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¡Ya estufas!

It’s Over! What a fun project. Great house in an even better Encinitas, CA neighborhood with a simple, but complete, cosmetic makeover. It’s now on the market for sale and ready for a new family to call home. The sense of accomplishment is what really keeps me going on these things. I have an awesome crew and couldn’t do this without everyone who had a part in it. Taking on a whole house remodel in 6 weeks is not for the faint of heart, but the reward is always worth it. Take a look how cool the master shower came out. The contrast between the warm reclaimed back wall and the crisp white ceramic subway sides is very dramatic. I hope this wood doesn’t get wet 😉

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Reclaimed wood look tile - Green Button Homes

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Spice Rack - Green Button Homes

Bathroom remodel - Green Button Homes

Sell My House Encinitas

 

Pacific Beach project is done and on the market

3 blocks to the water! Our new project is now done and on the market for sale. This cute little original beach cottage is totally made over with new roof, windows, stucco, designer kitchen, bath, and refinished original hardwood floors. I really love the white ceramic diagonal herringbone pattern backsplash. You cant beat the location and can walk to everything Pacific beach has to offer. This would make a great vacation rental Air BnB but I am sure the neighbors wouldn’t agree. The home has 2 bedrooms, 1 bath and is just under 900 square feet with a 1 car attached garage. We buy houses in San Diego! We purchased this house directly from an out of the area owner who lived in Riverside, he was actually a Century 21 agent but didn’t want to pay Realtor commissions and wanted to sell it As-Is and hassle-free.

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Indoor/Outdoor Living in Clairemont

We are deep into this project and really just now starting to put it back together. The front yard demo was massive, we hauled out 4 dumpsters of demo and then 2 days with the Bobcat to break out the multiple layers of old concrete patios and finally hauled it off in a dump truck. The front yard is finally back to a clean slate to work with.

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The master bathroom changes are all done and we are ready to patch the drywall back up. The shower is 7 feet wide with his and hers shower heads. It’s going to be really cool, just wait to see what tile we have picked out. You will notice that we have a Hot Mop Tar shower pan. None of the house flippers do this but I would never settle for anything less.


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I wanted to take advantage of the expansive canyon views so we sprung for a Folding Patio Door. There are several manufacturers of these such as La Cantina and Nanawall, but we opted for a local company right here in Oceanside called Panoramic Doors. It’s a 10 foot wide opening consisting of 3 movable panels that completely open up and lay to the side, providing a seamless indoor/outdoor transition for the awesome San Diego climate. The obvious choice would have been regular French doors that swing out, this is a just way nicer so I think it was a good investment into the house. The backyard is going to get a new patio, some Xeriscape and a gas fire pit. This will be a really good house for entertaining. Stay tuned, we should start patching it all back up soon and moving towards paint, kitchen and tile jobs next.


Bi Fold Patio Doors

Modern Garage Door and Countertops – South Park

We are winding things up in South Park on our Modern Bungalow. The modern garage door got installed this week, its an Amarr full view door in dark bronze with obscure glass. I didn’t want the glass to look white-ish like my last project so I didn’t get the frosted, the obscure lets more light in and overall was a way better choice for this project. The dark bronze aluminum ties in with the Milgard aluminum window color perfectly. The door looks massive because its 8 feet high so the glass panels are larger, way cooler than the 7 foot Amarr door we installed earlier this year on a house we flipped.

In the master bath wet room I finally dropped in the jacuzzi tub. You can see that the heavy glass frame-less doors are also installed, I tried something new this time and did saloon doors. You can leave them open when taking a bath and they lay on the walls out of the way. The opening is 4’0″ so each door is around 24″ Hey Honey, if I don’t come home from work one night you know where to find me.

Carpet got installed in the 2 secondary bedrooms. I went with a designer textured close loop Stainmaster with upgraded pad because we like carpet in kids rooms. The grey ties in well with interior finishes.

