I obsess about the big picture – am I on budget, will I meet my project deadline, are my partners happy, are the contractors doing good work – things like that.
My wife…my wife obsesses about the finishes. She’ll spend 15 minutes debating me about shades of gray (hehe), the placement of the kitchen island, the budget (“but for $200 more, this is light fixture soooo much better”) … and that’s exactly what I need! I have little interest in being bothered with that kind of stuff; I’ve got far bigger issues to deal with.
With that said, it’s no surprise that I missed a rather glaring issue in out master bedroom that she saw within the first 5 seconds of stepping in the room.
As we’ve wrote about in the past, the master bedroom went through several iterations – we ended up expanding the size of the closet and adding a large fireplace. This all happened after we had drawn new electrical for overhead lights. You get the picture … the lighting placement just didn’t look right after we moved things around.
The first time we moved the light placement was after we expanded the closet. I told my electrician to “center it.” I never looked at it again.
My wife, however, quickly realized it wasn’t “centered” with the fireplace…it just looked off. Fortunately for me, my father is an electrical engineer and charges me $0 per hour. A little father-son bonding and 1 hour of work, the lighting was moved for a third and final time.
Check it out below – far left hole (placement #1), large hole in the middle (placement #2), final hole centered with fireplace (placement #3).
Hi there! It’s Harriet – i’m the reason for all of the large bills from Home Depot, Build.com, Pottery Barn, Sherwin Williams and Restoration Hardware, just to name a few. Yep, I’m the reason projects always seem to come in over budget. With good reason, though!
I know my husband is focused on the budget, but when you are trying to beautifully rehab a property, you sometimes need a little pizzaz! Unfortunately, pizzaz = money.
Over the weekend we did one of my favorite shopping trips for the Century Home – lighting! We shopped at two local lighting stores to find just what the flip needed…a little sparkle! While we always try to leave plenty of room in our budget for lighting and other finish projects, our daughter Mila couldn’t take her eyes off of one of the most expensive (and sparkly) chandeliers we’ve ever seen! Definitely castle worthy!
Here’s a sneak peak of the dining room chandelier we chose – a slightly tarnished silver that will definitely go well with the 100 year old sconces we were able to salvage.
We haven’t been updating the blog as often as we should, but I have to brag for moment. When you seen the end result … the transformation … your jaws will drop! My hubby is an intelligent man, but with all of the stress he’s been under to hit project deadlines, I think he’s been too distracted by the little things to realize just how beautiful the Century Home flip will be.
Ladies, this home is something we fantasize about. The walk in closet is the size of most bedrooms. The master bedroom is just as big and has a gorgeous fireplace, where the crystals radiate more than the flames. The kitchen is inviting and will be perfect for hosting large parties. Stay tuned, we’re just a few weeks away from hitting the market!
Harriet + Mila + our little dog Zeus
Construction is moving fast! Much faster than I can keep up with on the blog! Our crews are finishing up some minor drywall repairs, installing trim around the new doors and windows, crown molding in a few of the rooms and, most importantly, tile in both the master and kids bathroom!
Here is a sneak peak, with compliments to The Tile Shop for their awesome product selection and design inspiration. Can’t wait to show off the finished product!
We’re officially on day 6 of construction at the Century House. So far, our HVAC contractor has been removing the existing radiators and associated plumbing in preparation for a whole-house forced air system. Our general trades will begin demo of the kitchen, bathrooms and a few walls on the second floor this week. We’re beyond excited to be in the full throws of rehab.
I stopped by the house earlier this week to take a few “before” interior photos. Below is a quick photo tour of what will, in 3-4 months, be a beautifully restored home in a storied neighborhood.
Note: The home was vacant for two years and was broken into by some punk kids, who decided to add a little bit of their own vulgar graffiti.
Butler stairwell and butler’s pantry off the kitchen. Both will be demo’d to increase the size of the kitchen by 40%.
Kitchen – cabinets and soffit to be demo’d this week. Increased square footage will allow for a center island.
Dining Room – love the coffered ceiling!
Looking down from the stairwell to the front entry. To the left, the living room. To the right, the dining room.
Center hall colonial – stairwell leading to the second floor.
HUGE living room.
The hardware in the home is tremendous!
Third floor. Will make for an amazing rec room.
Second floor hallway.
Current master bath.
Hi Guys. Love the blog! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us; it’s awesome to see. Flipping a house is something my husband and I have wanted to do for a while, but aren’t really sure where to start. We both have full-time jobs, so I’m not sure if we even have the time. Do you do the work yourselves, or do you have contractors? Thanks so much. I can’t wait to see how your latest project turns out – it’s huge!
Thanks for the email and the
kind words! Great question. We’ve done both.
For our first property (a rental) we basically did everything ourselves (paint, tile, flooring, bathrooms, finished basement, etc). The rehab took a total of 63 days, with my father and I working most weeknights from 6-10 and then weekends from 8am – 8pm. We subbed out plumbing and the garage rebuild. Between my full time job and the rehab, I was working about 80 hours a week. It wasn’t ideal, but we saved a lot of money. We also do most all of the work at our other rental properties. If you’re not afraid of putting in the time, then by all means do the work yourselves! It’s a great way to appreciate and understand everything that goes into a rehab.
That said, I’ll probably never do that again. For our Century Home flip we’ve subbed out the entire scope of the project, from electrical and plumbing to paint. There is certainly pieces of the project we could do ourselves to save some cash, but given the size of the house there is no way we’d be able to meet our project timeline. Managing a crew is a full-time job in and of itself, so while I may not be laying tile I’m sure I’ll be glued to my phone.
