen remodel.  The goal was simple – update the entire area to a new look without spending a fortune!  That meant a DIY weekend of cleaning, de-greasing, resurfacing, and painting.

The kitchen on Sunday evening - almost done!
The kitchen on Sunday evening – almost done!

Our kitchen has served us well – but 4 kids, a dog, and constant canning and cooking traffic has taken its toll – and it definitely needed updating before ever going up for sale. So after the last of the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie left the table – we got to work.

First we removed each and every cabinet face along with all of the hardware. Then came a deep cleaning and de-greasing of the walls, cabinets and trim – followed by a round of sanding and more cleaning.  As a side note, does anyone else ever think they are a moderately clean person until pulling out refrigerators and stoves to find dirt and lost items that you never knew existed? 🙂

Then came the painting, and more painting…and more painting. Two coats of Kilz on the cabinet bases and faces was followed by another 2 coats of acrylic paint to get rid of the “old wood” look. Next, the walls and trim were painted to bring a fresh bright look to room.

Jazzy in the kitchen - she was quite confused with all of the remodeling
Jazzy in the kitchen – she was quite confused with all of the remodeling

Even though it sounds like a lot of work – to be honest – we actually had a blast. With a constant supply of football games throughout the weekend to keep us company while we worked – and a few breaks in between to enjoy a meal out – the project went surprisingly smooth. I think that without a doubt the key to any project is simply taking your time, staying relaxed, and having fun with it.

By Sunday evening – all that remained was to hang the new lights, and attach a few final cabinet doors. Followed of course by finally sitting down and enjoying a glass of much-needed wine! That’s not to say that with all of that “fun” there wasn’t a few sore muscles…well actually, a lot of sore muscles!

It’s funny though, have you ever noticed that every time you complete a project to update a room – how quickly something else in the room or a room nearby now looks “out of place” or like it needs to be updated? It can become a vicious cycle!

With the kitchen project now complete – the only question that remains is when to put the house up for sale. It’s actually a conversation we just can’t quite figure out yet. The dilemma – do we put it up for sale in the Spring  (a hotter housing market time) when beginning to build our house, or wait until later in the year as the house nears completion?

The one saving grace is that if all else fails – we can always find a place to rent for a few months to get us through. I know that we both would much rather have that option than the thought of juggling two houses.

Happy Building! – Jim and Mary

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13 thoughts on “The Exit Plan – Remodeling, Downsizing, and Preparing to Sell While Building

  • December 8, 2015 at 1:16 am
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    I personally would not want to move twice! Been there, done that, horrible. Summer is a great time to sell houses.

  • December 7, 2015 at 8:43 pm
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    If you don’t HAVE to move immediately, I’d suggest you work on your new farm house and have it almost completed before putting your house on the market.
    When we first put our house on the market, we had already found a property to move to. We put $1,000 down as earnest money but made it clear in our offer that we had to sell our home first (we wanted to pay all cash). Our offer was accepted.
    Once our offer was accepted, we had a house inspection (joke of all time — no more “professional inspectors” for us). Hubby did a well test and found that after four hours of running the well, it went dry and started pumping mud. With this surprise, we contacted our agent. After finding more things in addition to the well, we decided the price we offered was too high. Our realtor agreed. We made a new offer due to our inspections results. We ended up going round and round with the sellers and eventually pulled out (got our earnest money back). Now what?? Our home was on the market, getting lots of interest and a few low bids, and we had no place to go. The next day, we received a full price (CASH) offer and we accepted it. We finally found our farm but because it was a foreclosure, it took longer than a normal cash sale. So we ended up rushing to move because we had to pay the new owner rent — it took us 13-days to move, making many trips per day and night, and we were almost completely packed up before we even found our new farm.
    Our house sold faster than the realtor expected so we ended up totally exhausted and burned -out when we landed at our new farm.
    Don’t rush to put your house up – trust me, your home will sell!
    I’m enjoying seeing what you have done to your home and love your new farm as well. Happy Week Ahead to You ~ Bobbie

  • December 7, 2015 at 5:00 pm
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    Your kitchen looks lovely – did you refinish the counter tops, or replace them?

    • December 8, 2015 at 8:15 am
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      Hi Linda The countertops are the same in the before and after picture. I think painting the cabinets made them look darker.

  • December 7, 2015 at 8:05 am
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    Don’t worry about selling your house..people will be standing in line to buy it.

  • December 6, 2015 at 8:01 pm
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    I am not sure that I will ever be able to downsize after living in a 500 square foot camper ,with 2 other adults for 4 months after our house burned in October 2011 . I do not think I would have been able to keep my sanity if it had not been for my shop. it gave me a place to escape to . I know you are not downsizing that much , but that time made me appreciate the house that I have now. I may have to downsize someday , but I am not looking forward to it.

  • December 6, 2015 at 11:15 am
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    Wow, you two are so inspiring! To get all of that done in a long weekend? Wow!! I do agree with Lois. I’m not a carpet person either and many people (my son included) have allergies which make carpeting a no-go. Plus, carpet is a bigger financial commitment than paint. I’d be thrilled if I were a carpet loving homeowner and go an allowance to pick it out myself.

  • December 6, 2015 at 10:26 am
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    I love reading your updates! My husband and I are in the same boat, 4 grown kids and it’s time to downsize and sell the house!

  • December 6, 2015 at 9:44 am
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    I am with the folks above – spring for selling. Just have someplace to lay your own head in the case that it sells right away:) Good luck.

  • December 6, 2015 at 9:38 am
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    Good job and a beautiful kitchen! Regarding the carpet, have you considered offering an ‘allowance’ for new owners to put in what they want? I hate carpet so I’d rather go with wood, laminate or even stained concrete than deal with that.

  • December 6, 2015 at 8:59 am
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    You are truly inspiration with the spirit in which you tackle these projects! My vote would be to put your house for sale in the SPRING. Get the monkey off your back and be footloose for focused. Easy to move again when you’ll be mostly still packed up and you’ll know you’re profits on your sale ahead of the closing on the new construction. Happy Building. 🙂

  • December 6, 2015 at 8:22 am
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    Hey the kitchen looks great. Good job! My thoughts on the sale of the house. If you for sure want to sell next year then put it in the market In the spring. It’s the best time to sell and you won’t feel pressed to take the first offer you won’t be feeing as pressured. I’m a realtor here in Oklahoma and you guys are doing exactly what you need to do to get top dollar for your house. Hope this is some helpful info. Oh what about the book? I thought that was coming in October. I haven’t received mine yet.

    • December 6, 2015 at 8:34 am
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      Hi Julie – thanks so much for the comment and the advice! That is the way we are leaning as well – and hopefully it all works out! The book is set to be completed in January and out in February. We are so excited to finally have it out and hope you like it! 2016 is going to be a busy year! 🙂

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