The big milestone we passed this week was the counter tops. The kitchen and both bathrooms are all Ceasarstone Arctic White with a square profile and eased edge. Ceasarstone is quartz so its a little trickier to work with when fabricating the edge detail. Not only is the pure white unforgiving but quartz in general has to be miter cut so you wont see the lamination on the bullnose. This is the first time I’ve gone this white, its so fresh, clean and looks very modern, contrasting my dark greyish blue base cabinet color well. The huge sink is a single bowl zero radius stainless steel. I ended up going with white 3×6 ceramic tile for the back splash (not shown) and installed it in a running bond pattern to keep it looking more contemporary and matching the upstairs bathroom.

The 3’x7′ kitchen island has a waterfall on one side. this is a new technique usually reserved for high end modern homes where the counter top actually wraps down the island and touches the floor. You can also see in this pic how the seams are miter cut. One neat feature (also not shown) is the microwave drawer in the island, more pics to come after I get appliances in.  We Buy Houses in San Diego, if you know anyone looking to sell please contact us as we are always searching for our next renovation project.

The Sputnik Has Landed

Ok I admit it, this is the fun part. Well, its actually all fun but once you get past walls and floors you get to put the small details that really bring your design together. I am proud to say that I haven’t bought any of the fixtures, plumbing or electrical, for our Mid-Century Modern renovation from the big box stores. With the exception of the tub and 2 Kohler toilets everything I researched and bought online. You can find great deals and usually get free shipping as well. At the end of the project I’ll do a list of where all the fixtures came from and how much they cost for future reference. You can see the brushed aluminum mid century hourglass shaped wall sconces in the kitchen, the 12″ white globe and of course the Sputnik pendant light. The kitchen cabinets are Abstrakt from Ikea, once the side panels and doors arrive these plain white boxes will transform into a futuristic flat panel high-gloss dark grey masterpiece. My new kitchen lay out is fabulous, it worked out to 24′ of linear counter top space plus a 7′ bar top and a stand up food pantry to boot. The sink wall itself is a 13′ straight shot of open counter.

Furthermore, the bedrooms received modern style brushed aluminum frosted glass closet doors. Not only do these tie into the frosted glass and aluminum outside but they are just plain cool. Accent lights inside the closet would have been keen but maybe we’ll do that on the next project. These doors were special order from Home Depot. I also got all the tile finished and set the Godmorgan high gloss grey floating vanities. On top I went with Kohler Vox square vessel sinks. I’ll do the Pure White Caesarstone counters that will contrast those dark cabinets well at the same time the kitchen counters get done.

One of the main features on my design to get the Mid-Century Modern look was this Amarr full view frosted glass and aluminum garage door. Cant you picture it softly lit up at night from inside the garage when you are having guests over? My electrician told me that it make the house look like a Ferrari should be parked in the garage. A very cool item for sure that I got a great hook up on from my neighbor who owns a garage door company. I also put a key pad outside so when you go bike riding or jogging you don’t have to bring your keys with you. You’ll notice that when we did the new stucco I added a 1″ wide horizontal aluminum channel that now ties in on the front of the garage.

The San Diego real estate market is hot right now. There’s virtually a shortage of good homes and all time low interest rates. You cant find a Mid Century Modern renovation anywhere like this for sale, so its safe to say I’m in a good position. Many home buyers will of course like the house but not even get the whole concept. The smaller, educated group who follow design trends and know how hot MCM is right now will certainly be willing to pay a premium for something like this already completely done. Stay tuned as we move into landscaping and more modern touches outside.

Modern Glass Tile and Renewable Bamboo Floors

Finally some fun stuff is going in the house. To stay in the Mid Century Modern theme I did mosaic in the master shower, but an updated spin on what was there originally. Glass mosaic tile is really hot right now for MCM house design and there are fun new retro patterns available if you search. After looking around at my local tile stores nothing really fit the bill because I wanted this new trendy, spacey-looking random pattern.  You definitely wont see these materials in any other rehabs locally. I found this glass mosaic in LA for $5.99/sf so I drove up and bought everything this week. I’m using another new product for grout on the glass called Star Glass, its actually recycled crushed glass in a urethane base. It’s a flexible, non-cement, non-porous grout and wont ever fade or stain. It’s real expensive and was primarily reserved for commercial applications until recently discovered by interior designers. Its translucent and reflective and seems to disappear when applied to glass tiles instead of contrasting heavily like even a normal white grout would do. Using glass tile like this is great, what I don’t like anymore is seeing when just a glass mosaic 4″ strip is used as a shower or tub surround accent liner. Look at some of my older bathroom remodels if you don’t know what I’m referring to!

