Land Of Mañana

Our great start is now officially over. It’s the “Land of Mañana” again here in good ole SA. Plagued with bad weather and sub-contractor delays we can’t proceed with the drywall until we pass these inspections. A whole week has gone by and I am still waiting for an inspection on electrical and re-inspection on HVAC. I’ve heard every excuse in the book, it comes down to the sub contractors taking on any work they get and dragging everybody out. With the slow construction season coming they won’t dare tell anyone “no” now. Once I pass these rough-in inspections the pace will pick back up as it will all be on my shoulders. I did manage to trim out the front porch while I was waiting for inspectors (who weren’t coming) so now the house is ready for some primer. My square tapered columns came out great as planned. Our architect came through with a rendering from which we made our yard sign in order to start our marketing campaign and hopefully avoid paying a realtor fee once again by procuring our own buyer.

 orch

CSI and Rock Stars

I had my first theft at the jobsite this week, someone came in the backyard after hours and stole my 45 dollar extension cord. Since it’s been raining all week the thief left some good footprints when he tracked mud onto the driveway. I’ve taken photos, made castings and measured the prints and concluded the perp is a size 8. This happened the night before I installed the exterior doors and locks so we’re Fort Knox now if he decides to come back for a second helping of construction materials. My bad for leaving it out anyway. Before the rain started this week I got all the #117 siding on the room addition and the front of the guest house, also building a cool balcony deck. The rear unit is turning out swell and will make someone a great rental unit, granny flat or at home office space.

 Master Suite Addition

Guest House

 I failed my mechanical rough-in inspection this week due to multiple small items that my sub-contractor overlooked. They left off a little insulation on the copper and also drilled through the furnace exhaust vent with a small screw when strapping it in the attic. Additionally they “forgot” the secondary overflow from the drip pan under the coil. It’s hard for me to believe he can still keep failing inspections for basic stuff as we’ve gone through this so many times and he knows what needs to be in place to be legit and pass. I never saw him personally in the attic during the job…maybe that explains it. The inspector also called me out for my placement of the dryer vent from the laundry room. The V in HVAC stands for ventilation. When he comes to inspect the rough-in of new heat and a/c equipment he also looks at the dryer and hot water heater vents even though my a/c sub-contractor has nothing to do with these items. I have the dryer vent placement about 2 feet from the back door and he said it is a fire hazard to leave it that close. It needs to be a minimum of 3 feet from any opening to meet code, chalk that one up to another learning experience. Also, keep your dryer vents clean, there is a serious fire risk from lint build up and it reduces energy waste. I also handled the hall bathroom subfloor on Friday and set the tub Saturday morning.

Master Suite Framing

Bathtub

After my regular electrician burned me on the last project I was back to square one getting bids from new guys. 3 out of the 4 bids were twice as much as I usually pay. I ended up finding a good price from my plumber’s referral and the guy rocks, literally. This master electrician is also the lead singer in a local San Antonio Judas Priest cover band called Sad Wings of Destiny. He can hit Rob Halfords’ lyrics note for note. Still waiting for him to bust out while we are working.

I Love the Smell of PVC Glue in the Morning

Saturday morning the plumbers beat me to the punch. I got there at 8 and there were already 6 guys all over the place and a strong odor of PVC glue in the air. My plumber brought in a new construction crew and they roughed in the whole house with a complete new system in 1 day! Monday he’ll run the new gas line and we’ll call in for an inspection Tuesday. This week I also opened up 3 interior walls creating more of an open floorplan, doing a different kind of arch this time with square corbels on the bottom. Monday the roofers finished and he apologized for trying to raise the price on me? o.k… I also wrapped the house with Tyvek and installed all the dual pane vinyl windows after they arrived midweek. I remember about 10 years ago putting in my first set of retrofit vinyl dual pane windows in my personal home, a buddy of mine who is actually a general contractor told me not to ever use foam because it would cause the windows to warp when the foam expands. This was in San Diego where it’s always 75 and sunny and probably wouldn’t matter but here in Texas it’s the code and the homebuilders foam everything including the new construction windows inside before the drywall goes in. You want to create a tight envelope in order to be more energy efficient. With these new windows, a high efficiency A/C, roof vents and new insulation in the attic the future homeowner will benefit greatly with a low power bill. Our buyer of the Hat Trick House next door has a electricity bill in the $100’s while most other original homes in the area are paying around $300/month. Hey don’t get me wrong; I love original sashed historic windows with wavy glass, but not at $300 per month. While doing the new windows I also went ahead and also redid the wood trim because for the cost and labor saved in stripping and sanding, my paint job will come out killer now. Next up to bat will be getting HVAC and Electrical sub-contractors through the house, we’ll see who I can corral this week. We are moving at a really nice pace, I’ve scheduled it so I can be doing projects while the subs are busy without getting in their way.

