Building a home or building equity?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with ADT Real Estate

I just finished the remodel of my kitchen. It was a low cost remodel, which basically means that I didn't replace any of the cabinets and I didn't hire anyone else to do the work. I invested a lot of my own time and work into this kitchen. A great deal of the materials were free and I invested a ton of sweat equity. I've been working on this kitchen since this summer, so you can probably imagine how relieved I am to be done with it finally. I didn't take before and after pictures, so it's kind of difficult to understand the extent of the change by looking at the way it is now, but believe me, it was very bad before I started. 

I replaced the sink, the faucet and refaced the countertops.  My wife has been on my back to get it done since we moved in, ummm...three years ago. The kitchen cabinets were all wood. Not that great natural wood color, but a grungy dark wood color that offset the bright yellow countertops perfectly. My wife had taken all of the hardware from the cabinets and painted it silver, but I couldn't handle it. I had to take it all off to give the cabinets a nice clean look. I replaced the old stainless sink with a nice white one, replaced the faucet and refaced the countertops to give the kitchen some contrast. The backsplash was a last minute change from the tile I had planned and is actually quite shiny due to the flash, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.


 The floor was actually the reason I started the whole project. It seems that there was a leak under the sink at some point before we moved in that wasn't readily apparant when we bought the house. The previous owner had covered it up well. The floor had new linoleum, but the subfloor was weakened from the water damage so it began to sag not long after we moved in. Then our washer, which I had to leave in the kitchen because my wife is afraid of the basement, began leaking. This only served to compound the problem. Hence, the new flooring.

This flooring was actually in a store at one point. It was ripped out and I got it for free from a guy who does clean-outs on foreclosure properties. There was a lot of it, so I was able to use the best pieces to do my floor. I did this entire floor by hand with a hardwood floor stapler and a 5lb hammer. There are almost 2500 nails in this floor!! It won't be going anywhere, anytime soon, I can assure you of that. After hours of cutting, hammering, sanding, staining and refinishing, the floor was complete. It was some very hard work and I'd do it all over again because I loved doing the work. I was making my own home a better place to live.

After I finally finished all this work, I was standing back and looking at the finished product when I began to think about how often this type of job gets done. I'm in houses all the time that have been remodeled, but very often for a different reason. I was doing my work out of the desire to make my house a more enjoyable house to live in. I was building a home. Others do it to build equity. It's all dollars and cents in the end.


Families built homes to be passed down, not sold for profitsWhere have the days gone when men would build their home, not just for themselves, but for their generations to come? It's been said many times. We live in a disposable society. Everything is about the return on the investment these days. We don't build homes to live in and pass on to our next generation. We build homes to build equity these days. When something goes wrong and we find ourselves in a negative equity situation, we are advised to walk away from it. We are taught not to build an attachment to our investment, in case we need to let go of it some day.

I believe this is the reason we are in the foreclosure situation we're in these days. Home is no longer where the heart is. It's where the ATM is. We build equity so we can draw it out later, whenever the urge hits us to buy something that we can't afford. We stretch those limits until the ATM is as broke as we are and then we're just one small hiccup away from disaster. But it's ok. We never got attached to the investment we held, so it's so much easier to walk away.

We need to change our approach to buying a house. Yes, it is an investment, but above all else, it should be a home for our families and a blessing to our future generations.

Until next time...


My name is Andrew Trevino. I am a Realtor, working in the Wilkes-Barre, PA area, and I'm affiliated with Realty World, Rubbico Real Estate. Thanks for investing your time in reading my blog. If you're interested in contacting me, please visit my website at

                                                                Realty World, Rubbico Real Estate

Comments (23)

Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale


Thanks. I did get the right angle to make it look bigger than it is. Maybe it's all that white.

Nov 17, 2007 03:53 PM
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
(RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE's bigger than mine...believe me!  lol! You do good work...come do my floors hehe.
Nov 17, 2007 04:08 PM
Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale sound like my wife. "We should have done these floors through the whole downstairs", she says, as I struggled to stand straight for three or four days afterwards. Then again, you do live in Hawaii...
Nov 17, 2007 04:16 PM
Randy L. Prothero
eXp Realty - Hollister, MO
Missouri REALTOR, (808) 384-5645
The floors look really nice.  My knees are hurting just thinking about it.
Nov 17, 2007 04:24 PM
Kris Wales
Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center - Macomb, MI
Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI
Andrew, the kitchen looks fantastic!    You did a great job, and the flooring also looks wonderful.  I fully agree with you - invest in your home instead of using it as a line of credit to be tapped into. 
Nov 17, 2007 07:42 PM
Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale


Thanks. It was much harder on the back than the knees. I'm not as young as I used to be.


