Painted Lady Sold Full Price $499K

It’s days like these that I’m especially grateful for actually getting paid to do something I love. The Painted Lady closed escrow today, for full price at $499,000 to a really nice VA buyer. Some people shy away from VA offers, but this is my second deal sold to a VA buyer and we don’t mind at all accommodating buyers whom have served our great country. This buyer actually found the home from my Craigslist ad and after then searching online he stumbles across Jim’s online coverage and my renovation blog,  seeing the great lengths we went to in order to bring the grand old lady back to life. I received a really nice email from his agent stating that the buyer was even more excited about the home after seeing 10 YouTube videos of the whole renovation process and was now a big fan of ours, its great how just plain old doing things right and sharing stuff on our blog pays off.

There was a back-up buyer in place who had initially offered $460k for the house without agent representation. They then returned after finding an agent and wrote up $479k, which after paying the 2.5% would have really only been a 4k stronger offer. The new agent proceeded to tell me that an appraisal wouldn’t use Golden Hill or South Park comps. That weekend JtR launched it in MLS, did his killer web blast and we held the open house, by Monday the next week we had it under contract in just 4 days official market time. The first buyer came back and was willing to pay $499k with no realtor, after seeing that they lost the deal and then waited anxiously in back up position. At this point we’re wondering what happened to the mystery agent who said it wouldn’t appraise. I’ve made a new friend with this other buyer who now wants first dibs on our next project or possibly my remodeling services if they find something that needs a redo. It’s funny how buyers want something even more if they cant have it and its interesting to see how such emotions play into these deals. Thanks to Jim Klinge & the whole team at Klinge Realty and Nancy and Gloria at Fidelity Title for all the professional help. That’s all for now, Merry Christmas to everyone and please let me know if you see any deals that I might like! New project coming soon: )

Inspections and Appraisals

Happy Holidays to everyone! It has been nice to take a break and spend time with my family and new addition for the holidays.  We are out there turning over stones and looking at tons of new fixer upper houses to buy in San Diego, thanks to everyone who is also sending me leads. We Buy Houses in San Diego so if you know of a house please contact me.  The Painted Lady sale is closing next week after easily passing the physical inspection and VA appraisal. We even have a back-up buyer in place who is devastated she didn’t get the home.

The home inspection was pretty interesting to say the least, we sometimes miss something but generally have had no problems with our homes passing after all the work that we do.  This inspector however took a different approach and basically made some stuff up to fill his report. The big front picture windows we had custom made are of course tempered glass for safety, the inspection report I saw however said they were not. Tempered glass has a little logo in the corner, easy to see. For some reason this inspectors eyes weren’t focusing that day I guess. Foundations on old houses are another item that inspectors just feel they need to address for some reason, even if they are fine. The inspector wrote in his report that the house was not anchored to the foundation. Really?? What are all those J bolts through the bottom plate in plain view and the UFP plates along one side? I can see how some inspectors might not want to do the army crawl and check the entire perimeter under a house that sits low to the ground but there’s enough room under our house to have a party, believe me I spent all summer under there! Also the guy calls out the plumbing for being old cast iron which we removed and replaced with ABS. Probably the funniest thing I read in his report was that a light didn’t work in my hallway. I say to myself, OK a bulb must have burned out but surprisingly enough I get there and see that the dimmer switch on the 3-way wasn’t even on! If you are going to say something is wrong on a report wouldn’t you take a really good look first? When you get an inspection report that has obvious errors it’s best to just address them and provide your buyer with something in writing that shows where you feel their inspector was wrong. In our case my buyer was happy I showed him where probably 5-6 points were clearly invalid on the report.

Remember, 3rd party home inspectors are not City inspectors nor general contractors, and most of the time have minimal building knowledge. A home inspector credential can be obtained with 60 hours of online courses. Getting a bad inspection report is pretty common and sometimes is enough to spook a buyer and cancel a sale. It’s emotional enough buying a home, especially for a first time buyer. One home inspector in San Antonio named Matthew Gessner from Amerispec was famous with all the local real estate agents for blowing deals, its a wonder anyone uses him. A bad home inspection report sticks with the property, right or wrong, and has to be disclosed to future buyers if your transaction falls apart.

