Archives For DIY

I left my previous job, and began flipping houses in Portland, Oregon in 2010. Having a love for architecture, renovation, and real estate in general, was necessary. It can never just be about the money, or it won’t last. That being said, it wasn’t until my first house sold, on the first day on the market, for the full asking price, that I was convinced I made the best decision. Here are the four things you’ll want to get right.

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First, work with a Realtor who really knows the local market that you’re looking in. Hire a savvy agent who demonstrates they’re in the know of what’s happening in the neighborhood, what houses are selling for in terrible condition, but also the ones in great shape. Your Realtor should also know what houses people are flocking to right now. When I first began, I got my real estate license at the same time and I searched the MLS database for local houses that sold within the first seven days on the market. I wanted to discover some common characteristics. One of those was that in 2010 in Portland, Oregon, about two thirds of houses had white kitchen cabinets. Interesting. When it came time for my first flip, guess what color cabinets I chose? J Find a Realtor who gets it.

Second, come up with a great investment and profit plan, or just use mine. When figuring out how much money I should pay for a fixer house, I use this formula: 0.75(ARV) – Cost of Repairs. What that means is take 75% of the “after repair value” or how much the house will sell for fixed up, then subtract the estimated cost of repairs. That is the most I should be paying for the house. For example, if my savvy Realtor shows me comparable houses that have sold for $300,000 fully fixed up, and the fixer house I’m looking at needs about $30,000 worth of work, then the most I should be paying for it is: 0.75($300,000) – $30,000 = $195,000. After all of the agent, interest, and listing fees, this would leave about a 15% profit on the sales price, or about $45,000 in this example.

Third, hire a great crew. On that first house I flipped, my husband, father in-law, step-dad, and even friends had a hand or two in helping make it profitable. Let’s be honest, when you flip your first house, it can be a bit unnerving. For that first one, I am all about having a little sweat-equity in there to ensure you don’t spend too much money. But I always recommend hiring licensed professionals for the big stuff. And after you gain some confidence from successfully flipping your first house, for the next ones, hire it all out. When I’m looking for new people to work with, I first ask for personal referrals from friends and family. If your best friend has a great heating and cooling person they have been working with for 20 years, start there. If no referrals are coming your way, go to a trusted source online where consumers rate their experience with contractors. Either way, I recommend having at least three people come out to the house to talk with you about the scope of the project, and give you an estimate. It’s also a great time to set up expectations with these potential contractors to make sure you and your project are a good fit for them. Ask them for references, and call those references! One of the things I always ask is: What was the best part about working with this contractor, and if you had to pick something, what could they have done better? Don’t let them off the hook. Have them tell you something.

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And lastly, create a project calendar and tight timeline. The calendar should include all the work happening at the house, and how many days each project will take. I let the contractors know they will be working with others each day they’re there. There is no reason you can’t have a water heater replaced in the basement, at the same time kitchen cabinets are being installed, and the exterior of the house painted. Most of the projects I take on, ranging from $25,000-$150,000 remodels take about 4-6 weeks. The three main reasons for tight timelines are: 1. Buy and sell the house in virtually the same market. The housing market can change quickly. I want to make sure that ARV I calculated before buying the house hasn’t changed by the time I sell it. 2. There’s a great energy generated when there’s so much work happening at once, especially with a great crew. Momentum builds, and with each week that passes, the house transforms. That’s great for morale. 3. The less time you own that house, the lower your expenses are. Most of us don’t have $200,000 in the bank to buy a house for cash, so we pay a lot of interest, fees, taxes, and bills the longer we own the house. Lower those by being efficient and having a tight timeline.

I have been flipping houses since 2010, and have done well on each one. Does luck play a role? Maybe, but having tested guidelines certainly helps. For me, there really aren’t any secrets. If there are flipping secrets out there, I don’t know them. I’ve learned these four things will get you moving in a successful direction.

Bobby Curtis is a serial renovator and principal broker with Living Room Realty in Portland, Oregon.

