Chris and I had a dream a little over 2 years ago. We had been saving half our paychecks for a year for what we thought was just a fantasy. We fantasized daily that one day we would have enough money to buy a home. We never thought we would achieve this in the same year we started saving.
One weekend in November 2011 my mom flew to LA to go wedding dress shopping with me. On her last day in the city she trolled a couple real-estate websites and landed on a cute little 2/1 house less than 2 miles away set on a hill. I thought I’d take her to the local farmers market that morning for fun but she insisted we see the house instead.
Within the hour Chris, my mother and I were walking around the perimeter of a cute little house situated at the top of hill overlooking some pretty amazing vistas. There was no realtor that could show us the property in the time that we had before my mom’s flight home, so I did what any home buyer would do when you realize you’ve stubbled on an amazing deal. I broke in. Okay, to be less dramatic… I snuck in.
I found access to the foundation and from there I found a door that lead to a very weird wood room that then lead down some stairs to a finished room that had a door that opened out to the backyard where I then let Chris and my mother in. So officially I didn’t break anything.
Once all three of us were inside the “basement” we found another set of stairs that went up to the main house… but when we arrived at the top of the steps we were surprised to find ourselves in a closet that opened into the master bedroom. WHAT!? Once we were inside the main house we saw a very cute 2 bedroom 1 bath house. It came with a proper living room and dining room, large kitchen, mud room and sun room. We were living in a nice rental house down the road but fell in love with this house when we saw it came with a washer and dryer, dishwasher, garbage disposal and central air and heat. In Los Angeles you think you’ve got a great apartment when you have a tree outside that makes nice shade in the summer. No one has AC! This house had AC and TWO trees!
Suddenly Chris and I found ourselves in the home buying business. Before we found this house we were in the saving and looking at homes we could never afford business. We didn’t have a realtor, we didn’t have a broker and we didn’t even know how much we could afford. The home was bank owned so we knew we had a deal but we also knew house flippers were lurking so it was a race against time. To make a long story short we found an amazing broker and realtor and by January 2012 we moved in.
The first thing on our agenda was to keep working our day jobs , replenish our savings accounts and oh ya… go get married. Once all that was behind us we put our heads together and started making nightly visits to the dungeon below conceptualizing how we could transform the dark wood space into an income property. We saw the potential convincing others to see it too. There was no bathroom, no kitchen and no plumbing. But we owned a house and thought we may as well try! It was weeks of debating on where a bathroom and kitchen would fit and more weeks debating on how we could shoot water 20 feet up into the air to meet our waste line. We would get so excited dreaming up how it would look. Each of us staring at the other wondering who would break first and call it quits. Neither of us ever did. We believed this space was always intended to be an additional unit and we wouldn’t quit until it was built. This is one of the reasons why we married each other because we love how much we push one another to do the crazy things we dream of.
There is no possible way I can describe to you all the challenges we had along the way. All I can say is that everything below the main house was not even close to being square. Fitting a square into something that isn’t is the most painful experience imaginable. But we did it. We transformed the dungeon into a real life apartment and we could not be prouder. I am sure many of you DIYers want to see some steps as to how we achieved this so I will do follow up posts on the main rooms.
I hope you enjoy looking at our after photos as much as I do. If you have any questions write them in the comments below.