Before and After: a RenoFi-powered renovation in Queen Village, Philadelphia
From gutted to grand, an eleventh-hour RenoFi Loan helped this family upgrade as they downsized.Nov 18, 2020 • Kira Barrett
- Location: Queen Village, Philadelphia, PA
- Built in 2003
- 1,197 sq. ft.
- 2 beds, 2 baths
- Valued at $385,000
- New kitchen with open floor plan and new patio
- Completely gutted the entire home
- New electrical, painting, flooring
- 2 beds, 2.5 baths
- Total Cost: $230,000
- After renovation value: $505,000
Does size matter? When it comes to the square footage of your forever home, sometimes it’s quality over quantity. At least that’s how Danielle felt about her former home in Queen Village, a historic Philadelphia neighborhood. While she loved the larger size of her home, the costs to renovate were incredibly steep.
“We had a really big home, but it had a very high mortgage. It still needed work and we were never going to be able to do it,” said Danielle.
Danielle had to make an important decision: settle with her un-renovated larger home, or downsize and finally complete her dream renovation. The decision was easy.
“We didn’t need that size and decided to get a much smaller house and gut it to be exactly what we wanted.”
Their family of three sold the larger home and purchased a smaller home (1,137 sq. ft) a couple blocks away, near the same great public school.
Danielle knew this new home had more potential and it was time for to finally execute her home design vision, using the money they had made from the sale of their former home.
Danielle pictured a new walk-in closet, and a walk-in shower and two sinks, in an actual master bathroom. She also loved to cook, so an updated kitchen was next on the list.
Lastly, she hoped to knock some walls down to create an open concept style floor plan that their last home didn’t have, to open the kitchen up to the rest of the house for a better flow.
“I love home design and it’s sort of a hobby of mine,” said Danielle. “So that was really fun for me to design this house and make it exactly what I wanted, from scratch.”
They decided to completely gut the home from top to bottom. At one point there were no floors or ceilings at all; everything was brand new. Danielle focused on using the space efficiently in the new design, because this home was much smaller.
“Every bit of space is used. It was very thoughtfully designed, which was challenging but fun,” Danielle said.
Unlike most other RenoFi customers, Danielle and her family found RenoFi halfway into the renovation project, when the contractor ran through the entire project budget.
Unfortunately, he had severely underestimated the cost of the remodel. It was turning out to be almost double the amount the contractor had estimated. While 46% of homeowners go over budget on their renovations, unexpectedly paying double the project cost was more than just a small budget strain. They didn’t have an extra $100k lying around to cover the overages.
RenoFi normally conducts a feasibility analysis of every single renovation project based on the cost estimate breakdown and the scope of work, to determine if your contractor’s cost estimate is realistic. But Danielle didn’t discover RenoFi Loans until halfway through construction.
“We were stuck, and we needed a loan fast,” said Danielle. “We were just racking up credit card bills…we knew we needed financing.”
They had anticipated that that money they had from selling their first home would be enough to cover the renovation. That money ran out too soon.
Danielle knew that the typical financing options wouldn’t work for their situation. They had just purchased this home, so they were equity light, and wouldn’t qualify for a traditional home equity loan. They needed a loan based off of the after renovation value - like a construction loan, but with a much faster timeline.
Luckily, Danielle was referred to RenoFi through a work connection at the eleventh-hour.
“RenoFi just turned it around so fast,” said Danielle. “We were funded within a month. We submitted whatever they asked for and it was turned around so quickly. Everyone was so responsive and friendly.”
Now, Danielle and her family love their home. While the renovation process had its ups and downs, the end result made it worth it. They even love the smaller size of their new home, too.
“It’s much easier to manage and clean,” said Danielle. Not to mention, their monthly mortgage payment is a lot easier to manage, too.
Danielle wishes she could go back in time to redo her project budget, and start with a RenoFi Loan upfront. While a RenoFi Loan saved the project in the end, it would have been nice to avoid the stress and know the correct budget in the very beginning.
RenoFi’s feasibility analysis helps prevent homeowners from running into situations just like this.
Before you apply for a RenoFi Loan with a lender, the RenoFi team will request project information from your contractor, including a cost breakdown and scope of work. If our experts determine that your cost estimates are unreasonable, we’ll let you know, so you don’t go down a road of no return.
“Really really do your due diligence on budgeting,” said Danielle. “Sometimes when it feels like you’re spending more money up front it can save you in the end.”
Danielle ended up switching contractors halfway through her renovation project, because the first contractor’s wildly inaccurate estimate caused their family such a headache.
“If I could go back, I would have started with a different contractor. This guy had seemed a little less expensive, but we ended up spending much more money than we should have,” Danielle said.
Another aspect of RenoFi’s feasibility study that could have helped is our “contractor due diligence” - a contractor vetting process - which helps homeowners avoid inexperienced or substandard contractors.
Before you apply for a RenoFi Loan with a lender, our team will request your contractor’s contact information and some references, to make sure they have experience working on similar projects.
Danielle also personally suggests finding a contractor who comes highly recommended and has experience in your home’s geographic area.
However, despite the initially lousy contractor experience, this project was saved by a speedy RenoFi Loan process. Today, Danielle and her family can enjoy a gorgeous home that fits them, in the neighborhood they love.
Danielle even referred her brother to RenoFi for his renovation project. Her only regret? Not finding RenoFi sooner.
“It was a very easy process, and a great experience.”
After photo credit: Angelina Minger Photography