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rated:
I'm in the process of closing on a house and moving from our apartment into the house. We do plan to live in this house for about 5 years (several reasons for the "5 years" expectation - digging into that will open a can of worms and hence I'd prefer to stay out of it in this thread if possible).

What I am finding out (to my surprise) is that there are significant expenses outside the cost of closing/down-payment etc.
I'll try to list all of them here and hopefully the more experienced members can help me optimize/save on these things.

Summary
Furniture: $3282
Granite Counters: $2676.39. Another $500 (Estimated) for Faucet/Garbage Disposal/labor (plumber).
Handyman/Plumber labor + Materials to fix inspection issues: (Estimated) $1000.
Electrician labor + Materials to fix inspection issues: (Estimated) $500
Deck: (Estimated) $1500-$2000 to fix rotting wood. Will do new Trex deck if < $5000.
Fence: (Estimated) $10k-$15k.


********Much more details in the Wall of Text below************

Furniture: Total Cost $3,282. Already paid: $2,157. Spoken for - to be paid on delivery: $1,125.
This is a combination of mostly used furniture (some from previous owners, some from a store) except for living room furniture where we are splurging on a Sams Club set for ~$1800.

Granite Counters: Already paid $2676.39 (Home Depot) for counters, estimating another $500 for faucet, garbage disposal and plumber to hook it up.
The cost for counters was ~$3250 (we - as in wifey - chose a $59/sq ft granite). The cost was brought down by a combination of Home Depot promotion going on (10% off) + GC purchased at ~10% discount.
The above includes new sink.
Still need to pay for faucet + garbage disposal and the plumber to install them (the countertop guys will NOT do any plumbing work).

Handyman/plumber work to fix-up inspection issues - estimating $1000 in labor + materials.
The attic needs some attention. Gable Vent screens on both sides need to be replaced. Birds nested in the insulation near the broken screens - i.e. the R19 insulation within 2ft of the vent needs to be replaced.
For some reason - a bunch of main water shut off valve's are missing (3 places by our count - two toilet flushes and one sink). They need to be put back in.
One toilet seat is loose - needs to tighten and caulk around the base.
The metal chimney coming from the furnace downstairs is not sealed tightly in the attic - allowing cold air to flow into the chase inside the walls. This "opening" needs to be sealed.

Electrician work to bring everything up to code: Estimating $500 in labor + materials
A bunch of electric outlets are not GFCI - needs to be replaced.
AC condenser and air handler are double tapped. Needs to be fixed.

Deck
The 450 sq ft wood deck is 38 year old - and some wood rot is happening. The options are - to fix it, or replace with a trex deck. I'm a little confused which one to take.

A couple of local contractors give me a quote of $12000-$18000 for a new composite deck. However, this is significantly higher than the estimates I get for trex decking from homeadvisor. http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/outdoor-living/install-trex-deck... -> is only $8-$9.5/sq ft.
At $10k+, I'll simply fix the rotten wood and live with it (estimate - $1.5k). At <$5k - I'll go for a new deck.
Any ideas what might be the disconnect between the "homeadvisor dot com" estimate for $8-$9.5/sq-ft and the $12-$18k estimate that the local contractor gave me?
Obviously - I have zero interest in padding the profit margin of the contractors and more interested in getting value for myself .

Fence
There is a stream in the back of the house. It is extremely picturesque due to this. However, it also makes for safety hazard if the kids get into the water unsupervised. I plan to fence the yard with a solid vinyl fence so that the kids can play and run around when they want - and yet can't get into the water unsupervised. There will be gates locked with combination cycle locks - so that we can "go fishin'" when we want to. 

The cost estimate for fencing also vary a lot. I've got estimates from $30/ft to $50/ft for a typical white vinyl fence.
Again - any suggestions on how to get the lower end of the cost here would be really appreciated. I'm not terribly interested in the highest quality vinyl that will not fade for 30 years. Anything that will do it's job for 10 years or so will do fine for me.

