Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I forgot to post - we sold the house. It sold for about what we expected, but because we ended up using a realtor and paying fees/commission, we only made about about 20% profit. I think the house location hurt us more than anything else. We were really good on budget, and the house turned out well, I think. Unfortunately, many of the potential buyers were turned off by the location, a still "in transition" part of the neighborhood. Because of that, the house took longer to sell, and we had to enlist realtor help. In the end, we still got a decent return on our money, and I definitely enjoyed the learning experience. I'm not sure if we have a remodel flip in our near future. We are working on new constructions right now, and we're finding there's more money to be made in pure land-flips or new construction. While it's fun to bring a house back to life, I have to admit that the profit is why we do this.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

All Done!

I actually finished the house in November but hadn't gotten around to posting pictures. We put the house on the market in December, but didn't get a lot of traction due to the holidays. January is looking up, however, as we've gotten quite a few showings/calls this month. I'm hoping we sell it in the next month to free up money for our next project.

Below are some Before/After pictures. Quite a difference, I think!

Front Elevation:


View from Front Door:

Kitchen Cabinets:

Kitchen Stove:

Breakfast Nook:

Back Bedroom:

Clawfoot Tub:


Hardwood Floors (with furnace grate removed):

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 18 (Look Ma, No Fence!)

I had gotten two bids for trash/fence removal and was about to call the first company back when I decided I should probably get a third bid. I called a company from the Greensheet, and Sal, the owner, said he had to meet me at the site in order to give me a bid. I was about to just tell him to forget it, but he was so insistent about getting the address site and setting up a time, before I knew it we had agreed to meet the next day.

I'm glad I let myself get bullied because Sal's bid was $150 cheaper than the other bids. He showed up with five kids, each around 15-16 years old. He told me that he works with Covenant House (a runaway shelter), and he gives them work to help with giving them structure as well as some spending money.

It was the most amazing/amusing thing I've ever seen. Sal stood next to the trash pile and barked out orders like a drill sergeant while the kids scurried about picking up the trash.




They finished picking up the trash pile and removing the fence in less than an hour. I swear, they picked up every cigarette butt and gum wrapper floating in the yard. While waiting for me to get back from the bank, Sal made them pick up trash in the neighbor's yard, too. Idle hands and all that...

We also dropped off the bathtub to be refinished. As soon as that's done, we're going to have the plumber install the fixtures and dishwasher. Other than that, we're pretty much done. The floors are finished, lights installed, appliances delivered. I'm enlisting help from my sister and a friend this weekend, and we're going to do some minor landscaping this weekend to help with the curb appeal. Removing the fence has already made a huge difference.

Oh, here's a shot of the floors, too. Refinishing floors is always my favorite part of a remodel because it always makes such a big impact. I originally wanted to go with a darker stain, but my floor guy said that with the age and type of wood I had, going with the lightest stain possible ("natural") would be best as the darker the stain, the more obvious any scratches or discolorations would be. I think the floors turned out really nicely considering their original condition.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Balls they are a jugglin'

I'll be doing a flip update soon, but I wanted to post a link to my new blog about house construction - Watch us build a house!


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday, November 2 (Progress!)

I apologize, oh faithful reader, for my lack of posts recently. A lot of progress has been made since the last update - the granite counter has been installed and tiling has been completed for the backsplash and the bathroom floors, and not without a few tears shed. What's a remodel without a good, angry cry?

Last Monday, I had arranged to meet the granite installers in the morning at 8:30. At 9:30, I call, and they say they're on their way and about an hour out. I'm frustrated, but not overly upset since being rescheduled is par for the course in a remodel. I leave to go get some coffee and return in an hour. Another half hour goes by, and they're still not there. I call again and get another lame excuse. Long story short, we don't meet until 2pm. Mind you, I'm doing this remodel while I have a 2 year old in tow. Suffice it to say I'm already a little agitated by the time the installers get there. When they get there, they start taking measurements, and the countertop will not slide onto the counter. A board has been installed on the backsplash rendering the counterspace about 1/2" too short. No big deal - the board can either be cut so the granite can be slid underneath it or removed entirely with no huge effort. Of course, I don't get off so easily... The kitchen counter is flanked on both sides by doorways to the adjacent rooms. Around these doorways is 100 year old wood trim that needs to be removed before the counter can slide in. I say 100 year old wood trim in not the "oh, falling apart already" way but rather, the "petrified wood, not going anywhere anytime soon" way.

I make an attempt to control my frustration, but I do tell the installation team that I'm really disappointed I wasn't told these things when measurements were taken so that I could have a) taken care of the trim removal sooner and b) made the changes prior to the painters having painted the trim. As a result of not being told sooner, my schedule has slipped, I have to schedule a carpenter to return (at additional cost), and have the painters recaulk/paint the trim after removal.

As they drive off, I walk into the backyard and just burst into tears I'm so angry! I know as I'm crying that I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, they're not insurmountable problems, but I hate, hate, hate it when things don't go as I plan. Alright, I admit, I just hate not getting my way.

After I finish snuffling and cursing contractors not-so-under my breath, I make a few calls, and Jesse was able to make the necessary modifications that evening. The granite guys came back the next morning (on time this time), and my painter said that he'd have his crew patch and paint when they came for the round of touchups.

