The Villa Park house and duplex was one of the last properties Sue Ann and Lee bought before forming Hermit Haus Redevelopment with Carol and Russell. The property was initially attractive because the house and duplex had been superficially renovated (we found out just how superficially later), had excellent landscaping all around, and looked like it would cashflow well, even purchasing it at near retail in a buyer’s market.
While the house needed only minor work to bring it to code, the duplex was another matter all together. We ended up mostly demolishing and redeveloping the duplex into a second three-bedroom nanny suite, which we call the casita.
It took quite a while and a zoning change to get the permits to rebuild the nanny suite. Once we had them, the amount of demolition required exceeded the scope of the original permits. This excess was mostly because of foundation problems we had overlooked in the inspection report. (Yes, even though we’ve been doing this a while we always hire a professional inspection of every home we buy. I just don’t always pay enough attention to the report.)
Getting permits that covered the expanded scope was like of déjà vu all over again. Construction halted, and we were left with the second story and roof suspended in mid-air for months while we prayed severe weather didn’t blow down the whole structure. It was nerve wracking, probably more so for the very patient tenants in the main house.
By the time we finally got the updated permits, Hermit Haus Redevelopment had been formed, and we decided to document the remaining redevelopment process process in a series of blog posts on this site. Investors and regular homeowners can learn from our efforts to save this unique property.
2016 found the interior being completed, and a really cute little mini-house rising from the rubble. It’s gorgeous on the inside, with a huge master bedroom suite taking up the entire second floor, and two nice bedrooms and a bathroom downstairs. The kitchen is clean and white, and the living area looks out onto a large porch. That all went really well (see photo gallery at the end).
Then came the spring floods of 2016. We were required to completely re-do the water supply to the house, which required demolishing much of the driveway and putting in new pipes and controls. It kept raining, which made digging hard. Finally, the new pipes were installed and we were ready for inspection. BOOM. The biggest flood yet. Water filled the open hole where the new water lines were, raised it up, and broke it. The contractors could not fix it until the ground dried. And it rained a LONG time.
While it was raining, we did fix up the inside of the main house on the property, since no one could rent it while the back was such a mess. We put in some beautiful floors that made the whole home look more elegant. We repainted the interior and did some landscape work, thanks to our partners who have been living there while looking for their next homestead flip (we are a band of roving wanderers!)
After it finally got fixed, the dealings with the inspector began. Sometimes an inspector just doesn’t like a project. We are not sure why (doesn’t like nanny suites? doesn’t like our contractor? doesn’t like us?), but the inspector continually found new and interesting things to fail the house on. The HVAC had to be put on a higher platform. Something wasn’t perfect with the electrical (the code changed from when the house was first done to when it got inspected, thanks to the delays). Some kind of warning system had to be set up on the water pipes, and it failed. And finally, when we thought surely all was well, the entire property had to be re-graded and the drainage improved. This post and this post from September 2016 have more photos and more details on our woes.
It wasn’t until November 2016 that we got a certificate of occupancy. It needed to have some grass put in and a parking area installed. What happened next? It started to rain again! But by gosh, some of our team are going to LIVE in that casita while we finish another renovation! Yes!
The final two photos in the gallery show the house with actual furniture in it. It lives great! Our future renters will appreciate all the work we did to it.