The Neighbor’s House is basically done now minus some small touch ups but we’ve been plagued with more bad weather so it’s dragging on. You can see the before and after is really dramatic and I am really looking forward to getting it on the market. I got an automatic driveway gate installed last week as well and boy is it sweet! This week I passed all my final inspections so all that’s left now is to have the gas company come out and install the new meter. Since the line will be underground I foresee a little touch up in the backyard after they are done. We’ll hopefully be staging the house at the end of this week and getting started shooting pictures for our marketing. One neighbor mentioned they want the house for 350k but I think we are going to test the waters a little higher for a few months since we are heading into the best time of year to sell a house. After all, it is a 2 on 1 so if we can find the right buyer that needs the extra apartment in the back then they’ll pay a premium for this house. I’ve spent all my time this week remodeling the rear unit with a full new “basic” kitchen, drywall patching, texture and complete interior paint. It’s really been a decrescendo to go from the cool main house to this garage apartment rehab but its all gotta be good. We have a lot of value here with this rear unit and its presence will be why we get a higher price yet still than we got for the house next door.
Last week our website was featured on Jim The Realtor’s blog, www.bubbleinfo.com. For those of you looking for a great housing market blog for San Diego, Jim Klinge’s is the best one out there. He brings you unbiased front line info on what’s happening in So Cal with no typical Realtor spin so we follow it religiously. He’s one of the top agents in S.D. and has also been featured on ABC Nightline and in the LA Times so getting a spotlight by him was really an honor. If you are looking for investment property in San Diego give him and his team a call.
We’ve been working closely with our architect also on plans for the Target House. We are doing some cool new things so I am really excited to get over there full time after our current house is on the market. There will be major floor plan changes since I gut the entire house and have that option. I am taking the front bedroom and opening up the space to add it onto the living room similar to what I did on Hat Trick. We’ve gone through several changes on the new addition but now I think I’ve got it nailed down as it includes all the things I wanted for our remodel: vaulted master suite with master bath, walk-in closet, food pantry, inside utility area, dual vanities, spa tub, shower, water closet and last but not least a double-sided fireplace between master bedroom and Jacuzzi tub! It’s going to be sick, can’t wait to frame this puppy up!
I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks for checking out our house flipping blog this year and a special thanks to the 6000+ returning visitors who find our content interesting and have returned regularly. In this first full year with the website we received over 23,000 new visitors. It’s great to get the comments also; we enjoy the questions and feedback. 2009 was a great year for our company, especially with the success of our project “The Hat Trick House”. It was probably my favorite renovation to date and we set personal records in several areas on this house. In the process we also were able to buy the house right next door “The Neighbor’s House” and are 99% complete with that big rehab and looking forward to an early Spring 2010 sale. Our third and last big deal this year was the purchase of a house we’ve been after for years, “The Target House”. I’m all set roll into 2010 with this big historic renovation as we’ve already handled the demo and foundation leveling so stay tuned if you like house flipping and Craftsman style homes.
I’ve somehow managed to stay busy through the Holidays and have at least some sub contractors show up at Neighbor’s House. As you might have heard from Twitter, the first attempt at the floor refinishing was a bust. The guys had to re-sand them all down again after the stain and clear coat wouldn’t dry due to the weather conditions and did some weird stuff. They really know what they’re doing but I think he was just in a rush and trying to pull it off before Christmas so he could get his final payment. This put us back a week on having the Energy Star appliance package (all stainless of course) delivered but they finally came and wow, what a Cadillac the new Samsung refrigerator is. It’s a grand more than I usually spend but we required a counter depth model for this kitchen design to flow properly. Really nice. I also managed to do most of the landscaping while the floor crew kicked us out, I threw up about 150 feet of fence and brought in 4 yards of top soil, some river rock and 4 pallets of sod. With my energy efficient theme on this remodel I decided to use Bermuda Tiff turf grass instead of St Augustine as it requires way less water and holds up to this Texas heat in the summer. Of course I know all grass is dormant this time of year and arrives brown from the grass farms but it still sucks to put down brown sod and not to get that initial “new yard” look like the summer. The A/C guy stopped by and installed the compressor but the heat isn’t on yet until I can pass finals on Electrical, HVAC and Plumbing and then have the power company come out and set the new gas meter. I am doing a killer driveway gate again this time but this one will be automatic. Should have been installed “before Christmas, I promise” but hopefully it will come this week. Land of Manana here again in good ole SA as a lot of Hispanic workers go to Mexico from Christmas to New Years to be with family. A cool old guy stopped by this week from the area, an 87 year-old millionaire investor. He had heard of me through some local Realtors and came to introduce himself personally and see my work. Of course I love listening to seasoned pros, he told me of a land deal that netted him a million bucks in 3 months time. His parting words were: “There’s one out there for you”, very motivating.
