Hey “Fixer Upper” fans: If you’re pining to watch more run-down old houses morph into modern abodes with historic charm, you’re in luck! No, Chip and Jo Gaines aren’t back on the air (at least, not yet), but “Bargain Mansions” may deliver a similar home makeover fix.
In this show, which just aired its season two premiere on the DIY channel (Wednesdays at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central), designer Tamara Day and her dad, Ward Schraeder, snag unbelievable deals on big, dark, dreary properties in Kansas City and then restore them, preserving their historic character and unique architectural features while incorporating modern layouts and amenities.
“Kansas City is full of inexpensive, big, old mansions in a decrepit state that scare away most buyers, but these are the homes I want the most,” says Day. “With lots of time and TLC, I can turn the properties into spacious, stylish homes that are perfect for today’s families.”
Want proof? In the first episode of the second season, “Corbels and Chaos,” this father-daughter duo have their way with a 3,200-square-foot home built in 1938. They paid $340,000 for it, and expect to put $200,000 and 10 weeks into the project. Among other things, they will add a couple of bathrooms—the place has four bedrooms, but only one bath!
Before they’re done, they’ll create a cozy living room that flows into a gorgeous kitchen with a cathedral ceiling. To add value, they’ll also convert the unfinished basement into a suite, and to boost curb appeal, they’ll move the main door from the side of the house to the front. Here are some of the great tips this team passes along that might inspire you to redo your own digs.
Don’t be scared by a house stripped down to the studs
The reason: It’s likely you’ll have to demo the inside anyway. Since this house was nothing but studs, with most of the fixtures removed, Day says, “I got it for a bargain, and they saved me a ton of money,” in that she didn’t have to do much of the demo herself.
An egress window adds value
An egress window is a window large enough, as defined by local business codes, to climb into or out of in case of an emergency. If you want to convert your basement into an official bedroom, it’s a must-have.
In addition to adding to the value of your home, it makes it safer, and, perhaps best of all, adds a lot of light. It costs Day and Schraeder $1,500 to add an egress window, because they have to install additional support to the wall above the window and dig out an egress well in front. But Day believes it was well worth it.
Ditch the dropped ceiling
This home had a pitched roof, yet for some reason, someone along the way put a dropped ceiling over the kitchen, making it seem small, dark, and cramped. To remedy that, they rip out the low ceiling and expose a beautiful cathedral ceiling, which they enhance with a cedar beam. Then they add a larger, multipaned window that draws the eye up and the light in. The kitchen feels twice as large.
Hunt for treasure in the garage
Although you may feel dismayed upon finding that your home’s previous owners forgot to remove all the junk from the garage, there might be some pleasant surprises hidden in there. You can often find old doors, windows, or other architectural accoutrements that could be renewed and used in the home. In this case, Day finds several stacks of used bricks that she’ll use to create a front walk.
A corbel is a solid piece of material fastened to a wall that juts out and supports a roof, overhang or balcony. Rather than add bulky pillars to the front porch, Day opts to support the new, pitched porch roof with decorative custom corbels. She has a woodworker fashion them, and they look fantastic, fitting in perfectly with the old European theme of the original house.
Add the garage to the house
Day confesses that she’s never incorporated an attached garage into a living space before, but in this case, it makes total sense, since the garage already has another room in the back that could add even more square footage to this house. Once that’s done, she builds a new, detached garage outside. Building costs for garages are significantly lower than building costs for a primary house.
Lace in new wood with old
If you have wood floors that look good in some parts but are ruined in others, you don’t have to rip the whole floor out—you can lace in new planks made of the same type of wood. Then you sand them all together and stain, seal, and refinish the whole floor. A skilled flooring professional can make it look as good as new.
How does this bargain mansion turn out?
So, when all the proverbial dust has settled, how does the reno end? Turns out this is such a big project, Day and Schraeder spend the first episode redoing the downstairs and basement, and they’ll finish the upstairs bedrooms in the next episode. Stay tuned for more tips next week!
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