So, it wasn't the huge, horrible crisis that I had built it up to be. In hindsight, it was silly for me to have gotten so angry. I guess part of me was hoping that I'd get through this remodel scot-free and avoid all the horror-stories you hear about flip projects. J reminded met that if this has been my biggest issue, then I should count my blessings. He also gave me a dose of reality and said I'd probably encounter a few more hiccups before everything's said and done, and that would be perfectly normal. I'm hoping that everything else will go smoothly, but I'm feeling a little less pressure to do everything perfectly.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wednesday, October 18 (See?! It does pay to be fair!)

When I stopped by the house this morning, Mario was finishing up mowing the lawn. Not only did his crew remove all the trash from the yard, but they had dug out the flowerbed in front of the house as well. I was happy with how it looked, but I was a bit apprehensive since we had not agreed on a price, and I didn't want to be windshield-wiped (you know, like when those jerks wash your windshield at the stoplight despite you making wild "don't wash me" gesticulations so that you feel guilted into giving them money. Except I never feel guilty and sometimes spray my washer fluid. So I'm not a good Christian. Bah!)

I told Mario the yard look great and asked him if I owed him money for the flowerbed. He said, no it wasn't a big deal and there was no charge. I wanted to hug him! Not because getting a free flowerbed dug in and of itself is so thrilling, but it's so awesome to work with *nice* people. I told him that I'd definitely be calling him for more work.

I told J, and he said I should get Mario to bid on the landscaping. I really want to do it myself to save money, and since the hard part of digging the bed is already done, I don't think it'll be too difficult. The big obstacle is my black thumb. My parents can grow fruit-bearing treas from seeds and beautiful plants from cuttings. I, on the other hand, am guilty of killing cacti. My mother once gave me a Mother-in-law's Tongue that she had had for 10+ years. It's so named because of its sharped pointy leaves and its stubborn tenacity. A google search returned this description -- "The ultimate unkillable plant". Yep. I killed it. Good thing I have Mario in my back pocket...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tuesday, October 17 (Tired of hearing about paint yet?)

I stopped by the house, and the painters were there hard at work. Of all the crews, they are definitely the most hard-working and reliable thus far on the project. They've finished most of the exterior, and I'm really happy with it. I knew I would like it since I've used the color before, but it was still nice to see the "after". Here's a picture of the garage as a teaser of what the house looks like with the new color. The trim is cream, not white as it might appear. Originally, I had planned to use Birdseye Maple as the exterior color, but the sample I put on the siding looked a little too blah. I tried it in the kitchen, however, and it looks fantastic. I'm going to use it on the exterior of the next project; it really took seeing a wall of the color to get the full effect. Ellie, from across the street, said she loves the color and thinks it perfect for the neighborhood. Yea!

As I was leaving the house, I saw a crew of lawn guys mowing a yard down the street. I stopped my car and asked if they did yardwork (duh). Mario walked back over to the house and gave me a bid. He said since the house was so overgrown, he'd have to charge more than normal - $35 for the front, back, and side yards. Done! J says I paid him about $15 too much, but the grass was freaking a foot high in places. J and I actually have argued for years about how much lawn persons should be paid. I say if you let your yard go to shite, you should not make someone using a manual lawnmower mow your front/back yard for $20. That's just not right. He says if they're willing to do it for that price, then it's all good.

Him: He's good with the price, I'm good with the price, everyone's happy. No one's forcing him to mow the yard.
Me: But what if he has no choice but to mow the yard or not have money to feed his children?
Him: Waaah, waaah, cry me a river.
Me: Shut up, jerk.

I'm summarizing, but that's pretty much how the conversation goes every time.

Monday, October 16 (Pinching pennies)

It's raining cats and dogs today and we're under a tornado and flood watch. I didn't go by the house since I doubt any of the contractors showed up. No point in braving the weather just to be disappointed.

It wasn't a completely wasted day as I had time to look at fixtures online. The glass knobs for my kitchen cabinets came in, too! I ordered them from ebay Friday night and they arrived on Monday - now that's fast shipping! I got a good deal on them as well. The seller was asking $36 for a lot of 18. I "made an offer" of $30, and she accepted. I've had pretty good luck on ebay with hardware - all my kitchen pulls in my last house were purchased there, too. I got $25 cabinet pulls for $4. In the master bath, we had $600 Italian faucets purchased for only $150 each.

We did have a bit of a glitch with the kitchen cabinets - Jesse had made the dishwasher opening 32.5" tall. When I went to the scratch-n-dent store on Saturday, I discovered that 99% of dishwashers require a 34" opening. Ooopsies. Luckily, there is enough trim above the opening so that Jesse can enlarge it and still leave enough clearance for the bullnose trim on the granite. Good deals at scratch-n-dent, too - I got a Whirlpool dishwasher for $169 (Lowe's price $299) and a Whirlpool freestanding range for $359 (Lowe's price $560). Both had such minor scratches that looks-wise I'd use them in my own home, and they were both still under manufacturer warranty. Better yet, we had $315 credit from something we returned a year or two ago. I still count it against the budget, but it's nice to use money that's already spent, if that makes any sense.