Close. Nearly there. Just about. Not quite. In the ballpark. In life and in construction, almost happens frequently. Sometimes it’s a great almost and sometimes it’s not. Almost finished. Almost ready to start. Almost there. The Eastfield cottage flip is almost complete but it almost didn’t happen.
It was an online auction, slated for a 7 am start on New Years Day. The listing was a bit of a sleeper, without a lot of views. Quick turnaround and the inground pool/spa wasn’t included in the details. I made a pot of Canadian coffee and settled in to see how it opened. By the last hour, the auction struggled to meet the reserve bid, and the bidding increments had grown beyond what I was comfortable with. I had set a hard limit prior to bidding so that I wouldn’t get caught up, especially as I was bidding without having set foot inside the property. In the last few moments of the auction, the reserve had been (barely) met and I was the successful bidder. This felt like a great omen to 2020 (cough, cough) and reminded me of the early days of e-bay bidding excitement. The paperwork was simple to process but required extensive verification and back and forth between the auction company and the bank. 27 days later I was able to close at Select Title in Missouri City, not far from the property.
I didn’t have keys but I did have ownership so my first entrance was not a glamorous one. The dog door was ugly but also practical in this case.
Getting inside was thrilling yet overwhelming. I worried about the issues that I’d find, and the nightmare stories that I’ve heard such as an absence of sheetrock or cement poured in toilets and drains. There weren’t any of those surprises to be found (although the house would make up for it in different ways) and it had a much-loved vibe. I was focused on layout and all that would need to be replaced (namely all of the things lol). I had spent time in the backyard prior to obtaining access to the interior and likened the pool (well covered at the time) to a diamond in the rough. I budgeted for a new surround, minor repairs, and improvements to the plumbing/electrical components. The construction gods can be tough but they do have a sense of humor. My first Instagram post about this project called for swim trunks in summer 2020. Yikes.
Interior demolition was the first and highest priority, both to determine underlying issues and also provide me with much-needed clarity. Houses speak to me, and I needed all of the extras in this one to take leave. When I’m in a property that will be gutted, it feels like opening a dictionary or looking at a crossword puzzle to me until it’s stripped. Too much chatter and background noise to focus on the bones, a key element to any successful flip. I also focused some energy on getting the landscape cleaned up outside, both to appease the neighbors and generate some early interest in the future listing.
The kitchen layout was in need of some modifications because I wasn’t able to replace the double wall ovens in their current location (sizes have changed since 1977) and it was seriously TIGHT to move between the end of the long peninsula island and the corner of the stove. Removing the overhead cabinets above the island was a no-brainer as we needed the light and the update badly.
The only other layout modification we moved ahead with was in the master ensuite – it had a 7’ long countertop with only one sink and a wall that cutoff any of the light that came though the only window. I considered walling off the entrance to the master closet and relocating it to the bedroom but decided against it in the end due to budget and the feeling that it would be enough work for no real win in the end. We did also attempt to enclose the toilet in a water closet but it would have cut the room in a funny way and made for a tight enclosure, not the end result I was looking for. Good advice prevailed and we left the toilet in its original location. The shower size after demolition was a nice surprise, the ceiling had been lowered and some wall space closed in initially and we were able to open both up. The increased tile and glass costs were minimal and as it turned out, we would need plenty of access to the wall and ceiling for all of the plumbing issues we’d soon find…
Secondary bath (upstairs) was a wrap as well (pictured above, far right).
Second installment of this post is in the works, I didn’t realize before I started writing how many details were needed. This home was rehabbed in less than three months (which passed in the blink of an eye) and I am infinitely grateful for the reminders provided by my camera roll.
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