Color Me Historic

We almost finished the exterior paint but the rain came again Friday. San Antonio needs the rain but when you are so close to adding the final details it really sucks to be forced to stop. The replica historic wooden window screens I made really allow for a cool color blocking combo. The dark purple accent color is from Benjamin Moore and called Vintage Wine. Of course we had it mixed at HD in a less expensive Behr. I am starting on the bathroom tile Monday rain or shine. I was crunching some numbers in MLS on an adjacent neighborhood after talking to a friend who has a flip there sitting on the market. Inventory levels are twice what they were in 08 and transactions are down 50% while the average sales price has stayed flat at 188k. This neighborhood was hot when all the San Diego investors were here due mainly to the school district (AHISD) but several eventually got caught with their pants down as the market slowed last year. The small historic San Antonio neighborhood Mahncke Park on the other hand has seen a y.o.y. average price increase of over 20% as well as an increase in sales activity. I cant wait to get the Hat Trick House done and try to set another record high sales comp. We are on budget with the rehab and our target sales price has risen due to recent sales comps pushing prices up. The cactus came up missing after I offered it to several workers. Someone came and dug it up after hours. I have to say I am sad to see it go even though we were planning on removing it for the new landscaping.

Paint Colors

Paint and Rain Don’t Mix

It’s been a crazy week jumping from one project to another and making offers on 2 other properties. We started to paint the exterior and got rained out on day 2 of a 3 day rain. We did however get 2 coats on the eaves painted with Benjamin Moore’s Monroe Bisque. Then we got 2 coats up on the body of Benjamin Moore Tate Olive before the rain started. We are doing a 4-color scheme here but the 2 additional colors are used sparingly on window screens and accents. If you are ever painting and it starts to rain STOP immediately because the paint will not dry! I still have a day or so left on the trim and columns but it looks like we are due for a sunny week. The green body color came out sweet.

New Paint

was simultaneously spraying the interior trims and doors with High Gloss White. This is tricky business because you can’t have any runs but need complete coverage. It’s very similar to painting a car (or in my case a beach cruiser frame with spray paint). Multiple thin coats is the trick. Halfway through the day the clouds rolled in and it started dumping so with the moisture in the air this paint just sat there wet and wanted to sag. We quickly got lights and heaters to speed up the drying, whew, close call. So we are ready now to put the color on the walls, which I’ll cut in with a brush and roll soon.

New Paint

New Paint

We still haven’t pulled the trigger on cabinets yet. An old friend that I reunited with on Facebook this week has a cabinet shop in Houston and can order from several manufacturers and have them delivered right to our job site. I am choosing white shaker style cabinets from Woodmont called Hearthstone. For the price that I would have gotten cheap Ikea cabinets I can have these better white maple ones. The cabinets might take 2 weeks to arrive so in the meantime I’ll tile the bathrooms. I finished all the hardibacker floors and shower walls since it was raining so I’m ready to tile now. We finally decided to go with 18” travertine on the floors but white subway tile for the tub surround and shower with glass tile accents we found online. There’s a great site called glasstilestore.com that offers free shipping on some items in case you want some glass tile for a backsplash or accents.

Hall Bath

Hall Bath

Primed & Ready

After 5 days of prep on the Hat Trick House I finally got the outside in primer last weekend. Just in time before this week’s 4-day rainstorm hit. It looks great, can’t wait to see some color on it. My wife and I are considering an olive drab body color with cream trims and plum accents. The A/C is all roughed in now so we will be calling for inspection shortly. The plumbers are finally now working on roughing in the complete new system including water supply, waste and gas lines. There will be no trace of any old mechanical system in this house when we are done. Although the market has slowed way down this year we are happy to see 2 more houses go under contract this week within blocks of our house. Despite the troubling economy and all the bad press in the media, people still need houses to live in and this area we have been investing in is hot. Additionally, we are getting random potential buyers from the neighborhood stopping by asking when the house is going to be ready. The word is out that I am doing this rehab as we have developed quite a following in Mahncke Park, everyone loved our last remodel one block over, the Craftsman Bungalow.

Screens

The Old and the New

Front Siding

As you can see I have the whole house sanded down and the new windows are in. I did all 30 windows in 1 day by myself. It’s looking really good now and it’s easy to imagine how it looked in bare wood form circa 1925 with a possible Model-T parked out front. Looking in the near distance you can see the new 20-story luxury upscale condo building called The Broadway that’s being built just 2 blocks away. It’s the largest scale condo high-rise in San Antonio and the most expensive coming in at $500 per square foot. The San Antonio Riverwalk Extension will reach 2 blocks away from this high-rise and our property as well. This area of Broadway will become quite swanky in the next 3-5 years with the addition of this high-rise and more on the table. We are in good company with the builder, Mr. Red McCombs who is also betting on this area as being a good investment. Mr. McCombs is supposedly keeping the top floor for his private use while the 19th floor is comprised of two penthouses at 4 million each, one of which is already sold.

