Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flip This House II


As of yesterday, we are officially 2 closet door handles and 6 wall plates away from being 100% done with the Pennsylvania repairs. And as if that wasn't awesome enough, here's the icing on the cake: Less than an hour after the GC called to let us know that the final tasks were completed (leaky toilet, paint touch-up), my mom got a call from a family requesting to see two other 5 bedroom houses within 5 miles of the property. Needless to say, she added this one to their list and they fell in love with the house. Now we're all just waiting to hear from my listing agent. The problem is, not only is it not listed yet, but we still haven't even come up with a price! But of course this is a good problem to have. God is amazing. Even if this particular family doesn't buy the house, it was still awesome to get confirmation so quickly that we've put together a top notch product on our first time out.

As for the repairs, my dad and I hit the house hard for another 4 hours on Saturday to wrap things up. As tough as those last two days were, I have to say that it was fun in a twisted, torturous kind of way. I think that the hands-on get-it-done finale gave us all a sense of accomplishment, pride and ownership about the final product (and the whole process) that I'm not sure I would've had otherwise. I definitely left the house excited on Saturday. I think we are all pretty proud of the finished product. But more than anything, I'm the most impressed with all of us in terms of how we all came together as a team / family and pulled this massive project off. I can't say enough about my parents and the job they've done to keep this project moving. I'm also supremely in debt to V for the patience she has had while I devoted so much time to the house(s) over the past few weeks.

And finally, as for the house itself, below are a few more pre-flip photos for comparison purposes. You can also check out more pre-flip photos by clicking here. In another entry, I also gave a few more photos along with the rundown of our initial repair list. We'll wrap up the numbers (costs, etc) in a future entry once everything is finalized.

Once you've checked out the before photos, you can click here for the finished product. Enjoy!

Blue paneling on walls of bathroom #1 was removed

Old walls of bedroom #5

Bedroom #1 doorway and wall demo'ed and new door & closet added

Old stove with broken door

Damage in Bedroom #2

Ceiling damage in Bedroom #3

Beehive in storage space

Leaky kitchen sink with bio-organic growth throughout

Laundry room with wall and vent system damage

Old flooring with water damage due to leaky toilet

Crusty sink in bathroom #2

Basement doors and walls

One last look at the crusty carpet

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

30 weeks

Isn't she just adorable with her built-in hand rest? (smile)

This picture is actually about 2 weeks old ( April 5), but it was the best of the bunch in terms of showing off the tummy. As for current events, the big story this week is that mother and baby are both officially banned from the candy store. The trip to the OB yesterday was less than stellar as far as test results go. For one, they confirmed the age-old physics law that cheesecake, milkshakes, snickers ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, two pieces of cake (both eaten within 2 minutes), and extra waffles for breakfast all have to go somewhere. After very moderate weight gains during the first 22 weeks (she did great!) V definitely made up for lost time over the past 2 months... [that's the politically correct way of saying she's been eating like a monster]. So now we have to work on pacing the weight gain for the remainder of the pregnancy in order to keep mom healthy now and also postpartum.

The doctors were cool about it though, but then they also dropped enough hints so that we got the message: chill out just a bit on the eat-everything routine. At just a shade under the upper limit for "normal", her sugar level also came back borderline high... but then I guess that's what makes all of that food so doggone tasty. And last but not least, her iron level came in pretty low as well. I think that's typical during pregnancy, but hers was considerably lower still. The good thing is that we knew that from her bloodwork last time, and so she already ordered some iron supplements to nip that in the bud. Those pills, in addition to the entire cow that she ate this past weekend [she went a little crazy catching up on her beef intake while the nonbeefeating husband was gone for a few days] should help get her back up to par in no time.

Anyway, in all, nothing too dramatic, but enough to let us know that we need to be a little more mindful of her diet during these next few weeks (wow... just 10 weeks to go for life as we know it). Sleep hasn't come easy for V lately either, mostly because of back and hip discomfort. So I feel pretty bad about that because her energy level has been shot recently, and short of carrying the baby for her, there's only but so much that a husband can do to help. But on the (sarcastic) bright side, that means she won't have many adjustments to make to her sleep patterns when the baby is calling for milk at 4 in the morning. So there's good in everything.