As I mentioned The Painted Lady had no problem appraising for the sales price. Home appraisers like to compare apples to apples but in our case Grant Hill doesn’t have any other sales comps for turn-of-the-century Victorian Houses, however within the 1 mile and 1 year guideline, the average price for a home like ours is around $600,000 although its best to use comps within the last 6 months and a half mile if you are an investor.  If you are doing a big spec project like ours I would take a look at whats comparable within the year and a 1 mile radius, if you cant justify your sales price with what you find, there is a good chance that an appraiser wont be able to either. I’ve known several real estate investors here in San Diego that after rehabbing houses and getting into escrow, they had to settle for a lower sales price after a low appraisal came in so be careful with determining your ARV.

Historic Grant Hill Park and The Painted Lady

One of San Diego’s most distinguished residents was Ulysses Simpson Grant, Jr., nicknamed “Buck” and second son of the famous eighteenth President of the United States. Mr. Grant was born in Bethel, Ohio, on July 22, 1852, at a time when his illustrious father was a lieutenant in the Fourth regiment, U.S. Army. Mr. Grant attended Emerson Institute, prepared for college at Exeter and took his A. B. from Harvard University in 1874 and his LL.B. from Columbia two years later. He was admitted to the bar in New York in 1876 and was for a time Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York, Southern District. He married Josephine Chaffee in 1880. His wife was the daughter of Senator Chaffee of Colorado. Forced by ill health to seek a milder climate, Mr. Grant and his family selected San Diego and came here in 1893.

Soon after their arrival, the Grants moved into a three-story mansion previously owned by Samuel G. Havermale at Eighth and Ash Streets on Prospect Hill. The house was sold to Grant’s wife on November 17, 1893 by Ralph Granger with Grant, Jr. listed as the attorney. According to the agreement of purchase, the deed was filed in the County Recorder’s Office three days later, consideration being $25,000 in gold. 1893 was the year of a national depression and the year that saw many bank failures. Accordingly, money was not easy to get for real estate and the purchase price of the Grant mansion was only a fourth of what Havermale had paid for the house and most of the furniture, which came with it. The house had been built in 1887-1888 by Ora Hubbell, a well-known capitalist and local banker. The architects were the Reid brothers, James W. and Merritt, who had not only built the most beautiful of the tourists’ hotels in Southern California, The Hotel Del Coronado, but had also designed the George J. Keating Mansion. The Keating’s had arrived in San Diego seven years before the Grants, also attracted by the “salubrious climate.” Keating came to be healed, and he and Fanny, his second wife of four years, settled in the new Florence Heights near the City Park.

In addition, the site of the Grant home with its commanding view of the harbor, was one of the most valuable in the city. Built in Queen Anne style, the mansion was far more elaborate than might have been expected in the late 1880s, containing some twenty-five rooms. A spiral staircase, stained glass windows, and fireplaces of Tennessee marble and Mexican onyx adorned the living rooms. On the exterior, the first floor was pressed brick with brown stone trimmings and the upper floors were shingled. Elegant tile floors decorated the verandas and porches. Currently the El Cortez Hotel sits where this home was once located.

Grant continued to speculate in real estate. He also became a leading citizen, who pushed for the creation of a city park, that would become Balboa Park. Grant was a delegate-at-large for California at the Republican National Conventions in 1896 and 1900. He was also an elector for California in the 1904 and 1908 presidential elections

About San Diego – Grant Hill Park

The development of Grant Hill Park Historic District has been a long, slow process. Originally called Mount Gilead, the area was subdivided in 1887 by Mrs. W.E. Daugherty. The sparse development in the area indicates that this was a predominantly rural area of small houses and orchards. There was little construction in the area until 1906 when Ulysses S. Grant Jr. purchased a major portion of the subdivision, including the top of the hill, and resubdivided it, renaming it U.S. Grant’s Hill.

Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. (1852-1928) had long held the dream of erecting the finest hotel in San Diego and naming it the U.S. Grant Hotel as a memorial to his father, the former General and U.S. President (1869-1876). Just as his dream was about to come true, it appeared to be dashed when the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 brought construction of the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown to an abrupt halt. Because there was no lumber available, all construction in San Diego had stopped. While the hotel would finally be completed 4 years later, it may have looked to Ulysses Grant Jr. that his dream would never become a reality. This may explain why Grant Jr. purchased Mount Gilead, a prominent hill commanding a spectacular view, and changed the name to U.S. Grant’s Hill. He may have wanted San Diego to at least have a natural prominent site as a memorial to his father.

In order to take advantage of the view of the bay, the ocean and the hills of Mexico, Grant Jr. had “J” Street, which in earlier Mount Gilead subdivision would have cut over the top of the hill, graded in a curvilinear fashion to the South around the summit. The summit itself was never built upon and for many years served as a natural “reserve” where members of the community could retreat and enjoy the view. In 1940, the neighborhood conducted a campaign, under the leadership of Violet Black and the Golden Hill Improvement Association, to develop the summit area as a city park. With strong support of the community, including a contribution from George W. Marston, the City purchased the land for under $3,000 and developed Grant Hill Park.

In 1912, Michael F. Hall, a close friend of Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., and a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Grant Corporation, purchased the entire North side of “K” Street between 26th and 27th Streets. He built 15 bungalows along this block in this same year to sell as spec houses. Mr. Hall was a prominent realtor and businessman in San Diego who developed Mission Hills, Bird Rock and other San Diego subdivisions. When he built these houses, Mr. Hall was quoted in the paper as saying he had many more plans for the Grant Hill area.

The development of the area around Grant Hill Park was a very slow and sporadic process. Individual lots were purchased and built upon over a span of eight decades and, thus, cover a diverse range of architectural styles. To this day, this community presents a low density, low-key rural development character.

Also, in the early 1900’s, a number of homes were built by a family named Berger. This family worked as Stone Masons and owned their own firm called Berger Brothers. Their profession may be responsible for the many cobblestone retaining walls in the area, a unique and consistent design feature of the Grant Hill neighborhood. The Bergers were also a part of a larger German colony that lived in the greater Golden Hill and Sherman Heights areas.

Because of the nonrestrictive nature of the neighborhood, many ethnic groups have settled in the Grant Hill area over the years. Kikuye Kawamoto, a prominent Japanese restaurateur built a fine Spanish Colonial Revival home there in 1936. Mr. Kawamoto was the owner of the Frisco Café on Fifth Avenue in The Gaslamp area. The Kawamoto family and all the Japanese –Americans living in this neighborhood were forced to leave in 1942 when they were sent to military detention centers for the duration of World War II. The Kawamotos, unlike most others, were able to return to their home after the war and were still living in this house in 1967 when the architectural survey was made.

In 1990 the City established The Grant Hill Historic District and as recently as 2007 set forth detailed developmental guidelines. No alterations or modifications may be made to historic structures without obtaining a permit from the Planning Director and undergoing an intensive review by the City’s Historical Site Review Board.

The Painted Lady Bio

Although the tax records show 1909, our Victorian 2 story house located at 405 27th Street was built on lots 15 and 16, Block 50 of the Olmstead and Lowe’s subdivision possibly as early as 1894.  It currently sits right across the street from Grant Hill Park and is the oldest and only 2 story Victorian on the hill. Geo Bell purchased the lots in 1891 and made an improvement by 1894 valued at $1475. This improvement indicates the building of a home, though no building records could be located. Although not certain, it appears that SEG Dougherty (Sallie Elizabeth Geller) may have lived at this property between 1893-1900 so our home might be technically “The Bell-Dougherty House 1894.”  Sallie Dougherty was involved in the subdividing of the Olmstead and Lowe’s subdivision in 1887. On August 20, 1900, Geo Bell sold the property to Homer G. Taber, who only a month later sold it to Mrs. Tina Pope.

Mrs. Tina (also spelled Christina or Tena) Pope owned and lived at 405 27th Street for about a decade.  In 1910, Tina Pope filed a sewer permit with City of San Diego, indicating that until this time the property was on septic and likely had an outhouse.  Mrs. Pope was a widow when she purchased this house and lived there with her son, Walter Lester Pope.  During her tenure at 405 27th Street, Mrs. Pope worked as a fruit packer.  According to US Census documents and San Diego City Directories, Mrs. Pope opened up her home to lodgers.  In 1913, Mrs. Tina Pope and her son, Lester (Walter), were listed as proprietors of the Hotel Webster at 912 8th Street.  By 1917, Tena and Walter were both living in Oceanside where Mrs. Pope was the proprietor of a hotel there.

