What I Did
Renovated a century-old houseboat.
Remodeling cost: $250,000
Time frame: 4 years
Where I saved: Used salvaged materials and did most of the work myself.
Where I splurged: Wood windows, doors, and trim that I had to sand, stain, and finish.
What I'd do differently: Not use sanded glass bath tile. It's beautiful, but though I pretreated with a sealer before grouting, I had to spend three days with a random-orbit sander taking off a grout haze of silicone caulk that remained.
Biggest challenge: Trying to build a square, level, and plumb addition without being able to use two normally indispensable carpenter tools: a level
and a plumb bob.
How I solved it: Running lots of string lines and retaking lots of measurements.
Though it added only 30 square feet, the new layout accommodates three finished bedrooms (two with extra headroom), a second bath, and lots more storage.