Milking the Clock

We had a big week 3 on the Neighbors House project. Monday I passed inspection for my foundation so we ordered materials and went straight into framing the master suite room addition Wednesday. When laying out the floor joists I had the option to grab an extra 15 square feet by not cutting down my 16 footers and additionally we cantilevered the sills out and ended up with extra footage along the rear thus making our addition just over 700 s.f. instead of the planned 620. The framers kicked ass and got it done in a day and a half. I also had the stucco guy do the column bases for the front porch during the week. For the roof I went with my favorite 30-year composite shingle but since there were “Estate Grey” roofs on either side of this house (one being Hat Trick House) I had to choose another color, Driftwood. It’s really bizarre to flip two houses right next door to each other. Not only will I get to use my sales comp but also get the carryover curb appeal. My roofers showed up Friday and really got off to a slow start, it’s really disappointing to see someone intentionally dragging something out. Turns out the workers were being paid a day rate instead of a contract rate. After turning up the heat on my subcontractor he quickly changed their pay scale to per square pricing and they really started working, it was like I was looking at a different crew. These clock milkers had the nerve to ask me to buy lunch for them Saturday, I told them where they could go… to find the closest taco shop. The roof didn’t get finished due to the time lost so they’ll be back Monday to wrap it up. This week I’ll take care of the interior framing and arched openings and then its time to run the sub contractors through there for HVAC, electrical and plumbing to work towards the big milestone of passing rough-in inspections on all 3 of these trades.

Week 2 Update Neighbors House

After completing the bulk of the demo last week my main goal has been towards getting the new roof on. I always start with the new roof first (and foundation if needed) on any major remodel so if there were any leaks previously it wont trash any new stuff going in. Before I can get the roof on this house, I have to add the porch and room addition so it’s been my main focus to get these taken care of first. I had to move the gas meter back 40 feet from the house but luckily the power company showed up Monday and obliged so I got started with no delay. The porch came out really good as it completely changed the look of our house. In this historic neighborhood everyone loves the big front porches and they are an important feature in order to maximize retail sales price. I mimicked the original house design with the 30” eaves and open rafter tails. There are about 10 different Craftsman style home models in our neighborhood but unfortunately this one doesn’t come with the traditional porch so we knew we had to add it. The rear addition is the major change of this house, it will be approximately 620 square feet and contain a utility room, master bedroom, master bath, hallway and walk in closet. Once again to obtain maximum retail sales price these are things that today’s buyer will expect. We will also be giving them a walk-in food pantry and double vanities in the bath, all popular amenities to consider when given the opportunity to remodel. I was fortunately able to design around the big pecan tree so after we are done I plan to do a cool deck around the tree with a circular bench and French doors leading from the master suite. We’ve gone through 6 dumpsters so far, 3 being filled with dirt from the excavation I had to do with the Bobcat for the addition. Monday I have an engineer inspecting my foundation and issuing a certificate, which the City of San Antonio requires for our permit and then we’ll be free to start framing. Do you want to learn exactly how someone pulled down $155,510 his first year Flipping Houses in a recession? Visit our friend’s blog and see. Congratulations bro!

