Thursday, April 7, 2011

Introducing Our First Project

OK, here we go. Our first attempt at fixing up a house and selling it for what one hopes is a tidy profit.

For the first project, we selected what is known as a Capanelli Ranch. These neat little houses went up by the thousands after World War II as starter homes for returning vets. They are great little houses (in fact our first house was one).

No basement, rather, built on a concrete slab. The original houses had three bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, dining, living, that's it. Many (like ours) had additions put on as families grew, the houses changed hands, or money became available.

The heat was hot water run in pipes through the floor. Not the most efficient way to heat a house, but it sure is nice to have warm floors. Of course one runs the risk of a leak (like we had in our old house). Imagine how unfortunate that is. We didn't notice our leak at first as it started under the piano. By the time it became visible, it created a constant wet spot on the floor that the dogs loved to lay on to cool off. Needless to say, that necessitated a very expensive repair. This one has already had the heat converted to baseboard. Sweet.

Let's see what we have...

Living room. Note the awkwardly placed fireplace in the rear corner. Not amenable to positioning furniture around for a cozy evening, but a feature that really helped sell to the original owners. Gave it a country feel.

The short wall is brick and has an opening up top to provide light and air to travel from front to back.

New carpet, fresh paint on walls and ceilings, hardwood flooring, new trim, and moldings, new window (imagine how much heat that big old circa 1950 window lets out) and the brick wall is just too ugly to keep.

Dining room. Those aren't so popular with folks anymore as most people opt for a gigantic kitchen big enough for a table that seats about 12 people.

Fresh paint, hardwood flooring, trim, and the dinosaurs are history.

The smallest bedroom. Barely big enough for a twin bed and bureau, but why give kids lots of space when they're just going to mess it up anyway?

Fresh paint, trim, carpet, and bye bye raggedy Andy.

Half bath off the master bedroom. The original houses had just one bathroom. This one was carved out of a piece of the already tiny master bedroom. The location was dictated by the main water access. Because the house is built on a concrete slab, putting anything requiring plumbing in a different part of the house means breaking out a jackhammer and pounding up some of the floor. Uck.

No photo of the master bedroom, but it is due for paint, trim, and carpet.

This little bathroom will be gutted and totally replaced.

No photo of the full bath either. It's pretty space challenged too and we can likely carve out some extra space by cutting the wall back. The main bath is another gut job.

Corner bedroom. Slightly larger than the other, but they took a chunk out of it to make a hall closet for towels and whatnot. Storage space is at a premium. We're keeping the hall closet and just freshening up this room with paint, trim, and carpet.

On to the more challenging areas...

This style of ranch had a little room off the kitchen maybe 80 square feet. At some point, the owners chopped the garage in half and added part of it to the wee little room. Obviously a work in progress at the time of sale. You can just see the kitchen in the doorway and the family room addition is to the right.

This space will be all cleaned up and serve as either a home office or a fourth bedroom.

Uh oh, the kitchen. Check out that little box on the left. That is the boiler. Yup. The houses had the boiler in the kitchen. Actually not such a bad idea since these ancient things threw off enough heat on their own to help keep the house warm. And it makes a great surface for drying mittens and socks in the winter.

The boiler will be tossed and replaced by a way cool energy efficient model that will sit out in the garage area. Do I need to say that the kitchen is going to be gutted? All new appliances, custom cabinets, granite countertops, the works! In fact even as I type most of it is already in the dumpster.

Last, but not least, the family room addition. This room will sell the house (we hope). It is big and opens on to the backyard. But it is a MESS!

Oh no! Wood panelling. And they went a little nutty with the windows. Way too big. I have visions of dollars flying out of them in the winter. Windows aren't insulated or anything.

Oh look, a fireplace. Sweet. But double sliding doors? Are you nuts?

Family room, complete gut job. You won't recognize it.

Nice yard. There's even a little covered patio out back. Plenty of room to play in and a slope up the the rear half into a wooded area.

Hopefully just some cleanup will do the trick.

That's it. Stay tuned for weekly progress reports. We've only had the house for three days and already the kitchen is in the dumpster along with all the carpeting. The heat has been turned back on and there has been constant subcontractor foot traffic. Lots to do.


  1. Y'all are making some fast work! Maybe it won't take months afterall ;) Paws crossed.


    PeeS: This is quite interesting. I will follow your progress :)

  2. wow, it´s going to look fabulous! if I were thinking of moving back to the U.S. I might have to make an offer! :)

  3. WoW! Looking forward to all of da updates! :)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  4. A "quaint" little place :) I am sure it will have a wonderful future in your hands.

