Which Old Home is the Best Project?

The 'Little Old Lady from Pasedena' may have a 'brand new, shiny red super-stock Dodge' in the driveway and her home may look picture perfect from a postcard but, will it be the most cost effective renovation project for a 'flip'? Across the road, there is the same post World War I 1 1/2 storey, 3 bedroom home with weeds growing through the pavement, a rusted, 20 year old Dodge in the drive and a rather tatty, pre-loved chesterfield on the porch. From first impression, the 'little old lady's' home is the obvious choice and is $10,000 less!                             

The 'post card perfect' house is just as tidy on the inside as from the curb, it has great appeal. Conversely, the house across the street looks on the inside as it does from outside. The old lady's home has an immaculate vintage kitchen, beautifully maintained 'dusty rose' shag carpeting throughout, classic wallpaper, 3 well maintained bedrooms from 'Goldielocks and the Three Bears', one tidy bathroom with porcelain and tile to match the carpet and a paneled rec-room in the basement. For a handy young couple, this could be a great project to modernize and update as a longer term investment to live in and enjoy as the lower price meets and suits the budget. A home is one of the best ways to invest money and grow equity. There is great pride in doing the work yourself and a genuine sense of accomplishment and a development of knowledge and skill.

The tired and unloved home across the way has a stench of cat, dog, smoke(?), holes in the plaster, yellowed ceilings, kitchen with greased walls, broken cupboards and filthy appliances. The hardwood floors are worn, the upper and lower baths need a serious scrubbing and sanitizing and the unfinished basement (and the whole house) could use de-cluttering with the help of a rental bin set in the driveway. This home is most likely a rental and has been sold numerous times over the years with updates to satisfy each investor and the insurance necessary to satisfy the insurance company and municipality. The 'Bones' of the home appear to be good, the electrical has been updated to breakers, plumbing updated to satisfy an extra bathroom or two, a newer furnace, some replaced windows and added insulation. Granted, the home may appear rough, but the major expenses of the homes mechanical is solid and to modern code with hopefully, proper safety inspections and certificates.

In contrast, the sweet old lady may use the pronoun 'Dear' and the adjective 'Lovely' whereas her perpendicular neighbours address you as 'Dude' and overuse 'Awesome', the old lady's home may turnout to be dear and the work to transform the home to modern as less than awesome. Scraping wallpaper is tme consuming and arduous and the paper may bring much of the old plaster with it or crumble altogether. Replacing wiring is expensive and messy and require much plaster work, skim coats and new wallboard as well. Insurance companies will want all certificates for the work done by a licensed electrician and standards inspections. A plumber will have to be employed to add another bath for modern convenience which can require digging into the basement floor. A new furnace? Windows? Insulation? Soffits, eaves, fascia? Replacing carpets, refinishing the hardwood below the 'dusty rose' shag, new kitchen, appliances, air conditioning, thermostat, outer doors, tub, shower, vanity(X 2 for an extra bath). The expenses could seem endless. 

Back to the 'Animal House', the hard and expensive bits are done. The bathrooms may be salvageable or require new tile and vanity or a refinished tub. Both homes need paint and appliances, wall board, updated kitchen and refinished floors but the distressed home is part the way forward. Some vision and practical accounting and sourcing may prove that the distressed property to be a much more cost effective project than the picturesque property and maybe with some of the demolition process already have been performed.

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Ryan Lundy

Ryan Lundy

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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