...because home doesn't happen overnight.

flip house exterior

So, we bought a house. Now for the tour!

You may have already noticed that the flip house is eerily similar to our current home. It’s a midcentury brick ranch on a slab with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. At ~1,100 square feet, it’s a tad smaller than our home. (Essentially, it’s missing the room that serves as our mudroom/dining room/laundry nook.) The front entry garage extends to the back of the house and is much larger and deeper than ours. (Steve is jealous.) The hunter green doors must go. The roof is in excellent shape, but the eaves need replaced. There are no gutters or downspouts.

The yard is almost a half-acre corner lot with mature trees, including a fruit-bearing cherry tree. The bushes lining the walk to the front door are peonies. When we first toured the house, they were in bloom and so pretty. For the most part, the landscaping is fine. It’s nothing a little weeding, pruning and mulch can’t fix.

Ready to see the inside?

flip house layout before

Here’s a rudimentary floor plan to help you get your bearings. It isn’t exactly to scale (I left out the bedroom closets), but it’s pretty close. The front yard would be at the bottom of the schematic, and the backyard would be at the top.

flip house entry

Welcome! This is the view as you enter the front door. Straight ahead is a utility closet that houses the furnace and water heater. On the other side of the wall with the thermostat is the kitchen. The pistachio walls and asbestos tile just scream HOME, don’t they?

flip house living room

The front door opens into the living room. If you enter and turn left, this is what you see. There aren’t any defining architectural features in the house – not even a fireplace. The man door on the right allows access to the garage.

flip house dining room

Beyond the living room is a dining space just off the kitchen. (Yes, that’s a dryer in the dining room. It was originally in the kitchen, but Steve pulled it before I took pics.) There’s a closet on the right that completely crowds the kitchen. The facing door opens to the backyard.

flip house backyard

The backyard is spacious but a little wild.

flip house kitchen

Back inside, the kitchen boasts yellow Republic steel cabinets. (You can read more about steel cabinets here. They were all the rage in the post-war era.) YELLOW. There is no legit laundry room in the house. Instead, the washer and dryer are included in the kitchen. The dryer used to sit to the left under the wall fan before Steve moved it to the dining room. Believe it or not, the gas stove is located directly across from the dryer hookup. Can you spy the washer peeking out from the back wall? The refrigerator sits in a little nook behind the closet. I’ll share more detailed pictures and discuss our plans for the kitchen in a future post, but let’s agree that the current layout leaves a lot to be desired.

flip house front door

This is the view from the dining room, looking back toward the living room and front door. The house would receive more light if there weren’t heavy drapes blocking every window. The windows are original, and most of them don’t open anymore.

flip house hallway

A hallway off the living space leads to the bedrooms and bathrooms.

flip house hallway bathroom

This is the hallway bathroom. Do not attempt to adjust your monitor. It is Pepto-Bismol pink. The tile on the walls is a lightweight metal of some sort. Aluminum? They fall off with the flick of a fingernail. The toilet is newish, so there’s that.

flip house bedroom 1

This is the smallest bedroom. It appears to be the source of the cat pee odor. Obviously, moisture has leaked in through the window at some point, but our inspector tested it and it’s as dry as a bone now.

flip house bedroom 2

At the end of the hallway is a second bedroom. It’s probably the brightest room in the house.

flip house linen closet

My favorite cranny in the whole entire house is this built-in linen closet between the first and second bedrooms. It could be a sweet little feature with some fresh paint and new hardware.

flip house master bedroom

The bedroom at the back of the house is the master bedroom. I’m using the term “master” loosely; it’s a bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. The air conditioning unit in the window reveals another secret about the house: no central A/C. (Our home didn’t have central air when we bought it either. We bought a unit off Craigslist and installed it with the help of a friend and a plumber to save money.)

flip house master bathroom

Here, we have the master bathroom and more metal tiles. I like the fact that it has a window.

