Rent-to-own arrangement suits single mom just fine
SHANNON had dreamed of being a homeowner since her daughter was born. Previously a renter, the single mom wanted a place that she and her daughter could really call home — a house with a yard, lots of space to play and the freedom to decorate to suit their tastes.
Five years later, when a change in circumstances forced her hand, opportunity came knocking — knocking on an old, drafty door, but it came knocking just the same.
For many young people today, owning a home is a far-off dream. Housing prices are very high, even for smaller properties. Luckily, Shannon (not her real name) found a rent-to-own opportunity that suited her needs and budget.
A Winnipeg couple had purchased a small St. James home as an investment. The house was in need of major renovations, which was reflected in the purchase price. The owners planned to gut it completely and offered Shannon a rent-to-own agreement that included some sweat equity on her part during the renovation process. The project was extensive — complete removal of the interior plaster-and-lath walls, a new heating system, updated electrical service including much-needed additional lighting, a new bathroom, updated plumbing, a completely renovated kitchen with new cabinets and appliances, new windows throughout, and new flooring and doors.
Shannon jumped in with both feet, working alongside various contractors every step of the way. Friends and family pitched in as well.
Being directly involved in the renovation process allowed her some options. Shannon was able to choose her own flooring, cabinetry and even the appliances that were to be purchased for her new home. She also got to choose her paint colours — like the dramatic tomato red in the kitchen and the soft, golden wheat colour in the living room — and spent many evenings painting the walls after the contractors had left for the day. microwave provide lots of working space and storage in a small space.
There are a few finishing touches left to be done. The cabinet handles and drawer pulls have yet to be installed and the window trim and baseboards aren’t in yet, but the kitchen is already beautiful and functional. The original opening between the kitchen and living room was widened to make the entire space feel open and airy.
Two large windows in the long, rectangular living room were replaced, with one larger than the original, allowing tons of natural light. A drop ceiling of yet more acoustic tiles was removed to restore height to the space. A series of inset pot lights were installed to rectify a lack of ceiling lighting.
The unique design of the original hardwood layout in the living room is another charming feature of this older home. Shannon refinished the floors herself, which took a lot of work but was worth the effort. She also removed the heavy, wrought-iron heating vent grates, had them sandblasted and painted them matte-black, which was a lot cheaper than trying to purchase vintage replacements.
The bathroom required a total gut, with a new one-piece tub/shower unit (complete with lighting) replacing the old bathtub. A new toilet was installed, and Shannon chose to go with a pedestal sink in order to keep the floor space as open as possible.
The original bathroom had a door that obstructed a tiny hallway when open. This was replaced with a pocket door that now takes up no space at all but still provides necessary privacy for the small bathroom.
Shannon worked hard to create a special bedroom for her daughter. Since the room was quite small, she opted for a loft bunk bed and hung a gauzy curtain on the lower part to create a secret play space complete with large floor pillows and a toy chest. She purchased a taller dresser for the same reasons. Her daughter loves her new home and her unique bedroom.
The main bedroom wasn’t very large either, so Shannon chose a light mauve wall colour to keep it feeling open and airy. A low-profile platform bed makes the room feel a little larger as well. The small closet is a challenge, but she’s making do.
As with most renovations, there were a few glitches along the way, Shannon says.
The two picture windows arrived on time, but were two inches too big for the openings. The problem was soon rectified and the natural light is a welcome feature of this formerly dim room.
“There was laughter and tears throughout the process,” she said, noting there were a few surprises, too. “The house was unkempt and the previous owners had two cats. There was so much fur in the heating vents that we thought they left a cat behind.”
Shannon still has a few finishing touches to do, like hanging artwork, but is in no rush now that she’s in her new home. It will all come in time.
The bathroom is a simple replacement of existing fixtures but transforms the old, tired bath into something fresh and new. The inset shows the bath in progress.
Top: Shan non (not her real name) works at demolishing the kitchen. Bottom: the
finished kitchen is resplendent in tomato red.