Wednesday, January 11, 2017

[ I wrote this a couple years ago when I was digging through my local real estate market looking for fixer uppers -- I discovered that my entire community had been ravaged by terrible house flippers and I was posting pics here as evidence and exposure of what not to do. Sick and tired of people screwing up properties! All of the original houses in this area have been "flipped" and now the cheap builders are throwing up vinyl-clad "trailers" on all the leftover acreage - I insist that there is a way to build nice looking homes and neighborhoods and still be profitable! Counties should be able to demand basic good design from these cheap builders! These houses are no longer investments - they are too much like buying a car now.]

{See part 1: Cheap Renos, -where we use Google earth to investigate the true before and after pics! and part 2: Color Blindness - where we see the local house flippers painting everything badly}
and I also posted an example of local luxury real estate craziness, here.

Here is another "flip" currently for sale. I know some potential buyers who went to look at it. They did not make an offer, and I wouldn't either.

Bad bones. The architecture of this one was just a mess. Nothing classic about this at all. Hard to tell where the front door is, not to mention there isn't a garage or anything. And this house is priced exactly the same as a comparable home from a local new home builder.

I'm going to show you the staging so we can have a giggle:

I think those are elephant heads.

So what have we learned here? Personally I'm not upset that they flipped this house because the architecture wasn't anything to get excited about. It's the flippers who screw up the good houses that really burns me up. If you're thinking about flipping, I hope this series was useful to you.

Final thoughts: your buyers are smarter than you hope, so design accordingly. Hardwood floors in medium brown tones will sell your house faster than all other hard finishes combined (as long as they are continued throughout the main floor).  And for the love of Pete, if you don't know how to stage and you haven't got any money left -- don't bother. Get some Yankee Candles (cinnamon roll!) instead.
Posted by Katy On 1:36 PM No comments READ FULL POST

Monday, December 12, 2016

Well now that I am tits-deep in an emergency bathroom renovation, I've been burning up google and Youtube to research my shower options. It's been a long time since I installed a new shower - the Tybee house had one shower, like so:
MY PRECIOUSSS!!!
So ... this bathroom calls for something quite a bit larger and more expensive. :(

August, the hideous steam shower before the demolition.


November - wall has been moved forward, new door openings framed, and that room behind the shower is now big enough for a laundry. It was originally intended to be either closet space or a sauna!

currently - working on tile now!
Here is what I have discovered about all the new shower trends.
Martha O'Hara Interiors via Home Bunch
BH&G

This crap is really hard and expensive to bust up when a pipe bursts and you need to fix flood damage. End of story. I'm going to end up installing something similar to the above image but with a couple of insurance upgrades.

After all of my feverish research, the Schluter-Kerdi shower system appears to be the best for waterproofing a shower these days, and the easiest for me to install myself. I bought one of the kits and we're through the worst of it and into the tiling.


The shower pan in the Schluter kit is a lightweight styrofoam. That means that if your pipes burst and your whole bathroom is destroyed, you won't have to break your back trying to bust up a concrete pan with a pick ax!!

So. I have the Schluter-Kerdi kit. I have my new plumbing fixtures. I have (almost) decided on the tile.
But whats up with this new "frameless glass enclosure" tidal wave on Pinterest and design mags? I am not sold on it. I don't like being on display when in the shower, like a goldfish in a bowl. So that's why I have pony walls around the shower. Kinda like this:
Brooke Gianetti

Another consideration is that we have hard water. Which means all the glass is going to look like crap in a year. I want to minimize the amount of glass, the amount of nakedness on display, and the amount of back-breaking work to fix it in the event of a plumbing event.

More and more I realize: I design everything based on the worst-case scenario. Which might be an engineering thing, but it might also just be paranoia. When the shit hits the fan, how expensive will it be to fix? Because I am a glass-half-empty sort of person. Or, as Prince Charming likes to say: "waiting for the other foot to fall off" (shoe to drop, thank you.)


Bathroom renovations are crappy but at least it's not the kitchen yet!! (knock on wood!)
Posted by Katy On 5:21 PM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Friday, October 28, 2016

I am just going to slap this up here and call it DONE so I can move on to the bathroom disaster in peace. ha.
If you follow me on Instagram you've seen some of this, I cannot figure out how to photograph interiors so that they dont look weird and dark!? But this is my best shot:

Okay so this is the before shot of this bedroom - it was an open loft to the great room. Totally awful.

The noise, the echoing, the HEAT, the lack of privacy - it was hideous. I asked every woman who saw it if she would ever buy this house (and keep in mind the view:)

and they all said "no. this is weird".



Which is bad news if you want to flip a house. Men don't care about the house - all they care about is the location and the view. Every man would stand at these windows and go "wow". If you pointed out any of the giant holes in the walls and floors they would go "uh huh. look at that view."

Clearly, my only market was men without wives. Which is way too small.

