How I did it: Built living spaces to support my family

May 19, 2021

Tailoring your house to fit your family’s needs is essential, especially as most of us spend more time at home. We talked with two families who recently completed home renovations that made a big impact.


As families grow and lifestyles change, so too do our homes. They’ve quickly become a place for everything: working, learning, cooking, relaxing and entertaining. For some, having their home fit their family’s needs requires a renovation and some DIY magic.


A swim spa dream, realized

A few years ago, John B. and his wife, Kathie, decided to build an in-home swim spa. Their son was diagnosed with autism five years prior, and after a family swim class they recognized his love for swimming. Inspired to create a sanctuary for him, they embarked on a renovation process to add an indoor pool to their home.

Living in Minnesota, John and his wife recognized the importance of their son being able to swim year-round in the comfort of their home. Purchasing the 17-foot swim spa was just the beginning: the next steps were reliant on the proper financing and budgeting. “We applied and received a HELOC to provide us the funds to be able to recognize our dream,” John says.

After their financing was approved, building and excavating started. “We quickly realized that the only way we could afford to do this was to do some of the work ourselves,” John says. That meant demoing a large wood deck, jackhammering a cement patio and excavating their backyard to prep the pool’s location.

Once the site was prepared, John and his wife called in a builder to complete the rest of the job, which included using a giant crane to put the spa in place. After an entire summer of hard work, John, his wife and son were able to swim in the pool for the first time. Though the project still needed finishing touches, “we couldn’t keep our son out of the water any longer,” John says.


Making work-from-home work

Like many of us in the last year, Mike K. and his husband, Jeff G. transitioned from in-office jobs to working exclusively from home. “When both of us began working from home full-time, Jeff put a desk in our living room. Sound travels too well in our house, so having him on the phone all day was disturbing, even when I was working on the second floor,” Mike says.

Jeff relocated to their front porch, an under-utilized 400-square foot space that was sunny and quaint, but not really part of the home’s main footprint. “Jeff liked working out on the porch, but winter (in Minnesota) was coming. It was clear we couldn’t revert to him being in the living room, so we made the decision to fully convert the porch to a four-season room,” Mike says.

The design process started quickly. “I pulled down the old ceiling and walls to see what was underneath, drew up an overall design concept and started a spreadsheet for budgeting,” Jeff says. The couple also hunted on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to find budget-savvy and unique items for the space, like an oak table from 1890 that Jeff turned into two side tables.

As for the actual renovation, Jeff and Mike took it on themselves. “Jeff did all of the insulation himself. The front door was new already and energy-efficient. After that, we repainted everything to make it more homey,” reflects Mike.

The renovation instantly showed its value to the couple. “To have a dedicated space where I can work is great,” says Jeff. “He can continue to enjoy working from home year-round with sunny windows, surrounded by things that make the space inviting. And anytime you have more all-year living space, resale is positively affected,” Mike adds.


For more ways to build or update your home to fit your life, learn more and get inspired with these ideas.

Related content

DIY home projects 101: tips from a first-timer

Crypto + Homebuying: Impacts on the real estate market

Your quick guide to loans and obtaining credit

How to save for a wedding

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

6 ways to spring clean your finances and save money year-round

Preparing for homeownership: A guide for LGBTQ+ homebuyers

Which is better: Combining bank accounts before marriage — or after?

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

Saving for a down payment: Where should I keep my money?

What’s a subordination agreement, and why does it matter?

Is online banking safe?

How I did it: Learned to budget as a single mom

10 ways to increase your home’s curb appeal

7 steps to prepare for the high cost of child care

Housing market trends and relocation impact

Should you get a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit?

The lowdown on 6 myths about buying a home

How I did it: Bought my dream home using equity

Dear Money Mentor: When should I refinance a mortgage?

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

Spring cleaning checklist for your home: 5 budget-boosting tasks

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

Is it time to get a shared bank account with your partner?

Checklist: 6 to-dos for after a move

Overcoming high interest rates: Getting your homeownership goals back on track

Pros and cons of a personal line credit

Dear Money Mentor: What is cash-out refinancing and is it right for you?

House Hacks: How buying an investment property worked as my first home

How I did it: Bought a home without a 20 percent down payment

3 tips for saving money when moving to a new home

5 ways to maximize your garage sale profits 

Changes in credit reporting and what it means for homebuyers

What’s the difference between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

High-cost housing and down payment options in relocation

Crypto + Relo: Mobility industry impacts

For today's relocating home buyers, time and money are everything

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

Recognize. React. Report. Caregivers can help protect against financial exploitation

Is raising backyard chickens a good idea financially?

Planning self-care moments that matter (and how to finance them)

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

9 simple ways to save

What you need to know about renting

Know your debt-to-income ratio

Home improvements with the best ROI

How we did it: Converted to solar power

Is it cheaper to build or buy a house

For today's homebuyers, time and money are everything

Should you buy a house that’s still under construction?

Buying a home Q&A: What made three homeowners fall in love with their new home

Managing the impacts of appraisal gaps in a hot housing market

How I did it: Built living spaces to support my family

Your guide to breaking the rental cycle

What are conforming loan limits and why are they increasing

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Building a home

Home buying myths: Realities of owning a home

4 ways to free up your budget (and your life) with a smaller home

Get more home for your money with these tips

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

Money Moments: How to finance a home addition

How I did it: My house remodel

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

Quiz: How prepared are you to buy a home?

What is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and what can it be used for?

Building a dream home that fits your life

10 questions to ask when hiring a contractor

5 things to avoid that can devalue your home

What is an escrow account? Do I have one?

Is it the right time to refinance your mortgage?

What to know when buying a home with your significant other

What is refinancing a mortgage?

These small home improvement projects offer big returns on investment

Webinar: Mortgage basics: What is refinancing, and is it right for you?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Prequalification or pre-approval – What do I need?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: How much house can you afford?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: How does your credit score impact the homebuying experience?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Finding the right home loan for you

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Buying or renting – What’s right for you?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: 3 Key steps in the homebuying process

Is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) right for you?

How to use your home equity to finance home improvements

How do I prequalify for a mortgage?

Home equity: Small ways to improve the value of your home

Can you take advantage of the dead equity in your home?

8 steps to take before you buy a home

6 questions to ask before buying a new home

10 uses for a home equity loan

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.