House-flipping has been popular for a long while – and the trend has been made even more popular by television. Not all flips are created equal, however! Since I haven’t been able to take any road trips lately, I decided to sift through Zillow and find some flips to study. I’m hoping to take a road trip soon. While Google Street View has provided “before” photos of the exteriors, I unfortunately have no such views of the interiors. Both houses are roughly circa 1920 and both were showing signs of neglect before their transformations. They are both in the Midwest; the first is in Iowa while the second is in Kansas. Let’s see how each has fared!
I’d like to know what you think about these houses in particular – and the practice of house-flipping in general!
Flip Number One:
Looking a little tired, this house retains a lot of desirable originality. Slightly projecting windows add interest to the front and side. The brickwork beneath the porch looks rough, and the newer railings flanking the steps seem to dwarf the original porch balustrade. The dish on the porch roof is not attractive. Image courtesy of Google Street View.
The same house today, “reimagined” in Blueprint Blue with trendy natural wood. The attic windows have been given a taller center window. The front door has been shoved further to the right. The projecting triple window at the side has been removed and new, larger, siding covers the original clapboard (and surgical scars). Irregular brickwork below the porch has been concealed with wood. The new balustrades are taller than the originals… no doubt due to “code compliance”. There really should be an exemption for houses built before such codes began to proliferate; they only uglify what few historic resources we have left. Image source: Zillow.com
Is it just me, or does everyone else think “Ductwork” when a ceiling has varied and unexplained height changes? The windows are clearly vinyl replacements. The staircase looks oddly new for an older house; I want to see at least a newel post. I wonder what’s under the carpet – and why it wasn’t refinished? Image source: Zillow.com
At least the varied ceiling height here was turned into an asset. The three windows used to form a sort of projecting bay; now they are nondescript. The pair of doors strikes me as having a retail character… maybe a restaurant or bar. I think the floor is vinyl plank. One corner is boxed-in… I’m thinking a chase of some sort for plumbing or ductwork. Image source: Zillow.com
The kitchen and dining room flow into each other. Do people still really want “open concept”? The backsplash is slightly dizzying… if you’re going to do tile, decide if you are going to have a repeating pattern or a random one, but don’t try to do both simultaneously! It’s nice to see some natural wood in a house where everything else is white or blue-gray. Image source: Zillow.com
I understand the need for a larger closet, but it would look better if all the wood casings in the room were of a consistent width. Image source: Zillow.com
The added height of the center window does make it more attractive – and useful – than the original. The trim around the access panel does not need to be highlighted; it would be better off gray. The awkward baseboard transition at the top of the steps is not tidy, but overall this attic appears to be a really nice bonus space. Image source: Zillow.com
Flip Number Two:
This house on a corner lot also looks tired. The front porch has been partially – and rather insensitively – enclosed. The entry appears to be on the side, but was likely on the front and under the porch roof originally. Note the original low balustrade on the side which is anchored by brick piers… this is how a Craftsman bungalow’s porch should look. Image courtesy of Google Street View. Image source: Zillow.com
Much better! Except for that center post on the front porch. I understand why it was placed there; long spans on porches like this always sag – but it doesn’t appear to be sagging in the “before” photo… hmmm. This solution is a common one, but less than desirable. Note that the shorter brick piers have been made taller… again, no doubt, for code compliance. In order to get the mandatory – and Natural Selection-defeating – 3′-0″ balustrade installed, some mason went to a lot of work to build up the shorter piers. It’s hard to match old masonry that well! The new front door, a neo-Craftsman, fits the character of the house much better than the one it replaced. Image source: Zillow.com
Original wood floors have been refinished and steal the show. This house also unfortunately has vinyl replacement windows. They look odd to me when cased with beautiful natural woodwork. Same for the doors; I think they would look better if they were of varnished wood. I’m fairly certain that the original front door was where the French doors are now. I don’t understand why one end of this room has recessed can lights and the other end has the ubiquitous ceiling fan/light combo. Image source: Zillow.com
The entry to the dining room is through what appears to be the remnant of a former colonnade. The floor patch, likely the former location of a floor furnace, could have been done more sensitively, but I give the flippers credit for saving the floors and refinishing them. To me, recessed can lights don’t look comfortable in an older house, and these are no exception. At least their use is restrained here. Image source: Zillow.com
I like the kitchen; simple, not too glitzy, and cabinetry which is compatible with the original woodwork. Image source: Zillow.com
The doors in the bedroom are new, but work well with the original woodwork. The quarter round moulding on the baseboard would have benefited from a darker stain. Image source: Zillow.com
This house doesn’t have a finished attic, but it does have a very clean and spacious basement. The numerous posts limit its potential uses, but it’s rare to find an old house basement which is as presentable as this one. Image source: Zillow.com
So, what do you think? Which is least offensive and what do you think about house-flipping in general?