Tacoma Converted Garage // A Proper Introduction + How to house hack like a single lady

THE TACOMA CONVERTED GARAGE

We’ve been working on the Tacoma Converted Garage project for 5 months now (including this dining nook makeover), and we’ll be spending lots more time over there this Fall. So I thought it was time to do a proper introduction to the project here on the blog.

Tacoma Converted Garage // from our dining nook makeover with Metrie

About the Property and the House Hack

The Tacoma Converted Garage is the third unit of a victorian triplex in Tacoma, 30 miles of Seattle. While I wish Garrett and I owned this old beauty (1890s…swoon), alas, we do not. But it is in the family. Garrett’s sister, Naysa, bought this triplex back in 2015 and moved into the third unit (aka the converted garage) while renting out the apartments in the main house. There’s a lot to unpack about this property so let’s get to it.

How to House Hack Like a Single Lady

This was Naysa’s first home purchase and she made it as a single woman. I wanted to point that out because what Garrett and I do is always about ‘we’ and ‘us’ but there are single people taking on just as much and they’re doing it with only two hands. I’m immensely impressed by this (as an identical twin, doing things by myself is far from my comfort zone) and can only imagine how daunting it is to buy, renovate, and rent out a home by oneself. Naysa is fearless and awesome and a total #rolemodel.

Second, Naysa has taken on ALL of the landlord duties herself. Or, I should say, landlady duties. Of course Naysa has a mentor in her brother who’s just a phone call away, but Naysa has become a landlady in her own right. She advertises vacancies, writes leases, maintains the property, and deals with the finances on her own.

Also of note, this property is in a great neighborhood of Tacoma and Naysa probably couldn’t have afforded a home in here without the added benefit of rental income. Speaking of rental income, Tacoma has seen a healthy increase in rents over the past 3 years and Naysa’s renters (in the main house) now pay the mortgage for the entire property. This is the goal of house hacking and Naysa has nailed it. Also, apparently house hacking runs in our family 😉

The Story Behind the House Hack (aka $150,000 in Student Loan Debt)

While house hacking was a necessity for Garrett and I, Naysa’s back story is a little different. Naysa went to school for 8 years to become a veterinarian and came out of college with $150,000 in student loans. Her student loan payment is a huge monthly burden on her budget. So when it came time to buy a home, she looked for a property that could help with her finances. In the end, this triplex made it possible for her to pay down her loans and own a home in an awesome neighborhood. Impressive for anyone, this feat is especially notable for a single lady coming out of college with six figures of debt.

One more note: we’ve never shared someone else’s house hacking journey before but I think there’s a lot of value in it. So we asked Naysa if we could share her story on the blog in hopes that other’s can get something from it.

Tacoma Converted Garage renovation // Cathy, Garrett, and Naysa

Now back to the renovation…

The #TacomaConvertedGarage Renovation

The original finishes in the garage apartment were rough to say the least. It’s unclear when the garage was converted into an apartment, but regardless, it needed renovated again. This year, Naysa finally pulled the trigger. And because life is always throwing curveballs, Naysa got a new job in Ellensburg shortly after starting on the plans. Ha! Renovating now requires a commute, but on the plus side, Naysa now lives near us and coaches our son’s soccer team (did I mention how awesome Naysa is…?!).

Unfortunately I didn’t get any shots of the Tacoma Converted Garage before demo began, but these at least should give you a feel for the architecture and flow of the space. And if you get queasy just looking at rough spaces, scroll ahead for the floor plan and design board.

Like I said, it was rough.

Floorplans and Design Boards

Every square inch of this unit is being renovated. Not only are we gutting the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry space, but the entire unit is getting new electrical, plumbing, and heating. We’re opening up the kitchen and living spaces and carving out a second bedroom from a defunct corner. Here is the ‘before’  floorplan:

And here’s what the floorplan looks like after framing:

As far as the design, we’re working with the existing industrial, modern vibe and bringing in a bit of the Grit and Polish aestethic. That means bright whites, timeless appeal, and natural materials. We’ll be keeping as many of the original character-rich elements as possible: concrete floors, tongue-and-grove walls, wood beams and posts, and sloped ceilings. Bella (our intern from the Spring who  graduated and took a full-time job…miss you, Bella!) put together design boards for Naysa’s, and I’m including them below. A couple elements have evolved (and surely more still will), but the overall look and feel is spot on.

What’s Next

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that we’ve been working on the Tacoma Converted Garage for the better part of 5 months now and believe it or not, we’ve accomplished a few things: demo, electrical rough-in and service change, framing, drywall, plumbing rough-in, dining nook makeover, and the original concrete floors were polished. And now we’re to the fun part – putting the place back together! We’ll be bringing you guys along as we wrap up this space over the next few months.

First up: the built-in hood vent that Garrett crafted this weekend (we have a DIY tutorial coming later this week!). Can’t wait to see this unit take shape!

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