By 1913, 405 27th Street had new owners: Sidney and Jennie Stead.  In 1913, Sidney was working as a salesman for De Varona & McDonald, a real estate company.  In 1914, his occupation was Bailiff at the Superior Court.  By 1917, he was working as a gas purifier at San Diego Gas and Electric Company.  The Stead’s lived at 405 27th Street until 1956.

We purchased The Painted Lady in Spring 2011 and during the course of the Summer completed the total ground up restoration. To see the complete renovation story, see before and after pics, and videos visit http://tomtarrant.com/tag/painted-lady/.

Sources:

Christianne Knoop

Tom Tarrant

Save our Heritage Organisation

San Diego History Center

Wikipedia

Special Thanks to:

Steve “Barney” Barnett

Jim The Realtor

Ken Kramer’s About San Diego

Jodie Brown, Senior Planner Historical Resources Board San Diego

Full Painted Lady Rehab Video (9 min)

4 days on the market, 2 offers and now Under Contract! Still showing by appointment for back up position. MLS#110058648 Green Button Homes (619) 565-7475

Painted Lady Open House

It’s finally done! Green Button Homes presents: “The Painted Lady” for $499k, she’s a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2044 s.f. 1909 Victorian Gingerbread that we totally restored over the summer. There’s nothing like this property in San Diego right now on the market for the price. I’m having an Open House this Sunday October 23rd from 1-3 pm. If you are in the market or just want to see the project please feel free to stop by after the Charger game. The address is 405 27th Street 92102 in Historic Grant Hill Park. Here’s a walk through video from Jim The Realtor, he’ll also be onsite Sunday to assist any potential buyers. I’ll post more pics, back stories on the property and a before and after video soon.

*Realtors, we are showing this fine property by appointment only. There is no lock box onsite. If you have a buyer and want to schedule a showing please call Jim Klinge (760) 434-5000 or myself at (619) 565-7475. See ya Sunday!

Ladyscaping

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We’re really wrapping things up at The Painted Lady, I built 300 feet of fencing as an ice breaker for the landscaping package. Over the past week or so I’ve been realizing what a huge yard we have! In order to provide a complete package to a buyer we always go the extra mile with fencing and decking when possible. In the rear I went with a dog eared cedar 6′ standard privacy fence and a 20′ wide driveway gate which will soon be solar & automated. I stained it with 2 coats of my favorite Redwood semi-transparent color from Behr Ultra, It really looks tropical and plays well with all the green tones in my color palette. Up front I built a classic Victorian picket fence and painted it the same Sherwin Williams Rockwood Green as my house trim color. I brought in some palm trees, 3 yards of river rock, 8 yards of mulch and 5 pallets of sod to give her the love she needed for so many years. The sod is from Hydro Scape, a better place than Home Depot and is called Medallion Bonsai Fescue. Notice that we also made the small rear deck off the master suite, got gutters installed and hand made a really cool period correct front porch decoration for the handrail. Once these decorative gingerbread features are all painted everything is really going to come together.

After we’re done outside its down to what I call the final “punch list” of random items inside. I’m pricing the house around $499,000 and we magically have a really nice buyer already lined up. She’s so excited and has been back multiple times and loves the house more than we do. I hope it works out for her, so we’ll see if a deal can be inked once we finish up. There’s nothing like this on the market and we’re offering a tremendous value for the money as usual, having it hit the open market if this buyer doesn’t materialize might also be a good thing. I have a local historian at SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organization) researching the history of the house as well, there might be a cool story to share when we find out who built her and what the original owners might have contributed to historic San Diego. Stay tuned for the dramatic final pictures and story of everything we did during the restoration to this 1909 Victorian Gingerbread.