In the hall bath above I went with a frosted 3×6 glass tile but set it in a stacked pattern which looks more modern than subway pattern. I ran it all the way up to my new vaulted ceiling lid for a more expansive feel in what is really a modest bathroom size. I also laid a 12×24 charcoal grey porcelain tile for both bathroom floors which is very popular in modern bathroom design right now. This grey will go with anything and basically just disappear when the bathrooms are done and all the chrome hardware goes in. I set the floors butt-joint also to look cleaner and eliminate grout lines. The glass mosaic in the master also has grey in it so it tied in perfectly. The floating vanities you’ll see go in soon are also high gloss grey.

We also got started installing the hardwood floors. I wanted to go with Bamboo for this house for its durable nature and the fact that’s its 100% renewable and considered a Green building product by LEED standards. Bamboo is harvested every 5-6 years while normal trees in a forest take 40-60 years to mature. This product is also of the newer version of Bamboos that has been stranded and carbonized. You don’t see the old cheap style bamboo pattern and there is no wear layer, its the same material all the way through. I bought it at Simple Floors for $3.15 s.f. and decided on paying a sub contractor another $2/sf to install it to speed up my project. This Bamboo requires glue down installation because its so hard that you will bend nails trying to nail it. The color I found is as close to my cedar ceilings as possible, and I laid it the long way to match the tongue and groove ceiling direction.  The white walls are totally working now that I’ve obtained so much warmth and color from the surrounding natural materials.

MCM Window Shopping

I’m really excited about the Milgard aluminum windows I picked out for this house and have to say I’ve removed tons of aluminum windows but this is the first time I’ve ever put them In. They are a modern energy efficient version of what we took out. With my right hand man Barney, we got them all installed including the 6 foot and 8 foot patio doors in a day and a half. These are new construction windows meaning you have to break the stucco back to install them using nailing fins. Putting them in is easy but the most important part is getting new flashing behind the old felt paper and using Jiffy Seal around them for a good seal. When breaking out your old ones try not to damage the wire mesh or felt paper. There’s a lot of guys flipping houses in San Diego and throwing in retrofit or vinyl lip windows. Believe me, you don’t want to put in vinyl retrofit windows, they will not hold air and warp in less than 10 years. I know because I have them in my house!

For our Mid Century project I wanted to get the stream-lined modern minimalist look so the aluminum was a clear choice. I wanted to use a mixture of casement and awning windows on this project so the master bedroom window was a perfect candidate to replace the old huge slider with a fixed window and 2 casements on the sides. I was able to put together a custom front window also with an awning on the bottom and slider on the top as seen here. I almost went with a really cool look – triple awning on the front, but thought there might not be enough air flow on those hot San Diego summer nights with no A/C so I played it functionally safe and put sliders in the secondary bedrooms as well. Since we are re-stuccoing the whole house I also took this opportunity to break out and replace all the old crawl space vents as you can see at the bottom of the top picture.

After price shopping around at 4 places I ended up getting the best deal at Home Depot. These are special order windows and take 3-4 weeks to arrive so you want to order them as soon as possible so they don’t slow your project down. For orders over $2500 you can request special pricing from the Home Depot Bid Room. Just ask to do so at the Millworks or Contractors desk. In my case they knocked off another 14% and with no delivery charge I ended up paying about $3600 for all the windows including a 6 foot and 8 foot patio door. These windows are of course low E and dual pane. The patio doors were a little more tricky because the frames come in 4 pieces but easy for anyone to do and they installed like a dream. They shut so good it sounds like an airplane door.