That’s it! The uglier the befores, the better the afters, right?

We had an inspector (the same one we used for our house) come out after our offer was accepted to take a look at the property and structure. Luckily, no major issues were discovered. Even though it needs a ton of work, the house is solid.

Thank you for all of the encouraging comments on our newest endeavor! We could use some cheerleaders ;) I’ll be sharing updates as we go. We’ve already started demolition and designed a new kitchen. New windows and updated electrical service are up next. We’re currently addressing the odor and scouting flooring options. I want to avoid carpet if at all possible. We’re learning that we’re attempting to walk a very fine line between good and good enough. There are definitely things we would do differently if our intention was to live here, but that’s not our goal. We want to appeal to the masses – with style and budget in mind. We don’t want to price ourselves out of the market which means we won’t be vaulting any ceilings, removing any load-bearing walls or creating a separate laundry room. But, I can tell you right now, there will be no blotchy beige tile anywhere. Nada.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

154 Comments

19.July.2016

I love this so hard! This would be my dream job. Out of curiosity, where is the laundry going? We did a recent reno on our laundry room (IKEA kitchen cabs all the way!) and I LOVE it so! Stacking the laundry gave us so much more storage, floorspace and increased the flow of the room tremendously! If you ever feature IKEA laundry rooms, I might be your gal!

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replied on July 20th, 2016

I’d love to feature your laundry room! We will be stacking the washer/dryer to gain more space.

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19.July.2016

Oh boy! You got your work cut out for you. With a house from that era, I worry about lead paint & asbestos.

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Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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19.July.2016

Can’t wait to see what you do! I seriously thought that first interior pic was a view of the garage! Would you be able to re-purpose the steel cabinets into garage storage?

Also check out LVT for the floors, we just put in some awesome faux-wood LVT in our lake cottage. Turned out amazing.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

That’s great to hear about the luxury vinyl tile! It’s definitely on our list of options. What brand did you use?

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replied on July 20th, 2016

Here it is:
http://www.mannington.com/Residential/Adura/AduraPlank/Country-Oak/AW552

I was hesitant, but figured for a weekend place it’d be fine. We’re very happy with it, it has some texture to it which I really like. I’d definitely consider using it again – even in our permanent home.

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replied on July 24th, 2016

Great, thank you! It looks handsome. Did you have to do any leveling before installation? Does it make any strange sounds when you walk on it?

replied on July 25th, 2016

We didn’t have to do any special leveling, they did put down a sheeting under the floor. There were also a few places where they had to fix the base floor to level it (we removed a fireplace), but no major leveling. One thing to note is our place is on a crawl space.

The floor is very quiet and doesn’t feel hollow like some laminate floors do.

One thing that was a big selling point to us was in the event of damage they can replace just a section of flooring if it’s damaged, you’re not stuck replacing the whole floor. With it being a weekend place that was a good option for us.

We needed to do the whole house, so this was a decision we stressed about for some time. We’re very happy with how it turned out!

replied on July 26th, 2016

Good to know about the ability to replace sections if necessary!

Sam G
replied on July 22nd, 2016

I can’t wait to see what you do with the place. We recently put LVT in our basement. The brand we used was Coretec the color is Alabaster Oak. It is really beautiful, everyone loves it.

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replied on July 24th, 2016

Thanks for sharing!

replied on July 28th, 2016

I am so excited to see what you do with this place! We just embarked on a similar adventure (1950s-era brick ranch with a similar, but smaller layout–ours was only a 2bed-1bath), and decided to rent it for a while, but with plans to eventually sell it, so we didn’t want to go too cheap with anything. And we put LVT in the entire house (we were hoping for hardwoods when we pulled up the carpet, but no luck). Brand we used is Exalt and it came out great. Had to level one spot in the kitchen, but that was easy. It’s a commercial product, so it’s thicker than most residential LVTs (we wanted something that would hold up to renters and still look good when we sell it in a few years).