Black Subway & Clear Fir

All I have to say is go with your first instincts. I really wanted to do the backsplash in black ceramic 3″ x 6″ subway tile to match the absolute black granite countertops but white would have been a safer bet for resale. I came real close to chickening out and doing white, but am glad I took the chance and got to try something new in the kitchen.  I’m really happy with how it came out and I got the look I was going for. I’m planning on switching out the plugs, switches and cover plates to black as well. For me, the white grout and the square profile on the granite slabs really makes it.  Once I get the under cabinet lights in there going to be quite the neat reflection going on. I used the Domsjo Farmhouse apron sink from Ikea again, and as you regular blog followers know we’ve put them in all of our historic renovations. You cant beat the price at $299.

We shopped around this week for hardwood floor refinishers and ended up going with Geary Floors here in San Diego. They are charging $2.50/ s.f. for a pretty nice job. I found slightly less expensive prices but knew these guys do good work and its pretty important to me that we get a good job upstairs so I didn’t want to take any chances. You can see the 100-year-old Douglas Fir floors upstairs came out way better than I expected. I decided to not add any stain color and go “clear” with the refinishing job. The distressed look matches well with the house and adds a lot of character. This wood is the old 5″ wide long leaf style with standing grain. We are staining the stairs however to try and get them close to matching my hand scraped and distressed engineered wood floors downstairs. I’m officially now over budget, not bad considering the scope of work and the appliances are already paid for and standing by for delivery. Most of whats left now is outside which we plan on attacking this week. Stay tuned as we button her up and really add the missing small touches…

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.

Revisiting White Paint

Did you know Benjamin Moore has over 140 shades of white? Nothing is more classic than a white room and with big wide trims and good architectural details and there’s so much you can do using different shades of white to add texture.  In the design world, white interior paint has also been becoming all the rage and we’ve been noticing. After all the hard work trimming out the house, its always a pleasure to start painting inside. Our floors are covered so no worries there, I went back to the well for my old favorite interior trim color Snowbound by Sherwin Williams in a semi-gloss sheen. High-gloss is just too Brady Brunch in my opinion so I always use semi-gloss for trim inside. I sprayed all the interior doors, casings, closet shelving and baseboards with 2 coats after taping the glass up and switching out my chrome hinges with dummies. I keep a bucket of crappy hinges that I don’t mind painting and find it easier to switch them out instead of taping the new ones off. This way also my new chrome hinges stay as new. As you might notice I sprayed the semi-gloss right onto the drywall next to the doors and window trim with no cause for concern, my flat wall paint color will go right over that and you wont be able to see it. Also the hardwood floor refinishing will get any over-spray from the floors upstairs.

For the wall color I tried something new, it’s Cloud White by Benjamin Moore. I didn’t want to use the typical “flipper beige” and wanted to lean modern a bit without creating a full blown white box. I’ll run this color through the whole house to unify these big spaces and provide more flow. The first few pics downstairs you can see the color on the walls already, I’ve layered the space by stacking 3 whites together; Pure White in the ceiling tray, Cloud White on the walls and Snowbound on the trims. I thought that with the huge room size anything too pure white might look like a hospital so with the soft, cream hue that this wall color offers, it will go good with the hardwood floors and be very easy to live with. Cloud White seems to have a chameleon affect, in different rooms and at random times of the day, it picks up color around it, even sometimes almost looking a little pale yellow when the sun is coming in the front room. Since I used good PVA drywall primer I can get away with one coat on the wall paint. I’m rolling the walls carefully with a very small 1/4″ nap roller cover because I have a high-end smooth drywall texture. After all this work getting this hand-troweled luxury finish, the last thing I want to do is use a big nap and add stipple from the paint roller. The walls are looking amazing, probably the nicest finish I’ve ever done, I’m never going back to spray orange peel texture again. The staircase is almost all stripped down to the original wood now as well. Once I get done painting upstairs I’m ripping this paper off the floors and its on! That’s all I got for ya.

Concrete Jungle

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What’s an urban restoration project like without adding just a tad more hardscape to blend in with the mass expanses of paved metropolitan living? There is always a danger of adding too much concrete and having your house look like a parking lot but I think I pulled it off and managed to give the new owners a place for 4 cars to park securely while also enhancing the landscaping design with the sweeping walkway around the side yard. After receiving multiple bids in the $5 – $7  per square foot range, I managed to pull off the 22 yard pour for just around $3.75/s.f.