    Gussie's Muzzer

  5. WOW! Can't wait to see the finished product!! Good for you guys!

    Jen and the Black Dog Crew

  6. This looks like you have lots of work cut out for you but we can't wait to see the finished project!

  7. I really can't wait to see how things progress, but do you really need to get rid of the dragons? I love how they just took up residence in the dining room...they must have been hungry dragons ;)


  8. I hope the FURST thingy you got rid of was... the SNOW in the front yard!!! hehehe

    Good luck with this. It is grrreat that you are doing photos along the way. They will let you remember how far you have come with the project.
    I DO think it would go smoother if Mango and Pea were allowed to ASSIST you!!!

  9. That looks like one big job! Good luck with all of it!

  10. Wow - a very exciting, but challenging project! Hope you make a gazillion greenie papers for large amounts of kibble and toys! Can't wait to see updates - you certainly demo fast!
    Miche and the Girls

  11. Looking forward to watching the transformation...

  12. Oh what a find!! And how very exciting! Those same houses are all over the San Fernando Valley - built at the same time. I'd always thought they were a California tract house phenom. Obviously not. The house seems to be basically in great shape; just needing the special touch of the Master. And the yard is awesome. I'm so excited for you!! Looking forward to progress reports.

  13. wow! what an undertaking .. do you want me to send you a home depot gift card instead of petco?

  14. My son Dan warns that granite countertops are very pricy, very cold, and need sealing every year. Just sayin'. Actually, it's pretty solid, and that's a good thing for your budget! Have Master build a real surround around the fireplace, maybe even glue rocks on the wall or something to make it look more significant, and it will be a great sale point for the next owner. Everyone thinks they can use a fireplace and save big bucks on their heating bills....

  15. Hmm...I see a DYE COT O ME...there seems to be about ten feet of snow in the front's nice to know that they ran those old water pipes under the back yardie so it's melting all that snow there...

    What the heck is a boiler?? Is that an old hot water heater???

    The house is adorable...we will be checking on its progress!!!!


    Miss Lacie Teacakes

  16. Well Mango Momma and Master, looks like you are going to have fun. I dream of living with a handyman but alas my hubby is a whiz with his brain not his brawn. Look forward to more pictures. Who would have thought home renovating via someone else could be so entertaining! Take care and no worries, love Carol.

  17. My Dad was a master plumber and used both his brain and his brawn and I suspect Mr. DOH will do as well!

    We'll be looking forward to the pics and all the work you will be doing. Exciting stuff!

    Jo and Stella

  18. Haaaa!
    I am so idiot!
    Finally I understood the "foster house" term!
    It is going to be exciting, right?
    Kisses and hugs

  19. Dinosaurs in the dining room??? Seriously??? Only in New England:) Lots of work ahead of you but if anyone can make it work it will be you guys. Can't wait to see the new home.

    The OP Pack

  20. That's a neat little house. Is Mango Momma doing the interior design work? Picking the colors and tiles and coordinating stuff? Are you going to rent furniture and 'stage' it when you're ready to sell it? It's like having a doll house to play with, except full size! Is going through the kitchen and the corner of the expanded 'wee space' the only way to get into the family room? Does the expanded 'wee space' mean there's no usable garage, or just a narrower garage? Mama loves all the light in the family room with all the windows, but being a Southern gal, grew up to love floor-to-ceiling windows that could be opened wide in pre-AC days. In the South, staying cool is a much bigger problem than staying warm. Of course, global warming may eventually bring the same appreciation to New England. Love the yard, with all the trees.

    Jed & Abby's mama

  21. I confess, I'm cringing at the amount of work ahead of you. But I moved out of the house for a week when we had our roof replaced because I'm not so good with the home-improvement thing. (Hell, our stairwell from the garage to the main floor is still half-painted from when the husband's ex-wife got tired of the project and quit. 12 years ago. The extra paint is even in the garage.) That said, I look forward to updates. Especially since the little bathroom looks to be about the size of the one in our motorhome! ;-)

    -Dr. Liz (who is most definitely not the DIY type...)

  22. I'm really excited at the chance to follow along with this venture! Matt and I were talking about the possibility of flipping houses when the housing market fell out. Either way, the work and the evolution of this kind of project looks hard but rewarding all the same.

    The Raggedy Andy decor puts the "kids" in this house somewhere around my age (35) but then the dragon and castle are more modern - 2 generations of kids here? I'm not sure why figuring this out is interesting to me, but houses always seem to have some memory of what they've "seen". Hopefully what you create here will be a family home that sees lots of good. Good luck and I can't wait to see this project roll out!!

  23. MayzieMom here. I am SO excited to watch this renovation. I love that the two of you have such vision!