Good luck with this space–I wish you had done this a year earlier so that we could have just copied everything. I have no doubt you’re going to make this home look unbelievable!

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replied on August 10th, 2016

Glad to hear you had success with the LVT. I think we’re leaning that way.

19.July.2016

Woof. You’ve got your work cut out for you, that’s for sure!

I’m just curious – what about your studio space? Are you still using it? Haven’t heard much about it in a while and was just thinking about it seeing you post about this next big project. Is it a space you think you’ll keep renting?

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replied on July 20th, 2016

The studio is still around! I work in and on it from time to time and will be utilizing it more for a new job I’m taking on.

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19.July.2016

Congrats! I’m so excited to follow along with you on this project! This home looks very much like many of the homes in my neighborhood and I can’t wait to see what you do!

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19.July.2016

It’s always very interesting to me how people actually make any profit flipping houses. I know the money we had to put out just to get our current home in decent living condition, & I just don’t think there’s any way we could’ve really made a profit on this house when we did all the work 9 years ago. Possibly now we would make a profit if we were to sell, but back then, no way. Also, our city’s real estate is ridiculous now so even a flipper like this is totally expensive. Best of luck on this new endeavor. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. I know it’s gonna be great!

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19.July.2016

Lots of potential!! Can’t wait to see what you do with it!!

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19.July.2016

I can’t wait to see what you do with it! I’m especially interested in seeing what you plan on doing regarding the asbestos tile. We just closed on our first house last week and have asbestos tile in the basement family room and laundry room. My inspector suggested leaving it be and put something over it instead of pulling it up. We are looking at the TrafficMASTER Resilient Vinyl Tile Flooring from Home Depot. It is a click/interlocking floor and because it is entirely vinyl it is great for areas that may get wet. However, if we saw something better we would change our mind.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We’re considering vinyl planks because the installation is certainly ideal for not disturbing those asbestos tiles.

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19.July.2016

I’m amazed at how much more is squeezed into that 1100 square feet than what exists in my 1000 square feet. Of course your house was built as a house all at once instead of a seasonal cottage that absorbed two sleeping porches.

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19.July.2016

It is a perfect place to play around and hone your skills Dana.So happy for you and looking forward to what and how it turns out to be. Let the magic begin

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19.July.2016

Beyond excited to see what you do with this house! You are so right, “The uglier the befores, the better the afters”. Do you have a timeline in mind for when you want to get this completed?

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19.July.2016

You have much better vision than I do – I probably wouldn’t even know where to begin with a plan for that house (and without a plan I would run from that house).

Can’t wait to watch your new project unfold and hope you encounter only minor surprises during the renovations!

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19.July.2016

I’m so excited for you! I love that you are approaching this new challenge with the same attitude that has endeared you to so many readers: practical and budget-conscious, but never, ever cookie-cutter boring. You’ve got this, Team Miller!

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19.July.2016

I’m super excited to see what you do with this place, I know it will be beautiful when finished. My husband and I are house hunting at the moment and we are slowing developing our ability to see past the ‘questionable design choices’ (if they could be called that) and build a vision for each new place that could be our first home.

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20.July.2016

Really excited about this project. I don’t like the idea of carpet either and wood or engineered flooring may be too much. Have you considered tile that looks like wood flooring? I am sure there is a name for it but it is near 1 am lol.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

Wood lookalike tile would be a great choice, but we’re also considering the time it takes for installation and tile might be too time consuming. We’ll see…

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20.July.2016

Congrats on the new project! I hope your kitchen plans include keeping those gorgeous cabinets – you could always repaint them if you don’t like the color!

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replied on July 20th, 2016

Sadly, they are rusted through in places and many of the doors/drawers don’t work properly. We’ll be replacing them, but we were able to sell them to a homeowner who was looking for Republic cabinets.

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20.July.2016

Good Lord, it’s revolting! hideous! the stuff of nightmares! SO can’t wait to see the transformation.