Moving
Local moves seem to be around $500 here. We are planning to move in two rounds for convenience + the fact that none of us want to take a day off from work around the move time for various reasons. Total move cost: $1000. 

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
I understand you guys are a lot more rational in trying to save money. e.g. if it is a $50 thing, then trying to save $5... (more)

puddonhead (Jan. 26, 2017 @ 1:04p) |

BostonOne (Jan. 26, 2017 @ 6:12p) |

I would suggest you skip all of the outdoor work, deck, fence, etc. It's extremely likely you will encounter unforeseen ... (more)

Lurker1999 (Jan. 26, 2017 @ 6:25p) |

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rated:
is the stream on your land?

rated:
No.

There is city-owned land between the land I will own and the stream.

On a related topic - my (to be) land and the house will be in a flood zone! My offer price did factor this in to the best of my abilities.

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don't forget these other items...

flood insurance, carpet/refinishing floors, alarm installation/monthly service, window treatments, paint, landscaping (adding and/or removing stuff), more insulation, pest control, fixing sprinklers, rekeying/replacing all exterior locks, fixing windows and doors that stick

rated:
puddonhead said:   No.

There is city-owned land between the land I will own and the stream.

 

  Then I would not do the fence as it's the biggest ticket item

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rufflesinc said:   
puddonhead said:   No.

There is city-owned land between the land I will own and the stream.

 

  Then I would not do the fence as it's the biggest ticket item

  
I think he is worried one of his kiddos might wander into the stream.  So without a fence his backyard wouldnt be a suitable spot for the kiddos to play.

rated:
What is the question exactly?

Should we assume that you have $20k+ lying around to spend on all this? Or are you paying for it all with high interest credit cards?

Some of this seems unnecessary but if you can easily afford it all then who cares. If you can't easily afford it then don't.

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Which one's of these do you deem are unnecessary and why?

My questions are:
1. Anything you can recommend to get the cost down for these items?
2. Any item that you deem unnecessary? Or has cheaper alternatives? As a first time homebuyer - it's very much possible that I'm worried about the wrong stuff and might spend a lot of money only to discover later it wasn't exactly necessary.

Note about affordability - I'd prefer spending as little as possible, but can spend the amounts noted above if necessary - without taking any CC loan. I don't like dipping into my brokerage accounts, however, where I typically invest with very long investment horizon. So I'd paraphrase saying that I can afford any reasonable 'need' - but not 'want's.

We can, of course, argue about the granite stuff - but I consider it to be a cheap way to buy family peace - and hence a need .. if the cost was > $5k, then we'd be having a different discussion.

rated:
daw4888 said:   rufflesinc said:   
puddonhead said:   No.

There is city-owned land between the land I will own and the stream.

 

  Then I would not do the fence as it's the biggest ticket item

  
I think he is worried one of his kiddos might wander into the stream.  So without a fence his backyard wouldnt be a suitable spot for the kiddos to play.


Spot-on.

rated:
puddonhead said:   Fence
There is a stream in the back of the house. It is extremely picturesque due to this. However, it also makes for safety hazard if the kids get into the water unsupervised.
It doesn't cost anything to remove the Pokemon Go app from their phones.

rated:
Why do you "Need" a white vinyl fence?
I would price chain link.

Edit:
Electric fences are dirt cheap, and they will keep the kiddos in check.

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I agree, you should price out other types of fence.  How tall of a fence are you thinking about? 6-8' privacy fence?  I would consider doing this on the sides, but putting in a lower/chain link along that back that will still allow you a view of the stream.  It should also save you considerable cost.

rated:
To save money on the granite counters, don't buy them. Live with what is already in the house. If you insist on replacing them, consider a less expensive granite or another less expensive material. (I've been to someone's house and they were boasting about their granite counters. They had formica that looked like granite.)
To save money on the furniture, don't buy it. Live with what you were already using in the apartment.
For the deck, just replace the rotten boards.
For your attic, to save on heating and cooling bills, add more insulation. R19 isn't enough.
For the fence, use something less expensive (wood?) If you're only going to be there 5 years, there is no need for a lifetime fence.

rated:
puddonhead said:   
daw4888 said:   
rufflesinc said:   
puddonhead said:   No.

