The Dumpster Dilemma + Underwater Summer Homes

by Sandy L on September 4, 2010

The house next door to Babci just sold for $99K and it’s about identical to hers.  We bought Babci’s house at the peak of the market in 2005 and are currently about $155K into it.  We have already replaced the roof, furnace, refinished the hardwoods downstairs, gutted the hall and one of upstairs bedrooms. It’s over 100 years old and still needs a ton of  work.

The next project on the list is to gut the bathrooms…starting with the upstairs one.  It is not a patch job and whoever ran the plumbing took some major shortcuts, ie, running pipes along the outside of the two adjacent walls.

We know that we need to spend around $3-4K to do the two bathrooms.  The reason is the upstairs has water damage and everything is falling apart and rusted. In fact, even the toilet seat has a crack in it. My girlfriend made me laugh about it the other day. She was like…could you please start with the toilet seat because every time I sit on it, I get pinched in the rear end.  The downstairs has a tiny shower stall that is equally ghetto fabulous with exposed piping, a cracked vanity and other moldy grossness. My mom’s big frame also doesn’t fit in the home made 3×3 ft aluminum shower very well. I swear someone just had some scrap metal and said, hey let’s make a shower out of this. There’s room to add at least another 1.5 feet in length to the shower if we do it right.  She does use both bathrooms.

My mom  doesn’t have or want AC, so she moves downstairs in the summer where it’s cooler, and upstairs in the  winter where it’s warmer.  I joke that right now, she’s at her summer house. She’ll be moving to her winter home in about a month or two.  My original plan was to just refinish the downstairs and forget about the upstairs as there is a bedroom+bath down there.  Since my husband wanted to tackle the upstairs and my mom prefers the cozy nature of the smaller rooms up there, we are doing the opposite plan.

Now I bet some of you are thinking, why did you get such a big house for one old lady? Well, you’re right, it’s 1560 sq/ft with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. We were looking for a 2 bedroom/1 bath place. My mom’s exact quote was this: “I don’t care what kind of house it is just as long as it has a sunny spot where I can plant my garden.”  We wanted something that was a 5 minute drive from us and cheap enough that we could handle the second mortgage.  Most of the homes around here that were 2 bedrooms were also on teeny tiny lots.  We just ran out of time. In fact, I was pregnant with my first and we closed and moved house on his due date.  It needs a lot of work and isn’t in the most desirable of neighborhoods, but it fit our other criteria just fine.

Okay, so back to the bathrooms. The question is:  Should we rent a dumpster for the gut job? I am leaning towards saving the $500 and driving back and forth to the dump.  I’m guessing that the dump will set me back about $50-$100 + a lot of extra time. I have a minivan, so I can put quite a bit in there per trip. My reasoning is the house is already worth 30% less than we put into it and every penny we spend we won’t get back for a long time, if ever.  His reasoning is we are way more time constrained than money constrained and we should use our time as efficiently as possible. (We both work full time, our jobs require regular travel and we have 2 small children.)  Also, if we rent the dumpster, the bathroom won’t fill all of it, so we’ll gut an extra room if we need to. The last tidbit is that I want to sell the cast iron tub and other metal parts (tin ceiling, pipes, etc) at the scrap yard and he just wants to throw it into the dumpster (same argument time vs money).

Are there any other negotiating points that could be used in this particular pro vs con argument? What would you do in this situation? I think I know what our compromise position will be, but I’m just curious of people’s opinions.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole September 4, 2010 at 8:38 AM

Time is so valuable for us that I have sympathies for your husband’s argument. He’s right to put time and hassle into the equation, not just resale value of the house. Personally I would make the time/hassle comparison first (how much am I willing to pay not to have to do X) and then any changes in resale value would just be a bonus.

You don’t have to fill the dumpster– getting it will have been a sunk cost at that point. The decision would then be whether to gut that room for free (b/c the dumpster is there) or is it worth the additional hassle of taking it to the scrap yard. You could do both the dumpster and sell scrap. Before going to the effort of selling the scrap metal, I would want to know how much could be gained from it. It may not be worth the gas, it may be worth quite a bit.


Everyday Tips September 4, 2010 at 8:12 PM

I would definitely rent something to put the garbage in. I think they even have these giant bags that get dropped off at your house and get hauled away. (Not like a garbage bag, I just saw an ad for it on tv the other day.

Putting all that garbage in your minivan and driving to the dump sounds like a nightmare. We rented a dumpster once and it was great. We purged so much old stuff that wasn’t donatable. Not to mention you might end up damaging the interior of your minivan if you put all that garbage in it.


Ted A. September 4, 2010 at 8:46 PM

It’s good you won’t need the whole dumpster, becasue I bet that dumpster will fill up from other people in the neighborhood. The contractor/builder of our neighborhood always ran into this problem with his site dumpsters, where people in the neighborhood just assume “Oh, they won’t mind if I throw my junk in there.” He’d have to pay to get it dumped out more times that if it was just him…


Sandy L September 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM

My neighbors actually asked if they could use the last dumpster and since they regularly snow blow my mom’s driveway in the winter, I was happy to oblige.


Jolyn@Budgets are the New Black September 5, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Yea, I’m with the others on renting the dumpster. Selling the stuff might work in piecemeal if you have space to store them in the meantime. It would also be nice to have more gutting done to save the time on that in the future once you’re ready to tackle that area. Kudos to you guys for doing all the work in the first place. Two full-time jobs and two small children are nothing to sneeze at.

Btw- I just visited your site for the first time and am trying to subscribe via email, but that doesn’t seem to be an option? I could be wrong?


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff September 7, 2010 at 5:04 PM

Yep, rent the dumpster and save yourself some hassle – stress just isn’t worth it to me. 🙂


Sandy L March 2, 2012 at 6:42 AM

We did end up getting the dumpster.


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