As my hardwood floor guys got started sanding this week they kicked me out of the house so I was relegated to landscaping duty. I called my good bud Dan who’s always happy to give me a hand when he’s between projects so together we really got the neighbors talking. After finishing the fence project and multiple dump runs we finally got to the fun part of laying out the beds. I opted for river rock on this house for several reasons, one being that there are alot of neighborhood cats that evidently have claimed rights to my yard or possibly even get a kick out watching us wipe our feet off, so I didn’t want to make it easy on them with big new mulch beds. Additionally the river rock goes really good with our style home, in California we would have also mixed a few palms for a tropical bungalow feel but of course that’s not possible here in South Texas because palm trees wont survive the freezing winters. After then laying the 4 pallets of St. Augustine sod down Thursday, our welder showed up and installed another sizzle feature for the property, our solar powered automatic driveway gate. No electrical connections here, a solar panel on top of the gate charges the battery which operates the gate motor. This is such a cool feature and will pay off huge for potential buyers.
Always wanting to change things up a little, I decided to go light on my floor stain as recently we’ve done several rehabs with very dark wood floors. The issue with going with a light color is that it will show any past pet stains. My floor guys brought a new product that I wasn’t familiar with, Zinsser Wood Bleach. It comes in a 2 part kit and after following the instructions we watched the old stains bubble up and disappear. It seems to work killer except it took a bit of the red tone out of my red oak wood floor as well but he assures me that when he comes back down with the new stain he’ll be able to play with it a little and hide most of the variations. I cant wait to see the floors done, remember I put down all new wood in the kitchen and back through the addition so they should be gorgeous. The shower glass and appliances arrive next week pending floor completion, stay tuned for more fun!
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.
Another sweet milestone..On Saturday with the help of a friend we picked up and installed the granite and marble slab countertops in the kitchen and both baths. You can see in the pic I still need to install the backsplashes, but we got all the tops in and the bar top server on the kitchen pass-through. I went with Absolute Black for the kitchen to contrast the white cabinets. As a general design rule in rehabbing you always go dark, light, dark or the opposite in the kitchen meaning: dark floors, light cabinets then back to dark counters. The opposite would be light floors, dark wood cabinets then light colored counters. I think the black and white with grey walls looks real crisp and modern while still period sensitive, you can’t go wrong with this combo. Any future homeowner could switch out the wall colors and anything would still look good. Another flip tip to keep in mind is that you must have good lighting in the kitchen if you want to do black counters, but in this case we have under cabinet lights pre wired and with recessed lighting, abundant natural light and the pendants I’ll be hanging over the bar it won’t be an issue. Black counters can make a room look small as well but since I’ve opened everything up it works for me. I chose White Carrera Marble for the bathrooms, it looks a little more feminine and with the grey veining through it, ties in perfectly with our wall color. This is the first time I’ve used the white marble and I’m loving the way it looks. I cant wait to see it with the white sinks and chrome hardware.
I’ve received a lot of reader mail over the years asking about how I get my granite for so cheap. We started doing this method back in California, the granite industry has been revolutionized for people in the know. Yea, you can still pay $40/s.f. to the big dogs in town or mid $30’s to the big box stores for granite slab but this method gets er’ done for under $12.00 per square foot. These 8′ x 24″ slabs are pre-fabricated in China where labor is cheap and then shipped to the states. The material still comes from all around the world but it’s sent to China to get cut down, polished and bull nosed. For an 8 foot section I am paying $160.00. That’s $10/ square foot, then add a couple more bucks for materials and it still ends up pretty inexpensive.
Ask around for “pre fabricated” or “pre bullnosed” granite slabs. They always come from China. When we first moved to San Antonio you couldn’t get them here so we’d drive to Houston to pick then up. Here in San Antonio the company who carries them is called Builders Mark . They have about 30 colors in stock to pick from as well as bar tops, peninsulas, backsplashes and islands. You still have to put them in yourself, maybe I’ll do a “how to” video for the DIY’ers out there one day. They sell to the public but also give contractor discounts. Real stone slab counters boost the resale value of your rehab, along with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops are top of the wish list for homebuyers in today’s market.
We had a suprise visitor to the project, one of the 7 sisters who grew up in the house after her dad built it in 1923. She was amazed at what we were doing to the house and commented on the fact that the original stained glass windows were still present. Its hard to imagine a family with 7 daughters growing up in this modest 2 bedroom 1 bath bungalow. Pretty cool that she stopped by and brought me these old photos of the house, I wish I would have had them earlier when I was rebuilding the missing porch columns so I could have seen how it looked. When asked if I found anything in the attic, all I could really mention was the 1933 license plate that I found under the house, no doubt it was from her dads car. I’m glad she didnt ask if she could have it, I’ve really become attached to it. One of the other sisters is coming down from Dallas soon to also see the house. I had a cool idea for the marketing campaign when the house is done, I’m going to bring in a 1920’s Model T and park it under the porte cochere for the open house and mls pics.
The interior paint job is done now. Pedro J. want to see more pics, here ya go Pedro glad to oblige. Came out incredible. In other news, I made my tile guy rip out most of his work and start over. If I wanted an average job I could have done it myself. The part he did came out killer but he snuck off to another job and let his helper take over and I was busy painting and didn’t notice. Sneaky. You gotta watch these guys. When the tile gets done it’s Cabinets, counter tops, floor refinishing and then appliances.
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.