There was a block wall that was cracked and leaning over out front so we formed and poured around it after some reinforcing with rebar. Once I crack off the forms we’ll give it a swipe with spec mix for a sanded stucco finish to match the foundation walls. I thought this was a good quick fix as opposed to demolishing everything and having someone stack a whole new block wall which technically would also have to be permitted with the City. Inside this week, we also stripped all the paint from the 100-year-old staircase after deciding it will look better in its natural redwood state rather than painting it with all the trims.

Got Trim!

My special order interior doors from Home Depot came in so I jumped right into trim carpentry all week so I could get one step closer to painting the inside of the house. As you saw last week, my hardwood floors went in first, after protecting them with rosin paper I then trimmed out the entire house on top of the floors (baseboards, doors and door casings). That way you don’t have to notch the floors around door jambs and casings or undercut everything and you actually get the wood floors under the baseboards for a better finished product. I am using the same style door as on the Target House called “Riverside” from the Masonite Anniversary Collection. They are a 5-panel raised profile that look good with historic homes. These hollow core MDF doors are cool and are fit within my budget at $80.00 each for the complete pre-hung door with jamb. I also bought matching door slabs for the bedroom closet sliders so everything is consistent. You get to choose the finish on your hinges so I ordered chrome again so I can use brushed nickel knobs and still match modern chrome bathroom and kitchen hardware. They come pre-primed so after everything is installed, caulked and holes filled I will spray them along with all baseboards, window trims and closet shelving in place then lastly, apply the wall color with brush and roller.

For those of you do-it-your-selfers out there, here’s a good trick for ya. Install one side of the door casing with the door on the ground, then tip the pre-hung unit into place and secure it with the finish nailer. Afterwards go to the other side and install the door casing. This is way faster and easier than hassling with shims and battling it for an hour to get it straight. This is how the pro’s do it so give it a try next time you’re hanging doors and you’ll never use shims again. For my door casings I used square profile MDF in a 1 x 4″ to match the original period mouldings that would have been in the home.

I had to go with the huge 1 x 8″ baseboards on this house, I’ve used them before but with the giant room sizes and high ceilings it was a clear choice, not to mention its close to the size that were originally there. After asking all around town I finally found out where everybody gets their trims and its not Home Depot. Builders Moulding Supply in El Cajon has just about any style and size moulding you could want, that’s all they sell and you get it in bulk 16 footers right on spot from their warehouse at a price 30% less than the big box stores. I spent about $1,000 for everything I needed for my trim job minus the closet build-outs which I’ll use pine for because it seems more durable and holds more weight then the MDF. I was pretty happy to see that they also come pre-primed because my old supplier used to only offer them raw. After everything is painted I’ll peel up the paper on the floor and lastly nail in the shoe moulding on the bottom of the baseboards to complete the historic look I’m going for. We’re getting alot of attention at the house now, several interested parties stopped by this week asking when it was going to be done. I’m pushing for late September but its going to be tight especially because I’m doing an equity grab and not paying out a bunch of labor costs in the final stretch. I figured either way it wont be prime selling season so I might as well save the money. The good thing about the timing is that If I get into the next project soon I can stay busy this winter and hit the Spring selling season perfectly. There are so many things about this project that I write off to warming up in San Diego, I’m ready now to dial in my system on the next house. It’s been 100 degrees for months in Texas, it’s been nice to finally be home and we’re having fun!

Bold and Fresh

It’s really nice to be able to try new materials when you are flipping houses, I’m really happy with the hand scraped and distressed hardwoods as an alternative to what style I usually use. In the big expansive space they look bold and fresh. With the large rooms and white walls I still get the expansive feel but with the warmth of the darker wood. Before nailing down the wood you can see I put down 15 pound felt paper as a moisture barrier. With one helper I installed 1400 s.f. in 3 days. Sub contractors were charging $2-3 bucks a foot so by doing this myself I shaved 3k in expenses. The walls are primer now so you can start to visualize how the white interior paint will look. I chose Benjamin Moore Cloud White and hopefully will get it put up soon.

