I am obsessed with other people’s renovations. If there was a support group for people who love “before-and-after” pictures a little too much, I would be a card-carrying member. I study the layout changes, the finishes and the budget with a nearly-embarrassing intensity.
So, it seemed only appropriate to feature some of the amazing people I know who have braved this renovation path before me. (PS – I don’t have a name for these features yet, so if you have a clever suggestion, I’d love to hear about it!)
Our first featured renovation just happens to be one done by my friend Jamie and her husband Will. They are veterans of Springfield, having bought two single family houses here. However, neither of those homes are the one I am going to share with you today. Instead, I spent an hour getting to hear about the duplex that Jamie and Will purchased directly across the street from the property that Josh and I are SO close to purchasing in less than 10 days.
Jamie and Will’s duplex was built in 1936 and features a pair of two bedroom/one bath units with original hardwood floors on a super long lot in the upper west quadrant of Springfield. Since buying it, the units have been upgraded with new electrical, new plumbing, a new roof, new HVAC systems, new kitchens & baths, and a brand new addition that created interior private laundry rooms with W/D hookups. I was so happy to chat with Jamie and learn all about this awesome transformation.
When did you buy the property? We bought it in March 2011.
What attracted you to it? Nothing. I hated it. I thought I was going to get a staph infection when we walked through it. But Will and our realtor were jumping up and down with excitement about the opportunity, so I started to think about it.
So tell me about the renovation: At first, we just cleaned it up. It was really bad, especially the downstairs. It was trashed. We painted, replaced the bath shower walls, and replaced the vanity sink, and then we left the rest as is. Then we moved away – a renovation wasn’t something we wanted to do when we were out of state. When we came back, we still had tenants, so we waited for the leases to run out.
It was February 2016 when we started the renovation. The walls, floors and layout were mostly okay, but we took on big projects. We gutted both kitchens, the downstairs bath, and started tearing out the electrical wiring and plumbing. We also redesigned the back porches on both levels to enclose them, add interior laundry rooms and relocated the rear stairwell.
How much did you plan to spend and did you come in on budget? Our original budget was about $50,000 for most of the big stuff, which we contracted through a General Contractor. Separately we planned to purchase most of the materials ourselves to save money, and that was budgeted around $15,000. We had some changes that added expenses. For instance, our enclosed space in the back needed new windows that we hadn’t planned on. You have to have a window every 8 feet in an historic district, and the new space was too long. Designing the exterior staircase proved to be a much more difficult design issue than expected, and the city inspector changed his mind three times as to how we needed to construct components of the new laundry rooms.
We also had a break-in. The thief kicked in the front doors of both units, and took some tools. It was not that much stuff, but it meant we had to get new doors, and they were a pain to find since they were not a traditional size. They were taller than most doors. We submitted several doors we found that we thought were close to the ones that were there before, but the HPC (Historic Planning Commission) just kept telling us “No.” The doors were the last thing we did because it took so long to find ones that worked. In the end that thief really cost us about $4,000.
We ended up spending $86,000 on the project, but it was valued at over $200,000 when we were done, which means we had lots of equity in the house. It was really easy to rent after it was completed and the tenants seem to really enjoy the apartments.
What is your favorite part of about the project? The feeling you get when you walk through the front door on the downstairs unit. I vividly remember how I felt during that first walk through, I couldn’t get out fast enough. Now, it is cute, fresh, clean. There is satisfaction that we brought it back. It was definitely worth the time, money and energy.
Since we will see Jamie and Will’s handiwork every time we talk out our front door, we are thrilled with their results.
Thanks, Jamie, for being our first renovation feature!
Know someone else who has done an amazing reno project? Please let me know. I’d love to feature them and their home!