Things are looking up around here. PC moved the attic stairs from over in that corner, to the other corner of the bedroom ceiling. It was a nightmare, I screamed a lot and would run away from the ladder when I was supposed to be holding stuff up because I was scared I was going to be crushed and killed. PC says he's never moving attic stairs again as long as he lives. But he still likes me! #winning

But then he moved the pot lights and the vent forward so I could build my snazzy closet. I drew the palm tree design on paper and then my laser cutting dude transferred it to 1/8" plywood. Then I painted them and stuck them up there with hot glue. Seriously. Because someday I may want to clean those mirrors. Maybe.



This is from instagram and for some reason it flips the image like its a mirror. Everything is backwards

We were sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the first year of our marriage so getting a bed was a nice change:
Switch plate hole in the wall on the left - we still have to relocate some things because the bathroom is on the other side of this wall and we are currently demolishing it!
I got this old oil painting at a secondhand shop for $50 but the frame was really ugly so I painted it the wall color. The bed was $500 from JCPenneys online! This is a big improvement over the before:
I literally walked into this bedroom the first time and snatched that scarf off the wall!  I still have the weird strip of black granite flooring around the windows though -- one step at a time!!

The furniture layout is giving me problems because the room is an oblong shape. I need to put chairs in front of the bed but when I tried it, PC whined "it's in the middle of the room" -- sigh. I know it's not perfect yet but I was trying to explain furniture layout to him... and I had a FLASHBACK of when I was 15 years old... and I kept pulling the sofas in the living room away from the walls and putting them together in the middle of the room with the coffee table in front... and then my dad would walk through, shove all the furniture back up against the perimeter walls. Like a game of Twister was going to bust out any second and we needed the room clear?? WHY DO MEN NOT UNDERSTAND THAT FURNITURE DOESN'T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE PRESSED UP AGAINST THE WALLS. I will come back to this problem in the future when I have less pressing concerns, and maybe when he is on a business trip. (lolz)

BACK TO THE SHOWER! He's mudding the drywall for me because I suck at that really bad. Then I am painting and finishing the ceiling first before I build the new shower:

YAY. Plumbing is done, walls are moved, subfloor replaced, and now it's almost time for the KERDI! I will post about my new waterproofing love affair after I install. This will be my first try at a Schluter-Kerdi system, so wish me luck. I'm sure something disasterous will happen, so I'll film it so Caressa can watch it on Youtube with popcorn. ;)

And YES, I really did fracture my thumb busting up the tile and my thumb is all deformed and still hurts. :( I was hoping the bump on the bone might go away but maybe that's not realistic. I can't wring out rags with that hand anymore. Bet you didn't think my pretty bedroom post was gonna end this way huh? ;) SNEAKY! Happy Halloween!

Posted by Katy On 12:52 PM 4 comments READ FULL POST

Saturday, October 8, 2016

I feel like I'm in mourning! I am praying that my neighbors there are okay. I know they would have evacuated but several of my neighbors had very old cottages that were sitting right on the ground in the flood zone! :( How terrible! You can only get flood insurance if your house is built to current hurricane code. I want to cry!!

I remember Tybee peeps telling me that the last big hurricane to hit the island was way back in the 1800s! And that statistically, they should get hit once every 100 years! When I heard that I thought... hmmm.... wouldn't that be my luck. You know?
Corner of Naylor and Wilson.

My mom during the build. She fought ovarian cancer all this year and is in remission, thankfully.

the kids' treasure spot in the bedroom

this is Jeff and Scott's house across the street. They just renovated an old cottage and it was totally brand new in 2014. Very pretty!

Once upon a time, I shared the story on this blog of how I sold my house in Texas right before the whole neighborhood collapsed down a hill.
I never got to finish that house, only the first floor was done..
Last year when I sold the Tybee cottage, I was depressed that I never got to finish it all the way...
Recently, given the disaster of a house that I am currently working on, I briefly whined to God about this pattern. "Why can't I ever finish anything before I've got to leave it behind???" I cried. THEN I TURNED ON THE NEWS.
lots of weddings on the beach
My last trip to Tybee before I closed on the house - it was just me and my daughter.
I can't believe how little she looks here, even though it was only last year!
I almost lost my mom to cancer this year and I've spent a lot of time on my knees for better reasons.  I'd much rather be tearing out this horrible shower right now than worrying about rebuilding on Tybee. And that is saying something.

OKAY - Let's not be all negative and stuff. LOL! RIGHT! Let's believe that God is leading us on a winding path that we can only appreciate years after the fact, and can only wonder at all the near misses and catastrophes He has brought us through.

 :( and I really hope Sharon and Jeff and Scott and everybody on Tybee can overcome this. What a shock!!