There is city-owned land between the land I will own and the stream.

 

  Then I would not do the fence as it's the biggest ticket item

  
I think he is worried one of his kiddos might wander into the stream.  So without a fence his backyard wouldnt be a suitable spot for the kiddos to play.


Spot-on.

  If they're old enough to be outside unsupervised, they're old enough to be taught not to leave the property.  If you still feel compelled to cage the kids so be it, but it shouldnt have anything to do with the stream - the road out front is just as dangerous, as is any number of things to the left or right...

rated:
These all sound like reasonable expenses if you can afford them and got a 20k discount off market because of their absence. But you could just as easily skip all of this and live in the house as-is. The seller did.

 

rated:
Lots of places don't allow ugly chain link fences. OP may not be in Slackjaw Hollow, Tennessee. White plastic's not my taste either, but OP may have no choice. Chain link looks like a prison exercise yard.

rated:
Glitch99 said:   puddonhead said:   
daw4888 said:   
rufflesinc said:   
puddonhead said:   No.

There is city-owned land between the land I will own and the stream.

 

  Then I would not do the fence as it's the biggest ticket item

  
I think he is worried one of his kiddos might wander into the stream.  So without a fence his backyard wouldnt be a suitable spot for the kiddos to play.


Spot-on.

  If they're old enough to be outside unsupervised, they're old enough to be taught not to leave the property.  If you still feel compelled to cage the kids so be it, but it shouldnt have anything to do with the stream - the road out front is just as dangerous, as is any number of things to the left or right...


Most of these would not be considered moving expenses op. These are specific to the house you are buying and not 100% necessary except maybe in your eyes.

rated:
ganda said:   Lots of places don't allow ugly chain link fences. OP may not be in Slackjaw Hollow, Tennessee. White plastic's not my taste either, but OP may have no choice. Chain link looks like a prison exercise yard.
  they were popular in the 50s here . all the postwar houses have chain link backyards . 

rated:
bc3000 said:   
Most of these would not be considered moving expenses op. These are specific to the house you are buying and not 100% necessary except maybe in your eyes.

These are all renovation expenses, and should've already been baked in to the purchase price.

Except the furniture. But what you have in your old place should be all you need in the new house. As much as people feel obligated to do so, there is no reason to "properly" furnish the entire house just for the sake of furnishing it.
  

rated:
taylor0987 said:   To save money on the granite counters, don't buy them. Live with what is already in the house. If you insist on replacing them, consider a less expensive granite or another less expensive material. (I've been to someone's house and they were boasting about their granite counters. They had formica that looked like granite.)
To save money on the furniture, don't buy it. Live with what you were already using in the apartment.
For the deck, just replace the rotten boards.
For your attic, to save on heating and cooling bills, add more insulation. R19 isn't enough.
For the fence, use something less expensive (wood?) If you're only going to be there 5 years, there is no need for a lifetime fence.

Aside from the electrical, these things can also be done yourself.  

rated:
If your AC condenser and air handler are both double tapped in the breaker box, I would set aside a little money for HVAC issues.
Chances are the installer was "Gas and go Joe"

rated:
>> But what you have in your old place should be all you need in the new house.
I'm moving from a 700 sq ft apartment to a 1900 sq ft house. So new furniture is needed.
Current "living room" set is in such poor condition that it can't go to the new living room. So we are banishing it to the basement and getting a new living room set - that is $1800 of the cost. The rest are second hand stuff that can't be had for any lower.

>> They were popular in the 50s here. all the postwar houses have chain link backyards .
My city will allow chain-link. They only regulate the height of fences - and not the material.
However, very few houses has chain link fences in our area. It will look off place and depress home value.
The idea of doing vinyl on the side and chain-link on the back (where it is not visible) is interesting. I will have to price that out.

