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.
That’s what my tile guy heard earlier this week. As I mentioned on my last post, the Friday before he snuck off to another job and left his helper there to lay the bathroom floor. By the time I noticed this goofball had done such a crappy job I told him to pull it all up before the thinset dried. I called my guy and told him if he didn’t personally do the job that I would find someone else, I know this guy does excellent work but he’s bouncing around from job to job having helpers do most of the work now. As a general contractor (or homeowner acting as one) you constantly have to watch your subs, even if you know they’ve done great work before. Monday rolls around and who shows up? A different guy still. Of course I asked him where’s Elijio? Oh, he’s coming right now, he’ll be here in 10 minutes. By 1 pm he still wasn’t there so I told his worker “no mas trabajo aqui.” If I wanted to spend all day showing him how to lay it and looking over his shoulder I might as well do it myself, so that’s where I’m at. I got the hall bath floor re-laid after going and buying all new material with a cool ceramic hexagon/dot pattern in black and white. It’s really historic looking and since this bathroom is in the original part of the house and visable from the dining room I wanted to keep the feel. It’s grouted now so I’m ready to set the vanity and linen closet in there Monday when my cabinets arrive.
In the master bathroom I put down beach pebbles again but this time I found a better supplier. In the last house the rocks were different sizes and it felt odd on your feet, this time its way more consistent but you still get the spa therapy feel. I’ve started the white subway tile that will make up most of the tile job with the exception of a small amount of Carrera Marble for the accent liner in the shower and around the double-sided fireplace. I’m staying with all clean and sharp lines in the master bath, it’s going to be elegant and modern.
Lastly I re-tiled the fireplace hearth. We decided to go with a red to tie in with the dining room wall color and also match the historic stained glass windows above. They are 4″ ceramic, laying them was the easy part, first I had to demo all the old pieces and then float it out with mortar so I had a smooth surface for the new tile. The dark red looks killer, all I need to do now is install the oak transition pieces for a border before the hardwood floor guys start refinishing.
We are known for the attention to detail in our rehabs. Here’s a tip that a lot of flippers are blowing it on and its really inexpensive to correct. A long time ago we became conscious of the fixtures and finishes we were choosing for the rehabs, and how to use them correctly. Every house we do now we chose a finish for the hardware and keep it consistent throughout the whole house. Oil rubbed bronze (ORB) looks great with travertine and typical tan flip house colors. Brushed nickel looks clean and modern and goes with everything. Nobody uses gold, don’t even think of going here. Chrome is usually reserved for modern style homes. If you are going to use oil rubbed bronze for instance then make sure you buy ORB shower trims, ceiling fans, faucets, cabinet pulls, door knobs and hinges for your doors. Everything should match. Sounds basic right? You would be amazed at how many flips I’ve walked through that have gold door hinges, brushed nickel door knobs (yes, on the same frickin door!) and then ORB ceiling fans. This is a total rookie move and will cheapen the look of your rehab, I’m just sayin’ with a little planning and about $100 bucks for replacement door hinges you can bring a way better product to market and see the results at closing. All prehung doors at Home Depot and Lowe’s come with gold hinges, not sure why. What’s happening is that investors who are not contractors themselves and just hire out all their work, don’t have the eye for detail so they don’t get changed out. We don’t buy our prehung doors at the big box stores anyway and actually get to chose the hinge finish they come with, so before painting I usually put “dummies” on and then switch them back after everything is done. I keep this box of paint covered dummies and reuse them on every house. Additionally, I don’t care how good you are at taping, there’s no better look than crisp new hinges and knobs with no over-spray or drips on them. A lot of new home builders are actually spraying over the gold hinges when they paint their trims, this is a big no-no also as the paint will surely scratch off eventually. Take a bit of advice from me please, change out your hinges guys and reap the rewards!
For this house we chose chrome door hinges with brushed nickel door knobs. All the faucets, cabinets pulls etc will also be chrome, this is the only instance when you should mix two finishes in a house unless you are doing a “theme” room as we’ve also done in the past.
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.
I picked up 1200 s.f. of hardwood flooring last week from Home Depot and we got started putting it down. On a full gut rehab I always put down the new wood floors before hanging drywall (if they are unfinished).
We patched into the dining room, staggering the joints and have run the new 2 1/4″ unfinished Red Oak all the way through the kitchen, utility room and we are half way through the master bedroom. In the old portion of the house the wood nails right to the floor joists but in my new addition it nails to the plywood sub floor with some felt paper in between as a moisture barrier.
Most of the Craftsman Homes in San Antonio originally have Red Oak flooring but occasionally you’ll see Long Leaf Pine used and especially in kitchens. After some deliberation I decided to have all hardwoods in my master suite instead of using high end carpet for the bedroom and tile for the bath floor.
On the last couple of houses I used carpet and didn’t really hear any complaints but these Arts and Crafts style homes are really all about having hardwoods throughout. By the time I looked at what I would spend on the carpet, tile and installation it made more sense to just put down all wood and I’ll end up with a way finer product.
Like the last house, I’ll even run the hardwood floors through the master bathroom which got great feedback and will really give my new addition some character. I usually buy this flooring at Lumber Liquidators for $1.99/s.f. but their price went up to $2.89 now.
Home Depot has it for $2.39 plus I got a little bit more off the order since it was over $2500.00 we got to send it to the bid room. I’ll still have to have these floors sanded and refinished with the rest of the house once the renovation is complete but on the flip-side putting down a prefinished engineered wood just wouldn’t give you that old house feel.
I’ve been doing extra dark stains like Dark Walnut & Ebony on my last few projects but for this house I think I am going to go lighter with Golden Oak just to change it up.
The dark floors are really trendy right now and very dramatic but they get so dusty and are a nightmare to keep clean during the period the house is on the market for sale. When the flooring got delivered the driver didn’t show up until 7 o’clock. Wouldn’t have been so bad but he dropped the pallets curbside so I had to lug all 63 bundles up 15 steps myself after a long week.
Here’s another item that I always do before the house gets drywall, I install all the HardiBacker in the areas that I have planned for tile. In the hall bath (not shown) I am doing the floor and tub surround. In the master bath pictured here I’ll do the entire new shower all the way up, inside and out of the 9 foot walls, and the box for the spa tub with a mini surround.
Before the backer board could go up I had to do the shower pan. I use the rubber membrane and a dry mortar bed and slope to the drain. It takes about 2-3 hours to complete. The backer board is easy as well, it cuts great with a skil saw and goes in with tons of screws.
You want a real stable base so your tile job doesn’t crack. I’ve seen some remodelers using that blue board the sell at Lowe’s, don’t do it, your tile job will crack in a few short months! That would suck to have your flip on the market for sale and a tile job start cracking. I’ve seen it happen, multiple times. Always use 1/2″ HardiBacker and screw it down, even if the guys on DIY Network nail it.
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.