House #36: Almost Started

August 2, 2012 · 4 comments

My partner on The WI-1 House and I spent much of last week up in Milwaukee trying to get our ducks in a row on that project (see schedule below)…

We’ve made a lot of revisions in our scope of work and budget — the project has gotten a lot bigger over the past two weeks. We’ll be doing some major overhaul of the kitchen, major redesign of the master bedroom and a secondary bedroom to create a huge master suite and a lot of additional exterior work. Our budget has gone from $75,000 to $95,000 (making this the most expensive project we’ve done), but we believe those changes should add a good bit more to the resale value than the extra $20K in costs. I’ll post some of our designs in the coming week as our architect finishes them up.

We’re still about 2 weeks away from starting the project, as we’re waiting for our architect to finish the drawings so we can apply for permits; once we submit the permit application, we expect about 2 weeks for review before they are issued. Realistically, we probably won’t start the project until the week of August 20, and we’re expecting the project to take 6-8 weeks from that time.

That said, we’ve made good progress on finding contractors. We’re good to go on many of the trades, including a foundation guy, a GC (for permits), an architect/designer, an electrician, plumber and HVAC company, an all-in-one exterior company (to do the roof, siding, gutters, soffits/fascia, etc) and a window supplier and window installer. The big hole left in our contracting crew is carpenters — we still need a crew that can frame the basement, do the structural work and reconfiguration of the walls, install the doors, etc. On top of that, that we a sheetrock crew, a painter, a hardwood guy and a cabinet supplier. Luckily, most of those things come later in the project, so we have time.

Here’s the best case scenario on the schedule (I’m expecting it won’t go this smoothly given the complexity and logistics of this project, but one can hope :)):


Preliminary Schedule






{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 shane August 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

You’ve done your homework, as usual. This is another example of why you’re successful. Great lesson for all of us newbies, keep up with all the little details. Few questions:

Where do you normally find your “plans” guys?

I see you have foundation in the first week, same as permits. No permit needed for foundation?

You always talk about seeing as many houses (competition & materials) as possible. Have y’all looked in a lot of houses up there to get a feel? Or just relying more on the locals? If you’re looking, do you have a local agent to get you access or???

Thanks as always!

2 J Scott August 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Hey Shane:

- The architect/drawing/designer guy was a lucky find. Turns out the HVAC guy we found was a licensed GC and offered to pull permits for us; when I asked about the permit process, he recommended the architect guy, who is turning out to be fantastic. But again, just got lucky on this.

- Foundation will require permits, but the foundation company will pull separate permits and start before the full building permits are issued. I’ve been assured this won’t be an issue…I guess we’ll see… :)

- This was more of a “fly by the seat of our pants” project. While we have done some serious due diligence on comps (there are some good ones very close to the property and very recent sales), we haven’t spent a lot of time inside other homes in the area. But, on our trip up there last week, we met our neighbor who showed us her house, and told us about every other house on the street (who the owners are, the history of the house, etc). So, we have a feel for the very immediate neighborhood. The neighborhood is situated in a really nice, quiet area next to a popular country club and down the street from a very large shopping mall, so in terms of location (both quiet and accessible to suburbia), it’s perfect.

- We do have a local real estate agent, who hasn’t been overly helpful in the process. It’s been tough getting comps out of him and getting him to commit to opinions on resale value and other important details of the purchase. But, he did find us the house and if he keeps putting in the energy to work with us, we’ll list it with him as well.

We’re learning a lot on this project, and if someone were to tell me that they were doing something similar, I’d tell them they were nuts…there’s a lot that can go wrong, and I have a feeling most of it I haven’t even thought about yet… :)

3 Luis August 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm

From your calculations (and if everything goes well) I see that you would be listing around October time frame. Aren’t you concerned that you will be listing right in time for winter?

Well at least you will not have to worry about the 90 day rule I am dealing with right now…

4 J Scott August 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Hey Luis,

The goal is to get it on the market by 10/15, which would give us a good 6 weeks before any significant winter weather comes along up there (from what we’re told). Most of the comps we’re seeing have DOM of under 75, so that’s encouraging, and if we need to list a little lower for a quick sale, we’re prepared to do that. But, it’s certainly a consideration, and the reason we’re trying to keep things moving along.

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