Last January, we bought a 40-year-old mobile home for $1,000.
It was a bit of a crazy whim.
Gabe and I had talked – briefly – about buying a mobile home to put out on the farm so we could stop paying rent, stop driving from town to farm every day, and finally, after seven years, have a place that would really be our own.
Then somebody posted in the local Facebook classifieds group about this, and we bit.
It was advertised as livable, and it was – depending on how you define livable.
For the record, the kitchen cabinets looked like this the day we bought it:
So we knew when we moved it to the farm that this house would be a remodel job, and planned on taking about five months to do it (even though we had no clue what we were doing!)
Ah, the naivety.
Honestly, there were a lot of times when I looked around in frustration as we were tearing out the ceilings and floors, thinking about how much better off we’d have been if we’d just spent (several thousand) dollars more, and got a ready-to-move-into mobile home.
Because remodeling ain’t cheap, and neither is paying rent five months more than you planned on.
But the big upside to doing our own remodel, is that now we have the home we want.
We all know how mobile homes are.
Cheap paneling, cheap floors, cheap cabinets – just cheap. It looks cheap, it feels cheap, and it breaks like cheap things do.
But now we have beautiful cabinets.
And we took down walls where we wanted to take down walls, and took out garden tubs where we wanted to take out garden tubs, so we waste less space, and have a more open feel.
So it was worth it.
But it’s still not done.
Not by a long shot!
We moved in the week of Thanksgiving, and to be honest, things are still a bit of a mess.
Case in point: our closet, which we moved to the master bathroom when we took out the garden tub, still isn’t even framed, even though it’s holding our clothes.
And for that matter, the toilet and sink aren’t in that bathroom either, so we’re relying on the main bathroom for everything but showers.
And of course, we haven’t even started on the baseboards and trim, so the whole house looks a little rough to be honest about it.
But right now, I’m leaning pretty heavily on the kitchen, because I. Love. It.
It’s easily the nicest kitchen I’ve ever had, with its pretty cabinets, and the countertops Gabriel picked out.
It’s small, yes, but I’m okay with that, because it makes everything easier to reach. I honestly didn’t realize how important an efficiently designed kitchen was until our last house, which featured a stand-alone stove several feet away from the cabinets and sink, and cabinets with no drawers!
We still have along way to go in terms of cosmetics, but it’s home, and that makes me pretty darn happy.
A lot of you have asked me how much we’ve spend on this little house, so for those of you still reading (bless you!), here’s a partial rundown:
- Mobile home shell: $1,000
- Moving and set-up: $2,800
- Flooring materials and installations: $2,000
- Ceilings for the main rooms: $1,012.32
- Cabinets and countertops: $2,200 (approximately)
- Electrician: $420
- Drywall and supplies: $100 (approximately)
- Paint: $160 (approximately)
- Water Heater: $389
- Kitchen appliances (stove, fridge, dish washer, microwave): $400 (Craigslist deal)
- Miscellaneous tools and knick-knacks: At least $500.
- Plumbing: $1,137
Expenses we haven’t been billed for yet:
- Septic Tanks installation (more on that later)
We had originally wanted to go with composting toilets (so crunchy, I know), but It turned into a big hairy deal with us digging trenches to fit the tanks under the house, and then digging more to give the tanks ventilation, that we sent the $2,000 tank back (fortunately, we hadn’t bought the actual toilets or the second tank yet!), and decided to go with a septic after all.
Yes folks, to get two Sun-mar Centrex 2,000 series one-pint flush composting toilets would have cost as much as hiring someone to install a septic tank. (and there you have a big reason why most people don’t “go green” – it’s just not economical for the average Joe! But that’s another rant for another day).
There are cheaper toilets, but they involve 1.) dual chambers (one for #1, and one for #2), which make them complicated for guests and children to use, 2.) carrying out your waste, which I felt like might become a contention between us, because I already know I don’t want to do it, and I knew I’d get annoyed if I had to ask Gabe to do it, and 3.) having your waste sitting inside the house is just begging for an accident to happen – not to mention gross.
So yeah, we’re not *that* crunchy LOL!.
I guess you could say that this is the story of how a $1,000 mobile home, became a $10,000 mobile home – and probably much more by the time we’re finished.
As I mentioned above, we could have bought a pretty nice, used mobile home for that price, and been moved in months ago, in fact, the main reason we didn’t is because Gabe couldn’t wrap his head around spending that much.
So instead, we now have a home that we were able to make truly our own, so it’s a pretty good trade off.
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I love your beautiful wood cabinets!
Norma Rolader says
Congratulations and it will come altogether and will be beautiful Thank you for sharing
I see the update! Gorgeous kitchen!
I LOVE IT!!! We bought a fixer upper house, because we feel I love with the land.we have lived in it for 11 years and it’s still a working progress! But we love it because we are making it our own…like you guys. I loved that video and your courses and your blog, videos etc, in general! At this season of life I really feel like I can connect with your situation and I absolutely love your honesty! I love that you did a video without your house being perfect, let’s face it, with kids that is basically never (unless they are out of the house!!). I love a house that is lived in, makes it a home! Keep up the great work and thank you so much for sharing your story…your an inspiration to me!
Enjoying your blog, love reading and seeing stuff about your Reno. Would love to see more pictures of your farm and any more updates on your house.
Sarah G. says
I’m a little late but I have just recently had the same idea pop into my head about buying a mobile home and getting OUT of the rental game in Southern California. It seems like other areas, like where you live, have more open spaces for placing such a home, whereas here in CA we have “mobile home parks” in suburbs which is where we work and live and the kids go to school. There are not many choices here. And I don’t wanna budge on location because I finally love where my kids are going to school. I think you and your husband got really lucky finding this $1,000 home out of the blue. Not to mention, already owning land to put it on. That is so fantastic. I have read every word you wrote up to this point about this adventure and I hope there is more after I submit my comment. It’s really refreshing to hear it from the perspective of someone without experience in remodeling (like myself). OH! P.S.! That kitchen is bomb–I love it!
Yes, that’s one thing I keep hearing over and over – California is different!
Good luck with your search though! And thanks for the compliment – I love that kitchen too!