How We Saved Thousands Painting Our House

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

I was writing a post about boosting our curb appeal today, when all of a sudden I realized I never shared the full post on painting our house! I mentioned it in our quarterly update, but I owe you guys the full story about how we ended up saving over $6,000 on painting our house.

So, let's jump right in!

I'll never forget my brother coming to visit us right before we closed on this home. We took him over to see the house, and he looked at it and said, "Wait -- why are you buying an ugly house?" 😆😆

Nothing like the brutal honesty of siblings, #amiright?

I know that most of our friends and family who saw this house were like "wait, huh?" I get it. It was veryyyyy 1980s. The maroon trim and shutters were not doing it any favors. Even though we hated almost everything about this house, it felt like home. We knew it had potential and we were the ones to take it on. But, one of the first things we started saving for was to change the color scheme of the exterior. Thankfully, the siding was in really good shape, so I knew a good, professional paint job would really improve the aesthetics.

My photoshop skills borderline on criminal, but here's a rendition I did when we were thinking about making an offer to see what it might look like with different colors.

Being an advocate for getting multiple bids, I put my money where my mouth is and sourced 5 different estimates to paint the house -- before we even bought it! Knowing this house was going to be a fixer upper, I wanted to be sure that we had an idea of what we might spend going in. I wasn't about to get surprised with what things cost after we'd closed. We had a range of bids to paint going from $12,000-$8000.  These prices did not include replacing our gutters, which also needed to be done (previous owners had removed them at some point and didn't reattach on the original holes, so open screw holes leaked streams of water when it rained...). Obviously we initially went with the least expensive vendor, and asked him to bid adding on gutters. 

Once the price for new gutters was added in,  the total estimate for this exterior reno was closer to $9500. Yeesh. We definitely had sticker shock, and we knew going in we wouldn't be able to do everything at once. We set a goal to save and plan to re-paint by the end of 2020. 

A client of mine had recently found their own vendor for installing new gutters on their house, and the estimate they got was so reasonable I decided see if they could beat the $1500.00 estimate my painter had given me. When the guy came out, he quoted me at almost half the price of the other big (right around $800) to remove and reinstall new, extra wide gutters (an upgrade from the other bid!). Score! At the very least, I was happy to be saving $700 on new gutters, but when I mentioned we were having the house painted, he asked if he could provide an estimate on that too. I remember telling him, "sure, but I have had several quotes and I'm pretty sure I've got the best one." 

Lo and behold, a day or so later he came in with a total price for : new paint, siding repair, AND new gutters for under $6000.00 I couldn't believe it. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again.... s-h-o-p a-r-o-u-n-d. NEVER go with your first bid! It literally pays to get as many bids as possible. We saved over $6000.00 from the original bid I got (which was from my beloved and most used general contractor), and $3500.00 from the "lowest bid" we almost took. Mind blown! 

Since we also had some leftover money from an insurance claim for the leak that sprung in our living room, we had enough to do the painting right away. So, we did! And 2 months later when the weather warmed up they started work! OH yeah... it was also December when we were getting these bids, and I *reaaaaally* wonder if booking them in the winter helped me save some money even though they didn't do the work until spring.

This was how the house looked the morning the painters arrived. SO dark and drab. I was really over the maroon shutters, especially, and how they matched the brown/maroon roof.

We knew we wanted to do a blue/grey tone on the house -- we've always talked about having a blue house some day! We quickly decided on the color (Slate Tile by Sherwin Williams) was the one. It had the moody blue/grey tone we wanted, and seemed to go well with the maroon, which helped us decide if it would look okay next to our roof. Why they chose a red/brown/maroon roof over grey or black shingles I'll never understand. It's only 2 years old though, so we are making it work. 

Watching them start painting was exhilarating, terrifying, and gratifying all at once. I was so excited to see our home have new life, a new look, and really feel like ours, but I was sooo nervous that we had made the wrong choice. Seeing the blue paint against the dark trim color made me so anxious. At first I panicked, because I really didn't like it! I was terrified we'd picked the wrong color and it was too late to change it. 

See that dark yellow siding above? The painter's estimate included removing any pieces of siding that were rotted and needed to be replaced. Such a good deal! 

Seeing the garage doors go white really started to bring it to life. I love seeing this side by side of what it looked like with one door painted white and the other still beige. Such a difference!

Seeing the dark blue against the dark trim and our dark roof though had me SO anxious. I really wasn't liking it at this point and was wondering how we were going to fix it. I was even googling "can you paint a roof?" because I felt like it was bringing out the red tone so strongly.

But, thankfully, once they started doing the trim, everything just clicked. It really came to life and the redness of the roof toned down a TON. Even some of our neighbors asked us if we had done anything to the roof. Somehow the white trim just made it pop so much and really changed the tone of it. I think seeing the windows and dentil molding painted white was when I realized I had done a good job. I had picked well and it was really going to be a beautiful home! 

The last steps of the process were for them to re-hang the shutters (which they had painted Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black), and to paint the front door (Sherwin Williams Pineapple Cream)

We really debated on what color to paint the door. We had gone back and forth about doing yellow, black, white, or red, but we decided that we would take the bold step and paint it yellow. Earlier in the week I happened to show a house with the same color scheme and seeing it all pulled together sealed the deal that it was spunky, friendly, welcoming, and us! 

And now for the finished photos... here she is in all her glory! 







I think the best part of this huge home makeover project has been the reaction from our neighbors. Several of our neighbors stopped us in the yard to tell us how much they loved what we'd done, and thank us for making the improvement. I think that's just about the best compliment I could ever receive! Renovations are loud, noisy, and messy, and I often worry that we're disrupting the people we live by. To hear that they appreciate the work we've been doing means so much to me and is so gratifying. 

So, that's the story of how we saved a ton of money sourcing multiple bids for our house painting job. If you are local to Raleigh/Durham, we used a contractor called Hilliard Builders out of Cary. Todd Hilliard was the man, and I highly recommend him! 

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