Want to see our farmhouse? Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from Instagram and our 1-Min Email subscribers, here’s the official “before” tour of our family’s latest debt-free living adventure: an 80-year-old fixer-upper farmhouse.
Recently, I wrote a post and shared a video about how our family of five lived in a small paid-for townhouse, and why we decided to buy a small townhouse even though we could have easily justified something bigger.
Debt-free living changed our lives, and we made it work in a small space while homeschooling, working from home, and raising 3 wild boys.
This was a huge decision and will be a huge project (or approximately, 10,000 projects), but we’re excited about it, so today I want to give you a tour!
Buying a Fixer-Upper Farmhouse
This is what we’ll cover in the this post. Scroll down to read it, or click on the sections you really want to read!
- Our Non-Negotiables while we were looking for this house
- Paying Cash for a Farmhouse
- Buying Land on a Budget
- Finding a Farmhouse with Decent Internet
- Quick Facts about Our Farmhouse
- Our Renovation Plans
- Is This Our Forever Home?
- Living in Our Fixer-Upper Farmhouse
- I Need Your Advice!
Finding Our Fixer-Upper
We had 3 goals when looking for a piece of property.
- Be must pay cash for it
- Must have interesting land (plenty of trees, maybe a creek or outbuildings)
- Decent internet
Because those were our non-negotiables, Chris and I knew we had to be flexible about pretty much everything else in our next house. While we didn’t go looking for a farmhouse (let’s be honest, though, I secretly wanted one), that’s what we ended up with and we’re very happy.
Our first non-negotiable was that we had to be able to pay cash for this home.
In our debt-free journey, Chris and I learned that we love not having payments. We love the freedom it gives us every month – even if this meant buying older cars, paying for more repairs, and living in a series of questionable rentals for 10 years.
In fact, up until this farmhouse, Chris and I have never lived in single-family housing as a married couple. Even our first house was a condo, so we shared a wall with neighbors.
Buying a Farmhouse with Cash
Even though we bought both of our houses with cash, that doesn’t mean we had a lot of money. We were on a very tight budget – nearly impossible considering housing costs in our area.
However, because we were happy in our townhouse, we knew we could sit there, save money, and wait for the right house to come on the market.
So we compromised by buying a home that most people wouldn’t want because it was just too big of a project.
Buying Land on a Budget
Our second non-negotiable was that the land had to be interesting.
Our entire goal in moving was to find a property where we could spend more time outside. I grew up on a couple of acres in the middle of nowhere. It was the best thing my parents ever did for me (after loving each other and loving God)! If we could swing it, I wanted to do the same thing for my kids.
In order to get us outside, however, we needed the land to be interesting: woods, trees, maybe a creek, hills, some outbuildings. We didn’t want a flat, boring space.
Buying a Farmhouse with Decent Internet
While we were certainly looking for the country life, Chris’ and my jobs both rely on us being able to access decent internet at any moment. This was a non-negotiable for our next house.
Honestly, let’s also keep in mind that I live in a house of boys, and the idea of not being able to play video games with their friends online was unbearable.
That’s why decent internet became our third non-negotiable.
We could have easily added more to our list: three or four bedrooms, a garage, a nice master suite, an open floor plan.
Those were certainly all things we wanted.
However, because of our other non-negotiables, we knew there was no way we were going to find something with everything we wanted that was in our budget.
So our options were to stay in our townhouse and save, change our non-negotiables, or be willing to buy a house that needed a lot of work.
Our Fixer-Upper Farmhouse
In the end, we found an 80-year-old farmhouse that fit our non-negotiables, so we decided to buy it.
The home is totally liveable. It was occupied right before we purchased it, so it is decent. However, it is almost 100 years old and still has a lot of original features. So besides the roof (which was brand new), pretty much everything needs to be updated or repaired.
Chris and I don’t know exactly what we’ll find as we renovate this house, but we’re open-minded, still saving money, and we’re prepared for surprises.
The old property has a bunch of different outbuildings, including a barn that is about 4 times bigger than the house.
Our Fixer-Upper Farmhouse
Our townhouse was a bit of a fixer upper when we first purchased it. Our kids nicknamed it “The Poopy House” because that’s what it smelled like and that’s what covered the entire floor.
We didn’t have to gut it, but we did have to work hard to make it a nice home. This house is the same, just on a larger scale – even though it is technically smaller than the townhouse.
Currently, we have some renovation plans – including adding another bathroom and a walk-in closet for the master bedroom.
We’re planning to have a big garden and do the whole boy-house thing with a big yard – slack lines, 4-wheelers, etc.
However, the house has several big projects that need immediate attention.
- The septic system – We just replaced the entire septic system, which was literally collapsing in on itself and flooding into the yard (gross).
- Upgrade the electricity – The old fuse box needs to be upgraded to an electrical panel with breakers.
- Central heat – The house has duct work for central heat, but no gas. Instead, the previous owners heated the house with a little woodstove. As much as we love wood heat, there were a lot of reasons why this was not a safe option for us. So we’re currently using space heaters and working on getting gas lines. Which is a lot of fun in the middle of January.
People have asked if we’re going to have farm animals. We’re taking it one step at a time.
First, we want to make sure the people who live here have a safe place to live, and then we’ll talk about animals.
After all, it would be a shame to waste an awesome barn.
Is This Our Forever Home?
We’re not sure how long we’ll stay in the farmhouse.
We plan to stay here at least 2 years, and then we’ll evaluate whether this is still a good place for our family. I’m the only one in the family who has ever lived in the country before, so I know the rest of them might not fall in love with it like I have.
But for now, we have 2 years to settle in and experiment.
We have a lot of plans and dreams for this house, but our ultimate goal is to make it a cozy home that will serve our family and any future families well.
For us, this means renovating it on a budget, keeping in mind resale value but also making it totally ours.
Our style is typically minimalist/modern, with lots of natural elements (check out our last home design here) We’ve learned that when it comes to houses, it’s important to match the interior with the general theme of the house, or else you’ll waste a lot of money decorating a house that ends up looking awkward.
So with this house, because it’s a farmhouse, farmhouse decor just fits here. We’re going to combine that with our simple modern style and hopefully make a really cozy, pretty space.
All, of course, on a budget.
I’ll share our room-by-room makeover as we do them, but first I want to give you our top three biggest projects right now – huge emphasis on the “living” part; less emphasis on the “farmhouse.”
Right now, there are a few important (and expensive) safety and well-being issues we need to address:
- Central heat – Currently, the house has a wood stove. It has a gas heat unit, but no gas tank. While I love wood heat and woodstoves, we ultimately decided against keeping it. Until we can remove though, it looks awfully cute.
- Updating the old fusebox with an electrical panel – This is important for the safety of the house and every piece of technology we plug into the wall.
- Septic System – Unfortunately, this needs to be completely replaced. It’s literally caving in and flooding the yard. I didn’t include pictures of this (you’re welcome).
After those three projects, we’ll start on the more fun projects – including a small addition for the master suite, replacing the water-damaged ceiling, finishing the kitchen, painting the walls, and decorating the rooms.
Living in a Fixer-Upper Farmhouse
Once of the more budget-friendly, sanity-saving projects I’m doing is repainting each room and minimally decorating it.
We decided that while living in a fixer-upper that’s going to feel very chaotic for a while, it was important to us that it looks kind of cute and feels like home.
Paint and a little decor go a long way in making a house feel like home.