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THE KLARA PROJECT - Part 2 The Great Wall - Battling My Frienemies...

Posted on February 22, 2019 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (100)

In the towns that I work in trying to buy an investment property is a challenge. There are many, many people out there who are looking to renovate and resell houses. Some of them are very good (these are my "frienemies"), some not so good and there are some that never should be allowed to work on a house again. I once left a broker open house distraught and physically ill having seen what a "flipper" had done to a great home. Unfortunately in my business I often find myself saying to clients, "It's when bad things happen to good homes".

With so many investors and such little inventory, when a property with great potential comes on the market it often ends up in a bidding war with multiple bids. And while I support, cheer on and give advice to those people who do amazing work, it's a highly competitive market I work in, hence my "frienemies" and I are always vying to buy the same properties.

But Klara was different.

The one big issue that investors saw as a major draw back and a reason to pass on the property was the backyard and the work that needed to be done there. The house is situated at top of a ravine and the stone retaining wall was in shambles and needed to be completely replaced. Luckily for us Alex, the contractor that I work with, had no issue taking on the arduous task of fixing the wall.

I was told that the wife of the couple that had owned the house had worked for a company that made headstones. It was said that she would take the rejected stones and the couple would use them as "fixes" for the wall. Which explains why we would find large pieces with names carved in them!

After all the big stones were cleared away, a deep trench had to be dug.

An early snow fall held us up.

Huge railroad ties were used to create the wall and areas that would hold the stone and gravel needed as part of the drainage system.


What's interesting is that while we were constructing this, and by "we" I mean Alex, I saw a show on Machu Picchu and how they built drainage systems on the side of a mountain and it was the same technique that we are still using today!

Alex and the wall.

Huge wall.  No fake "National Emergency" needed to get it built.

Once the wall was built and passed it's final inspections, we put a fence on top of it. This stockade fence is not what I would have chosen but given that the house is going up for sale and a family with young children could potential buy it, meant that safety needed to be my first concern when figuring out which fence to put up.  It would be easy enough for any buyer to later take down this fence and put up one more suitable to their liking.

And once the weather warms up a bit we'll cover the stones with 6 to 8 inches of dirt and top soil.

While the wall was being built there was still a lot of other work on the outside of the house that needed to be done. We wanted to fix up old blue stone walkways, create new ones and build a new large front blue stone porch.

Up Next: Post Demo Construction and the Design Process Begins!!


Posted on February 9, 2016 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (5)

I've been asked by an Estate Executor to sell a condo located a half block from the heart of downtown Maplewood.  This is a fabulous property for anyone looking to sell their large family home, downsize, and stay in the area.  This 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath, is easily maintained, yet still big enough for visitors and sleepover guests.  Situated at 14 Highland Place, you're within walking distance to shops, restaurants and the train to NYC. 

But before I could put this property on the market there was the matter of getting it "market ready".  My plan is simple.  Clear it out, clean it up, paint, replace windows, and redo the kitchen entirely.

First up, the clear out.  Three, full, Got Junk truck loads later, and this is what I was left to work with.

Next on the schedule, carpet cleaning and painting.

Get the Look: Tudor Style

Posted on October 14, 2014 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (99)

Here in the townships of South Orange and Maplewood we are truly fortunate in that we have a rich diversity of architecture.  On any given street you can find a mixed bag of home styles.  From Victorian to Ranch, Modern to Contemporary and the Colonial with all it's sub-styles, Side-Hall, Dutch and Georgian.  The uniqueness of each street keeps us fresh and interesting and holds off the stigma of "sameness" that most suburban towns suffer from.

As someone who loves houses, this area is special and one of the reasons my wife and I moved here.

One of the home styles that graces our streets is the Tudor Style.  We have many houses for sale on the market right now that are Tudor homes.  And like homes of all styles, many of these need an updating.  Here's a link to a fantastic article and slideshow from Tradition Home on Tudors and how to decorate them.  You can of course go traditional, bring back the luster of an earlier era, 1900 - 1940, when a lot of these homes were built.  Or update and renovate for 21st century living; open up some walls, paint the woodwork white, etc.  A lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction when I say white wash the woodwork, they think it unthinkable.  But if you check out the slide show you'll see just how designers are doing it all the while keeping the charm of the original.

If you'd like advice on how to renovate, decorate or re-imagine your home please feel free to contact me.  My wife and I would love to come talk to you.  We love houses and looking at yours with you would be our pleasure.   


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