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Furnishing a vacation home – ways to retain your sanity and marriage January 27, 2010

Posted by mkuhbock in Arizona Vacation Property.
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Updated from an earlier post a long time ago… Thought that it would be worthwhile to re-post as a lot of people I know are either purchasing or looking at purchasing in the US as the real estate prices are still inviting and the Canadian dollar is nice and high for the moment.

As most of us go through life from University to retirement, we acquire, fix, dispose of, replace, upgrade, add to and horde furnishings and fixtures for our homes. This is done over a period of a lifetime and we end up having a suitable collection of junk along with our prized possessions in our homes.

Unless we are forced to start fresh due to a fire or divorce or combination thereof  🙂 we typically have little experience in starting with a blank canvass to furnish a new home from the bare floors and walls stage.

Purchasing furnishing for a vacation home is one of those opportunities where you can start from the ground up with a clean slate or palette so to speak. In theory is would seem like fun, just think lots of new stuff for the 6 to 12 rooms, shopping, shopping and more shopping. But wait, there is more shopping, and more shopping and more shopping. Soon you are wondering if it will every end and how many times do I have to go back to Wal-Mart for that can opener or storage container that I always get side tracked from and never pick up…. If you have hair you will probably pull it out and you might as well book time in couple mediation or counseling prior to beginning what you thought was going to be a fun adventure.

So that you can keep your sanity and relationship in tact let me give you a couple of points of advice, from experience that is.

  1. First take a business or military attitude towards furnishing your home, plan and manage all of the logistics to the point of excess and take nothing for granted. When you are deep into the process you will be thankful that you thought through all of the possible issues and logistics associated with furnishing your new home.
  2. Secondly, make lists upon lists of everything you need or think you need, I had a 7 page spreadsheet that we start with and throughout the process it was edited and added to on an hourly basis. Have pricing associated with the goods and this will require a lot of internet time to price products out. If you are in a joint ownership situation you will have to plan on doubles & triples for a lot of things like towels, sheets, plates and cutlery.
  3. Create a budget that is to the dollar, see the above point. When you have a budget in place you can track what is going out and what purchases might be a great deal or recognize when something is over priced.  We spent 7 days solid and 16 hours a day furnishing and outfitting our house and believe me, after the first 12 hours on the first day you need as much organizational support in place as possible, otherwise you could fall into real trouble both from a product quality standpoint and a financial overspending standpoint. Due to the budget we created and the hundreds of hours doing research on the internet we saved over 75% on the retail cost of everything we have in our vacation home.
  4. Stay away from the cheap stuff. If you work at it you will be able to find good to high quality furniture and fixtures and prices below the cheap stuff. Thus it will add a level of sophistication to your vacation home and will also wear and last much longer than the low priced crap you end up seeing on sale at some of the big box stores or online at Craigslist.
  5. For Canadians, purchasing with cash is the way to go, saves on the exchange and possible interest rates. Remember that the exchange rate credit cards charge is NOT the banks exchange rate (which is not the posted national exchange rate either). Thus cash is king and in some cases you have more leverage for negotiating prices. Not all stores will negotiate but it never hurts to ask the salesperson and if he is not the decision maker then ask for the manager…
  6. Rent a cube van, yes it is not the coolest way to cruise Phoenix or any area that you have a vacation home in but it comes in very handy especially when deliver charges can be excessive and you never know when you come across a sale that you cant pass up and it is a cash and carry price. The first day of our furnishing adventure we filled the cube van 3 times. Sometimes even a cube van is too small, again in our case we purchased most of our bedroom furniture from the Costco Home Store and the King bed suite and mattress was too big for the van, thus you will have to rent a u haul truck. Due to our planning we only had to do this on one day (see logistical planning above). We got a great deal on a weekly rate from Capps Van and Car rental but I think they no longer service the Phoenix area.
  7. Make sure that you have a lot of pain killers, Red Bull, stamina, patience and work gloves. From the hundreds of miles of traveling from store to store, to the hundreds of boxes and packaging you have to open and then break down for removal (this is where you will need the work gloves because after the 10th or so box opened and plastic ripped off your hands will be raw, then imagine 7 more days of it) you need to be prepared.
  8. For sake of your relationship with either friends or family, buy a GPS unit and preload all of the stores you might be visiting into it including the location of your vacation home because when it is your 40th hour without sleep and you are trying to make you way home in the dark from some industrial mega mall you will be glad you are not fighting with a paper map, or your spouse because you have hit a dead end, for the 5th time…
  9. Try to enlist help, especially when it comes to building the furniture that you have painfully taken out of the boxes. This is a very time consuming activity, most furniture and items like dressers, beds, barbeques do not come preassembled and if you are doing everything, planning, purchasing, hauling, opening and unpacking etc. the last thing you want or need to do is put crap together.
  10. Plan ahead for junk removal as you dont want to run out of space and have boxes and packing crap blocking everything. We had 2 separate loads or 2 double garages full to the top with flattened boxes and packing materials.
  11. Finally, When purchasing art try to remain neutral when you are in a joint ownership situation, we went with iron art for some of the rooms to allow for the other owners a chance to personalize the house as it is there home also.