Posted by Katy On 8:35 AM 3 comments READ FULL POST

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

{See Part 1 here. }
First, a happy picture:
Some of my booze (and my blue feather duster?) !! I follow all the decorators on Instagram who show pics of their stylishly dressed up bar carts full of chinoiserie and vintage stuff nobody probably uses, and then I pour myself a shot of tequila. I have to keep all the demolition dust out of my liquor so no bar cart for me :/
GOOD THING NOBODY COMES HERE FOR THE CUTE PICTURES!
I have spent this week sitting in concrete rubble, rocks in my shoes, grit in my teeth and hair, desperately trying to get to the bottom of this horrible pit:




I need to get down to the plywood subfloor to move the shower drain. Everything is wet.. everything is screwed down to the STEEL FRAMING, and glued down layers of concrete board on top.

I was working with a hammer and a crowbar for the last week. The pick ax worked on the mortar pan, but i am worn out. I couldn't make headway on the black tiles at all so I am now ON STRIKE! Prince Charming will be demolishing the rest because I am DONE.
this is looking into the secret room we found behind the shower- spray painted on the subfloor was "SAUNA". We will be making it into a laundry.
At this point we are moving the wall forward to make way for a laundry room, so all the plumbing and framing has to move and we are just getting down to the subfloor. It is all wet so I think we are replacing all of the subfloor in the shower area.

Because this bathroom is the size of a house, we're not renovating the whole thing right now. Just the shower. So the other side of the bathroom will remain like this for the time being:
ROWR! I know you are jealous - the kids like to swim in the jacuzzi, we think the whole bathroom looks like the previous owner thought he was Hugh Hefner.

I'm a little pissed because I'm remembering when I begged Prince Charming to unload this dump and buy a smaller house with less problems.My wrists are swelling up and I hate this house so much i want to douse it with gasoline and set it on fire.
[EDITED TO ADD: I don't broudcast all this negativity to PC, I pull myself together before he gets home, and he doesn't read this blog. He can probably tell how I feel by the look on my face when he comes in the bathroom though! haha! I like to vent and then you guys can remind me about the real hell my life used to be and all the ways that this is nothing. I honestly appreciate it. xoxo]

Here is a picture of a pretty shower, so we can all catch our breath:

To be Continued. !!
Posted by Katy On 9:22 PM 8 comments READ FULL POST

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Once Upon a Time, I had this ugly Darth Vader shower the size of a football field:
The duct tape on the left wall is temporary - we found a hidden room behind the shower that I want to make into a laundry room!!

And Lo - it was an albatross. None of the faucets or attachments worked. I had to call a plumber just to get one shower head to spray hot and cold water (like a fire hose, you couldn't stand naked facing it unless you wanted to have your private bits stitched back onto your body.)

And it was a "steam shower", a very expensive 18-year-old piece of construction that required custom everything. 6 body sprays that my seasoned plumber had never even seen before (and he had no idea where to find parts for them).

The steam generator was up in the attic. The pipes burst in the attic one winter years ago, when the house was abandoned, and that was the reason for the first remodel. Prince Charming bought this house after they had replaced all the ceilings (but before they finished everything else, hence the good deal he got on this place. snort.)
This is why you use a freaking fiberglass shower pan instead of pouring a concrete one. !!!

I knew this bathroom had to be remodeled if there was a snowball's chance in hell of ever selling this place for what he paid for it. It was not scheduled for this year, however.

And then this week, as I was preparing to post my first "before and after" pictures on this blog of the master bedroom renovation (FINALLY! 99% finished!!!) - - the shower pan under this monstrosity "let go".

and we had flood #2. From this stupid, ugly, ridiculous, over-built, expensive, wasteful SHOWER.
Add caption

Now I am tearing this beast up, and the pan was poured concrete... which means I will need a pick ax... and I already injured myself so badly I probably need stitches (but I'm holding my thumb together with medical tape.)

A note to all the DIY geniuses on the internet who keep touting how wonderfully cheap and easy it is to build your own shower pan this way --- sure. Ok.  Rubber/vinyl "waterproofing" will not save it. Ours was built like a ton of bricks with all the precautionary layers, and it still failed. This is a total nightmare to remove. Everybody do yourself a favor and just buy a fiberglass pan, because sometimes modern technology REALLY IS BETTER THAN THE OLD (CHEAPER) WAY.

Incidentally, here is my master bedroom, after 9 months I still can't finish it because the laser cutting place is so backed up. :(
And the side patio is almost finished, but still no railings...

It's like riiiight when I think I'm close to my goal -- WHAM! another disaster. :)

Come to think of it, I think I've written that same sentence probably 100 times on this blog in the last 7 years. Hmmm....

If the bedroom ever gets done I will post the before and afters - until then, I'm hooked on Instagram.
Posted by Katy On 5:38 PM 10 comments READ FULL POST

About Me

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For many years I was a mechanical engineer by day, a house renovator by night, and a single mom. I previously built a tiny house on Tybee Island that I sold in 2015. Then I lost my day job, met Prince Charming, and now work full time demolishing (fixing) his lake house. ;) Stop by for the house stuff, stay for the never-ending disasters, pianos falling out of the sky, floods, threats of financial ruin, & panic attacks. It's like house flipping meets the zombie apocalypse! with lots of kids!

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