We also installed the 2 new front fixed windows. I made some historic replicas with the mullion across the top. Now the house is finally aluminum window free and all evidence of the former owners 1980 remodel are removed except for the black interior paint on the staircase handrail which will disappear soon enough. My electrician stopped by and made up all the switches and receptacles so now I can have light inside while we paint. We also spent the majority of last week still re-hanging the original windows and trimming them out, there is so much little stuff to do it really seems like its slowing down but I cant pull in a bunch of subs because it will blow the budget so with the help of my right hand man we are tackling everything ourselves. I ordered the interior pre-hung doors so hopefully next week I can get them in and trim out the whole house with casings and baseboards. Currently up on deck I’m planning on interior paint, tile and kitchen cabinets. From what I’m noticing on the streets it seems like the market is slowing down and inventory is not moving as quickly, I’m not really bothered by it because we have such a specialty project but if I was one of the high volume, run-of-the- mill San Diego house flippers I would be careful. Home prices are down 8% from last year so its extremely important to use recent comps when looking at investing in San Diego real estate. This is when quality over quantity pays off.

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Victorian House Colors

Of course its not done yet but we’re 90% there on our Victorian paint job and its really looking good. The steps and front porch will be green and all the windows are still missing the plum color but if you look closely you can see we put it up on one of the porch windows to get a visual. I still have to figure out which color I’ll bring down to the front door, the decorative brackets as well as the two-toned porch railing I’m still going to make. The last 2 remaining big aluminum windows on the front of the house are also getting changed out this week which will complete the package. I’ve got a guy hand making 2 custom big wood frame plate glass windows with mullions on the top. I honestly thought this color scheme might be too crazy but once it went up it didn’t look that loud at all. They are all rich tones and together work perfectly. The missing plum on the windows is really going to give it the finishing accent it needs. I love the way the sunburst, scalloped shingles and gingerbread all contrast on the green body and trim colors and the light blue front porch ceiling looks great with the greens as well. All the little details I fixed are really standing out now. Here are the 6 colors I used, all from Sherwin Williams Victorian House palette:

1. Body: Renwick Olive SW2815

2. Trim: Rookwood Dark Green SW2816

3. Accent 1 (gable shingles, front door) Rookwood Amber SW2817

4. Accent 2 (sunburst, brackets, porch, rosettes, porch detail) Rookwood Terra Cotta SW 2803

5. Accent 3 (windows) Rookwood dark Red SW 2801

6. Accent 3 (porch ceiling) Bluebird

EDIT 11/2011 If you want to see how the finished house looks here’s a link     http://tomtarrant.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/painted-lady1-1024×751.jpg

I bought the floors this week as well, they will be delivered Thursday and we’ll start installing them. I’m doing something different this time and mixing it up. I went with a more modern 5″ wide hand-scraped and distressed hardwood, kinda Jeff Lewis style from Flipping Out, and on my wall color I’m going to keep it white and clean, just softened up enough to make the white trim contrast. With the smooth hand troweled wall texture its going to look really modern and high end. I think that with the size of the rooms and the abundance of light coming in that these floors are going to be killer even though normally they are reserved for Tuscan or Old World interior designs. Your typical Red Oak flooring with the expansiveness of the space just wouldn’t have given me what I’m looking for.  And, at $2.60 / s.f. its more budget friendly compared to unfinished Red Oak at $1.99 plus another $2.00 to finish it. After all, the name of the game is to keep the exterior historic but have the inside modern and up to date. What do you guys think of the colors?

Paint on the Lady

The painters I hired for The Lady turned out to be a little in over their heads. Throughout the week I found myself initially letting some poor prep slide, then finally by the end of the week I was actually showing them how I wanted things done and had my hourly helper doing their work. Since we had agreed on a contract price and not hourly, I told them it just wasn’t working out and I wanted to break up. The straw that broke the camels back is when I had my guy re-sand a whole wall because they didn’t prep it good enough and then before we could even put some primer on it, they sprayed color right over the raw wood. I feel much better now after letting them go, me and my guy will probably just finish it off ourselves. The paint job is real important on this house and as you know its all in the prep, but even though I had not planned nor budgeted for the caliber of work we’ve done in the past, it still needed to be better than what I was getting.  This is the first sub contractor who hasn’t worked out so I’ve been really lucky getting back here to San Diego and having to build a new team and at least the error is on something I can fix. I am super excited with my colors, the first one we put up after primer is the dark green on the big eaves. Victorian color schemes are known for dark eaves and trim and lighter body colors. The pictures are large format again so make sure and click on them if you want to zoom in: )