Believe it or not the above is only scratching the surface but it is a start in the furnishing a vacation home adventure… Good luck!

Cheers,

Michael

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I have bought a vacation home, now how do I make it habitable? July 21, 2008

Posted by mkuhbock in Arizona Vacation Property.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

 

As most of us go through life from University to retirement, we acquire, fix, dispose of, replace, upgrade, add to and horde furnishings and fixtures for our homes. This is done over a period of a lifetime and we end up having a suitable collection of junk along with our prized possessions in our homes.

 

Unless we are forced to start fresh due to a fire or divorce or combination thereof  🙂 we typically have little experience in starting with a blank canvass to furnish a new home from the bare floors and walls stage.

 

Purchasing furnishing for a vacation home is one of those opportunities where you can start from the ground up with a clean slate or palette so to speak. In theory is would seem like fun, just think lots of new stuff for the 6 to 12 rooms, shopping, shopping and more shopping. But wait, there is more shopping, and more shopping and more shopping. Soon you are wondering if it will every end and how many times to I have to go back to Wal-Mart for that can opener or storage container that I always get side tracked from and never pick up…. If you have hair you will probably pull it out and you might as well book time in couple mediation or counseling prior to beginning what you thought was going to be a fund adventure.

 

So that you can keep your sanity and relationship in tact let me give you a couple of points of advice, from experience that is.

 

  1. First take a business or military attitude towards furnishing your home, plan and manage all of the logistics to the point of excess and take nothing for granted. When you are deep into the process you will be thankful that you thought through all of the possible issues and logistics associated with furnishing your new home.
     
  2. Secondly, make lists upon lists of everything you need or think you need, I had a 7 page spreadsheet that we start with and throughout the process I was edited and added to on an hourly basis. Have pricing associated with the goods and this will require a lot of internet time to price product out. If you are in a joint ownership situation you will have to plan on doubles for a lot of things like towels, sheets, plates and cutlery.
     
  3. Create a budget that is to the dollar, see the above point. When you have a budget in place you can track what is going out and what purchase might be a great deal or recognize when something is over priced.  We spent 7 days solid and 16 hours a day furnishing and outfitting our house and believe me, after the first 12 hours on the first day you need as much organizational support in place as possible, otherwise you could fall into real trouble both from a product quality standpoint and a financial overspending standpoint. Do to our budget and hundreds of hours doing research on the internet we saved over 75% on the retail cost of everything we have in our vacation home.
     
  4. Stay away from the cheap stuff. If you work at it you will be able to find good to high quality furniture and fixtures and prices below the cheap stuff. Thus it will add a level of sophistication to your vacation home and will also wear and last much longer than the low priced crap you end up seeing on sale at some of the big box stores.
      
  5. For Canadians, purchasing with cash is the way to go, saves on the exchange and possible interest rates. Remember that the exchange rate credit cards charge is NOT the banks exchange rate (which is not the posted national exchange rate either). Thus cash is king and in some cases you have more leverage for negotiating prices. Not all stores will negotiate but it never hurts to ask the salesperson and if he is not the decision maker then ask for the manager…
     
  6. Rent a cube van, yes it is not the coolest way to cruise Phoenix or any area that you have a vacation home in but it comes in very handy especially when deliver charges can be excessive and you never know when you come across a sale that you cant pass up and it is a cash and carry price. The first day of our furnishing adventure we filled the cube van 3 times. Sometimes even a cube van is too small, again in our case we purchased most of our bedroom furniture from the Costco Home Store and the King bed suite and mattress was too big for the van, thus you will have to rent a u haul truck. Due to our planning we only had to do this on one day (see logistical planning above). We got a great deal on a weekly rate from Capps Van and Car rental but I think they no longer service the Phoenix area.
     
  7. Make sure that you have a lot of pain killers, Red Bull, stamina, patience and work gloves. From the hundreds of miles of traveling from store to store, to the hundreds of boxes and packaging you have to open and then break down for removal (this is where you will need the work gloves because after the 10th or so box opened and plastic ripped off your hands will be raw, then imaging 7 more days of it) you need to be prepared.
     
  8. For sake of your relationship with either friends or family, buy a GPS unit and preload all of the stores you might be visiting into it including the location of your vacation home because when it is your 40th hour without sleep and you are trying to make you way home in the dark from some industrial mega mall you will be glad you are not fighting with a paper map, or your spouse because you have hit a dead end, for the 5th time…
     
  9. Try to enlist help, especially when it comes to building the furniture that you have painfully taken out of the boxes. This is a very time consuming activity, most furniture and items like dressers, beds, barbeques do not come preassembled and if you are doing everything, planning, purchasing, hauling, opening and unpacking etc. the last thing you want or need to do is put crap together.
     
  10. Finally, when purchasing art try to remain neutral when you are in a joint ownership situation, we went with iron art for some of the rooms to allow for the other owners a chance to personalize the house as it is there home also. 

Believe it or not the above is only scratching the surface but it is a start in the furnishing a vacation home adventure..

 

Cheers,

 

Michael