In honor of my brother buying his first house, I thought a cost of home ownership post was appropriate. Maybe this will be a spooky Halloween post for him and other new homeowners around the world or it will be a shot of encouragement.
For the past five months I have been rebuilding our front porch. The old porch had a failing foundation and was looking like it could fall down at any moment. When we bought the house we knew we would have to do something about it, and two years later we finally did. So before we get into the numbers a bit, let’s take a look at a before and after picture.
Everything from the roof down was demolished and rebuilt. While I did most of the work by myself, I did have quite a bit of guidance from our next door neighbor who is a professional carpenter. Shae helped with painting and decision making. Additionally, we hired a mason to lay new brick piers and a flooring contractor to sand the new/reused porch flooring.
With November only a week away and winter not far behind that this project is likely being shelved until next spring. There are still handrails to finish up, skirting, and a lot of touch up painting needed to officially mark the job as complete.
So you ask, what did it cost to get this far. $4235.03. Of that, raw materials was 79%, hired help was 20%, and bureaucratic fees made up the final 1%.
Our material cost was driven up by our choice to reuse the existing ipe flooring. Ipe is an extremely dense and rot resistance Brazilian hardwood. We were able to salvage about 70% of the existing flooring and reuse it, but the other 30% plus new stair treads in matching ipe accounted for 43% of our material cost at a total of $1438.66.
Another area we splurged on was the foundation work. We could have stuck a treated 6×6 into the ground and poured concrete around it and called it a day. Instead we dug huge holes to make large concrete pads to support brick piers (that were themselves filled with concrete) to support the framing.
The extra strong foundation was $1274.95 (793.95 in materials + 485 in mason labor). Our justification for spending so much on that was two fold. Firstly, if the foundation had been done properly the first time around, we wouldn’t have had to do this project. Secondly, a wood post in the ground would not match the historic nature of our house and neighborhood. It would also eventually rot out and that brings us back to our first reason.
Once you take out those two big ticket items we are left with $1521.42. That covers all of the framing lumber, painting, tools, a professional sander, permits, and misc. nickels and dimes.
Okay, I know I know. I left out the biggest cost of all in the numbers above. My time. I have been working on this on and off for the past five months and that has value. I do not know how many hours I put in, but I do know what local costs are for hiring out a job like this to a contractor. Let me just say, my time investment has been worth it. We have easily saved five figures by doing the work ourselves. All you have to do is take a look at the Labor portion of our costs and see that just two guys ate up 20% of the project cost. Imagine what a full team working for a couple of weeks would do!
Good luck with your new house bro. They are expensive and time consuming but for us, that beats the alternative of sharing a wall and roof with someone else. So roll up your sleeves and start building some sweat, blood, and tears equity!