Hi, I’m Rough. I live with my family in a cozy midcentury home on a quiet street in a low-key Midwestern city. It’s not perfect, but it’s the last primary residence we ever want to own.

We moved here in the summer of 2019 and we’ve been making it our own ever since. We:

  • Turned an already finished basement into a mother-in-law suite with a separate entrance and solid income potential
  • Gutted and reconfigured a hopelessly outdated kitchen
  • Opened up the main floor to create a living-dining great room
  • Completed this website’s namesake project — transforming the cold, cramped upper half-story into a spacious owner’s suite, with room left over for an office and bonus space
  • Added 1,500 square feet (and counting) of new flooring
  • Finished countless smaller DIY projects and repairs — some for the fun of it and some out of desperate, urgent necessity
Just some light DIY

Oh, and we own a century-old rental property on the other side of town. Let’s not even talk about how much work that’s been.

The last few years have tried our patience, strained our budget, and made us question our life choices. We’re not particularly handy, so we hired out much of the heavy work. It’s fallen to me to run these jobs — to be the family’s general contractor on a project that never seems to end.

I’ve faced countless bumps and hiccups and little hurdles along the way, and my fair share of more serious obstacles too.

“Hiccups,” like improperly installed windows

I’ve made countless mistakes as well. Not least was (foolishly) steering us into our upstairs addition at the height of the pandemic, believing we’d somehow avoid the labor shortages and supply chain issues and skyrocketing materials costs mushrooming around us. 

I’d love to say that I don’t want anyone else to go through all that. But I’m a realist. Buying fixer-uppers will always be a thing. Making mistakes fixing up fixer-uppers will always be a thing, too.

I’m just happy to share what I’ve learned on my own personal fixer-upper journey.

Because I’ve forgotten more about running home improvement projects than I thought I’d ever learn.

I’ve done an obsessive amount of research along the way in preparation for future projects that may or may not materialize.

And I’ve spent much of my limited free time commiserating with fellow homeowners and small-time landlords managing or DIYing their own property improvement projects.

Birds of a feather, right?

This is where it all comes together. So pull up a chair — or a stepstool — and join me on my Rough Addition.