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20.July.2016

Seems like a nice tidy little layout and I am excited to follow along. I hope you were able to pass along those steel cabinets to someone via Craigslist or something, they are amazing!

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We did! While we thought they were pretty cool and obviously have some history surrounding them, they aren’t really ideal. Plus, they were rusted through in places and many of the drawers/doors didn’t open/close properly. We carefully removed them and sold them to a lady who is wanting to remodel her kitchen using Republic cabinets.

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20.July.2016

Seems weird to call out beige when these days, it would actually be a unique choice. . All the white penny, subway and hex tiles people are putting now are just the new version of that, aren’t they? The new neutral default choice.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

Well, around here, beige is still what most flippers are putting in.

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20.July.2016

This is so exciting! Can’t wait to see what you do with it. My husband and I are fixing up our 100+ year old home, s l o w l y. My parents just bought a midcentury ranch to flip and rent out. Obviously we love ourselves some DIY projects. Looking forward to following along with you too. It’s so fun to see what other people do with their homes. You have great taste, so I’m sure this project will turn out beautifully!

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20.July.2016

I’m curious about the lack of central air. Will you install central air in the house or use some other form of air conditioning? We recently came across a house in the same situation but were afraid it would take too much money/effort to have central air installed.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We will add central air because it’s a highly desired feature for buyers. We did the same in our own home by purchasing a heat pump via Craigslist.

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I can’t help but reminisce when we first bought our own fixer-upper exactly a year ago. To say that the place was disgusting is the understatement of the century. Originally built in 1930, it had stood abandoned for the last 20 years and anything that was of value had long been stolen. Think no AC, no pipes of any kind, no electrical wiring – nothing. So when I scroll through these photos, I see SO MUCH POTENTIAL – I can hardly stand it! Very, very excited to follow along!

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20.July.2016

Is there any room in the budget to steal some space from the back of the garage to make a laundry room or even family room space? From your diagram, it looks like a lot of space there with enough to spare for the cars.

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20.July.2016

Great potential! I can’t wait to see what you do with this. I’m kind of loving those yellow cabinets.

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20.July.2016

So excited for your new adventure! I can’t wait to see you transform this place!

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20.July.2016

Best wishes on the house! I know you aren’t soliciting suggestions and have already made decisions on the kitchen, but I have two thoughts anyway, ha! One, the garage is huge and though it may not be modern, why not put the laundry out there? There seems to be (almost too) easy access to the garage and lots of people prefer a laundry area out of sight. Two, if you don’t want to put it in the garage, many European kitchens incorporate washers in their kitchens. It can be nicely designed. Okay, three thoughts. To me, the biggest turn off is the garage door that enters directly into the living room. Any thoughts on moving it? There’s so much potential with this house. It will be nice to see your progress.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We’ve considered relocating the laundry to the garage, but after checking comps, homes in the area sell just fine with laundry in the kitchen. It isn’t all that unusual for this size home in this area. We do plan on giving it a better place within the kitchen. The garage access, while maybe unsightly, is pretty practical for unloading groceries. We’ll probably paint it to disguise it better.

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20.July.2016

Does the new house have a name yet?? I can’t wait to see all of your plans!

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replied on July 20th, 2016

It needs one! Any suggestions?

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replied on July 20th, 2016

The Pistachioverhaul

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replied on July 21st, 2016

Flipper?? Since it’s a flip house and all ;)

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20.July.2016

Any chance you can design the bathroom around those tubs?! I love that style, but I think I’m one of the few

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Jennie
replied on July 28th, 2016

We had a pink and white bathroom in our last house. I LOVED the old 1950s American Standard pink tub/toilet/sink with all new white tile. I’ve seen some amazing modern bathrooms that have worked in the old school pink (then again, in this house, they’d have to source a pink toilet to match, and those old toilets are water hogs…You win some, you lose some).

