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Deferred Maintenance Kitchen Renovation


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For economic reasons we've had to defer a lot of maintenance items in our home. We can now start. We are planning on selling and relocating on another state, hopefully next year. 

 

Item one on our list is the kitchen. This is not a remodel, just all new surfaces. We've elected to reface our cabinets. My (still hoping) Blue Star range will be after we move.

 

I had a misguided and idealistic expectation that we would go to Home Depot, pick out everything we wanted in one trip and proceed.  This is not to be. You can stop laughing any time. We don't need any new appliances so that part is simple.

 

I didn't take any before pictures but it's a typical California tract home built in the 80s.

 

Because this is going to take WAY longer than I expected we're working on the front bathroom in tandem.  We have a relative that was an employment victim of COVID 19 so we're paying for some much-needed labor to help us along. Oh, and I really HATE painting. In the kitchen we've stripped off the 25+ y/o wallpaper and are prepping the walls for a primer coat. Tomorrow we'll start on cleaning and sanding the ceiling. 

 

The biggie in the kitchen is repairing the wall behind the sink. There's a bit of black mold to deal with but I've purchased the right PPE and can handle that.

 

Wish us luck.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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I am always "Debbie Downer" -  have you consulted realtors to see what makes economic sense? People want a bit of brightness so maybe paint - but the rest - hhmmm  buyers want  what THEY want. Free advice from the realtor sharks -  - weigh it as one does. Surfaces and flooring can be very personal taste driven. 1980's So Cal tract is probably pretty neutral already - at least not avocado and barf mustard of prior era. I have always preferred slightly lower price than "oh yuck new but a flipper look".  The sharks do not charge for that advice Ask around for a  few good ones. My 2 cents. 

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When my mother sold her home, she updated her kitchen - as the realtor said, "most buyers want a turnkey home - they want to buy, move in and not have to change anything".  I must be a weirdo - when we were looking to buy an apartment, I hated going into places that looked like they just changed out the cabinets/appliances prior to the sale.  I've never seen it done really well because most people don't want to spend the money on something just to raise the selling price.  Personally, I prefer finding a place (and we found it) that had good bones, but was on the less expensive side taht we would renovate ourselves - that way, we could do it the way WE wanted it and not have to pay twice to get it.

 

But I understand what the OP is doing it as that's what most people do and I think it's what most buyers want.  Good luck!!

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Interesting topic.  We live in a 150 or so year old farmhouse and Ed has rebuilt the entire inside of the house...it had no insulation.   We've been in it for 25 years but won't be able to stay forever as we are both 80 plus (well, I'm still 79 but not functioning well any more).   We have 100 acres and the land has been in production of one kind or another since we got here although we don't farm it ourselves. 

 

So the place needs repainting.  The kitchen needs cupboard door refacing and counter tops also.  And so on and so on.

 

At this point anyway, we've decided to take a 'loss' at reselling instead of redoing what needs to be done.  I'm on the side of those who want a basic structure and then to take the money they've saved in a somewhat lower price to refinish things the way they want to do it.  That's my attitude.  

 

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

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One reason we bought the house we did 16 months ago was because it had finishes we liked and we did not want to have to do a lot of work. The couple from whom we bought it had renovated one master bath and the kitchen, and it was the kitchen that sold me on the house. I don't have a good eye for design, but the finishes are what I would have picked, I think; white painted cabinets with just a little decorative woodwork, granite countertops, gray ceramic tile floors. We're doing a few small things along as we can afford them, but basically, we moved into it exactly as it was. 

 

Obviously, everyone's mileage varies. We are a mother-daughter pair with some handyman ability but limited tools, etc. We also both work. The house was built in the early 80s, not a tract home but a custom build, and has been added on to and other improvements made since that time. We knew we wanted something ready to move into, and we were fortunate the couple who did the kitchen and bath reno did so with the intention of living here a few more years, so they were good quality.

 

I've always heard/read that you get the cost of kitchen/bath renovations back when you sell.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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Good luck with both the reno and relo, @Porthos!

I tend to prefer well-maintained originals over quick-flip renos but addressing deferred maintenance so the property looks well-cared for sounds very wise, especially getting rid of small amounts of mold that you can deal with safely.  A buyer would surely present fabulous quotes from mold-abatement companies in order to lower the price. 

Please keep us in the loop with progress updates!

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3 hours ago, Darienne said:

At this point anyway, we've decided to take a 'loss' at reselling instead of redoing what needs to be done. 

 

We are planning to sell a home in which some family have been living that needs some basic improvements prior to sale. We have spoken with both the Redfin and Zillow teams. They both have groups that will purchase your house as-is, do the work the needs to be done, and re-sell. The offers were very fair though this may be somewhat dependent on geography. Redfin also will arrange to have the work done for you with their own teams at cost plus a small fee - well worth it, in my opinion, particularly if you account for the time difference in how long it takes them to complete the work vs. arranging it or doing it yourself. This is the route that we plan to take once the house is vacant. Finally, the commissions with either of these services are materially lower than a traditional agent.

