If “Property Brothers” proves anything, it’s that people can get stuck in big projects involving their home, and need help from Jonathan and Drew Scott to get moving. The latest episode is a prime example of home buyers mired in renovation limbo. It’s where you start remodeling but, all too soon, progress grinds to a halt.
In the episode titled “Reno Interrupted,” we meet Canadians Janna and Larry, who bought a home to remodel … two years ago. Larry, a plumber, thought he could do the work himself, but he bit off more than he could chew. Furthermore, he and Janna were deadlocked after countless fights and disagreements, and that was just to get the demo done and strip the place down to the studs.
Meanwhile, they’ve been living with Janna’s parents, whose house is so crowded, the only space left for their toddler, Noah, is the small dining room. Janna and Larry have set up Noah’s toys, bed, and even the changing table in there, which kind of turns our stomachs. Diapers and dinner really don’t mix.
Now, Larry wants to find something turnkey that they can move right into and not have to fight about changes. But the couple are also picky, so the Scott brothers struggle to find something that pleases them both. In the process, they deliver a a ton of smart real estate advice that could help other homeowners (and buyers) get unstuck, too. Read on!
Don’t pay more than a house is worth
Janna and Larry find one house they both like, and it’s listed for $769,000. Drew explains the sellers are likely trying to capitalize on the great neighborhood, and are asking too much. He encourages the couple to bid $740,000, which they do. The sellers counter at $760,000.
“Don’t let them creep above the value of the house,” Drew cautions, encouraging them to walk away. The bank won’t lend more than a house is worth anyway, so it’s unlikely they could get a mortgage on it at that price.
Rather than buying, consider renovating what you have
After a long and fruitless house hunt, the Scotts suggest revisiting the house the couple had started to renovate. After all, they already own the home. It is just the right size, is only five minutes from family, and—get this—is now worth at least $100,000 more than when they bought it two years ago, even stripped down to the studs. They wouldn’t even be able to afford it today!
Yet those two years of renovation limbo have given this couple a bad hangover.
“The best way to wash over those bad memories is to complete the project the way you always wanted, the way you always dreamed, and create new, amazing memories,” says Drew.
Besides, this time, Jonathan could do all the reno work, so there would be nothing to fight over. Eventually the couple see the sense in this plan and decide to stay put.
Get support from a ‘sister’
Not only has the renovation been interrupted, the ceiling joists have been, too. Some worker cut big chunks out of one of the supporting ceiling joists to install ductwork, so the joist no longer supports the ceiling the way it should.
Jonathan tells the couple that they don’t have to replace that particular beam—there’s room to run a “sister” joist alongside it and he can glue them together. That way they’ll be even stronger, and up to code.
Don’t skimp on the electrical
In the basement, Jonathan finds the fuse box has been jerry-built like crazy, with holes drilled in it and wires draped about like spaghetti. It’s going to cost $3,000 to replace it, Jonathan says, but it must be done, or else the whole house could burn down. There’s a good reason for most building codes.
Try a wooden screen on the stairwell
The basement staircase comes right up in the middle of the floor, and there needs to be something to keep people from falling down the stairwell. Instead of a pony wall or a railing that people could fall over, Jonathan suggests creating an attractive screen made of wooden slats that goes from floor to ceiling. That way light still comes in, but the stairwell is completely blocked off.
Break up the backsplash
Jonathan suggests adding some novelty to the kitchen backsplash by using different tile, laid in a different direction, behind the stove. It looks terrific, is practical, and costs very little.
Radiant heating is not a last-minute addition
Janna decides she wants radiant floor heating in the entry hall. This is Canada, after all, and it can be wicked cold outside. Good thing she decided on that just minutes before the tile was laid, or they would have had to dig it up. If she had waited a few more hours, the new tile would have been toast.
Do the Scott brothers deliver?
The couple paid $759,000 for the house, and Larry was able to work on the plumbing himself. This helped them keep reno expenses to $155,000; all in all, they came in just under their all-in budget of $915,000.
The couple are ecstatic, because they know they have a much better home than they ever would have been able to afford otherwise. And Janna’s parents are happy as well—no more diaper changes in the dining room. Phew!