Last October, my husband and I, along with our long-time business partner did something we would never advise our clients to do. We bought a house, seeing it only once at night and without an inspection. It was a dated 1960’s bungalow on the shores of Wellers Bay in Prince Edward County. We fell into the trap of emotionally buying a house well before our ink hit the pages of the Agreement to Purchase. We were lured by the waterfront view and the idyllic road it was on. There was another buyer circling about, which added to the drama of the transaction. I am aware this story has played out all over Toronto over the last 5 years, with astonishing multiple offer scenarios.  Countless bleary-eyed Buyers paid extortionary prices for homes while waiving their right to inspection. I know it happens all the time, I didn’t think it would happen to us. My husband is a Real Estate Broker and renovator. This wasn’t our first rodeo.

The house was was clad in orange-brown brick and was ‘50 Shades of Ugly’.  Yet, we still believed we paid a decent price for a waterfront home. We had a few ‘cosmetic’ renovations planned, but it didn’t take long to uncover that parts of the house were structurally unsound.  The fireplace was crumbling. The subfloor and joists were rife with wood rot and there were leaks around the doors and windows. We steeled ourselves for what was to be a FULL renovation. NOT the original plan. With that, we took the house back to the bare studs, moved the kitchen, added two more bathrooms, re-configured the layout, HVAC, new doors and windows. We even stained brick to a glorious crisp white. 

Five months later, after countless two-hour trips from Toronto, endless discussions with our contractor over the layout, finishes and costs, we’re at the end of this long journey. There were many sleepless nights. It feels a bit like we’ve survived a battle at the front lines.

The lake house is now our sanctuary from the City. It’s modern and serene.

How did we make it through?

Fortunately, we had a contingency budget and we worked diligently to find the ‘Deals and Steals’ to keep costs down wherever possible. Facebook Marketplace, garage sales and salvage shops were my go-to’s for many of the goods that went into the house. This also made it fun.

Can a renovation test the strength of a marriage and a business partnership? Absolutely. We avoided a mutiny through constant communication and the commitment to be teammates throughout the process.