I tried out a new drywall patching crew this time and am super happy with the results. They cut out everything square, patched all my Swiss cheese holes from running the mechanicals, and then skim coated the entire house with a new 90% smooth texture. They also had to redo some of the window and door returns from our install, so it was nice to have them there fixing stuff as we were putting in the windows. The inside is ready for paint now, everything is really going smooth with this house. I’m off to the recycle yard with the old aluminum windows now for a nice bonus check for helping the environment!

clean and simple

The upstairs bath now is mostly done at a cost of around $2200.00 for everything new from the studs out, all I have to do now is install the missing baseboards and then drop in the toilet. You can see my style is once again timeless, clean lines with a blend of retro and modern design. I’m really stoked on this vanity and sink this time, I tried something different and it really goes with this house. The tile is white Dal Tile K100 from Home Depot. It’s 6″ square on the bottom and changes to 3×6″ subway at the black liner. The floor tile is also Dal Tile ceramic hex dot and is my favorite for old house bathrooms, this is the only floor tile in the whole house, both bathrooms downstairs and the kitchen have wood floors which is another feature I’ve been doing to these old houses which looks cool. I know the white ceramic tub box below on the hardwood floors in the bathroom is a great look because I’ve been down this road on the last project.

With the upstairs bath tile job done we got started downstairs. My helper Steve is doing it all, I’m so stoked to have found someone and not having to do it myself and furthermore knowing that I’ve got a tile guy for the future. You can see I went back to the well with the river rock floor in the shower, its white rock with grey accents. The walls are 6″ white ceramic and will change to 3×6″ subway on top of the accent which I found of matching grey glass and white carerra marble, which I’ll cut into 4″ strips for the liner. I really hate to use any glass now because its become so trendy but I think just this small amount mixed with the other materials will give me just enough fun without looking like the house flippers who throw too much of the trendy stuff in and overkill the effect. The entire inside is painted now, I was lucky and bought all my paint over the Labor Day week and took advantage of the Home Depot rebate of $20 for each 5 gallon I bought. I used 20 galllons to spray all the trims 2 coats and another 22 gallons for the walls in the house so the rebate added up.

An Old Familiar Friend

My new master bathroom in The Painted Lady is coming together nicely, it’s generous in size at 6′ x 15.’ Every time I frame up one of these tub boxes for the drop in tub I get a sense of Deja Vu, like seeing an old friend. It seems like just yesterday when I was doing a similar configuration on the Target House project only this time I’m just going with a standard 3′ high pony wall separating the tub and the shower instead of the full wall with the window opening, which will also also keep my tile price down. Every bathroom I design is a bit different, this time I’ve got everything in a line down the left hand wall and then the water closet at the end on the right. You kinda just gottta play with the space and do what works best. I’ve also got the whole right hand wall available for towel bars with this design, I’ve learned this the hard way after doing killer bathrooms and then finding out there no place for towel bars. The door swings in and onto the right hand wall, a 60″ dual vanity is first on the left, then the jacuzzi tub in the middle with a 3′ x 4′ shower at the back. I planned on dropping in a regular soaker tub with no jets to keep the budget down but after pricing them I could get the American Standard Plebe model 32″ x 60″ jetted tub for the same price of $399.00 so it’s a no brainer. There’s a window in the center of the back wall but I’ve got it temporarily sealed now.  Natural light is key for bathrooms, ideally I probably would have had another window in the shower and one in the water closet too but I’m trying to stay within budget so I’m forced to pull back in some areas. Code states that if you don’t have an opening window you must have an exhaust fan but I’ll have both.

As you can see we got started roughing in the plumbing this week,  I got a great quote of $4800.00 for the complete new system with gas lines, I supply the fixtures. I was also reminded that black ABS is used here in California and not white PVC as in Texas and on the East Coast for the waste lines.  I think PVC is better and cheaper but the only upside on ABS is that you don’t have to use primer with the glue.  ABS also gets brittle from UV exposure so it’s now common place to paint the roof stacks in California. I still like PVC better, even though it takes more time to install using the primer but I’m sure there’s some tree hugger issue with it so that’s why California uses ABS. After framing I always get the plumber in first before the electrician or hvac sub contractors, it works best because the vent pipes and waste lines are not flexible. I also wait until the plumber is done before putting on the new roof so we don’t have to butcher the new roof for the vent pipe roof jacks.  Your roof job comes out far superior if all jacks are in place before install, this trick came with experience.  After these waste lines are complete we’ll run the new black pipe gas lines and then finally the copper supply side lines. I’m still going back and forth with the San Diego Historical Review Board, they have made me change 13 items on my plans including window type, siding material, roof type & color and they even want to know the exterior paint colors. Furthermore, they are making me re-stack the exterior brick chimneys even though they’ve been eliminated inside the house. It’s really slowing me down because until I get everything approved from them I cant call for any inspections. As frustrating as it is, I’m stoked to learn exactly what needs to be done to pull off a renovation of this caliber in San Diego so I’ll chalk the delay up to contractor school.

