Case Study: The Nemesis House | Before & After
Hey everyone, Melissa here! I'm here to talk about the before and after process with that dang Nemesis House. If you haven't checked out our video on it, take a look! We also talked about it on the FlippingJunkie podcast. This thing was a house flipping nightmare!
House Flipping Nightmare: The Nemesis House
I'm so excited to be done with this house. I've had it for WAY longer than I should have. This house was bought for $86,000 and needed quite a bit of work. It's much more of a rehab than I would normally take on (the reason why this was such a house flipping nightmare). Let's see, this place needed...
- Roof Repairs
- New Foundation
- Landscaping Makeover (there was a filled in, in-ground pool. Wtf??)
Although this house needed LOTS of work, we managed to come in under budget. The repair costs only came out to around $36,500 (less than we were anticipating). That included everything we had to fix: the foundation, roof, etc. The total cost of the property ended up at $122,500. When we got it listed and under contract, it ended up selling for $199,900. At least we turned a profit with this stupid house!
This is such a great example of rerunning your comps before listing the property. Because we had this house for so long, our original ARV wasn't up to date by the time we went to sell it. Originally, our ARV was $180,000, but ended up being over our original by about $20,000 because the values change so much in the area we were selling in. The lesson here is: always, always, ALWAYS reevaluate your comps before listing (especially if you've had the property for a while like we did with this one).
Ok, so, the landscaping was rough. The lawns hasn't been mowed in who knows how long, the plants were all either overgrown or dying, and everything was crusty and yellow. To be honest, when I first saw this property, I kind of freaked out. There was so much to do to it - definitely way more than we normally do to a rehab. Talk about a real house flipping nightmare.
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The Garage Turned Mother-In-Law-Suite
The first thing I noticed was that there was this weird garage conversion happening. Apparently, the previous owners had turned it into a mother-in-law suite. That had to go. It's impossible to try and sell a house in Texas without a garage. The weirdest thing about it was that the wall they built didn't meet up with the wall where the garage door had been. There was this weird indent. The concrete didn't even meet the driveway! Why??? Who knows...
Already with the exterior alone, there was lots of planning that had to be done. The reason I kind of freaked was because I'm not really comfortable with planning for the outside. I can do the inside just fine, no problems there, but when it comes to completely changing the outside I get a little nervous. Needless to say, this house flipping nightmare needed a lot of exterior TLC.
Other than that wall, there was also an entire subfloor on top of the garage floor so they could put in carpeting. There was a built in closet, and a full bathroom in there too, as well as 2 windows.
The Garage is a Garage Again
With that garage conversion, we ended up building out a wall and putting in a garage door, and finally got rid of that huge fake wall (that never should have been there in the first place, but whatever). We ripped all of the flooring out, closed in the windows, and got rid of the closet. On top of all that, there were like 50 billion outlets in this poor garage for some reason.
It took a lot to turn this property from a house flipping nightmare into a home. We got rid of the bathroom and turned it into a storage closet, tapped off all the lines, cut the electricity to the outlets, and finally turned this garage back into a dang garage.
The Floors (Bum Bum Bum!)
Immediately when you walk into this house flipping nightmare you notice two things:
- That ugly wood panelling
- So many different floors!
The floors were kind of insane. There was carpet, linoleum, vinyl sticky tile, wood...it was a mess. Normally, I like to go with a nice vinyl tile that stays consistent throughout the house. So, of course, that's what we did.
One Cohesive Look for the Floors
We removed all of the weird floor textures and made it one solid look. We also took off all of the wood panelling on the walls and gave it a nice coat of paint. The ceilings were good, minus the popcorn. Once that was removed, the entrance of the house was looking a lot better.
The Dining Room: Before
The problems in this room came from the entrance hall. The molding on the top and bottom of the walls didn't line up right, there were huge gaps in places. The wall color was that beige yellow that was really popular in the early 2000's. Just like the bedrooms (you'll see later), this room wasn't a house flipping nightmare. It was just a room that needed renovation.
The Dining Room: After
We took out the wood panelling and repainted the walls with a pretty grey color. I've been using this in a lot of my houses because it's neutral for the buyers, but also makes the whole room just look modern and clean.
After removing the weird floor, we put in the vinyl wood tile that I've also been using in a lot of my properties. We took out the old molding and replaced it so that it actually lines up with the walls and ceiling - imagine that! I added a new light fixture for the dining room table, and that was that.