Electrical Wiring

The complete electrical is also now roughed in. All we have to do is set the meter loop next week and then we can call in for rough inspection. I hired and fired a plumber this week as well, after talking him down to the price we needed he dropped off his materials and disappeared for 4 days. He begged me to give him another chance and explained how badly he needed the work, I could only keep asking myself why wouldn’t he show up and do it then? If it’s this hard to get him over to do the rough-in then we could really be in a jamb when inspections started…better to clip this guy now. Of course we didn’t give him any money up front so we haven’t lost anything but time. The HVAC guys have started running all the ductwork for the new central A/C I’m adding. I’ve located the furnace and coil in the attic to save space. I am using a 4-ton, 14 seer Goodman system for this house. They recommend roughly 1 ton for every 500 s.f. of living space. Prices in San Antonio for a system like this with all new equipment, ducts, grilles, boxes and permits run about $5,000. Keep in mind this is a builder price; retail companies from the phone book would be quoting $8-10k easy.

New Siding

I got the siding on this week as well. I used the “historical replica” #117 siding for the whole master suite addition so it matches the existing house. I did the whole rear addition with 1 helper in a day, a big day though. It’s been pretty fun building this “new” addition in the “old” style. It reminds me of the restoration/modified builds they do on old muscle cars these days. All old and original looking but with today’s advanced technology.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes..

Well, we changed colors again. On paint day my wife and I both actually started to second guess our choice and we put up another 5 color samples. The neighbors had all left their votes in chalk on the sidewalk over the weekend, not making our decision any easier. Picking colors should be the fun part and you would think it gets easier with every house but to the contrary it’s actually quite stressful. The wrong color can counteract all that hard work you’ve done while the perfect tone can accent the home’s features and get those buyers out of their car. We are really happy with our choice, the home looks incredible now, it’s a classy and elegant version of a traditional historic colorway. The base color is Behr Restful in satin, Trim is Behr Turtle Dove in semi-gloss and the screen color is Behr Thorny Branch. We found a cool carriage lamp at Home Depot in satin black for only $39.00 as well as an outdoor ceiling fan for the front porch. I really wanted to get some artsy house numbers; we found these at Restoration Hardware. They were a little on the pricey side at $10.00 each, but well worth the extra expense for this important detail.

Restoring and re-stretching the original wooden screens will be an integral part of our remodel. We even found reproduction screen hangers available from Stanley. These authentically preserved features are what buyers seek in this neighborhood. Another neighbor came by from the next block over; she had heard of our remodel and was searching for the original parlor door that separates the kitchen from the dining room. Since we opened up our kitchen wall for the breakfast bar I had no use for it and was glad to see that it made it back into another local historic home.

With the curb appeal starting to come along I decided to break one of my cardinal rules and put the For Sale sign up. I made a rider that states “Coming Soon” so any lurkers driving the area will know it’s almost ready and will be for sale. I usually don’t like any potential buyers to see my product until all the tiny details are finished but we’ll try it this time and see how it goes. To retail buyers, small unfinished details can be big issues but it would be nice to find a buyer without having to put the house in MLS and pay 3%, thus saving us over $6,000. We probably have another 2 weeks tying up a lot of loose ends and after everything is done we’ll put it in the computer.

The White House

After a full week (with 2 helpers) of scraping, stripping, grinding, sanding, caulking and filling, the house is almost ready to paint. First we ground all the peeling areas then I sprayed it with Kilz2 latex primer to make all small cracks and holes easy to see. There were thousands of tiny holes to be filled from the siding that I pulled off. All this prep is necessary to give a great final product as the paint job can only come out as good as what’s under it. These Craftsman style homes in our neighborhood are all 3-color paint schemes; we are choosing a green base, cream trim with brick red accents. I’ve been known to change colors along the way but this is what we’ve decided on after spending Saturday afternoon and $110.00 on paint samples. We tried 11 different colors including shades of blue, yellow, beige and green. You never know how it’s going to look until you get a sample up as they always dry darker. For real estate investing purposes, normally green wouldn’t be a safe bet however this neighborhood and style of home makes it possible. This will be the second project this year we’ll have painted green, contrary to the preaching of most real estate gurus. Since the last green house sold in 2 days maybe we can continue the good luck pattern with this one! Get ready to see this gem in full color for the next blog update.