So, I’ve been MIA for awhile! I’m sorry!
We’ll have more regular updates over the next several weeks as we transition from our latest rental property rehab to some DIY projects around our house in anticipation of our baby girl’s birth in late October. My wife is ready to kill me as I haven’t even started the nursery 😮
Until then, I have a lot to share – we recently completed the rehab of our first rental property, bought a second one and are on the lookout for a third. It’s been an interesting journey thus far, with far too many “Oh shit, I didn’t budget for that” moments and late nights to boot.
Construction is well on its way in all corners of the rental property – from stripping wallpaper in each of the eight rooms and hallways, demoing the waterlogged walls in the basement, interior waterproofing and most notably, rehabbing the kitchen!
Our plans for the kitchen are as follows:
- Update flooring in the kitchen and hallway with either tile or luxury vinyl tile
- Put in new granite countertops and backsplash
- Install new cabinet hardware (nobs and pulls)
- Replace light figures (there’s a ceiling fan in the kitchen!)
To keep within budget, my wife and I decided to keep the existing cabinets. While we originally wanted to replace them, the cabinets are in tremendous shape and are only a few years old. We’re optimistic that new flooring, cabinet hardware,backsplash and colorful granite will be sufficient to give this kitchen the updated look it deserves.
We just wrapped up demoing the existing square white (beige?) tile backsplash and removing the old countertops. Next step is to install drywall and select our finished – the fun part! We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop!
My apologies for going radio silent, but last week my wife and I were vacationing with her family in Florida and I tried my best to stay away from any form of electronics. The best thing, aside from the R&R, was we closed on our latest rental property! Woo!
What struck me the most during the latest walk-through was the volume of personal belongings left in the house – clothing, shoes, a used toothbrush, partially filled coffee cup, paperwork, unused spices in the kitchen and even an old pair of pantyhose that were drying in the shower. The home smelled of moth balls and vermouth. What should be clear by now is that we purchased this home from an estate. These were all things I overlooked when we first walked through the property – I was too focused on the foundation, electrical panel, leaky basement walls and nearly collapsed garage.
As I was cleaning out all of the personal belongings, I began wondering what the previous owner was like. There wasn’t much to go by, but here is what I could deduce:
An old Italian woman, Mary, lived in the home since 1973. She was the president of the local chapter of the Order of Italian Sons & Daughters. From what I could gather from all Mary’s belongings, she organized fundraisers for the local chapter, was an avid cooker and a presumably a heavy smoker considering all of the ash trays (15+) I found. Her husband passed away many years ago, but she kept pictures throughout the house.
As I was cleaning out all of the belongs (it was mildly depressing), I couldn’t help but look through some of her paperwork. In her desk drawer I found 38 beautiful prayer cards – probably from the funerals of all her friends that passed over the years. 38! Some were young, but most were old like Mary. I wonder if she was the last of her friends to go? It puts all of those part arguments you may have had with friends into perspective.
Anyways, that was my 15 minutes of emotion. The house is now clear of clutter and ready for rehab. Let the fun begin!
We should formally close on our latest investment property within the next week. We’re trying to move as quickly as possible, but as we’ve come to realize over the last several months the process doesn’t always go smoothly. There are a few liens on the property that need to be sorted out, but we’re hopeful they will be squared away.
In the interest of being ready to begin rehab on Day 1, we’re meeting with our contractor this weekend to discuss what work needs to be done. Aside from paint, a new garage, waterproofing and other mundane items, the house is in need of an updated kitchen.
Could I keep the existing cabinets and rent the property as is? Yeah, most likely. However, my mentor has showed me a fully renovated kitchen can drive a 10-15% increase in rents — at that rate, the cabinets will pay for themselves in less than a year. Aside from the monetary benefits, such renovations attract a more quality tenant, support higher appraised values and, in general, are a positive for the community.
We’ll likely tinker around with the layout to better accommodate appliances, but for now we’re trying to decide on which style to use. Our options are below – what are your thoughts? I’m leaning towards the first option, but with a different flooring / backsplash combination.
Oh no! After being under contract to purchase our first flip, we had to back out of the deal after the general inspection brought to light some serious issues!
I mentioned in a previous blog post that trying to buy a home in the winter is miserable. With foreclosures, typically the heat and power are switched off, the driveway is covered with a foot of snow and the overall condition of the home is questionable. Aside from those physical unpleasantries, the snow in particular makes inspecting the exterior of a home problematic. If I can’t see the driveway, roof or enter the garage, how will I know if they’re in need of repair? I do rely on Google Maps satellite view to a certain extent, but even that is only somewhat helpful given that the photos may be a few years old.
To ease our minds, we hired a general inspector (as any homebuyer should) to get their take on any major issues with the home. And wouldn’t you know, there were quite a few big ticket items! The biggest of which was the $14,000 needed to build a brand new garage – something we didn’t get to inspect ourselves due to a large mound of snow blocking entry into the structure. A slight oversight on our part, but alas that’s what inspectors are for.
Regardless of these issues, the home was still a great opportunity – but not at our initial offering price. So, we went back with a meaningfully reduced offer, which they didn’t even consider. The search continues!
We put in our sixth offer in the last three months on a beautiful two-family property earlier this week. It’s a short sale, so it may take some time to close, but negotiations have been going well thus far. It needs quite a bit of work, but we’re excited by the opportunity to restore the home to its former glory.