Archive for the ‘Fixer-Uppers’ Category
The good news with this cheapy fixer-upper in Andes is that the complete gut has already been done for you. Listing states that the original lot size is a measly .16 acres, but that 3+ acres will be added one once you go to the local Planning Board and make your case for a boundary adjustment. The house is located just off the main drag in Andes, and if it’s any consolation, the roof is new. Great looking house. We would love to see it returned to a state of elegance.
more after the jump…
Since there’s no such thing as a five-figure property in Mahopac, we hopped across the river and to Orange County and took a look around in Cornwall. Normally, Cornwall doesn’t have many five-figure properties, either, but we happened to find this cute Colonial that needs some work. Not telling how much, but at some new paint on the outside for sure. The potential is there, though, and for the price, a buyer with the willingness to get their hands dirty could really spruce it up. It’s also situated on an acre of land.
more after the jump…
Looking for a summer project? Got a pile of tools you’re dying to use to make something amazing? Here you go: A gorgeous Greek Revival on Main Street in Stone Ridge that needs work. Listing states it was built in 1848 and registered as an historic place, and we love it. It’s impossible to get a good bead on what needs to be done from photos, but based on eyeballing alone, it looks like most of rooms are okayish, with the kitchen looking the most in need. But who knows what lurks beneath the wood floors? Very close to Main Street, which is a well-traveled road, but it’s walking distance to everywhere (including the rock and roll hardware store, right across the street), which will give you the opportunity to test out those new sidewalks we’ve been hearing about.
More after the jump…
Perhaps “fixer-upper” is a bit of an understatement. It looks like this circa-1850 Victorian in the hamlet of Bloomville, just outside of Delhi, might need a complete re-build or a partial tear down, probably both. But when we saw the black and white photo of what it used to look like in its heyday, our hearts melted. What a beauty. We know our readers aren’t afraid of considering massive project like this, so we’re putting it out there. Can you imagine the potential?
Square Feet: 2,712
Lot Size: .75 acres
More photos to come…
It’s been a while since we found a church, and while it appears that this one needs quite a big of love and attention, it has potential. Couple of things to keep in mind: It’s in a fairly remote and rural location, with Stone Ridge about 5 miles away, and Kingston about 17 miles away. It’s located quite close to the road, although it’s not like Bone Hollow is a buzzing thoroughfare. The lot size is small, too, which shouldn’t be a big surprise, since it’s a church and all. There’s no well or septic, so says the listing, but that never scared us away. We’re Upstater, and love to look at fixer-uppers and imagine the possibilities. It’s a lot easier than making possibilities reality.
Square Feet: 1,650
Lot Size: .27 acres
When we asked our beloved readers to fill out our survey, many of them responded with a
plaintiff plaintive cry, noting the recent absence of Five-Figure Friday posts. Yes, we’ll bring them back this week, but we came across this post by a Sullivan County realtor, detailing the challenges with a handyman special.
“It’s tough to get financing for handyman condition houses, and some are beyond qualifying for even a rehab loan,” he writes. “If they can be rehabbed, the cost of doing so is often a multiple of the purchase price of a property. A 1,500 sq. ft. handyman farmhouse you might pick up for $50,000 could conceivably take another $100,000 or $150,000 to ‘bring back’. It’s not a project for the faint of heart or light of wallet.”
How many of you out there are hardy enough? And how many of you have rehabbed a handyman special? For many of our readers, a house that costs a total of $150,000 still seems like a bargain.
I wrote several months ago about our struggle with finding a contractor to do some renovation projects we wanted to get done. We had a whole list of things that we wanted to get done on the house – things that we didn’t have the time or the skills to do ourselves. The list included expanding the kitchen, replacing the cement porch around the house with a wood porch, re-doing two of the bathrooms upstairs, fixing up some of the bedrooms upstairs, and in general, bringing parts of the house aesthetically to match our taste.
We hadn’t had any luck getting any of the contractors we had talked to or met to actually come back to us with quotes for the work we wanted to do. We would have people come out, spend more than an hour talking about what we wanted to do, then we would never hear from them again. We began to think it was something about us – it was kind of like the worst part of dating (was it our breath or our hairdos?) . We’ve heard from other people that they’ve had the same thing happened to them as well.
We found Clifton Rabuffo on the Home Advisor (Service Magic) web site. He came out to the house and spent over an hour with us while we told him all of the different things we wanted to get done. We wanted to let him know that we had significant work for him to do, even if we weren’t going to do it all at once. He was a lot younger than any of the other contractors we had met with, and at first we were a little unsure if he was experienced enough to do the work. He suggested that we go look at a project he was just finishing. We drove over to see the house he was just finishing up near Phonecia – work that included building a deck, a garage and adding an addition which included a bathroom. Seeing this made us realize that he was a professional that knew what he was doing. We were really excited to have found him.
We asked him for a quote to re-do the two bathrooms upstairs since neither of them were fully functional. In one, the toilet kind of worked, and we used the sinks, and the disco Jacuzzi tub (pictured below) had been turned off because it leaked (and besides that, it was gross). In the other bathroom, we’d removed the toilet because it leaked, never used the shower because it leaked, and the whole room was brown, plastic and ugly. Cliff got back to us with a quote to do the work and he got started by sending us 3D renderings of the bathroom layout based on what we had discussed.