It was a crazy week now that we have two projects in progress. At “The Neighbor’s House” we are winding things up and are having the floors refinished while the concrete guys are pouring 1500 s.f. of driveway, 2 patios, an A/C pad and flatwork around the room addition. With all the mess over there I’ve now received disgruntled phone calls and threats of calling the cops about the workers having to stay so late finishing the concrete.
I feel like an unwanted houseguest that comes and stays at your house for a week. At first everyone is glad to see me, has remodeling questions and loves what I’m doing for the area, but add 3-4 months of random work trucks parked in front of their houses, mud everywhere in the street and a constant mess and noise and all of a sudden it’s not so cool and the animosity starts to set in. Understandable though, I’m sure it’s annoying.
It was really difficult to pour concrete this time because the cold weather delays drying time and the days are shorter now that it’s winter. They’ve had the forms and rebar down for almost 2 weeks and we keep getting days on end of misty cold rain. After finally having four trucks dump about 30 yards, the finishers ended up having to stay until midnight using lights…temps were in the low 40s and it wouldn’t dry fast enough to smooth.
That was a particularly bad night for neighbors, I hate having to do that. On the inside, the floors are coming out great as the crew has gone through 3 sanding stages, wood filler and a fine screening to smooth them out. The stain goes on today so I am anxious to see the extra dark walnut stain we’ll custom mix. Can’t wait until they are done so I can install appliances and then it’s down to the final stretch of small punch list stuff and I can get off this street, its time to go!
Over at “The Target House” we broke ground with the demo this week with the help of some day laborers and tore out the entire house in one day gutting every room completely down to the wood and removing both the kitchen and bath. Additionally there was a dilapidated garage and apartment in the backyard that took 2 more days to take down by hand.
I had planned to rent a Bobcat to knock it down but it ended up being cheaper to just pay the laborers to do it. Going through someone’s old personal stuff in a garage really lets you get to know them, weird. We found pictures of the house from Christmas 1991 in perfect condition, crazy how 20 years of deferred maintenance can take its toll. Now that the demo is done, the next step is I’ll have my foundation guy get started leveling the house.
Our architect is currently working on plans; I have some great ideas for totally changing the floor plan around as well as adding about 1000 s.f. onto the back of the house. We’ll do a walk through soon and show you how we are changing things around for the renovation. Several of the other interested parties who didn’t get the house have stopped by this week seeing the demo underway and inquiring about our plans.
The “Neighbor’s House” is now painted inside minus some small touch ups. Additionally I got the cabinets in and countertops installed this week. I buy the pre-bullnosed granite slabs fabricated in China and with the help of a friend we put them in ourselves saving big money. It ends up costing me $12.00/s.f. for what everyone else charges $50/s.f. for. I intended to post a “how to install granite countertops” video for everyone but my memory card was full yesterday when we were installing so I had to settle for a few single images. Maybe next time I’ll get to film the install for everyone as it’s really not that hard to do. As you can see we also dropped in the farmhouse sink from Ikea. It’s easy to retrofit any 36” sink base cabinet to accept it, you just have to do some measuring and cutting. All the tile is done and the glass company came and measured for the frameless heavy glass door for the master shower. All that’s left now are some small projects before I can get the floors refinished after the holiday weekend. I’ll be going really dark again on the stain since the floors got such great reviews on our last project next door. The concrete guys are showing up weather permitting this week to start on the driveway. The house itself should be done soon but we still have the landscaping and light renovation of the rear guesthouse to do before the project is complete. Last week we bought another historic house for a big renovation, we close on it this Wednesday so at that time we’ll get over there and do a walk through video to show you what we have planned. Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!
