A: Honestly? It approached us. After hearing that we were thinking about adding a fence around our yard, a neighbor approached us about purchasing his house that he had been wanting to sell for quite some time. He suggested that his house had a yard and that it would be "perfect" for us. He wanted a simple transaction and did not want to deal with listing his house on the market, thus presenting us with a unique opportunity. While the home was not fit to move in to, we decided to think through the option of purchasing his home as an investment property. We eventually agreed and with the help of Chris' parents, purchased the home as a flip project.
Q: Do you do this for a business?
A: Nope. Although with Chris being in the construction management field, we knew that he would have a lot of good resources when it came to hiring subcontractors. In addition, Chris and his dad finished the basement in our current home and are very talented when it comes to home renovation projects.
Q: Did you hire a General Contractor?
A: No. Chris' dad, Dave, acted as our GC and did a wonderful job! Between he and Chris, they were able to manage all aspects of the house including sub-contractors, appointments, payments, orders, etc. Dave was at the duplex nearly every day. If doing a similar project yourself, I would highly recommend hiring a GC to manage the day-to-day. I would say it's crucial for the success of the project.
Q: Did you do any of the labor yourselves?
A: Yes. We (and by we, I mean not me at all - although I will take credit for eventually throwing an awesome open house party accompanied by "Before and After" photos, courtesy of yours truly) did a majority of the labor ourselves saving several thousand dollars in the long run. We relied on professionals for several of the "larger" projects including plumbing, electrical, skim coating and painting and landscaping.
Q: How did you find your subcontractors?
A: All subcontractors were either direct contacts from Chris' work or recommendations from family, neighbors and friends (you know who you are - thank you!)
Q: Did you run into any major problems along the way?
A: Thankfully, nothing major. We have been super blessed by all of our contractors, their quality of work and their integrity. Of course we had a few bumps along the way, but nothing that a team could not sort out.
Q: What surprises did you have?
A: We had to completely redo all electrical and plumbing throughout the house, thus eating into huge chunk of our overall budget. We did not know that these items would be needed when we purchased the property. If we were to do this in the future, ideally those two items would need no improvements. Then again, this house was built in 1929 so some updates were to be expected.
Also? A ginormous tree root was smack dab in the middle of the backyard, creating the need for some serious man power to get rid of it. That was a sight to see.
A: At first, it was all of decisions that needed to be made. While some decisions were fun to make, others were just plain overwhelming. We literally had to pick out every detail from light socket covers to hardware on the cabinetry and everything in between. The hardest decisions were choosing the kitchen cabinetry, the counter tops for the cabinets, deciding on appliances with our budget and measurements and oddly, choosing paint colors. Seriously. Who needs fifty shades of gray (pun intended) when choosing a wall color?
Most recently, the most difficult thing has been the time dedicated to this project. Our weekends have been full since October with nothing but "house stuff". I watch the kids while Chris works on the house and the monotony of it has become somewhat frustrating. We are ready to sell our house and move! Not to mention, settle into a routine as a family again.
Q: At what point did you decide to move in to the flip property and sell your current home?
A: This was not decided until about a month ago. It was a very stressful in-between time (mostly for "type-a" me) not knowing if we were flipping the house as if we were going to rent it, sell it or purchase it. All three make for very different decisions when it comes to choosing finishes, staying on budget, overall timeline, etc. We went into the project with the intention of selling it but changed our minds several times throughout the process.
Q: Why did you ultimately make that decision?
A: Several reasons. But mostly (in this order):
- The duplex has a private backyard and our current home does not. This has become huge for us since having kids.
- The duplex has a two-car garage (versus our current one-car garage)
- The layout is better than our current home (three bedrooms upstairs versus one)
- We feel as though the market is such that we can have success in selling our current home as-is (which I will shamelessly put a plug in for HERE!), while still making a decent profit from when we purchased it six years ago
- We fell in love with it (ahem, the kitchen) and the idea of moving into something custom and brand new became very appealing
- Logan wants her own room ;)
Q: Do you own the other half of the duplex?
A: No. The other half is completely independently owned.
Q: Do you worry about moving into a duplex rather than a single family home?
A: Yes, a little. However, duplexes are very common where we live and we hope that it's the right move for us in order to get in to our "dream home" one day in the future.
Q: When will you move over to the duplex?
A: Good question. In fact, you may be able to hear my heart race a little faster with anxiety at the thought of it. Likely, we won't move into the duplex until our current home sells. Mostly so that we can keep our current residence "staged" for showings. If selling becomes a prolonged process, we may look at either staging our current home with rented furniture or keeping it empty for showings. Both options being ones we don't love. If, however, we were going strictly on timeline of when the duplex will be "move-in ready", we would be looking at two weeks or so.
Q: Will you flip more homes in the future?
A: Perhaps, but we (Dave?) will certainly need a break after this one. I don't think it will ever be a full time job, but I could see taking on a few more projects in the years to come. We have joked that after we move into one of them and get that out of our system, we will be able to look at future jobs as strictly (for-profit) business.
Here's to selling houses, moving across the street and summertime around the corner!