And speaking of the baby, the little kickboxer is doing great. S/he is almost 3 pounds now, about 15 1/2 inches long, and still kicking up a storm. Still nonstop, and still keeping busy as can be. But you can just look at the included photo of V (above) and see where the baby gets it from. Like mother, like ...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Fast Update

Me & V @ our SC Baby Shower

For whatever reason, my out-of-state travels continue to come in pairs. Similar to February, I once again find myself in Pennsylvania after traveling to and from SC just the week before (for a baby shower). I'm up here in PA this weekend because the bulk of the work is done on the flip property and it was finally time for me to show face and rub some of my personal elbow grease into it. Long story short, I left VA at 4am this morning, drove up to PA, and have been working on the house nonstop since my arrival 7 hours ago. While the repairs and the overall status of the house were impressive (more on that some other time) the list of "things you know you oughta do before listing this house" was a little more overwhelming than I drafted up in my head. Okay, so I never actually drafted much of a list in my head, but I guess that's why they call them "learning experiences". So right now I'm about as exhausted as I've been in a very long time. If it's not your profession, manual labor will do it to you every time... It's that soreness that you don't feel just yet, but you know it'll have you stiff in about 8 places for the next 4 days or so. And so I'm prolonging what I know is about to be some REAL GOOD SLEEP just to get this blog entry in the books before I pass out.

So why bother writting now of all times since I haven't written in two weeks as it is? Well, that's exactly the point. The reason for the urgency is that the more time that passes without an entry, the more things I come up with that I want to write about (but just can't find the time). So then I get stuck with this backlog of stories in my head, which makes it even harder for them me to get them out because I have no clue as to how to prioritize them or where to start. But at the same time, I keep thinking to myself that I can't wait until a find a "free moment"... by then the baby will be 7 years old and typing her (his?) own blog ... and I'll still be trying to figure out how to catch you up on everything that happened last week. As it is already, I have like 16 stories that I want to tell, but don't have the capacity to get a single one out and elaborate intelligently on it. SO... as to alleviate all of that pressure, I thought I'd at least take a few minutes and list the highlights of the past week 10 days. There's at least 5 I can think of at the moment, all of which probably deserve thier own entry but won't be getting it today.

1. We secured a tenant for the SC property !!! [Huge Update] He moves in... well, technically today (Saturday).

2. We had our first of three (SC, VA, PA) baby showers in SC last weekend. Seeing family and friends was a lot of fun, and receiving all of the gifts that they blessed us with was equally phenomenal.

3. The repairs are all but done in the PA house, and relisting the house is just 'round the corner. Project "Pretend You're A Real Estate Mogul" is that much closer to being completed.

4. Last week marked the much anticipated return of my gym visits and workout routine (cancel the search party).

5. And finally (drum roll) our unborn child has now surpassed the 2 pound mark and according to V, the baby is still making good progress towards being either a soccer player or a karate champion. Not only that, but we are officially down to the wire, with less than three months before we'll have to cash in our sleep, sanity, and savings account for bottle warming, breast feeding, and pamper duty (dooty?)... all at the gleeful hours of 9pm til 4am of course.

On that note, I think I should most certainly end this entry here and cherish this fleeting opportunity for some REM sleep. Long day ahead. I'll add photos to this in the next 48 hours. For now, consider yourself updated.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Inevitable Surprises

Side view of the PA property

Expect the unexpected. Better yet, plan for it.

I can't say that I knew what they'd be, but I knew oversights were inevitable on our PA property flip; which is why I was so adamant about the repair estimate being well under the $20K that we budgeted. Calling the estimate "well under" might be a stretch, but the $2275 margin that we landed should be more than enough to absorb the things that have popped up so far. Here's a run down.

Replace all wall plates.
It's hard to notice whether a wall plate is too ugly to keep when the wall that it's attached to is either (a) covered in crayon doodle, (b) a horrid shade of (fill in color of choice here), or (c) underneath a ceiling with a 1 foot hole in it. In other words, overlooking a few details (albeit important ones) is not a huge surprise on a first time flip. But now that the walls are painted and the carpet replaced, the filthy wall plates are pretty hard to miss [picture an ink stain on a white wedding dress]... so replace them we shall. So that's $2 a box for two boxes, plus a few odds and ends that are sold separately. Let's say $20 and 15 minutes with the drill.

Along those same lines, here's what else came up short during today's inspection of repair progress:

Bathroom Vents / lighting fixtures.
I was focused on plumbing, sinks, flooring and walls. Vent covers? Not on the radar. So that's $72 [$36 x 2] for light/vent combo kits.

