The collaboration between Nicki Savage Design and Texas Liberty Home Investors has been so incredibly fun and rewarding. This is our fourth rehabbing project in the Dallas, Texas area and the most dramatic transformation to date.
Every house has a story. This home belonged to a couple originally from Muscatine, IA! Mr. had recently passed away at the ripe age of 90 and Mrs. sold the house and moved in with her daughter and son-in-law. They were very loved by their neighbors (we know this because many stopped by and told us how wonderful they were and how much they were missed). The home needed work but you could definitely feel the warmth and wonderful family memories that had been made in this home. The son-in-law stopped by several times during the reno to see our progress and take photos. He was so sweet and complimentary and said his MIL was very happy to see how it was turning out. I feel honored to have been a part of making this loving home shine again.
Rehabbing a home is incredibly rewarding but also challenging. I definitely get attached. We pour our hearts, souls, blood, sweat and tears into these homes. I really feel each one has a pulse and a soul. Ok not literally but each one definitely has a story and I can feel its vibe. It's like seeing a person who let themselves go, is a little depressed and ashamed. Then they get personal team who gives them a great makeover and some confidence boosting. Suddenly there is a renewed bounce in their step. They walk a little taller with their head held a little higher. They are ready to take on the world again. Seriously though, it is much more than slapping down some new flooring and giving it a new coat of paint. We really care about making these homes feel happy and welcoming for their new owners. That is very exciting and rewarding for me.
The challenging part is having to pull back sometimes in order to stay within the budget. The timeline can also be challenging. Usually you start out full steam ahead. Demo goes quickly and you can start to feel the adrenaline rush. Then inevitably there is a delay. That is just a reality you can count on. The train that was clickety-clacking down the track is now throwing the break lever (sorry, no idea if that is how a train actually puts on the breaks). There is always pressure to stay within your timeline but some delays are just out of your control. The time of year also plays a role. If you are heading into fall you really want to get it on the MLS before holiday season rolls in. The real estate market slows down significantly between October and March.
Let's talk briefly about what you see on tv. I promise you rehabbing houses in real life is a far cry from what you see on HGTV. I will say, one of the things that is consistent between the fixer shows and reality is there are always surprises. Here's a quick list of how it differs:
It takes way more time than the two week renos you see on tv. This reno took approx 12 weeks.
The profit margins are much tighter; we have yet to find a $35,000 home that sells for $250,000 after rehab.
Materials and labor costs are much higher than shown on tv. No magical HGTV discounts in real life.
In the real world you are working within a very tight budget and that means you can't always get what you want. Sometimes, actually most of the time, you end up spending a significant part of the budget on things you can't see that aren't very sexy, like fixing the foundation or replacing the HVAC system.
You must make sure you not only recoup your costs but also make a profit. That means you have to make some hard decisions and put your money where it counts. Many times you have to choose more budget friendly finishes, such as carpet over hardwood or laminate over granite. Sometimes you get down to the end and the champagne gold hardware you had planned for the cabinetry ends up being brushed nickel because every penny counts (HA!).
So what surprises did we run into with this home you ask?
The sloping foundation was worse than we thought and took more money to fix than we had planned.
The plumbing and electrical required more work than anticipated.
We ended up removing one of the large trees as it was damaging the foundation.
The biggest surprise I'd say was what we found under the wallpaper. The walls were plywood! You read that right folks, wallpapered plywood walls. Tearing out the walls and rebuilding them with drywall was definitely an unplanned expense.
Here are some course corrections we made due to added expenses mentioned above:
The hexagon tile I had sourced for the kitchen and dining rooms had to be scrapped and we went with a more budget-friendly square porcelain tile.
The hardwood we had planned for living and family room became carpet.
The floor to ceiling pantry cabinets and island in kitchen were nixed.
Our plans to install all new stairwell railing, balusters and newel post was canned and we spiffed up the original instead.
This project included these repairs and upgrades:
Plumbing and electrical updates
Removed walls to open up layout and added french doors between living and family rooms
Extended concrete porch to extend the full length of house
Replaced posts on front of house with substantial architectural columns
New water heater
New attic insulation
Roof and siding repairs
New HVAC system
Power washed exterior of house
All new exterior and interior paint
Replaced plywood walls with drywall
Extensive drywall work throughout
Ceiling repairs and can light installation
All new kitchen cabinets, quartz counters, farmhouse sink & appliances
All new flooring throughout
New light fixtures throughout
Complete overhaul in bathrooms, including vintage-style tile & fixtures, quartz counters and cast iron clawfoot tub
Extensive yard cleanup
Let me just say that this project holds a special place in my heart. It was the biggest reno we've done to date and the transformation was dramatic but more than that the fact that the sweet couple who owned it were originally from Iowa made it extra special.
The design plan was to keep the vintage vibe of the home but give it a modern twist. Here are before and after photos. I hope you enjoy seeing the transformation.