Keith and Kinsey's Real Estate Update

Closet Upgrade – Adding Value On A Budget

When I wrote about building our home, I mentioned we were finishing the closets ourselves. The reason for this was to save some money and to make a better organized space. We didn’t want the standard builder shelf and rod, but we also didn’t want to pay thousands for a custom closet system.

Believe it or not a closet can add value to your home, and help your property sell quicker. We have shown many homes where the closets were stuffed full it’s like an avalanche when opening the door. Every time we see this our clients view it as a lack of storage. A full cluttered closet can make it seem like your home doesn’t have enough space. There are a lot of ways to use your closet space more efficiently such as a double row of hanging, extra shelving, or storage bins. Many types of closet systems are available at the home improvement stores. These can help you with ideas and simplify your work. We chose not to go with a system or kit because we wanted more flexibility in our design.

I am far from a woodworker, but I set out to tackle a from scratch custom closet on my own. Here’s what I did.

3d closet drawing

Step 1 – Make a Drawing: I am fortunate that I have an engineering background and access to CAD software. So, I actually modeled our closet in 3d before building, but a simple sketch will do. The point is to plan it out, don’t just start cutting shelf boards.

Step 2 – Choose a Material and Method: We went with a fairly cheap prefinished melamine shelf board, and brushed nickle closet rods. I’ve seen stained solid wood in high end closets before, but what’s the point unless your in a million dollar home. I asked a woodworker friend of mine the best way to go about doing this. He said Kreg Joints would be the easiest cleanest attachment method. A standard closet system with hangers and supports can save you some work with figuring out the joints.

Using a chop saw I had to flip the board to cut all the way through

Step 3 – Measure and Cut: Start with your supports and build from there. I started withing a shelving unit in the middle of the wall that would eventually carry the end of 4 closet rods. The old saying measure twice cut once is definitely a good one to remember here.

Drilling with the Kreg Joint jig

Step 4 – Drill the Joints: In this case I used a Kreg Joint jig that I borrowed from a friend. A Kreg joint is an angled hole made to recess and hide the screws in the board. There are two different sizes on the drill bit, one for the screw hole itself, and one to cut the recess and screw stopping point. This is a really strong easy method of attachment using fasteners that are relatively hidden.

Step 5 – Assemble: Now it’s a mater of putting things together. I completed the supporting shelving unit in the middle first. Second I attached supports to the wall on the opposite end. Lastly I did the closet rods and shelf in between supports.

Center shelf in progress

I’m not quite done with the full project, because I want to build a drying rack next to the washer and dryer in the master closet yet. Although, I’m almost done with the master closet, one spare bedroom done, and the entry closet. I’ve also got the materials for the third bedroom. The total cost was around $550. This was far cheaper than hiring a contractor to do this, and provided lots of organized useful space. Consider upgrading your closets to get the most out of your square footage.



Finished Master Closet

Finished Master Closet

Home Build – Completed!
July 24, 2012, 10:58 pm
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I’m a little late on the blog this week. As you can imagine we’ve been busy getting moved and settled. In any case our home build is complete, and we started moving in one week ago today. Our occupancy was 108 days from when the builder started digging. The original schedule was 120 days and thankfully they finished a bit ahead of schedule.

So far we’ve got the necessities unpacked and arranged but the basement and spare bedrooms are still full of boxes (that’s gonna take awhile). We’ve started in on the little projects around here such as; building a ramp for Harley (our 12 year old Rottie) because she was having trouble with the steps in and out. The dogs got their first few lessons in invisible fence training too. We’ve got the TV hung on the wall and surround speakers mounted, so no more wires hanging out of the walls. Lastly, Isthmus Electric came to install a timer on the bathroom fan, our pendant lights, and our office light. Things are looking great.

Next up on the list of projects are filling in some spots in the yard where the rain washed away dirt, working on the landscaping, and building my wife some closet shelving (the closet needs to be my priority).

We’ve had a few little irritations such as water seeping in the front door and the window well. I called the builder, and one of his guys came back to make a few adjustments to the door threshold, and seal a few joints. I’ll give the builder credit for responding promptly, and hopefully that solves the problem.

Lastly, our lender, Ryan at AnchorBank, stopped over to sign the paperwork to convert our construction loan to a long term fixed rate loan. Done!

A big thanks to Trademark Homes, Isthmus Electric, AnchorBank and all the other contractors involved in getting our house completed! We look forward to many years and lots of memories in this house and neighborhood (have I mentioned how awesome all our neighbors are). One of these days once things get a little more settled and organized, we’ll have a house warming party.

Under cabinet and pendant lights

Kinsey’s favorite office light

My handy work – dog ramp.

Wall mounted TV and speakers. No exposed wires!

