Katie & Ryan

Pittsburgh, PA | Point Breeze North

When Katie and Ryan first decided to buy a home in Pittsburgh, the last thing they wanted was a renovation. Juggling a packed schedule including full-time jobs and active community involvement, it didn’t seem reasonable. “We were definitely looking for move-in ready and told our agent we just weren’t interested in renovation,” says Ryan.

However, several houses into their search, they kept thinking back to a house that had been on the market longer than usual. It had been used as a rental property with a layout that was inconvenient and felt weird—a full bathroom in the living room and an additional bedroom in the back of the first floor where the kitchen had been previously located.

But the location was ideal for what they wanted: a block from the busway, a short walk to Frick Park and the East End Food Co-op, with a large backyard for gardening. “We realized that with this place, we could have the best location and home if we considered renovation,” Katie shares.

“We were pleasantly surprised that going this route still fit our budget, and even checked off more boxes than the turnkey purchases we considered in other neighborhoods.”

Ryan and Katie set to work securing a Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan, and with the help of their real estate agent found a contractor and a designer to help realize their vision. Having both on their team felt key, that the two skill sets complimented each other for design and material efficiency.

“A few of the most memorable times during the renovation were seeing them discuss solutions together,” explains Katie. “Things can change when you open up walls, and you need good communication. They both offered so much more than I could have during the process.”

The project transformed the first floor: they removed two walls for an open floor plan, turned the full bathroom into an entry closet and powder room, added two windows for more southern light, and created a kitchen with more counterspace than they’d ever had.

They were even able to squeeze in a remodel of the second-floor bathroom to nix the pink and blue tiles and update the fixtures.

“We couldn’t do everything we wanted, but the things we did were must haves. We have no regrets for the time and money spent on rooms we occupy so much, especially the kitchen and dining area,” Katie shares.

Katie shared a few more pieces of advice, “the contingency reserve is key. We used all of it, sometimes to fill in unexpected needs. For instance, when they opened the walls, we realized our house wasn’t insulated. That changed right away. And everything takes longer than you think it will. Although it’s good to be optimistic!”