Bedroom ceiling fans.
Same story. With the sloped ceilings (about 14 feet high) these barely made it into my photos, so it's not a surprise that I didn't take much notice of them in person. But fresh walls and new carpet have now made replacing these a must. $80 [$40 x 2].

Between the sloped ceilings and funky paint job,
overlooking the ceiling fan wasn't difficult.

[Note... all of these photos are still pre-repair. Give us another 2 weeks for the after photos]

Kitchen light fixtures
Okay, finally something I didn't overlook. Would've been impossible to do that, as ugly as they are. My parents shopped around and gave me a price of $34 for the fan, $14 each for the two matching sconces. $62 total.

More painting (garage, molding, floor heating units)
We went back and forth on this one with the general contractor. My dad and I are 98.875% sure that painting the molding around the house was included on the original contract. But either way you slice it, that's an argument we're not going to win. The lesson learned: Get it in writing! And so tack on another $300 for that, plus $125 for painting the garage and $150 for painting the floor heating units; totaling $575. I still think we're getting ripped on this one... but I'll get over it.

Dirty heating units boards and filthy wall plates.


Replace 4th bathroom flooring
Just about every square foot of the flooring (i.e., the remaining 2975 square feet) was replaced except this bathroom. So why in the world stop there? Okay, so I admittedly remember something being mentioned by the GC about not wanting to replace it. But now that all else is done, it's obvious that this flooring has got to go. I'm sure the GC is not going to be thrilled about it since he's under the impression that the flooring is done. But hey, those are the breaks. This addition should cost us a very budget friendly $0, since unlike the painting snafu, I was smart enough to get this one in writing. The line in the contract stating "Replace All Flooring" is going to be hard to argue against. Sorry, pal.

Ditto that sentiment for the cost of adding insulation to the garage ceiling. He demo'ed the ceiling but left the old insulation exposed, which is uncovered, tattered, moldy and just plain ol' nasty looking. While on the phone last night, my mom and I kicked around the idea of me replacing it myself once I get back to PA... but lo and behold, I found on the contract this morning where it states "insulate ceiling". So tally that one up as $0 and a phone call to the GC (yesss!... less work for me).

Finally, tack on a few extra dollars for purchase tax and the installation of all these ceiling fans and whatnot; plus a 3rd party chimney sweep at $90, and we stand at around $1100 for additional repairs. On top of that, tack on the fact I that I totally overlooked that I'd have to get the place cleaned after it's all said and done. For whatever reason, brown toilets and moldy bathtubs just don't seem to fly with perspective buyers. Go figure. This seemed obvious for the rental in SC, but somehow I missed that one when budgeting the flip. So to that end, tack on another $300 for the merry maids crew, $100 for whatever else I forgot, and we're talking roughly $1500 in total additional expenses... For now, anyway. Only thing missing is the cost to check and (if necessary) repair the basement heating unit, and that's still TBD (scheduled for a pro maintenance service on Thursday).

But overall, we can live with that.

That being said, the repairs for this property still appear to be well ahead of schedule. The GC's proclamation of being less than 2 days from done was definitely premature; but not totally far fetched. The initial prospect was 3 - 6 weeks. And after just one week, the bulk of it seems to be wrapped up; which is what spawned this early walk-through.

And last but not least, In case I haven't mentioned it already, it helps to have your fair share of nepotism while flipping a house. My realtor on the front end and back (purchase and listing) is my mom. And my project manager is my dad. And I have to say that their help, time, effort, advice, insight, hard work, and dedication to this project has already been invaluable. But don't tell them that, because then they'll expect a real paycheck (ha ha). But seriously speaking, nobody will work as hard for you as mom as dad when it comes to assuring that you're consistently above water.

And as for cleaning up after me, I guess a parent's job is never done in that respect. They're not picking up my toys anymore, but they did spend the better part of today (6+ hours) inspecting the progress of the repairs in my absence and documenting / pricing the items I overlooked. In all, it sounded like the repairs grade was a B-. What was done appeared to be done well. But the items outstanding and the prospect of increased costs definitely brought the grade down.

And so the beat goes on. I give it another week (two weeks, tops) before my mom and dad make the final exchange (from project manager to realtor again) and smack this house back on the market. Between now and then, lets hope for no more "inevitable surprises". Stay tuned.

On the brighter side of things, the cabinets and
counters were moved so that the fridge and stove are
no longer neighbors (duh), the new appliances arrived,
walls painted, and kitchen floor redone.

And finally, here's the one room in the entire house
that will not be touched throughout the repairs;
the unfinished sun room off the kitchen.