>> These are all renovation expenses, and should've already been baked in to the purchase price.
I used a spreadsheet to "value" the house based on comps and added/subtracted from there based on various factors: e.g.
- fence
- inspection issues (seller credit re-negotiated after inspection)
- liquidity adjustment of 6% (5% realtor fee + 1% tax - this is same as buy side of a transaction adjusting valuation by average bid-ask spread of a security) etc.
- The deck (cost of getting a new one) was severely underestimated it seems - based on misleading information from homeadvisor. I estimated $4k for the new deck - seems it will be more like $12k. . Most probably I will end up just replacing the rotten boards and live with it.
- Present value of future maintenance costs. (Roof - $10k 10 years later, R22 AC Unit - $9k 10 years out, Oil tank - $2.5k 5 years out)
etc. etc. etc.

I had a little bit of margin of safety (~$5000) in my spreadsheet. So, it's not all hopeless yet. However, my buffer has now disappeared and I am afraid of what other surprises may present itself.

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
ganda said:   Lots of places don't allow ugly chain link fences. OP may not be in Slackjaw Hollow, Tennessee. White plastic's not my taste either, but OP may have no choice. Chain link looks like a prison exercise yard.
  they were popular in the 50s here . all the postwar houses have chain link backyards . 

  
I believe OP will be putting the fence up in 2017 though.

Maybe he'll get an 11" black & white tube TV with rabbit ears too

rated:
taylor0987 said:   To save money on the granite counters, don't buy them. Live with what is already in the house. If you insist on replacing them, consider a less expensive granite or another less expensive material.
  Granite is way cheaper than a divorce (if you read the OP)

rated:
puddonhead said:   >> But what you have in your old place should be all you need in the new house.
I'm moving from a 700 sq ft apartment to a 1900 sq ft house. So new furniture is needed.

 No, you just think you need more furniture. Are you inheriting additional family members with this move? Assuming you aren't, there's the same number of heads needing pillows, the same number of butts needing seats - what you already had will continue to be all you need. Just because you now have 3x the space doesn't mean you suddenly need to have 3x the amount of stuff, especially right away.

rated:
Probably too late but did you use a real estate broker that will kick back half of their commission?

rated:
Nowadays there's concrete/cement countertops that mimic granite etc. for half the price.

rated:
Putting things in perspective, you made a large and expensive purchase - the house. Everything else is just fractional cost.
Enjoy your house, you will be there for 5 years. Put in granite counter tops if that's what you like. It will make your house more attractive to sell when 5 years are up, and you get to enjoy the counter tops while you live there. Same goes for your fence and deck.
To lower your costs, talk to your neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc. I bet someone will know a person (cheaper than a company) that can do work for you.
Also, from my experience, granite counter tops came out much cheaper (same goes for floors) when we found raw materials on our own, and then hired someone to install them.

rated:
lesigh

rated:
I would suggest:

Skip the fence if you're the responsible sort. I live on 1+ acres and watch the neighbors' fences rot in quiet times, and fall during storms. 10k + would be better off in an emergency account. Kids outside? Adult goes outside, too. It's that simple.

Do some of the work yourself. Unless you're handicapped, you're always learning. I'd learn to do gable vents, insulation, etc. Save your 'farming out' money for something that can't wait (like an explosive water heater).

Always expect things to come up, and be misery on the "I can do that" items.