Home Build – Week 15

This week our home was getting the final touches. The appliances got delivered and hooked up. The lighting and electrical was finished (we still have some pendants to put up), the final trim work was completed, the house got cleaned, the towel bars and mirrors were put up in the bathroom, the fireplace was completed, and finally the yard was seeded.

Thursday this week we did a final walk through with the builder and noted a few items that will get touched up on Monday. Also, we signed off on the final payout, which will allow us to occupy the house once our lender disperses funds. Friday our lender got a completion certificate from his appraiser. Now it’s really just a matter of getting the the title company to coordinate with the lender for the final payment. Lastly, once this is all settled, our construction loan will be converted to a conventional 30 year fixed rate mortgage. We should be moving in by Tuesday evening! 🙂 If anybody is up for some heavy lifting, come on over. We’ll supply pizza, beer, and soda!

Today, we did sneak a few boxes into the basement in attempt to clear up space in our condo for more packing. We also, met the cable guy and got that all hooked up (a bit more involved with new construction). Lastly, we put up the shower rods (thanks to a friendly reminder that a shower after moving day is a good thing). Oh, and earlier this week, we installed an invisible pet fence, Happy Birthday Dyna.

Completed Kitchen!

Washer and dryer in master bedroom closet

Completed bathroom

Invisible fence system

Day 105 – 3 Days and counting.

Home Build – Week 14
July 7, 2012, 5:16 pm
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This week in our home build, the carpet, dishwasher, and hvac grills were installed. Also the electrical and lighting is almost complete. We spent today putting up shelves and rods in one of the closets, and helping Kinsey’s step-dad (our electrician) with some little things. If you remember, we didn’t have the builder finish out the bedroom closets. We decided to save a few bucks on the closets and build something more custom ourselves. The closet we did today was the easiest one, and we wanted it done just so we could hang some clothes up on moving day. We’ll finish out the rest of the closets after we get settled in.

All that’s left to do at this point are the finishing touches of electrical work, yard seeding, touch up, and cleaning. We are crossing our fingers that everything can get done this coming week so we can start moving in a week early. After things are finished the code inspector and the bank appraiser will need to inspect and approve the property. At that point we can get an occupancy permit, and the bank can release the final payment to the builder. Then it’s moving time! Stay tuned next week to see if it happens a week early! We’ll welcome any moving help too. 😉


Light fixtures installed

My handywork with the double row closet shelving and rods.

Tray ceiling with the ceiling fan

Day 98 – 13 Days and counting (or maybe 7).

Home Build – Week 13
June 30, 2012, 7:27 am
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This week in our home build the plumbing fixtures and countertops got installed. The countertops brought some excitement and some disappointment. We love the countertop selections that we chose, and they look great in the house. However, we had been under the impression the snack bar portion would be a separate raised piece. The plans showed a dashed line at the back of the sink base and dishwasher, which we thought was a change in elevation, but this was just the back of the cabinets. It was never clearly defined or shown anywhere on the kitchen and cabinet details. I guess we should have asked more questions on that topic since it lacked a little detail on the drawings (me of all people should know better). In any case, it looks great, and isn’t a big deal. It’s just not what we were expecting.

We had one other little snag this week. We got an email from the lighting supplier saying that 4 of our light fixtures were back ordered. One fancy light fixture for our office, which Kinsey spent a lot of time selecting, is back ordered until mid to late July. The others were for the 2 extra bedrooms and walk in closet, and those weren’t going to be in until August. Since the office fixture was rather unique we decided to wait for that one. We can temporarily cap the box in the ceiling to get an occupancy permit if it comes to that. The others were rather basic fixtures which we just replaced with some lights from Menards, canceled the order, and asked the builder for a credit.


1/2 Bath

1/2 Bath


Day 91 – 20 Days and counting.

Home Build – Week 12

This week in our home build there’s not much new to take pictures of. The items that are left are mostly smaller detail type work, so the changes don’t look near as dramatic. In any case, our columns were completed and painted, the front door was painted, the window sills were stained, the fireplace mantel was installed, and the site grading was done. There really isn’t a whole lot left; a little trim work, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, appliances, seeding the yard, and little touch up stuff.

Site grading, columns, and front door.

Closeup of columns and door

Fireplace mantel

Window sills stained.

Day 84 – 27 days and counting

Home Build – Week 11

This week in our home construction more finish work was completed. The interior doors and trim were completed, the bathroom vanities were installed, the columns on the exterior were started, and the front door was changed. The front door originally came from the supplier with white grilles between the panes of glass when it was suppose to be beige. Nothing on the exterior of our house is going to be white so it would have looked rather odd. So they delivered the door with the correct color grills and made the swap this week. We are in the home stretch!

Exterior with garage door and columns started.

Kitchen with doors and trim

Office doors

Bathroom vanity

Day 77 – 34 days and counting