The minute I noticed the for sale sign in the yard of this 1940s bungalow on my usual commute to work, I called my mom. Little did I know, she had already noticed this house like I did and been discussing it with our realtor. This house had never stood out to me before, I honestly did not even realize it was there. But I knew that my mom and I both saw this house for what it COULD be one day and that feeling only grew along with our ideas as we saw the inside.
We worked with hands down the BEST realtor throughout this entire process of purchasing, remodeling, and selling the #BeeHouse. Sonja Smith, with Odean Keever & Associates, works like no other and takes care of her clients so well. I know she was probably so tired of taking us to see potential houses to remodel as an investment over the years and was glad to find one we actually wanted to take the risk on! My biggest piece of advice to anyone considering investment properties is to find a realtor who will help you through each step of the process. Negotiations, small issues, people leaving all of their stuff still in the house, etc. is just a lot easier to deal with when you have an experienced realtor working on your behalf and with your best interest at heart. Through the remodeling process, Sonja also gave us great advice along the way about what choices are popular in our local market right now and the best places to focus our attention. Mainly, she helps us stay realistic! :)
The incredibly difficult part about doing a remodel as an investment is that you have to prioritize where to spend your money. Believe me, it is so easy to find yourself wanting to spend money on things that probably won't return on your investment because you get wrapped up in wanting the "HGTV experience." What I would give to be able to fully stage this home and do further exterior projects, but that just did not make sense for us. I would love to see this house look 100% complete in the way I envision it could. But it is not my house. There is so much that I envision the new homeowner could do with the exterior of the #BeeHouse. So, here is what we chose to do and focus on.
Tiny (or Big) Details
My mom was adamant that they very first thing we did was pay to bury utilities underground. The previous utilities were running from the power pole near the street to the corner of the house right beside the door into off the deck into the kitchen.
Not the ideal safety situation, but also an eyesore. In all honesty, this was something the four of us disagreed on. We understood why mom thought this was important, but we wanted to wait to make sure we did not need this money to go somewhere else first. In the end, we went with mom's plan and it was such a huge payoff when it came to clearing up the line of sight to the house from the street and improving the overall cleanliness and curb appeal.
We also removed an old brick flower bed and light post that was defunct at the end of the sidewalk to nowhere. The front sidewalk does not go all the way to road and we talked about doing something with this. We considered taking it up completely and running a sidewalk/stairs to the driveway. Ultimately, we decided to leave the brick path, but remove the flower bed and light that was not to code and not being rewired.
Additionally, we made significant upgrades to the front stoop, which previously was just a falling apart step that was incredibly unsafe. We added a porch that extended out further with wide steps and a handrail. I think it made a huge difference in the curb appeal and safety of the home.
The landscape of this house was so intimidating. Not only was it a large lot, but if you've read previous posts about the house then you'll remember the previous owner was an avid beekeeper. The yard was full of countless unique pollinator plants, an old rainwater catchment/sprinkler system, fruit trees, and SO MANY lenten roses.
I have no doubt that when the previous owner was well and living here, this house was beautiful all year long. However, it had been unoccupied for awhile and the beautiful plants had not been maintained well. Weeds had taken over and there were years worth of leaves everywhere. It was so difficult to even know what was there. When we buried the utilities, we had to loose a lot of the landscaping in the front to do this. There was not anything along the front of the house that was particularly worth saving other than the beautiful tree. Our main goal was basically to just clean up the landscaping so that new owners would have a clean slate to make it their own.
The side yards had several deteriorating and rotten raised bed gardens full of weeds and even some kale! We ended up pulling it all up to clean up the side yard. The front also had many small dogwoods and trees that cluttered the front yard. We selectively removed certain ones to not only appease the power company, but also clean up the line of sight t0 the front door.
The most obvious thing change was painting the brick exterior. Fun fact: this brick was from the old Bostic brickyard. The brick color was uneven and the house just did not stand out in any way. Also, the porch addition on the rear of the house was white siding and we wanted to unify the whole house. That is exactly what happened allowing everyone to see just how large the house actually is as it can be deceiving when viewed from the front. Of course, we went with our tried and true favorite Benjamin Moore combinations with some help from our Instagram followers. We decided not to put the shutters back up after we saw this house without them.
Exterior Brick: BM Revere Pewter
Deck: BM Hale Navy
Front Door: BM Aegean Teal
Probably the area with the most potential was this really neat exterior porch. The porch has storm windows that can be raised or removed to create a screen porch or even an open porch. It also has plumbing for a sink and lighting. This porch looks over the entire backyard and has a patio off to the side.
My mom and I pictured this space to be a great area for an outdoor kitchen near the patio, some bistro lights, and comfortable furniture. We had hoped to be able to add additional cabinetry and change out the sink, but in the end focused on cleaning this porch, a new ceiling, lighting, and paint. This arguably could have been also the most disgusting part of the house when we (we as in Austin and my mom) removed the old ceiling. My dad and I found something else to do. :)
Thanks for reading and keeping up with our experience! What was your favorite exterior change? Let us know in the comments below!