In any case, good luck..

rated:
Are you Handy at all? You could build a wood fence for a lot less. If you spaced out the pickets you could save money and have a nice view of the stream. You don't have to do it from scratch, they have precut pickets and prefab gates at Home Depot and Lowe's.

rated:
Regarding the deck - is it basically ground level or significantly off the ground? If the latter, and it's 38 years old, it's probably not built to modern code. That means it is much likelier to fall down, especially if you entertain on it or your kids are playing on it. Not always the best idea to sink more money into something that's about to fall apart anyway.

rated:
berlinsmommy said:   . You don't have to do it from scratch, they have precut pickets and prefab gates at Home Depot and Lowe's.
There are people who build the panels from scratch??

rated:
My experience going from an apartment to an old house- you will have a LOT of small to medium repairs/improvements that need to be done. You can pay someone to do it all, or learn to do stuff yourself and save money in the long term. This isn't apartment living where they have someone who will fix anything. Every last little thing you want done will add up quickly if you are always paying someone to do it. I'd save the contractors for major repairs.

rated:
wp746911 said:   My experience going from an apartment to an old house- you will have a LOT of small to medium repairs/improvements that need to be done. You can pay someone to do it all, or learn to do stuff yourself and save money in the long term. 
  speaking of long term, a lot of stuff doesn't have to be done before you move in. if you have more than one bath, you can just get one ready and work on the others as you have time and money. same for extra rooms, old but working fixtures etc

rated:
wp746911 said:   My experience going from an apartment to an old house- you will have a LOT of small to medium repairs/improvements that need to be done. You can pay someone to do it all, or learn to do stuff yourself and save money in the long term. This isn't apartment living where they have someone who will fix anything. Every last little thing you want done will add up quickly if you are always paying someone to do it. I'd save the contractors for major repairs.
Agreed. Youtube is your friend. I'm not terribly Handy, but have done a bunch of upgrades/repairs based on Youtube videos that I never would have attempted 10+ years ago.
Conservatively, this has probably saved me a few thousand dollars over several years. And, it's kind of fun as long as you don't kill yourself or flood your house...

rated:
Wait till you get to put a new roof on.

You have to learn how to do most things yourself on a house if you want to control costs. Replacing outlets is something a child can do. Building a fence from scratch is something a teen can do.

I just finished a total bathroom remodel, connection to sewer and replumbing of everything under my slab and all other plumbing. Estimate from contractor was $65k. I did everything, and I mean every damn thing, myself and my out of pocket was about $3100 for materials. My skills were already pretty good, but now, on complex plumbing and venting, they are formidable. You're investing in yourself and your children ( as you help them when they have houses) when you learn these things, besides saving huge amounts of money EY and not being at the mercy of somebody else's schedule and quality.

rated:
On the deck, if the Home Adviser contractor quoted just from the questions your answered on Home Adviser, they may not be the same. You should clarify that they are including the same products/services that your local contractor is including. For example, did they both include a new substructure or using your existing substructure? Did they both include the same brand of Trex decking and railing? Thanks, Debbie Trex Customer Experience Team

rated:
Hello Debbie, can you please give me some idea what kind of Trex decking is possible within the quoted cost of "Maximum installation cost*: $8 to $9.50 per square foot" in the homeadvisor website?

Link: http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/outdoor-living/install-trex-deck... 

Once I know what I can get for this price - then I can obviously figure out if I should pay anything extra for something else.

Thanks in advance for the positive customer service experience you are providing.

Skipping 23 Messages...
rated:
I would suggest you skip all of the outdoor work, deck, fence, etc. It's extremely likely you will encounter unforeseen expenses after you move in that may blow a hole in any budget you've set up for yourself.

If you're absolutely convinced you need a fence for safety get some plastic safety fencing and a bunch of 4 foot stakes that you can later repurpose as tomato stakes. The fencing can be cut into appropriate sections later on to make compost piles.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Tenax-4-ft-x-100-ft-Orange-Guardian-S...

I note you have nothing listed for lawn/yard maintenance and are moving from an apartment. That's going to change if you're planning on using your outdoor space for your family. Either you will need to hire someone or do it yourself. Both will cost money on an ongoing basis, at least until you've assembled your tool collection: lawn mower, string trimmer, hand gardening tools, etc. Also if it snows where you are you will need to allocate something for snow removal, either a snowblower for yourself or a snow removal contract.

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