 

By the way, the Redfin agent was very, very knowledgeable and professional. Zillow not so much.

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On 9/15/2020 at 8:02 AM, KennethT said:

When my mother sold her home, she updated her kitchen - as the realtor said, "most buyers want a turnkey home - they want to buy, move in and not have to change anything". 

 

My take on that is that the realtor wants a turnkey.  They're easier to sell, they sell faster and at a higher price.  The realtor does not care that you paid 100K in renovations so you could sell the house for 50K more.   they care that you make their job easier, and they make more money at it. 

In most markets, renovations for sale do not make financial sense.  Unless you can do the work cheaply, you will not make back what it costs to do the work.  (Flippers can make money in three ways.  If the market is rising, they benefit from buying low and selling high.  Two, they usually buy houses that are such poor shape they couldn't be bought by someone who needs a mortgage.  Three, they often do crap work, cutting every possible corner.  ) 

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28 minutes ago, dscheidt said:

 

My take on that is that the realtor wants a turnkey.  They're easier to sell, they sell faster and at a higher price.  The realtor does not care that you paid 100K in renovations so you could sell the house for 50K more.   they care that you make their job easier, and they make more money at it. 

In most markets, renovations for sale do not make financial sense.  Unless you can do the work cheaply, you will not make back what it costs to do the work.  (Flippers can make money in three ways.  If the market is rising, they benefit from buying low and selling high.  Two, they usually buy houses that are such poor shape they couldn't be bought by someone who needs a mortgage.  Three, they often do crap work, cutting every possible corner.  ) 

Exactly.  That's what I said to her at the time - but, she was determined to get out of the house as soon as she could and was nervous it would take a long time (the house is very non-standard).  Meanwhile, it sold quickly, and one of the first things the new owners said was "we're going to replace this kitchen"... arrrrgggghhhh......

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23 minutes ago, dscheidt said:

 

 (Flippers can make money in three ways.  If the market is rising, they benefit from buying low and selling high.  Two, they usually buy houses that are such poor shape they couldn't be bought by someone who needs a mortgage.  Three, they often do crap work, cutting every possible corner.  ) 

 

A friend bought her first house 2 years ago in her 40's.  BF had always owned beautiful homes and when it ended she plunged into the market - She had the $ - just scared. She bought a flipper - wrapped in a glossy package but the bones sucked. Within a year she re-did all the landscaping, re-painted to her taste and gutted the kitchen.  Lesson learned.

The 2 big remodels we did added value. My ex was stickler for quality & detail, and we used our own subs. Ex drew the plans. One in '98 and the other in 2008. Both of the buyers have not done any new work, still live there, and adore their homes. 

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From my limited experience with foreclosures, I noticed that the flippers were able to DIY some of the renovations (e.g., kitchens). I.e., saved on labor costs. The flippers who didn't DIY would buy houses in better condition.

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I'm working for a company that helps people with renovations. A thing to keep in mind with flippers is that they're mostly motivated by profit, and they also tend to have a lot of experience. So they'll feel comfortable acting as their own general contractor—which means hiring tradespeople, doing some work themselves, ordering and scheduling materials, dealing with all the permits and inspections, scheduling and managing the crew, and drawing up a reasonable budget. This saves them money but it's real work! And if you've never done it before on a major project you can easily get in over your head. 

 

As far as the return-on-investment of renovations, it varies quite a bit with location and the type of work. Kitchens and floors sometimes make financial sense. Exterior stuff like decks and garage doors can be profitable. Bedrooms and closets and bathrooms often have lousy returns.

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Notes from the underbelly

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On 9/15/2020 at 6:19 AM, Darienne said:

Interesting topic.  We live in a 150 or so year old farmhouse and Ed has rebuilt the entire inside of the house...it had no insulation.   We've been in it for 25 years but won't be able to stay forever as we are both 80 plus (well, I'm still 79 but not functioning well any more).   We have 100 acres and the land has been in production of one kind or another since we got here although we don't farm it ourselves. 

 

So the place needs repainting.  The kitchen needs cupboard door refacing and counter tops also.  And so on and so on.

 

At this point anyway, we've decided to take a 'loss' at reselling instead of redoing what needs to be done.  I'm on the side of those who want a basic structure and then to take the money they've saved in a somewhat lower price to refinish things the way they want to do it.  That's my attitude.  

 

I'm with you. The profits on any renovations or upgrades are never guaranteed, but the headaches are. "Taking a loss" is a relative term and may not even be the case, given how long you have lived there. Do the least stressful thing! 