Well, it’s turning into fixer-upper week here on Upstater. We figure since the storm of the century is now hitting at least twice every year, perhaps your best bet is to buy something with good bones and make it as green as possible: heavily insulated, passive solar, reclaimed lumber, collected rainwater, and so on.
So here’s a candidate: the old schoolhouse in Staatsburg, which is about equidistant between Rhinebeck and Poughkeepsie and thus nicely situated between Amtrak and MetroNorth stops (albeit east of those towns, too). And a short hop from the Taconic.
It needs serious work, folks, but it has a lot going for it, in size, location and original wood beams. There are fireplaces and French doors, four bedrooms, two baths and a laundry room. It sits on three acres.
In some ways, we’ve been lucky with getting help with fixing and doing things around our house. In other ways, not so much. There were a few big issues we needed to get fixed right away after we closed on the house. First we needed to get a 1,000 gallon buried oil tank dug up, cleaned, certified and removed (on the very strict advice of our lawyer). Second, we needed to address a mold issue in the attic which meant getting a company to come out and treat the mold plus we had to address some venting issues in the attic so the mold wouldn’t come back.
In both cases, we went to the source that we normally go to for resources and answers: the Internet. For the oil tank, we got quotes from some local people (the guy down the road who installed the tank initially) but ended up hiring Tank Goodness (brilliant branding – how could we not hire him with a name like that?) He was great and we were really happy with the work he did. We never met the mold people, but they did a good job, and they gave us a 30 year guarantee and will come back if we need them.
For the venting, we used a local, highly recommended contractor. He was horrible to work with and did a horrible job. He never returned calls, never told us when he was going to do the work, didn’t do what we asked him to do, and obviously hired unskilled workers to do the work we thought he was going to do, and didn’t supervise them at all. It took him four months to do the work that should have taken a few days. Consequently, we still don’t have adequate ventilation in the attic, and we have a leak in the roof where he did some other work. I could go on, but I won’t.
Our lesson from all of this – don’t use local-local contractors – local-local means your neighbors who live down the road who drive past your house all the time.
I think I’ve mentioned before that we would love to have the time to do a lot of the work on the house ourselves. But since we can’t, we have to find people to do it for us. Since our experience last year, we’ve had a much harder time finding people that we trust to do work for us. In some cases it seems like it’s because we are kind of out of the way – we’re an hour from Kingston and a little bit more from Saugerties. A lot of contractors from those areas, will only go as far as Phonecia for jobs that will take more than a few days. Contractors from Delaware county (Margaretville, Delhi, Roxbury) don’t seem to be willing to come the 45 minutes to an hour to where we are. There are contractors on “the mountain top” (Hunter, Windham, Prattsville) but they are harder to locate – mainly because they have less of an online presence since Internet service is so spotty in the region. Many rural service people don’t realize how important having an online presence really is for bringing in business.
We asked friends for referrals, but not everyone we know is doing the sort of home improvement work that we are doing, or they seem to have much bigger, more flexible budgets. We tried using Angie’s List, but there weren’t any listings for contractors in our area, so it wasn’t very useful. But then, Mr. Sticks discovered Service Magic (now apparently called Home Advisor). Through this site, we found a company, KC Construction to installed Gutter Pro seamless gutters on the house. They were also great to work with, gave us a good deal on covering our eaves with aluminum fascia, and the gutters look great. The jury is still out though on how well they work and if they will stand up to winter ice and snow.
Through Service Magic we also found a contractor that we’re hiring to re-do our bathrooms upstairs. We are really excited about working with him – he seems to understand what we want, he’s been very prompt about returning calls and emails, and he made us 3-D renderings to help us decide on a layout! I’m not going to jinx it by naming him yet, but we have high hopes.
The most difficult part of all of the home improvement decisions we’ve made so far is figuring out if what you are paying someone is too much, or if the deal you are getting is too good. For example, a local tree man quoted $1,000 to trim our beautiful weeping willow in our backyard. A few phone calls later and a superb job was done by Arbor Art (a company we drive past on Rt. 28 in Shokan every Friday night and Monday morning) for only $400. For the most part, we’ve tried to get multiple bids for work, but it’s difficult comparing the guy down the road to a more established person who’s backed by a larger company that is more professional. In theory, we’d like to work with the little guy and support the local-local economy, but in practice, that hasn’t always worked out for us.
What kind of experiences have any of you had with finding people to do work for you?
Sometimes I see listings where I could kick myself for not holding out longer. Last year at this time, I had been looking for a place with potential that needed renovating (which I got) in Woodstock. However, this place in Highland may have taken the prize if it had been in competition at the time! I am not sure what the “neglect” part entails- but it would be worth investigating. This place has amazing views, tons of character/mid mod appeal, a full basement, plus a pool and neat looking 2 car garage on over 2 acres. One of the best parts is the location, which could be commutable by car, or across the bridge to the train if you really wanted. It obviously needs renovating, and as I mentioned it claims neglect- so potentially that could be issues that call for re-doing the pool (big ticket item) or maybe roof, septic…or who knows, maybe the neglect is not so bad. But the bones are grand- and the views grander! If anyone gets this, give me a holler for the renovations!
|Lot:||100,188 sq ft / 2.30 acres|