Planting Seeds

At the inception of EcoLiving Property, we aimed to have a positive impact on the properties we touched and the communities surrounding them.  We wanted to inspire others to follow our influence and see how homes can be renovated in a mindful way which reduces harm to the environment.  We knew with every project we would find ways to improve our own system; increase the sustainable ideas and decreasing the waste.  We knew we would face challenges and that others would doubt our ability to accomplish our goals.

What I failed to realize is the positive impact we would have within our own house and with the next generation EcoLiving home rehabber.  My daughter has absorbed so much of the business from how we preview a property and estimate repairs, to what products we use in our projects and how we market.  She can recite many of the things I tell to real estate agents, contractors and fellow investors about our business.  And she is excited about some day being responsible for her own project.  Now if she could differentiate between colors/patterns of her own preference and the preferences of the majority of buyers I would say she is about ready.

This knowledge and experience will give her financial security early in life by recognizing the value of real estate and understanding the business.  Even better, she identifies the desire to protect the environment.  I have no doubt my daughter will continue to improve our processes and share the positive influence until the environment will no longer need protection.  I’m just grateful to be planting the seeds.

This Week’s Head Ache

There are bound to be hiccups during the home redevelopment process.  Sub-contractors quit, wood flooring is too thin to be sanded and refinished one more time and lumber for decking disappears – unfortunately all of these things have recently occurred and we have worked through them and kept going.  This week one of the head aches we have struggled with the most is trying to find a way to reuse the clawfoot tub for The Genessee Project.  As Kansas City’s environmentally friendly home redevelopment company we aim to repurpose what’s existing instead of buy new whenever possible.

The tub was left in the house by the previous homeowner but had never been installed.  Screenshot (15)Seeing as it goes with the character of this century old victorian property, we opted to reintegrate it into the hall bathroom.  With naive optimism we assumed finding hardware and installing plumbing would be as easy as a Sunday afternoon soak…  Select a tub faucet, handle, shower faucet done – right?  Let’s just say, after hours of searching, conversing about and re-searching faucet options – we still don’t feel like we have determined how this bathroom will take shape.

Vintage-clawfoot-bathtubIn place of continuing to shop for faucets that don’t exist, I turned to a google search for “clawfoot tub images.”  This will help give me some direction for what to look for, I thought.  It didn’t take me long to find almost exactly the tub we have in the house with the same three holes and where they are positioned.  Enlarging the image showed it was attached to an article link entitled “Why You Shouldn’t Install A Clawfoot Tub.”

Oh the irony…  If we hadn’t already invested so much time and been so stubborn about making it work – it may have ended up out in the yard as a planter.  I’m making this declaration heard:  We will be conquering the clawfoot and this bathroom will be a masterpiece!

tub planter

What’s happened to Midtown Blue?

This project is about ready to be listed.  We are indescribably proud of the energy and effort we put into this property to maintain the integrity of this 100-year-old shirtwaist home.  It is in a fantastic location just a few blocks South of the coveted Union Hill neighborhood and will have an easy connection to hop onto the Kansas City Streetcar as the expansion continues down Main Street.  This property is ideal for anyone who wants the luxury of their own house with easy access to downtown Kansas City.

The renovation of this house was not an easy project to tackle, however, we wanted to stay true to our mission and make environmentally sound decisions.  This meant we took time to hold an estate sale to sell off then donate remaining belongings in the house rather than send everything to a landfill.  We replaced all the windows to reduce energy loss and ensured all the new appliances carried an energy star rating.  Instead of tearing out the interior down to the studs; we worked to preserve original lathe and plaster, trim and flooring where possible.  This reduced waste and also maintained the character and charm.

The following are some before and after pictures of some of the improvements.  If you would like to know more about this property you can text 1632 to (913)246-5566 

Livingroomb&aOne of the first tasks to this project was reinforcing the main beam in the basement of the house to ensure it will continue to be structurally sound for another century.  The house had a noticeable droop in the middle and walls were cracking and some doors were not level because of this.  Then, throughout the main floor we refinished the wood floors and trim.  We fixed the pocket door between the dining room and office and opened part of the wall between the kitchen and dining room.  We removed the drop ceiling and paneling, updated all of the electrical and added new light fixtures.

kitchenb&aBeyond opening the kitchen to the dining room, we also reduced the full bathroom to a powder room in order to add more cabinet and counter top space into the kitchen.  The new cabinets, counter tops, tile and paint compliment the classic design of the property.  It was important to us to maximize the kitchen design to include the most storage space as possible while not interfering with the back entrance to the house or basement door.  We overcame this challenge while still maintaining the big open feeling everyone desires in a kitchen.

officeb&aThe office is on the main floor with access from three doorways; the front hall, dining room pocket door or the kitchen.  It was also a victim of the drop ceiling and paneling.  We also had some damage to the wood floors in this room which was able to be remedied to blend.mastersuiteb&aOne of the greatest improvements to Midtown Blue is the addition of a master suite.  Fortunately this room already had a grand size walk in closet which we know is not always the case in houses built in this era.  Once the clutter was cleared we were able to construct a plan to open a doorway between two bedrooms to add an en suite bathroom.  The second bedroom (the blue room) also provided a stairway to finish the attic into livable space.  The master suite is stunning and we are slightly jealous of the future homeowner who will get to lay their head down here each night.