Don’t forget the men and women who died while serving in the American military protecting our great country, this holiday weekend is not just all about beer and barbeques in the park. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day and God Bless our troops!

TomTarrant.com Celebrates 3 Years of Blogging

How time flies! It was April 28, 2008 when I made my first post in the blogging world as we were starting our renovation called “Craftsman Bungalow.” I thought it would be cool to share my adventures along the way and set up this website for friends and family to enjoy. The first website was custom made in Dreamweaver by my lovely wife but after things grew we moved our content over to a WordPress template so we could add updates easier. We didn’t go unnoticed for long however, I’m now recognized as one of the best house flipping blogs on the web, having won multiple awards and even managed to get the attention of Hollywood and New York production companies for reality show offers last year. Currently our monthly stats are 10,000 page loads and 6000 unique visitors.

Now it’s time to say Thank You to all my followers, subscribers, supporters, emailers, fans and everyone who’s inspired me along the way to keep sharing our projects. Thanks for following and here’s to blogging year #4 in San Diego!

30% Of Americans Won’t Park In Here

We ended up going with Golden Pecan floor stain after trying about 8 different stain color samples. After applying the stain we used 2 coats of semi gloss polyurethane (buffing between coats) and mixed in a little Colonial Maple color to tint it even more. I’m really happy with the way they came out, only new wood can look like this so I’m sure the future owner will appreciate it. In the original part of the house the floors are almost 100 years old so they aren’t this perfect of course but a little distress look is appropriate due to the style house and age. As I was saying before I didn’t want to stain the whole house dark just to hide a few imperfections up front and not get to appreciate all this new red oak in the addition.

Here’s a sneak peek at the master bath. As you can see the glass company showed up this week between floor coats and installed the custom frame-less glass for the shower. The door is 7 feet high with chrome hardware that matches the other interior doors, I always design them a little higher than the shower-head. The fixed glass picture window is suspended in the tile opening with more beautiful chrome hardware.  Most builders put the clamps on either the tops or sides but I did something a little different by having 1 clamp on all 4 sides. This custom frame-less glass ran $1300.00 installed. My plumber is coming this week to set the spa tub and fixtures, with my last contractor I would have done this myself but the new plumber doesn’t want me to touch anything so he can give the future homeowner a 2-year warranty, cool with me, less work. Check out how the new wood even runs through the bathroom and into the walk-in closet, this is a killer upscale look and blows away any kind of floor tile I could have used.

I recently heard that 30% of Americans (myself included) don’t park in their garages, they only use them to store junk turning them into basically a drive-in closet. In California people have alot of pride in their cars, detailing businesses flourish with customers paying hundreds of dollars for hand waxing but then again it never rains so it makes sense to keep your car clean. Here in San Antonio we get an average rainfall of about 32 inches compared to 9 in San Diego. Even after a rain you’ll still see puddles a week later because the streets are so bad. With all this rain you’d think that garages would be hugely popular here. It’s not the case however, people would rather enclose their garages for more living space because they don’t go outside anyway as it’s too hot and humid. Plus, their car is going to stay dirty anyway, garage or not, because of the weather and the street conditions.

So, why the hell did I build this garage you’re asking? Our project is going to be priced around the $400k mark in a city where average home proices are around $150k.  Theres an unspoken rule that if you are paying $400k in San Antonio you better get a garage. Even if the locals don’t appreciate them most of our buyers are moving in from other states and telling their realtor to do searches for 3/2/2’s so we dont want to miss any potential customers. Once they get used to the SA way of life I’m sure they’ll stop parking in there, their car will be filthy and it’ll be full of crap. Either way these historic houses don’t have much storage so it’ll get used. I designed the 500 s.f. garage to look historic and match the house architecture. I’ll be using “T117 House Siding” again and I’ve left the rafter tails open, included huge 28″ overhanging eves and even a clipped gable roof. There will be a vent under the gable and of course I’ll multi-color it as well to match the house.