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20.July.2016

Can’t wait to see what you do with it! But I have to admit, I’m sad to hear there will be no vaulted ceilings, I LOVE yours!

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20.July.2016

The layout of this house is similar to my home. Its pretty tight, but livable with good organization. I really enjoy having the washer and dryer in the kitchen. They are positioned under counter along that back wall in the kitchen.
Does that utility closet visible in the living room also open into the kitchen? I have a very hard working pantry in that area, as well as the furnace and AC. My hot water heater is actually in the attic!

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replied on July 20th, 2016

The closet does not open from the kitchen side – only from the dining room side. It’s nice to hear you don’t mind having a washer/dryer in your kitchen. After checking comps, it isn’t all that unusual for homes in the area to sell well even with the laundry in the kitchen. We do plan to add a useful pantry though!

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20.July.2016

I’M SO EXCITED!!! We are days from finding out if we get a place so similar to this! Yes, even the washer and dryer in the kitchen and we’re dealing with some pretty intense 70s decor. There’s an HOA so we’re hoping they don’t interfere with our plans to move the laundry upstairs to the sink nook in the master bedroom. If not then I’m just going to have to adjust our kitchen plans. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

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20.July.2016

What are your thoughts on linoleum (marmoleum) tiles. I think a fun herringbone would bring in some nice subtle detail. I agree on the carpet free house, and using rugs instead.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

Linoleum could be a great option!

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20.July.2016

I love your blog. I have followed for a few years now. One note about the tile in the home. It looks like it could be asbestos. There are tests you can buy at Home Depot or online. That way you know what you are dealing with. No one wants to contract a lung disease. I am sure you can know this one out of the park!

May I suggest adding a mud/laundry room as a transition from the garage/back yard into the home. That has always been a pet peeve of mine. My home doesn’t have access to the garage from the interior, nor does it have a mud room. Our laundry is in our basement, but I would prefer all on the same level. Anyway, I love your work. Keep going!

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We’re assuming the tile is asbestos. We aren’t even going to test it, but we’ll just treat it as such. A mudroom/laundry nook from the garage is a wonderful idea! Just not sure it’s completely necessary for our purposes. We’ll see…

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replied on July 23rd, 2016

I bet if you made a laundry/mudroom set up in the garage, not even like a Fully Built room but just did something cheap and cheerful to show potential owners it doesn’t have to be a jumble of winter coats next to a crappy washer (such as my parent’s garage growing up during December-February in New England) it would be super nice. If I was a potential buyer I’d probably be pleased that you didn’t add a superfluous room to try to tack on 15k to the price but glad you solved any questions of needed entryway storage.

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20.July.2016

*knock it out of the park…sorry.

Also, may I suggest moving the utilities into the garage to free up valuable interior real estate. You have probably already thought of that. I just thought I would put it out there.

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20.July.2016

Please tell me you’ll be making play clothes for the children out of those curtains in the living room!! ;-) Excited to see where this project goes!

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replied on July 20th, 2016

I was wondering if anyone else would notice them! I kinda love them.

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replied on July 27th, 2016

Yes, but before she does that she’ll need to be sure she knows all the words to “Do Re Mi” (Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer; Ray, a drop of Golden sun….)!

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20.July.2016

I’m really excited to see how this goes! My husband and I have been renting out our old condo for the last three years and are getting to the point where we need to renovate to continue renting or renovate to sell. I think we’ll have to make similar choices as you in terms of value-added. Hoping to learn from your journey!

One question, that I hope you can explain in a future post, is why you’ve decided not to add a laundry room.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

I’ll go into more detail when I share our plans for the kitchen. But, mainly, there are comps in the area selling quite well with laundry set up in the kitchen. It isn’t all that unusual for this size home, in this area.

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20.July.2016

Well, it’s very plain-jane and with a bizarre layout to the main rooms–the appliances were odd enough, but the coat closet in the dining room is a bit worse, I think! I am SO EXCITED to see what you do with this place!