Deep Dark Living Room
I had hopes for the living room because it had a lot of room, and a really pretty rock fireplace. The biggest thing was the lack of light coming into this room - which didn't make any sense to me at first. The living room had huge windows and faced the backyard, but where was the light?
Turns out - and we'll talk about this more when we get to the backyard - there was this huge covered thing that was blocking out all of the natural light from the living room. I've never seen anything like it before, but it doesn't surprise me looking back at this house flipping nightmare.
First thing is first, though. We need to make this living room pop.
Making the Living Room a Wow Factor
Turning the fireplace into my WOW factor wasn't hard. I had my contractor clean it up and build out a new mantel to tie it all together. We left the stone how it was because it was so pretty.
Tangent time: having a wow factor in your homes is what will set you apart from the other houses for sale in your areas. Adding a nice wow factor is a great way to take a house flipping nightmare from bad to amazing. I try to make my fireplaces a wow factor for a couple of reasons.
- It's pretty easy and inexpensive to do.
- A good fireplace can tie an entire house together.
So after the fireplace got cleaned up and mounted with a new mantel, we put in a light pointing at it to show it off and called it a day.
For the rest of the living room, we painted the walls, added some new ceiling fans, and replaced the carpet.
Tiny Dark Kitchen: Before
The kitchen itself was pretty small with limited counter space. The cabinets and countertops were all really dark, but other than that in pretty good shape. Like I had said in a thread in our FlippingJunkie group on FaceBook, if the cabinets are in good shape there's no need to replace them. Just sand them down and give them a new coat of paint and they're good to go!
Here was the real problem with the kitchen. I'm not a very tall person, and I could reach up and touch the ceiling. If I can do that, you know it's too low! And to make the ceiling feel even lower, there was a florescent light right in the middle. Gross. The light itself doesn't make this a house flipping nightmare kitchen, but the small space felt much, much smaller with all of the dark colors and lack of light.
More Open Kitchen: After
The first thing we did was take out that light, bump up the ceiling, and add a few can lights. We couldn't do much about the actual size of the kitchen without going over budget, but we could make it seem like it was bigger. Bumping up the ceiling really helps to make that space feel open, even if it is small. We replaced the appliances to newer ones that actually matched, too. After that, my contractor repainted the cabinets and cleaned up the countertops.
Speaking of countertops, these were actually in pretty good shape. All we did was clean them up and have them epoxied. It looks much nicer, it was super cheap, and made the kitchen look clean without going over our budget. The epoxy, all said and done, only cost us about $250. Really not bad at all, and the results are great.
The Master Bedroom: Before
The master bedroom was actually pretty nice. It had a nice size, the natural light was good (after we took out that covered thing we'll talk about next).
Ok, it was nice except for the master bathroom vanity being open to the bedroom. I don't know why I hate that so much, but I do. It just looks like a hotel room or something. That, and, the entrance to the closet was inside the bathroom with the doors just to the right of the vanity. I didn't like that. It really made the room look like a house flipping nightmare. The open arch to the bathroom doesn't leave much privacy for the people using the restroom, so we definitely had to add doors to get rid of the hotel feel.
The Master Bedroom: After
The room itself just needed new carpet and some paint on the walls. The real rehab came with the master bathroom.
I had my contractor build a wall and frame it so we can have the bathroom closed off from the bedroom. Adding the double doors there made it feel less like a hotel and more like someone's home!
We also closed off the entrance to the closet that was coming out of the bathroom and added some double doors that lead from the bedroom. That way you can walk into the closet from the room and not the bathroom. No more worrying about that door blocking off the bathroom counter.
There was more of that dang wood panelling that we got rid of around the vanity and replaced with just a nice painted look. Seriously, what was it with the wood panelling in this house flipping nightmare?
We took out that long vanity with one sink and added the two standing sinks. Now, normally, I would put a tub in a master bathroom, but there just wasn't enough room in this one. Personally, I'm not huge on the layout with the toilet being so close to the shower, but there wasn't much we could do about that.
So, instead of a tub, we rebuilt it into a nice walk-in shower. We put in the marble tile I've been using in all of my properties. I also found some nice floor tile to use in the shower. My contractor even built in a shelf and used the floor tile as a backsplash.
The Ceiling is Falling! Bedroom Before
For the most part, the bedrooms were all standard fixes. There was weird carpet, and for some reason the molding was all different sizes and didn't line up right. Except this one bedroom.