Good Fences Make Great Neighbors

I’m getting close now so I’m feeling a bit relieved. Even with ongoing rain delays I’m making progress. I installed all the electrical fixtures and this time I spent a little more on Craftsman Style sconces for the porches. Really worth the extra money, check out Lumens.com for some killer stuff. The house numbers and mailbox are from Restoration Hardware again. I replaced the front door with an extra gem I’ve been holding onto after acquiring it from the Hat Trick House last year (some of these old bungalows come with 2 front doors and I always remove one to modernize the floorplan).  I’ll paint it my same brown color when I second coat the porch. This Pine, 6 panel, beveled glass door came from renowned San Antonio developer H.C. Thorman’s personal residence in Mahncke Park that we flipped, it was the first house he built there in 1900 and appropriately on Thorman Place. It looks right at home on our project and seals tighter than new with a modern threshold and new weatherstripping all around. A building envelope test will be coming our way shortly as part of new code changes this year in order to pass final inspections, so the house can’t be drafty.

The 2 ceiling fans on the porch are a nice added touch. Just makes you want to pull up some chairs and have a cold beverage. As you can see I am flying the” Tarrant Realty ~ Coming Soon” sign in the window, we’re getting some warm bites already. I’ve weeded the yard and we’ll be laying out some river rock beds and putting down sod this week while the floors get refinished. 

This door knob is older than you, unless you are 111 years old. It’s the original from our 1900 door that I refurbished. Note the modern weatherstripping, this thing shuts like an airplane door.

 

The tile job kicked my butt but was worth the effort. The hall bath was fairly easy but this master bath stand up shower and tub box seemed to go on for an eternity. I used white subway tile, river rock floor and a modern white/grey marble accent liner. The shower is tiled inside and out and all the way to the ceiling. Custom frameless glass for the door and picture window are on order from Thad Ziegler Glass. If you guys are flipping houses and not putting shower doors on your new showers at least give them a cheapo, so many times I see all this fancy tile work and expensive fixtures in a brand new bathroom with no shower door. It ranks right up there on my pet peeves list with no rods or build out in the walk in closet.  

The see thru fireplace in the master is my sizzle feature on this project, while the tub side of the fireplace is surrounded by white ceramic to match the bathroom, I chose white and grey marble for the master bedroom side. Very romantic to say the least and all with a flip of the switch. There is a direct line of sight from the master bed location through the fireplace, and to the spa tub and into the shower. It’s sure to keep the fire burning in the future owners love life.

 

Good fences make great neighbors. In this case we have really cool great neighbors already but its very common with the older neighborhoods not to have good fencing. Part of my business model with redeveloping these urban properties is not only to give the potential buyer a complete package but also make them feel safe living close to downtown. A 6 foot privacy fence and automatic driveway gate (coming soon) usually does the trick. Any attorney, doctor or young professional could feel safe here and these are our target clients. My friend and I rented a hydraulic auger and jackhammer and it still took us 2 days to dig the 20 holes for this section. Nothing comes easy in the South Texas heat. A menagerie of rocks, roots, glass, and ancient plumbing were thrown our way but nothing can get between a cowboy and building his fence.

Choosing Cabinetry

Kent Moore Cabinets delivered our millwork package this week and boy do the cabinets look good. I put a lot of weight on what goes in my projects these days. These cabinets are solid wood construction, full custom sizing meaning there are no filler pieces and the doors are Shaker style with a full overlay (3 still missing in pic).  The drawers are full extension with ball bearing glides and euro hinges for the doors. I chose their color Snow Drift so it comes very close to matching my Sherwin Williams Snowbound trim color. The cabinets are installed in the entire house so everything matches the kitchen including utility room cabinets, bath linen, bath vanities and even a head knocker cabinet above the toilet in the water closet. Like most house flippers I used to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick out some random bath vanities but this is really the right way to do a remodel. Having all your millworks match and being able to special order bath vanities that are 35 inches high really puts your remodel in another class. These new style bath vanities are kitchen height so you don’t have to bend way over to brush your teeth. The 42″ upper kitchen cabinets also have crown molding as well, it really plays well under the existing crown. After the truck delivers, you get an install crew that handles everything in 1 day, then followed up by a service rep who adjusts all the doors and touches anything up. Additionally, you get a 2 year transferable warranty on all the cabinetry to give to the buyer so this is also a great feature for a rehab. The entire package on this house was $7000. I’m really happy with Kent Moore, I’ll be bummed when I cant use them when we get back to San Diego. If you are in Texas and want to step your game up, call Melvin at KMC and tell him Tom sent you.