This house will hit the market very soon so if you or someone you know is interested in a fantastic midtown location with a house you can be confident is redeveloped with integrity reach out to EcoLiving Property.   If you would like to know more about this property you can text 1632 to (913)246-5566. 

The Party House (828)

We purchased “The Party House” and got started working on demo in February of this year.  Even when we stripped it of it’s dance floor, 8 track shelf, castle-like entrance and bar; the name remained and the ‘fun’ of the party continued.  We had quite a few hurdles to overcome working on this property and felt triumphant to get it to a state we are proud of.  Beyond the success of a beautiful transformation and quick sale, we also had another priceless event to make this flip even more memorable.

The property is a ranch style house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs plus a full basement with an additional bathroom and two rooms which could be used as bedrooms.  It was a massive project to take on with some major obstacles not typical of every redevelopment project.  We wanted to keep some of the features the last owner had spent so much time and energy to personalize the home and add some of our own re-purposed materials.  One of the biggest challenges was managing how to change the not so functional spiral staircase into something unique to fit the character of the home.  Now the house is clean, warm and ready for the next owners to tailor to suit their needs.

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The new basement is bright and inviting, we had to use a few barrels from the old bar just for staging and the memory of how far this basement has come.  *Still a fun place for a party.*

After a rush of showings and a few offers within the first 48 hours on the market, our realtor called to say she had been contacted by one of the people who used to live in the house.  I was put in touch with Liz, the daughter of the former owners, who expressed her gratitude for someone buying and fixing up the home she loved so dearly.  We agreed to meet and show them how the house looks now.  Liz and her niece Jessica, who was also raised in the home, came to walk though last weekend.  It was an emotional trip down memory lane for them to see the changes and to appreciate seeing the house “brought back to life,” as Liz put it.

Liz recalled when her family moved from across the street in the 70’s and how important this neighborhood was to introduce both her and her sister to their husbands.  She FullSizeRender (1)remembered carrying bricks between the houses to construct the patio, how her dad put a giant freezer in the storage area and then built walls around it, and the hours spent on the pool table and entertaining in the basement.  She talked about where the original stairway to the basement was and how her dad “got a wild hair” to put in the spiral staircase in the middle of the entryway.  And she is looking forward to bringing home whiskey barrels from the bar as her own memento, as she remembered her dad’s dedication to making wine that everyone said tasted awful.  Jessica also had fond memories of the home and especially the bedroom in the corner where her name remained on the wall when we bought the house.  We had been calling the pink room “Jessica’s Room” all along.  She reported unfortunate memories of taking a few tumbles down the stairs when she was young.  And remembered dancing with her cousins on the dance floor and mimicking a champagne celebration by shaking up sprite, loving the sound and feeling of shoes sticking on the wooden floor.

It was extra validation of a job done well to hear from people who lived in and loved this home.  They adored the improvements of opening up the main level living area, adding a laundry room upstairs and brightening up the basement with a sliding glass door and removal of dark paneling.  They appreciated the original touches remaining in the house which blend in now with the fresh space.  Liz stated she believed her mother, who wasn’t able to keep the home and has since passed, would be so pleased to see what has become of her home.  It was an honor to have Liz and Jessica visit, hear their stories and to have them feel so happy about the effort we put into this renovation.  The business of flipping houses can be profitable and it’s the impact on people’s lives which is truly priceless.

Consistent Distractions

We take our job very seriously.  We have invested a lot of time and energy into learning our trade and understanding the business.  Naturally we love the design aspect, shopping, checking out properties, educating about creating a healthier earth and watching  home transform.  And it’s critical we understand the systems to doing things the right way and avoid unnecessary risk.  When it boils down to it, it’s crazy fun.

Life as a real estate investor means we live on the fly, how we spend our days often gets made up as we go.  The best scheduled plans can quickly get detoured when a potential deal needs to be accessed because offers are made quickly.  Part of the excitement of the business is the unpredictability and it can also be a source of frustration.  At times we have found ourselves distracted by the excitement and wasting time on the wrong tasks.

Because of the tendency to chase shiny things, we have begun to emphasize improving our systems to implement tasks and routines with flexibility.  This allows us to keep focused on structure while still allowing for unplanned events.  We time block when to work on marketing, communications, renovation tasks, analyzing deals, education and networking meetings.  We keep each other accountable for sticking to assigned tasks and staying focused.  Our business is more productive because of this method.

Keeping in mind the necessity of avoiding distractions, I stood in our construction zone making a mental note of all of the duties which would need to be worked on over the next few days.  Tile on the kitchen floor to be repaired, trim around the windows, installing appliances, paint etc.  I placed a phone call to the contractor to go over what I was seeing when outside the window I spotted a flash of white.  Grateful to have the major part of my conversation completed, my focus wavered from his words to narrow in on the bright spot across the street.  I darted to the window like a labrador retriever and there it was, a small furry ghost on the tree, the neighborhood albino squirrel.  Okay, so we are not perfect.  We can’t time block everything and may still chase ‘shiny things’ on occasion.

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Not the actual squirrel, you would stop to look too wouldn’t you?