Nancy Drew is a Verb

Craig and I thoroughly enjoy remodeling homes for resale. The properties we choose are loaded with potential especially if they have been neglected. It is tempting to pull out all the stops and transform each home into a dream house. Budget? Pshaw!

HGTV Dream Home 2009

Thankfully, we have a system in place to keep from overdoing it. Before we purchase a property to remodel, we have already decided 1) what rooms to rehab and 2) the extent of the rehab.

Rooms to Rehab:

The process of deciding whether or not to remodel a specific room depends largely its current condition. We ask questions like:

Are there wood floors under that carpet?

Will paint alone be enough?

Are the kitchen cabinets salvageable?

Is that a load bearing wall?

Extent of Rehab

The extent to which we rehab a home depends largely on its neighborhood. We always plan to be the nicest house in our price range but not excessively so. The MLS has a wealth of information about real estate neighborhoods. So we put on our sleuthing hats and scope out River Heights.

We investigate similar homes that have sold recently as well as homes currently on the market in the neighborhood. Pictures on the MLS listings offer information such as:

What type of countertops are in the kitchens of this neighborhood?

Are the shower walls tile or a plastic surround?


Does it have a garage?

That's our daughter #2!

After we “Nancy Drew” the remodel project, we practice self-control. A kitchen can still be beautiful without granite counters. It allows us to keep the price of certain homes within reach of more families.

Sleuth and budget. Works every time.

Linked to:
Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage


Peek at the Stairs

We prefer to take pictures before any of the contractors get their hands on a new rehab project.  In the case of our new brick home project, however, I had two sick kids strewn on the couch and needing extra love.  As a result, the Before pictures of this property were taken after the first day of work.

As you can see, the painters had already begun repairing the walls.

The stairs in this house are fun.  I love the way the last tread wraps around the wall into the living area.

Pardon the construction dust

I also love the hidden compartment.

Wonder what was stored in here?

We will be restoring the wood on the stairs to their original condition, not painting them.  Painting the risers and the trim can look beautiful, but it really is a matter of personal preference.  We’ll let the future owners make that call for themselves.

Resilient Wood Floors

In response to the previous post,

Krystal comments:

In the last picture I’m seeing gorgeous hardwood floors. Is that the original floor re-sanded? Looking at the before pictures, you’d never believe that a little sanding and varnish could transform such a neglected floor into a beauty.

It is amazing how resilient wood floors can be.  Yes, the before pictures show wood floors (not dirty carpet).

The floors are not dirty carpet. They are neglected oak floors.

Here is a picture of the wood floors with a coating of drywall dust after the walls were repaired.

After priming the walls

The floor guys sanded and varnished those original floors and voila… beauty was underneath.

Original oak floor restored.

Our floor guys rock.

Subtle Changes

Sometimes a room needs only simple changes during the rehab process.  Well, after it’s cleaned.

Order another dumpster and clean some more …

This living room had an amazing lead glass window as its focal point and original wood trim.   Sometime in the nearly 100 years since the house had been built, the original trim in the room divider between the dining and living rooms had been removed.

Missing trim is at the far left of picture.

Also, someone added a window seat in the living area with a vinyl window.

After priming the walls

We sanded and re-stained all the trim, restored the missing trim in the divider…

And added a wood seat to the inset window…

Subtle changes make a difference.