Thanks very much. I'm glad someone finally answered the true issue here. More people need to understand this concept. Our future generations depend on it.

Nov 17, 2007 11:43 PM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
Your kitchen looks great, funny how we start a job because of one issue the floors and it turns into a project. I like the medal behind the sink, what is it ?  Yep homes have become ATMs for some people. Too bad it has contributed to the mess we are in.
Nov 18, 2007 01:10 AM
Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale


Thanks. That metal is actually plastic panels made to look like pressed tin, which was very common in our area many years ago. It has a great look to it and is easy to clean.

Our problem is really based in a huge loss of those values that forged this nation and made it great.

Nov 18, 2007 01:56 AM
Elizabeth Nieves
The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group - Durham, NC
Bilingual Raleigh - Durham North Carolina Real Estate Team
WONDERFUL post and INCREDIBLE KITCHEN! You did an amazing job. I love the point of your post...that home is no longer where the heart is. SO TRUE, Andrew. Thanks so much for this! finished it just in time for Thanksgiving! Blessings!
Nov 20, 2007 05:21 AM
Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale


Thanks for the compliment. I'm proud of the way it turned out, probably more so because I did the work. I think home would be where the heart is if more people would invest some of their hearts into their homes. Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 20, 2007 07:27 AM
Theresa Sprindis @ Keller Williams Cherry Hill, NJ
Keller Williams - Cherry Hill - Maple Shade, NJ
It really looks great! I understand what you mean about building a home for future generations. My father put an addition on the back of our home and did it with the help of his buddies. A huge 1000 sq ft addition! I remember when they raised the beams up it was amazing. He also hand stained and put in the railings. He still reminds us 14 years later, but I don't mind. I take pride in what he did and tell everyone about it. Point is you get to keep that satisfaction for so many years to come!
Nov 20, 2007 03:43 PM
Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale


There's a certain pride that comes from doing things yourself. He should point that out every now and again, he was truly building a home. Thanks for the compliment. I hope to enjoy mine for years to come as well.

Nov 21, 2007 02:04 AM
Tricia Jumonville
Bradfield Properties - Georgetown, TX
Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense

Andrew, we live in a 1930's house that was moved from town to the country about 30 years ago.  It has a great deal of character, and definitely needs some TLC (a constant necessity with these old homes), but it has so much more personality than most of the newer homes I see.   (Of course, it's had some time to develop that personality over the years.)   

When my daughter and I visited Scotland a few years back, on a tour of Edinburgh Castle, at the beginning of the tour, the guide pointed out the 7 gates in the portcullis entrance to the castle proper.  She casually said, "The first gate is a modern addition - it's only 150 years old."  Now, there's a home that was built to last!  

I do think we've lost a lot of our sense of building for the future, and that's a sad thing.  


Nov 23, 2007 06:28 AM
Sarah Eubanks
Hill Valley Financial Services - Oregon City, OR
Preferred Oregon Loan Consultant & Notary Public
Andrew ~  As ones who are currently starting a new construction project, let me say that I admire the strength and patience that a project like this requires.  Great job!  :)
Nov 23, 2007 07:30 AM
Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale


I love the old houses with character. I imagine all of the stories they could tell. We have lost our sense of building for a future, in all aspects. Thanks for the comment.


Thanks very much and good luck with your project.

Nov 23, 2007 12:51 PM
Sarah Eubanks
Hill Valley Financial Services - Oregon City, OR
Preferred Oregon Loan Consultant & Notary Public
Hi Andrew... Thanks.  We will need all of the prayers we can get!  It is over 4 acres and with so much potential.  There is the word of the day!!! leaves a lot to the imagination, doesn't it??
Nov 23, 2007 05:14 PM
Kelly Sibilsky
Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD. - Lake Zurich, IL

You are absolutely correct about homes being used more as ATMs then as a home to live in and enjoy. Of course, homes can be both a home and an investment, but the home part should be #1.

Nov 25, 2007 12:24 AM
Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale


Oh yes, potential!! I love the word and it usually equates to "a lot of work"! Over 4 acres in Oregon has to be very nice. Let me know if you need to fly a consultant out from, say, Pennsylvania for a few days to check it out. ;-)


Absolutely, a home is a great investment, but needs to be home first. We can buy investments all the time, but we need a place to store those memories and build "family equity". Thanks for commenting.

Nov 25, 2007 01:39 AM
Blogger To Be Named Later
Nothing better than working on your own home and it escalates our credibility with clients. I like the tile backsplash.
Nov 26, 2007 10:08 AM
Andrew Trevino
ADT Real Estate - Wilkes Barre, PA
Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale


Thanks very much. I love doing the work, but it's a bit tough on the schedule at times.

Nov 26, 2007 11:04 AM