Today Kelly Skeval shares her small multi-family house hacking story from Ithaca, New York. 

Want to try a lifestyle strategy that could save you thousands? House hacking could be the solution to eliminating your biggest expense. Learn more in our House Hacking Quick Start Guide. 

House Hacking Case Study

Kelly first encountered the idea of house hacking online. Although the term ‘house hacking' wasn't around yet in 2009, the idea was there. In 2009, Kelly completed her first house hack with her husband. Later they embarked on a second house hack with a family of five.

Today, we will take a closer look at the first house hack that started it all.

The House Hack

Kelly was very interested in owning their own property. But at the time, they couldn't afford the mortgage payment by themselves. That's when the idea of house hacking became very attractive.

She started looking for properties and found a split-level ranch on the MLS. When she saw the property, Kelly had the idea of putting a wall at the top of the stairs and adding a small kitchen to create two units. With that, the single-family property became a duplex.

Here's a closer look at the house:

outside of the house

Kelly's first house hack

The Updates

The single-family split-level home needed to be transformed into a duplex. They did this by adding a wall at the top of the stairs. Plus, they added a basic kitchen in one of the units.

Overall, the project cost around $2,000.

The Tenants

Once Kelly closed on the property and made the updates, she found tenants through Craigslist and Zillow. As a real estate agent, Kelly decided to self-manage the property. At the time, she didn't use any software to manage her tenants.

In her first house hack, Kelly found long-term tenants that were a great fit. In fact, these tenants ending up coming along to their second house hack in 2014

The Numbers of the Deal

It’s time to find out exactly how profitable this house hacking strategy was!


Kelly put down 3.5% on a $155,000 property. She used an FHA loan with 6% in seller concessions. Overall, their monthly mortgage payment was $1,210. 

Rental Income

Kelly was able to rent out the second unit for $1,500. 

  • Gross Rent: $1,500
  • Mortgage payment: $1,210
  • Cashflow before maintenance and vacancies: $290
  • Housing costs before house hacking: $1,000
  • Total housing savings: $1,290

The cash flow of the property is positive. With that, Kelly and her husband were able to live for free. Plus, the extra cash flow covered the utilities. 

Kelly and her husband are happy they decided to house hack. She says, “Overall, we enjoyed it and credit our success in investing to the original house hack. ”

The Learning Curve

Looking back, Kelly wouldn't change a thing. In fact, their first house hack was such a success that they decided to do it again. The second time around, they built a duplex with more space to accommodate their growing family.

Throughout their house hacking journey, Kelly and her husband have been able to use the money they've saved to buy more rental properties. If you are on the fence about giving this life-changing strategy a try, Kelly says, “Do it. It will change the trajectory of your life.”

Want to take action? Dive into this life-changing strategy with our House Hacking Quick Start Guide. 

How to Connect

Want to learn more about Kelly's story? You can connect on Facebook.

The Bottom Line

House hacking can help anyone achieve their financial goals. How would house hacking change your life?

Check out next week's case study!

If you are interested in creating your own house hacking story, check out our ultimate guide, listen to our house hacking podcast, or read more case studies for inspiration. You never know how dramatically your life can change through this one choice!

If you choose to pursue a house hack of your own, please share your story with us! We would love to showcase your success.