The second color we sprayed was on the gable shingles. This accent color will also be carried down to a few other spots later. Notice the ornamental rosette discs I found online to replace what must have been there originally. When we pulled the siding off last month I noticed these circle marks and figured out what had been there years ago. These little details are going to pop after all the colors are up. I’ve got one more period detail big surprise with the front porch handrail, the house is looking really good now but only half way to the impact I’ve got planned!

The drywall crew is doing a great job and should be finished in a few more days. The hand troweled smooth texture is coming out perfect so that’s my good news for the week. Here are a few pics before the texturing went on, the huge tray ceilings are really dramatic. I also went with the new style “mini-bullnose” for the corners, its smaller than your typical rounded corner but very sharp and clean and usually reserved for high end custom homes. My plan is to keep pushing on the exterior so we can get all the colors up before coming back inside to do window trim, interior paint and flooring. We had a good home sale a few blocks over, its another historic 2 story rehab, 500 square feet smaller and only a 2 bedroom went pending after only 5 days on the market for $425k. We’ll have to see what it closes for but I’m sure they didn’t take too much less with that short market time.

Drywall and Exterior Prep

After having 6-7 drywall contractors bid the Painted Lady I finally pulled the trigger. With the lack of new housing starts in this town a lot of the high volume big specialty crews are not around anymore. Of course there are drywall “companies” here but they all charge more than I want to pay. Any handyman can hang your drywall so it can be tricky to get a good price yet also get a good job, its one of the most important things to get right in order to have a nice finished product.  We always say you can only get 2 out of 3;  fast, good and cheap. It might get done fast and be cheap but it wont be good. It might be good and cheap but it wont be fast. Lastly, it might get done fast and good but it certainly wont be cheap!

In searching for drywall sub contractors I relied on referrals primarily. In our business we always break costs down to price per square foot on anything in order to budget for things. In Texas everyone used a labor price per sheet which was around 11.00. Here in San Diego all the contractors are using price per square foot and quoting .45 to .65 cents for labor which includes hanging, tape an float and texture. Out of all the rehabbers and other investors I spoke to nobody knew how much they were paying but just agreeing on one price.  Things they take into consideration are the ceiling height and any other details that might slow them down. Our house has 11 foot ceilings with trays downstairs and coves upstairs so it adds a lot of time to the job. While a lot of bids came in at .59 cents I ended up getting it finally from a highly recommended guy for .40 cents. Another thing that’s driving my price up is because I am going with a smooth finish texture to replicate the old plaster found in these homes originally. A quick light orange peel spray job would have been way cheaper but I couldn’t do that to this house. At 10,000 s.f. of drywall I’m paying $4k for labor. I’m pretty happy, the hanging crew is done now after 2.5 days with 5 guys and we have the inspection on Monday for screw spacing then Tuesday we can start taping.

On the outside of the house I stayed busy with recreating some more of the missing details that make this house so cool while the painters started prepping. The biggest thing was that the sunburst under the front gable was broken so we had to scale a 32 foot ladder and take it down to copy it. I made a sweet new one and got it back up there in place, its weird to think that the last person who touched this was over 100 years ago and nobody will touch what we did for probably another hundred years. I’m putting in a little extra effort to make sure the front of this house and all its historical little ornaments are intact. We installed the TM Cobb Victorian front door with stained glass window and rebuilt the original transom as well. I also hand made some cool brackets for under the front porch. Since the original ones were missing I used the mini gable facia for inspiration and came up with a heart-Celtic-clover design, they came out cool and are now in place. Its neat when the sun hits the front of this house all these details create shadows on the siding. I also made some fake scalloped shingles for the top of the mini gable that were missing. I cut them out of 1/4 plywood and even put grooves in them to make them look real, another small detail that will pay off. We are getting color on the outside this week, stay tuned to see some Lady paint.