The interior is getting close to paint. I’ve hung all the doors and trimmed everything out using MDF this time. The finish out is really going to be slick so I’m excited. The master bedroom closet got a little more love this time with trim. I’ve also been busy getting some of the tile done. Picking building materials is like fashion, you have to know what’s new and in style but also know when to use it. Everything is always changing and you have to keep up with what’s new. While it’s all really still subjective, there are new trendy materials that are becoming very popular and incorporating them can set your house apart from all the other inventory therefore increasing the likelihood of a quick sale. I frequently look at design magazines and go through custom homes to keep up to date on what’s cool. You know that colored ceramic and glass tile accents are hitting big time when you can now find them at Lowe’s. While our specialty size ceramic wall tile is of course special order, the glass accents are Dal Tile and came from The Home Depot. Up until last year you couldn’t get the colored glass tiles at the big box stores, we used to have to special order them or get it online. Picking the right materials can really make or break your rehab. It really sets apart the pros from the Joes. There’s nothing worse than walking into a rehab that just looks like a flip.
When I am doing a major renovation there are a few very important features to try and incorporate to maximize retail sales price. In no certain order they are: Master suite (master bath is connected to master bedroom), dual vanities in master bath, walk-in closet, indoor utility room and food pantry. To be missing one of these items would be a huge mistake in my opinion.
My cabinets are now on order as well and should arrive before Thanksgiving. I am using Kent Moore here in Texas and they are full custom Maple and made to size with no filler pieces. I picked an off white shaker style that goes well in historic homes. For that high end custom touch, all the bathroom vanities, linen cabinets and laundry room cabinets in the whole house will match and for the bathrooms we will be using the 34” high new style vanity that you don’t have to bend way over for when brushing your teeth. We’ve used these before and it’s amazing to see how many buyers walk through and notice the vanity height.
The house was scheduled to be done December 1 but since there’s no rush to get anything on the market during the holidays I’m planning to take my time with all the details and landscaping so we can hit the market after Jan. 1. There have been buyers stopping by every week so we’ve got interested parties lined up, and as always I like to focus on that last 10% of the project because that’s where most house flippers drop the ball and how we make our houses sell for top dollar.
Even though we were plagued with more rainout days this week, I still managed to get the exterior paint 95% complete. This is probably the most labor-intensive paint job I’ve done as it’s 6 colors and it entailed a lot of detail brushwork on the trims. So far I’ve put up over 60 gallons on the exterior! Keep in mind there’s a big 2-story guesthouse in the rear and I also sprayed 2 coats of everything including primer. As you read in my last post, I picked up a guy from Lowe’s parking lot to help me paint so it’s gone really fast. This guy is actually a great painter, he was making fun of me for using economy brushes so I broke down and bought a Purdy brush, man this thing practically paints by itself. Well worth the $14 bucks.
Because I was so happy with my historic craftsman style replica window screens on the last project, Hat Trick House, I decided to make them again for this house. I changed the design a bit so they wouldn’t look exactly the same, especially since the other house is right next door. I designed the center mullion placement to minimize the visability of the white vinyl and this new design came out great. I won’t stretch them with screen, although the future owner can if desired. My new double pane windows have screens already so these frames are basically just a cosmetic design feature that also plays an important part in the color blocking of our paint job. The historic replica screen hangers are also still available from Stanley. This extra little finishing touch really gives the house the historic look that I need for our neighborhood.
There was a new BusinessWeek article this week that ranked San Antonio #1 for the top National economy. The measurements used were job growth, economic growth, employment and home prices. Texas seems to be the clear winner with San Antonio in the lead and five other metros in the top 10. While we are still seeing signs of the recession here and I’m always quick to say we are late to the party, this study shows that we are still fairing extremely well compared to the rest of the country. We’ve seen the housing market here drastically slow down in the last 2 years, but homes are still selling and people are still moving here everyday from other states so we have to be thankful that when coming from California, we picked a winner with San Antonio.