 

 

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It’s that time of year. You’re probably starting to think a vacation somewhere warm sounds pretty good right about now. Well, we hear you. That’s why we want to share these incredibly beautiful photographs, to send you on a virtual vacation to the magical mists of Kauai, where photographer Jess Bianchi documented the construction of The Kauai Cottage, an off-the-grid Hawaiian hideaway.

Built and designed by San Francisco artist and surfer Jay Nelson, the philosophy behind the project was to encourage residents of the cabin to “live simply and small and only use what you need,” according to Jess. “In a time of excess when everyone seems to be building bigger and higher, we wanted to experiment with a simpler kind of living.” And at only 200 square feet, it is certainly less living space than most people are used to. But the detail and care that went into crafting the reclaimed redwood structure is evident in every inch, and the natural beauty surrounding the structure is truly inspiring. Plus there’s no TV to distract or take you out of the moment, and you can pick fruit right off the front porch! Isn’t that pretty much the definition of paradise?

If this sounds like a place you need to visit for real, and not just look at on the internet, we have good news: the owners are currently discussing the possibility of opening the cottage to the public in the near future, and have plans to add solar panels, a garden, and possibly build another structure on the property. Until then, take a look at the photos below and drift away on an imagination vacation. Aloha!

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Source: Jess Bianchi

When it comes to Halloween DIYs, whether costume, decor, or entertaining in nature, it must be acknowledged that Martha Stewart is the one true master of the holiday. Need proof? Look through this rundown of Martha’s Halloween costumes throughout the years. Impressive, to say the least.

If you need last-minute dress up ideas, spooky cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, or just want to perk up your porch before the trick-or-treaters come knocking, we suggest going straight to the source. To save you some time, we’ve found a few favorites below that will instantly improve your Halloween. Happy haunting!

Cast a shadow with some spooky silhouettes:

Going to a party? Pick up glue, glasses, and plastic insects and your costume is covered:

Whip up some creepy cocktails for your Halloween happy hour:

Take your porch from standard to scary with these hanging paper bats:

Source: Martha Stewart Living

It seems there’s still room for innovation in the DIY department after all.

We found this fantastic projects over at A Beautiful Mess. A combination outdoor coffee table/herb garden, this project only costs about $75. (You can find the full instructions and materials list here.)

So next time you’re relaxing on your patio, you can freshen up your cocktail with home-grown herbs—plucked from the coffee table.

Source: A Beautiful Mess

Images: Joshua Rhodes and Sarah Rhodes

With our headquarters located in Portland, Oregon, we at Househappy are pretty accustomed to the idea of city chickens.

But in other cities that are newer to urban farming, like Manhattan, navigating the do’s and don’ts can be tricky. The New York Times recently wrote about the difficulties of growing your own in the Big Apple—especially when it comes to neighbors and real estate valuations.

Some brokers say that a well-maintained urban farm can add to a property’s value, while others say that a vegetable garden is a better asset than a rustic chicken coop. (Although chicken diapers can help with smell and mess.) And for those with neighbors who raise chickens, rabbits, or bees, selling an adjacent unit could be difficult if potential buyers see the hobby as a nuisance.

So is the city chicken here to stay? Are micro gardens the future of nourishing city dwellers?

Maybe.

Image: Flickr

Apartment Therapy just posted this awesome roundup of DIY projects featuring elements from a skateboard deck.

The skateboard’s simple, slightly undulating shape is perfectly suited to contemporary furniture and accessories, including this hanging shelf, outdoor swing, and stacked bookcase. See the rest of the projects here.

Source + Images: ApartmentTherapy

There’s a certain nostalgia with folding aluminum chairs. The scratchy woven seats, the clunky unfolding sound, and shaking sand from the arm rests after a day at the beach—it all carries retro charm.

A Beautiful Mess put together a DIY tutorial for reweaving the seat and back of folding chairs for a more modern look. All you need is colorful parachute cord and a little elbow grease. Get the full instructions here.

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Images: © A Beautiful Mess