Nice Hidden Surprises

This first week of getting started on “The Neighbor’s House” has revealed some nice surprises. As we were doing the demo in the kitchen we noticed all this new Romex wire, turns out the whole house has already been rewired so this will save me some money. I will still rewire the kitchen and have to add some circuits for all the recessed lighting but having everything new already is a huge plus. I had my foundation guy over and we went underneath and discovered it really only needs some shimming to bring up a couple of corners an inch or so. The main thing is making sure the rear of the house is perfectly level before we do the addition so it lines up well. We also spent 2 days taking off all the fake brick and shingle siding. I had assumed the original siding would be wrecked and had budgeted to replace it but low and behold the original waterfall historic wood siding was in clean perfect condition underneath. It was like unwrapping a Christmas present, only one coat of paint on it and smooth as a baby’s butt. This is going to be a breeze to paint, no grinding years of peeling paint jobs.

 Chimney

Probably the most dramatic surprise is the original fireplace chimney design we found underneath the faux brick. It’s really cool and nothing like the other houses on the block. I had my stucco guy come redo it this weekend so it’s back to its historic original condition and is going to add a nice detail to how our new façade will eventually look with the new front porch; stoked. I also had the power company out this week to move the gas meter back 40’ for the room addition. We might be waiting 2 weeks for them to get around to it so that kinda sucks as I wanted to get working on the new piers for the addition but we can’t bring the bobcat back there until the gas meter is moved. We also can’t do the new roof until the room addition and front porch are framed up so I am stuck until we get that gas line capped off.

 Chimney

The Neighbors House

Yes, we are flipping the house right next door now! Scope of work video…

“The Neighbor’s House” New Rehab Starting August 1

While working on the Hat Trick House this summer we were networking with all the neighbors and thus landed our new project right next door, appropriately tagged: The Neighbor’s House. Had I hired out all my remodel work like most investors and not been on site everyday working I wouldn’t find these bonus deals. Just like last year when we flipped the Craftsman Bungalow one block over and found the wholesale deal across the street for 50 cents on the dollar, Bungalow 2. This shows that it pays to network with the neighbors and keep your eyes open when you are doing your rehab. Our farm area is virtually a hotspot within the San Antonio real estate market and there is literally no inventory in MLS, much less an abundant supply of fixer-uppers with enough upside to fix and flip. This is our 6th non-MLS deal in a row, which demonstrates two things, the first being, the best purchases are the ones not in MLS and when there is little or no competition and the second being that you can always find a deal if you are willing to go out and get it. It’s kinda like fishing; you wouldn’t expect the fish to jump in your boat, would you? If you are a serious investor you cant rely on working with Realtors and buying stuff from MLS. You have to leave your cave, go out and kill something and drag it back.

Front

Directly next door to Hat Trick was a nice little bungalow with an elderly single lady who had expressed interest in selling to us one day. That day came sooner than later when she called me just as we were wrapping it up next door and asked if we could move forward. We actually signed the contract with her the day we closed on the Hat Trick House sale so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Furthermore, being given the opportunity now to have another investment property right next door to the highest comp in the whole neighborhood that we just finished will allow us to use Hat Trick as a sales comp when we go to sell this house later this year. This new project will also be a complete gut remodel down to the studs with added square footage. It’s currently a 2/1 so I’ll be adding another bathroom and new master bedroom addition with walk in closet in order to get top price on the resale. Our biggest challenge on this project will be designing the master suite room addition to wrap around a huge 100-year old pecan tree in the backyard. As luck would have it, it’s smack dab where ideally we would have the room addition. Taking down a cool tree like this is taboo so we are going to work hard to design around it as long as our floorplan doesn’t suffer. As you can see the façade of the house is in need of some help, I have big plans for a new front porch and gable with new craftsman style square columns and all new historic waterfall siding to give it the charm that everyone is looking for while keeping it historically correct. We are also helping the seller move into her new house this weekend as a good deed and expecting to start demo Monday so stay tuned for more rehabbing fun!

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