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I am definitely in the camp of preferring a"well maintained original" — we are hoping to move in the next year or two, but when I look at homes that have been recently redone, I cringe at both the asking price and the completely awful work. I want the house with the new furnace and the ancient kitchen — that's the sign that it's been well looked after. (Plus I can live with it long enough to figure out what I really want.)

 

That said, at least in our area, the renos seem to work. Anything that reads as "fresh" ends up in a bidding war, while houses with good bones but obviously old kitchens (or with missing features like central air — surprisingly uncommon here) sit on the market a bit longer and sell at or below asking price. (There is almost no new single family construction in the area, though, so that may skew things.)

 

Given @Porthos details I'm guessing a surface refresh is exactly what's needed — you're not going to guess people's preferred paint color, but who wants to strip wallpaper? And new counters and cabinet fronts make the house work for a lot bigger pool of buyers than the ones who want (and can afford) to do renovations immediately.

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We went looking at houses in areas of brownstone Brooklyn (well, upcoming areas) a few years ago, just on a whim. I mean, we were stupid to not buy anything, because prices practically doubled (or more) over the next 5 years. But the places we liked, which were untouched, would've required massive investments and time and aggravation, and the places we saw that had been renovated - well, let's just say there is some god-awful work that's done to flip homes.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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The kitchen will be repairs and new surfaces. The ceiling has been painted and will get a new light fixture Tuesday. We're all about unfussy.

 

1438680920_NewKitchenLight.thumb.jpg.1c895e602966b9aeb80a48e19d3be55c.jpg

 

 

 

We'll be replacing the barely-functioning range hood with another builder grade hood.

 

The new kitchen flooring will extend through the family room. We haven't decided whether the kitchen wall color will extend into the family room or be a slightly different shade. I had wanted a single-bowl kitchen sink for years. My Sweetie was willing but really wanted a traditional 2-bowl sink. I asked my FB friends if buying a house with a single-bowl sink would be a plus or  a minus. The vast majority said they would want a 2-bowl sink. So the new sink (S/S) will be have 2 bowls.

 

We're waiting on delivery of a second flooring sample. We both really like both choices so seeing the samples on the floor should really help.

 

We can't paint the walls until the repairs have been made. I'll start the demolition to support that tomorrow. We'll pick out wall colors and cabinet faces when that repair is done. In the mean time I do what I can in the kitchen and press on with the front bathroom.

 

I, along with my BIL, met with realtors and went through the fix up vs sell as-is 3 1/2 years ago when we were figuring our the best option for my late FIL's house. For that house, sell-as is  made the  most sense. Using the insight I gained from that coupled with my Sweetie's desire not to sell as-is made the decision easy.

 

The rooms that will have the most changes will be the bathrooms. Everything goes except the tubs. The balance of the interior will be all new surfaces. When we re-carpeted 13 years ago we picked out a stinker. We're replacing the carpeting with low-end stuff so that it's new and will show well.

 

 

 

 

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Porthos Potwatcher
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It’s my opinion that upgrades, minor or major, depend on the market where you live. 
 

Looks good to me @Porthos

 

@weinoo I wouldn’t be surprised if those Brownstones drop in price within the next year. 
 

  I do think good appliances go a long way. Same with things like double ovens and lots of storage and outlets in a kitchen. 

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1 hour ago, MetsFan5 said:

... and lots of storage ...

I've stated elsewhere that we bought this house, 36 years ago, for the kitchen. It has plenty of storage.

 

We still like this kitchen. The house is 1250 sq ft, the kitchen is about 150 sq ft of that and well laid out. We're empty nesters now but way back when my Sweetie, my daughter and I could cook in it together and not get in each other's way.

 

Sort of related ... when we first started looking for a house I called a local realtor, told them that we were starting to look for a house and that the kitchen was the most important room to us. The reply was, "you have to take what you can get." Not the right answer. "Good bye."

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Porthos Potwatcher
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Wrong answer is right! A large enough kitchen with storage to me is a big selling point. 
   I went to realtor school but never bothered to get my license. I only went so I was educated from a realtors standpoint because we were about to buy a home. Learned all the state laws. 
 

  Plus kitchen flooring is very subjective. 

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7 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

 

 I wouldn’t be surprised if those Brownstones drop in price within the next year. 

 

While they may drop within the next year, they're not dropping to 2015 levels.

 

When we sold my mother's house after she died, it was sold as is.  It wasn't in terrible shape, but it was showing the fact that the upkeep wasn't perfect - stuff like it needed a new water heater, etc. etc. We did nothing and it sold in like a day - all depends on the market.  The buyer told me he was gonna basically demo the interior anyway, and do what he wanted with it.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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One recollection from a past home-buying experience -- I bought a house that belonged to a realtor -- I believe she had purchased it to flip because she sold the owners a larger home. She did few renovations, but did replace the kitchen/dining room flooring and paint. The entire interior was a yellowish-gold called "Roman Coin." 

 

I repainted all but the guest bedroom.

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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