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replied on July 20th, 2016

I know, the closet placement is interesting.

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20.July.2016

I can definitely see why buyers would be scared off from this place — it’s a disaster in these pictures! (That floor! Those walls!) But I’m so excited to see what you do with the space, because I know it’s gonna be great. ^_^

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20.July.2016

Looking forward to following along during this renovation! I’m sure you guys are going to do amazing work!

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20.July.2016

Awesome!!! I’m excited and happy for you. I can’t wait to see what you do with it!!

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20.July.2016

I don’t care if people throw rotten cabbages at me I THINK THE TINY BLUE BATH TUB IS HELLA CUTE. The rest of the house needs a flamethrower, though. #teamBathTub

I love it that you love a challenge. Good for you! This house looks hopeless (even though logically, I know it can be fixed up). I’m crushed that you aren’t going to vault the ceiling but I respect your choices. Not vaulting the ceiling means you could run duct work and electrical up there, and that’s definitely handy.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

Yeah, there are many things we *could* do but our motto is “it’s a flip, not our house.” And anyway, we couldn’t vault the ceilings even if it made sense for the market because of the way the roof is built.

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replied on July 22nd, 2016

Making popcorn, hitting refresh and looking forward to the next batch of photos!!

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20.July.2016

Wow! You two have your work cut out for you. I can’t wait to watch this all unfold. Is the wall between the dining room and garage load bearing? Any chance you’ll steal some space from the garage to expand the dining area or carve out a mudroom?

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We don’t plan on removing any big walls. After researching comps, it just doesn’t make sense to spend our money there. We do plan to add storage near the entry for coats/shoes.

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20.July.2016

Hi Dana,

Can’t wait to see what you do with this house. Are those vinyl floor tiles all throughout the house?

Kristine

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replied on July 20th, 2016

Never mind – I see they are asbestos floor tiles – we have those in our basement – so are you planning on removing them or just covering them up?

Kristine

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We’re guessing they’re asbestos. We didn’t have them tested but we’re going to treat them like they’re asbestos and just lay new flooring overtop.

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20.July.2016

What did your inspector say about the floor tile/testing for asbestos. I’d be curious to know. We had asbestos tile and after removing the loose pieces we left in it place, leveled it and then installed new flooring.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We didn’t have it tested because most likely it is asbestos. We’re just going to treat it as such and lay new flooring over top without disturbing it.

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20.July.2016

I am excited to see what you do with this home, Dana! Thanks for taking us along with you on this journey. I’d be a little more open to the idea of buying a flipped house if you were in charge of the project (or someone who’s going to be thoughtful and take her time, since I’m not in your area geographically).

All the best!

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20.July.2016

I’m so excited. I just love watching other people work.

As to the laundry room – can it be moved to the garage into its own little space near the door? No laundry would be a deal breaker for me.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

We’ve considered moving the laundry to the garage, but the garage isn’t heated and it can get pretty cold here in the winter. Plus, it would cost a bundle to run plumbing and electric to make that possible. We’ve checked comps and homes with laundry in the kitchen sell quite well here. It’s not an unusual setup for this area and this size home.

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20.July.2016

My gosh, you are BRAVE. How does a house get that DIRTY???

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20.July.2016

What?! No blue matching toilet in the “master” bath???? You guys will Rock This!!! I’m so excited to follow along!

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20.July.2016

Trust me, from a 10 year house flipper/builder perspective, adding a laundry room space to any house is worth it. Also, moving the right wall is something to never say never about (although from the floorplan it doesn’t seem necessary). Vaulting ceilings, not so much.

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replied on July 20th, 2016

Before buying the house, we checked comps and they were selling quite well with the washer/dryer set up in the kitchen. It’s not so unusual in the area for this size house.

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replied on July 21st, 2016

Yes but it would sell even better with the laundry relocated for not much more money and is in line with the “thoughtfully designed” flip you said you wanted to do in the last post.

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