If you’ve been following our blog for a while you’ll be getting Deja Vu right about now. As you know we are big fans of, and love the Ikea Farmhouse Sink called Domsjo. For the price at $299 you cant beat it,  compare elsewhere for $1000. Some people call them apron sinks due to the big white front band that stays visible after install.  Additionally, it really goes well with the Arts and Crafts style homes we’ve been remodeling and it’s so big that if you have small kids it can double as a bathtub. Here in the 7th largest city San Antonio, they don’t have an Ikea so we have to drive up to the hipper Austin to get them. Maybe if it was called El Ikea they would have one down here. Before making the trek, we always check availability online to see if they have stock. I was struck with a mild panic attack when my favorite Swedish item didn’t appear on their website. We called and found out that in fact there were 7 left so I was relieved to say the least. This sink will work with a standard 36″ base cabinet after a little simple modification. Here’s an instructional video on How To Install Ikea Farm House Domsjo Sink in standard non Ikea cabinets.

No Mas Trabajo Aqui!

That’s what my tile guy heard earlier this week. As I mentioned on my last post, the Friday before he snuck off to another job and left his helper there to lay the bathroom floor. By the time I noticed this goofball had done such a crappy job I told him to pull it all up before the thinset dried. I called my guy and told him if he didn’t personally do the job that I would find someone else, I know this guy does excellent work but he’s bouncing around from job to job having helpers do most of the work now. As a general contractor (or homeowner acting as one) you constantly have to watch your subs, even if you know they’ve done great work before. Monday rolls around and who shows up? A different guy still. Of course I asked him where’s Elijio? Oh, he’s coming right now, he’ll be here in 10 minutes. By 1 pm he still wasn’t there so I told his worker “no mas trabajo aqui.” If I wanted to spend all day showing him how to lay it and looking over his shoulder I might as well do it myself, so that’s where I’m at. I got the hall bath floor re-laid after going and buying all new material with a cool ceramic hexagon/dot pattern in black and white. It’s really historic looking and since this bathroom is in the original part of the house and visable from the dining room I wanted to keep the feel. It’s grouted now so I’m ready to set the vanity and linen closet in there Monday when my cabinets arrive.

In the master bathroom I put down beach pebbles again but this time I found a better supplier. In the last house the rocks were different sizes and it felt odd on your feet, this time its way more consistent but you still get the spa therapy feel. I’ve started the white subway tile that will make up most of the tile job with the exception of a small amount of Carrera Marble for the accent liner in the shower and around the double-sided fireplace. I’m staying with all clean and sharp lines in the master bath, it’s going to be elegant and modern.

Lastly I re-tiled the fireplace hearth. We decided to go with a red to tie in with the dining room wall color and also match the historic stained glass windows above. They are 4″ ceramic, laying them was the easy part, first I had to demo all the old pieces and then float it out with mortar so I had a smooth surface for the new tile. The dark red looks killer, all I need to do now is install the oak transition pieces for a border before the hardwood floor guys start refinishing.