The first time I walked through this house and got to the other bedrooms I saw that the ceiling had just completely fallen out and to the ground. Talk about a house flipping nightmare. You couldn't even walk in the room! It was a total mess. Not "a little bit of the ceiling chipped off". I mean this place was full of insulation, and wood, and sheetrock, and duct work, and I almost freaked out all over again.
Fixing the Ceiling: Bedroom After
Clearly this was a problem that needed fixing. I had my contractor rebuild the ceiling. We needed to give it all new duct work, vents, lighting, texture...the works. It was kind of a house flipping nightmare.
The Backyard of Doom
Where I had the real heart attack was with the back yard. If this wasn't a house flipping nightmare before, it definitely was once I saw the yard. Oh man, where to start?
Ok, first of all, the whole place was so overgrown that I couldn't even see what needed to be fixed. I'm not talking about one or two out of control weeds. Nooooo. This backyard had full plants just sprouting up wherever, completely taking over everything.
There was what used to be a fence that lead to a walkway that was so buried by plants that you couldn't even see it. The fence was half taken out and half still there, so these weird metal posts were just sticking out of the ground.
Now let's talk about the covered thing. This back yard had a covered patio and a raised deck. The covered patio was completely closed off, though. Like, it looked like they had wanted to make it either another room or an outdoor entertainment area or something, but it never got completely finished. The floor was all uneven and had shifted too, so this whole thing was just another hot mess.
What I was left with was this weird metal shed-like extension that completely blocked out any natural light from getting into the living room and master bedroom. This was what made the living room such a house flipping nightmare. It made everything so dark inside! This "patio cover" was just sheet metal slapped together, completely blocking out the sun. It had to go.
Then, on the other side of the covered thing, leading to the garage from the back of the house, was a lifted deck with no railing. It was just some wooden platform that was built maybe 6 inches off the ground. Nothing in this backyard was ever finished! Just half started and then abandoned.
But wait, there's more! Once we cleared out all of the plants and weeds from the yard we found a huge, filled in, in-ground pool. WTF? The walkway that went around it was all weird shaped, too. It wasn't rounded or nice looking or anything. So, ok, now I'm stuck with this awful backyard on top of this terrible terrible house.
I'm not even kidding, I called my acquisitions manager and asked why the heck we bought this property. I had reached my limit and gone way past it at this point.
Turning a Negative into a Positive
Alright, so the backyard had a lot of work to do. The first thing we had to do before I could even start thinking about how to make this negative into a positive was to remove all of the weeds and plants. That's when I saw the pool. Once all of the junk was gone, it was time to get to work.
I had my contractor take out all of that sheet metal that made the weird enclosed space. We were already coming a little too close to our budget, so the uneven floor was just going to be there. We repainted it, but that was about it (I was getting so done with this place). All of the metal fencing and left over fence posts were taken out to keep the backyard open and accessible. We repainted that weird deck, too, because I just didn't have the brain power to remove it and think of something new to put there.
The in-ground pool was the real struggle. I had posted all over FaceBook, trying to get ideas about what the heck to do with that. Some people suggested making it a garden, filling it in with gravel to make a playground area, and even to just get rid of the walkway and re-sod the whole backyard. I thought about all of those options, but wasn't really convinced by any of them.
What we ended up doing was keeping the walkway - mostly because removing it and re-sodding everything would take up more time and money that we just weren't in the mood to invest in this property anymore. Inside of the filled-in pool, we landscaped a bit by adding a couple flower patches. The real transformation was in the center, though.
I took the gravel idea and decided, screw it, let's make a fire pit area. This backyard is a nice size, and with the right layout would be great for outdoor entertainment. So we made a little patch with gravel, lead a path to it, and turned that hideous in-ground pool spot into a fire pit entertainment area.
That's about it with this house flipping nightmare known as "The Nemesis House". I can't tell you how happy I was to close on that stupid thing. The transformation was incredible. It went from this cracked, pieced together, literally falling apart house into a really nice home. The place finally functions again! No more mother-in-law suite, no more weird sheet metal cave, no more mismatched flooring. This place finally looks like a real home.
The biggest thing to take away from this property is to always, always, ALWAYS rerun your comps before listing. Since we had this house for so long while we were working on the rehab, the value of the neighborhood had changed. If we hadn't rerun our comps, we would have mis-valued the house by nearly $20,000.
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