The St. John house was our first project in San Antonio. It started out as a joint venture with Andress & Three, LLC—the same folks we worked with on the Ash House in Temple. This was a really sad house. From what I have learned, I’m glad I don’t know all of the details. But our job is to make it a happy home for somebody again.
We had it on the market for quite a while once Larry decided it was finished. There are lots and lots of photos are available on the St. John on the Market post. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see its state at the time it went on sale.
Well, there were two factors that made the house hard to sell. First, the neighborhood took a sudden downturn right after it went on the market. No one wanted to buy a house when they had to push aside drug dealers to go look at it. After we took it off the market to decide what to do with it, the air conditioning unit walked away and a squatter moved in for a while, messing up the walls and floors.
Also, it turned out that what looked in photos like a good remodeling job actually wasn’t. Already we were unhappy that the house was not painted the gray we asked for. The dark blue color combined with the yellow front door turned out to look like a Wal-Mart store. That’s not ideal. We were sad to see that the porch floor was poorly painted plywood, and the back wasn’t completely painted.
The Good News
Larry decided to sell his interest in the house to us, and we’re going to get that thing sold. The reason we’ve decided to go ahead and finish fixing the house (as of July 2017) is that the neighborhood has taken another upswing. This time it looks more permanent. There is a nice, new house going up next door, which will add to the appeal of this poor old thing. It deserves a chance to really shine.
We will list blog posts on this project after the “before” pictures below!
The First Rehab
The rest of this article talks about what was done earlier to the house. From the pictures, it looked quite nice! Hint: don’t just go on pictures from your contractor. Go to the house.
Larry had already started on the project before he brought it to us, so I don’t have any actual before pictures. Even so, the first day on the project, the GC hauled away three dumpsters of refuse. The earliest picture I have shows two dumpsters in the front yard. Our contractor hauled away three full dumpsters of garbage just to get started on the house.
We cleared away several trees that were oppressing the curb appeal of the house and encroaching on its structure. That brought in a ton of additional light, cheering the visage and eliminating threats to the house’s stability.
The second picture at right shows the huge effect just scraping all the old paint off had on the house. You can see the lovely lines and interesting features. Painting it dark gray with creamy accents will really make it look sharp.
The back yard was almost as much of a mess as the front. It was full of trash, and you could just make out the foundation where a small garage may have once stood. There is access to the backyard from the alley, which gives the house a second, more private entrance.
There was also an ugly awning from the 1960s (at the latest). It was in poor condition with iron support poles losing the fight with rust. The awning itself covered half of the kitchen window, lending a gloomy, Lovecraftian air to the kitchen. It had to go.
Although filled with garbage, the living room was the nicest room in the house. It had suffered very little from the decades of neglect that had afflicted the rest of the house.
The kitchen was tiny, cramped, and completely unsuited for modern life. Although the cabinets were not beyond saving, we gutted the kitchen to make room for a clean, safe, modern entertaining space. We opened a wall between the kitchen and dining area for a more open concept. We also brought more light into the kitchen by taking down an awning in the back yard that covered more than half of the kitchen window.
The bathroom was a total loss. Years of leaking pipes had rotted away the floor and subfloor and damaged the beams. This all required a lot of framing and plumbing to repair.
For some reason, there was a second door off the front porch that lead to the front bedroom. We sealed this entrance for added security and salvaged the door, which was in excellent condition, to replace the original front door, which was beyond restoration. Other than that, paint and flooring.
It was a mess, but just needed paint and cleaning.
Finished House (first rehab)
What a difference a few months of work made!