We are known for the attention to detail in our rehabs. Here’s a tip that a lot of flippers are blowing it on and its really inexpensive to correct. A long time ago we became conscious of the fixtures and finishes we were choosing for the rehabs, and how to use them correctly. Every house we do now we chose a finish for the hardware and keep it consistent throughout the whole house. Oil rubbed bronze (ORB) looks great with travertine and typical tan flip house colors. Brushed nickel looks clean and modern and goes with everything. Nobody uses gold, don’t even think of going here. Chrome is usually reserved for modern style homes. If you are going to use oil rubbed bronze for instance then make sure you buy ORB shower trims, ceiling fans, faucets, cabinet pulls, door knobs and hinges for your doors. Everything should match. Sounds basic right? You would be amazed at how many flips I’ve walked through that have gold door hinges, brushed nickel door knobs (yes, on the same frickin door!) and then ORB ceiling fans. This is a total rookie move and will cheapen the look of your rehab, I’m just sayin’ with a little planning and about $100 bucks for replacement door hinges you can bring a way better product to market and see the results at closing. All prehung doors at Home Depot and Lowe’s come with gold hinges, not sure why. What’s happening is that investors who are not contractors themselves and just hire out all their work, don’t have the eye for detail so they don’t get changed out. We don’t buy our prehung doors at the big box stores anyway and actually get to chose the hinge finish they come with, so before painting I usually put “dummies” on and then switch them back after everything is done. I keep this box of paint covered dummies and reuse them on every house. Additionally, I don’t care how good you are at taping, there’s no better look than crisp new hinges and knobs with no over-spray or drips on them. A lot of new home builders are actually spraying over the gold hinges when they paint their trims, this is a big no-no also as the paint will surely scratch off eventually. Take a bit of advice from me please, change out your hinges guys and reap the rewards!

For this house we chose chrome door hinges with brushed nickel door knobs. All the faucets, cabinets pulls etc will also be chrome, this is the only instance when you should mix two finishes in a house unless you are doing a “theme” room as we’ve also done in the past.

Back Online!

Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been a baaaaaaad blogger… but after moving we didn’t have internet service for over a week.  I’m back online now and back in action! Although I’ve been distracted with the personal house sale and move, we’ve still managed to keep the momentum up on the Target House. I’ve got the millwork package ordered and it’ll arrive by the end of this month so that prompted me to get right on the interior paint and tile so I’m ready when it shows up. After alot more prep inside we finally got everything primered and then I sprayed 2 coats of semi-gloss on all my new trims, no brush marks baby, first class all the way. For the walls I chose a medium warm grey for the whole house with the exception of the dining room which as you can see is red. The grey probably wouldn’t be too safe for most homes but with all the natural light I have coming in and the abundance of white trim it really doesn’t make it dark or feel small. The red for the dining room ties into the stained glass windows in the living room and we planned to pull that same red down onto the new tile for the fireplace hearth.

The kitchen cabinets will be white shaker style again that will pop good on the grey walls. I’ve chosen black granite counters that will contrast the cabinets as well and then we are going light on the hardwood floor stain. It’s going to look incredible, definitely the best renovation we’ve done to date. Also this week I had my mason come in and re-mortar the fireplace brick and firebox, now there will be no cracks and it’s back to good as new condition. Thankfully I got the A/C on just in time for all this inside final stuff, it’s sure nice to work in the coolness after what seemed like months of humid 100 degree heat. For the first time in my life I hired a pro to do my tile, this guy is really good and its nice to see it getting handled perfectly and without taking 2 weeks of my personal time to do it. I picked up $2500.00 worth of various sizes of white ceramic, mostly 3X5 subway tiles that we are putting in a brick pattern. For the hall bath I am using white ceramic hexagon floor tile with black dots and as you can see they’ve almost got the tub surround completed with the 6×6 and subway pattern combo. I opted not to do a decorative liner in this bath to keep it clean as we’ll have plenty of stuff going on with the floor pattern.

 In the gorgeous master bath I’m running subway all the way up inside and outside of the shower and the tub box as well. I’ve picked out a real neat liner for the shower that’s super clean and linear to go with all the sharp lines. No glass accent tiles in this home, we are moving on to newer materials now. Having an account at Dal Tile is key, they do they not sell retail to the public. Their stuff is a little expensive even at my contractor discount but they’ve got the best of the best with new materials to choose from. Picking materials like tile, fixtures, etc. at Home Depot or Lowe’s will make your rehab look like everyone else’s. Nothing worse than walking into someone’s project and recognizing all the fixtures and tile from a big box store!

The San Antonio real estate market is feeling some post tax credit blues as is most of the Nation, home sales were 25% down in July as compared to last year but 6% up for the year. Median and average prices were up in July due to the higher number of home sales above the 500k mark, which have previously been getting hammered. As I’ve been saying, we’ve definately pulled some demand forward so this Fall should be interesting. Stay tuned and thanks for coming back, it’s all hands back on deck now.