In spring 2018 I had the privilege to meet and work with Bob, the successor trustee for 14 Drake Lane, the home he was raised in. The house had some deferred maintenance and was last used as a rental to help pay for his mother’s assisted living expenses. Bob lived out of town, so after reviewing my past work, he asked for my ideas and design advice to help transform his family home within a limited budget.
As part of my recommended process, we obtained inspections of the property up front. In our marketplace, buyers request inspection reports before they decide to write an offer so they can better understand the house, determine what to anticipate fixing and ultimately decide if the home is right for them. In Oakland and Berkeley, most properties are older and many homes have, on average, $35,000 in repair recommendations. As a seller, it is wise to make sure there are no big-ticket structural or system deficiencies before making cosmetic improvements.
After obtaining high-quality inspections on Drake, I created a plan for Bob’s review and approval. Every client is different, however, in this case, Bob deferred to me on colors and finishes as long as it worked within his budget. The goal for Drake was to keep the classic mid-century details and give it a fresh look without a big renovation. We wanted to provide the buyer with clean walls and floors to allow them to move right in and give them a canvas for their touches.
The kitchen floor was an old 1970’s vinyl, which we replaced with new solid oak floors matching the existing oak. This allowed the upstairs, kitchen, living and dining rooms to live as a cohesive space. The solid wood cabinets were coated with crisp white paint and new cabinet pulls to match the old copper hinges and cooktop exhaust hood. The worn tile counters and backsplash were replaced with porcelain penny round tiles, providing texture and are a nod to that mod era. The counters were a simple grey quartz known for durability and easy maintenance. The old cast iron sink was replaced with an oversized, deep stainless steel sink and gooseneck faucet providing room for large pots and sheet pans to be washed with ease.
The interior of the home was painted throughout including the brick accents. The original 1950s wood paneling was preserved as some mid-century purists covet this detail. The nailed-shut interior planter, a quintessential 1950s detail, was opened and new low-light tolerant succulents were added.
The downstairs level was given a facelift with new carpet and padding, and the 1970s wood paneling was painted white as well as the red brick fireplace surround.
All of the interior lights were replaced with new fixtures, which adds mood, style and is an important aspect of sale preparation. I look at light fixtures as equivalent to a belt or pair of shoes to an outfit.
The exterior of the house was painted with a bold trim color of black with a black garage door, and a white base color to give a salute to what homes were painted back in that day. Brass house address numbers (neither vintage or new) were replaced with Corten steel modern numbers to create warmth.
The landscaping had the additions of fresh lawn with new sprinklers and rows of ferns and Oakleaf hydrangeas. The barren brick planter was filled with fresh soil and mature succulents.
Details matter and buyers want homes that are clean, stylish and have good vibes.
Painting (interior/exterior) and window cleaning $16,000 Staging $6,800 (Staging can cost more or less; not all staging is equal and there are times that a more expensive staging may be recommended ) Landscaping $4,200
Carpet and installation $2,905
Hardwood floor refinishing and added new hardwood flooring in kitchen $7,115 Wall oven $1,573
Cabinet pulls $132
Kitchen faucet $392
Under-mount sink and tile for backsplash $418
Quartz for kitchen counters $1,047
Installation of tile backsplash, quartz counters, sink and faucet $3,450
Grout deep cleaning, new grout, and caulking in the bathroom $1,045 Handyman services (replacing some plugs/switches) $775
Hauling debris $500
Light fixtures and bulbs $1,570
House numbers and front door mat $235
When looking at this example of costs, it is important to approach it as an investment into your property that will provide you with a greater return. It would be a fair statement to say that Bob saw a 3-4 times return on his investment. In some cases, this type of renovation can/may generate interest from buyers looking elsewhere.In this case, his property sold for 23% over the asking price and went pending with multiple offers after 14 days on the market.