[email protected]

It’s Not Shiplap

What is shiplap? It has nothing to do with ships regardless of its name.

Shiplap (a type of wooden board used on exterior walls) is a hot decorating trend that has seen “…a serious surge in popularity in new renovation, thanks in large part to its extensive use on shows like HGTV’s Fixer Upper” – according to several home renovator blogs. However, it is often confused with tongue-and-groove siding.

Chip and Joanna Gaines – HGTV’s Fixer Upper

Sorry Chip and Joanna – you got it wrong. I love you and everybody I know loves you but shiplap refers to a groove not the look of the finished product.

 

 

 

Doug Furhman of Southern Traditions Construction helps explain the differences of shiplap siding and tongue-and-groove siding in the video below.

As a Lake Martin realtor I can help you find your Lake Martin home and quickly identify homes that are move-in ready, tear down opportunities or just in need of some shiplap siding. I’d love to help you out with your Lake Martin search, so call me at 334-221-5862, or CLICK HERE to contact me.

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The Renovator’s Special – 106 Windy Trail

106 Windy Trail – Lake side before and after

Here is helpful information from one Lake Martin couple who purchased a fixer upper.

When I met with the homeowners back in December, I had no idea (and neither did they) that they would decide to sell their Lake home. I wanted to write an article for Lake Magazine about remodeling at the Lake and stopped by the cabin to take some “after” photos and ask a few questions.

Remodeling is popular these days. If you are unaware of this trend, just flip on the TV. Waco, Texas, has the adorable Chip and his wife Joanna. Los Angeles has Christina and whatever male she decides to include on her show.

So in going along with the trend of “old to new,” I thought I would write about lake home remodeling. When homebuyers come to Lake Martin, they often wrestle with this issue.

“Do I want to buy a brand new home? Or am I up for a remodel of an older home? How large of a remodel project would I like?” they might ask themselves.

I thought it might be helpful to talk to a couple that has actually been through the process and hear what they have to say. Granted, their experience is personal and limited to one home. But, they did put considerable thought into their remodel, and it might be entertaining and enlightening for all.

Here is their story:
Don and Kristie are from Birmingham, Alabama. They bought their home in 2011. It is located on the north side of Lake Martin and was originally built as a fish camp style home with concrete block construction. It was extremely functional but short on refinement.

The home’s original construction date was listed at 1960, but subsequent owners had made improvements along the way. While Don and Kristie loved the home as it was, they naturally sought to personalize it. Here’s a Q&A of their Lake Martin remodel story:

When you first started your home search, did you want to buy a home that was move-in ready, or were you looking for a fixer upper or a project?

Our first priority was to buy a home with great water frontage with pretty view and a level lot for kids to play. At our price range, that dictated a fixer upper.

When you bought it, did you envision fixing it up this much?

Yes, but not with any definitive timeline. It was just as we could afford with money and time. There was no rush because we did not live there full time, so it was nice to do a little and walk away for a bit. Being patient helped us to get to know the house and what we really wanted out of it.

106 Windy Trail Living Room before and after

 

What was your first project, and was that the same project you planned when you bought?
The house was quaint and charming, but we wanted to personalize it to our tastes. We pulled out all carpet and baseboards and slowly started to replace with a floating floor and new baseboards. During that process, we took what furnishings came with the house to refurbish pieces with paint and distressing. That helped to clear some stuff and allow for flooring. It also helped us to visualize how to put each space back together from a decorating standpoint.

Which part gave you the most instant gratification?

Paint. Paint will transform a space. If the ceilings in a lake house are not that special, consider painting them the same color as walls. It really opens up a room and makes it feel larger. That is something many people will look sideways at you for suggesting until it’s actually done.

Which part was the least fun to spend money on?

Electricians and plumbers.

106 Windy Trail Sun Porch before and after

Did you experience “project creep,” e.g., “as long as we are fixing X we might as well fix Y?”

A tad but not tremendously. To offset the creep, we would look for ways to do things inexpensively but still with good impact, things that we might not otherwise do if it was our primary home. For example, in the kitchen, we had white Formica countertops that were fine for a lake house. But we added the pass-through and purchased a remnant of honed granite for the bar top. Instead of spending thousands on the kitchen countertop, we found Formica that was basically identical to the granite. It only cost a few hundred dollars, and it looks fine for the small space.

How did you budget for this? Did you decide on a total amount to spend and wait until you had it and then start, or did you know that you wanted to do this or that project and just did it?

The rule was, if we couldn’t pay for it out of pocket, we were not doing it. That governed our time and pace. With it being a second home, we were not so antsy to ‘get it done’ immediately.

Anything you would change?

I wish I had peeked at the ceilings in the oldest part of the house during renovation. I always wondered why the ceilings were lower in the old original camp house. Far down the road after interior was done, we were working on the sun porch that required us to reveal part of the ceiling, and it was discovered there was old tongue and groove on the ceiling. It was one of those moments of “who the heck covers this up!”

What was the hardest part of remodeling from afar?

Just having to be patient knowing we had limited time to work on it and making ourselves stop to enjoy the view every now and then.

Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine.  I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine.

For more info about 106 Windy Trail contact Listing Agent John Coley at 334-221-5862 or by clicking here or email him – [email protected]

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Remodel in Parker Creek – Part 2

Part two of my Lake Martin Remodel in Parker Creek covers its interior transformation.

In a previous blog post I showed you before and after pictures of the changes made to the exterior of the home, the boat house and dock for this property in the Parker Creek area. (For the earlier post CLICK HERE  for Lake Martin Remodel in Parker Creek).

Now look carefully at the before and after pictures of the interior – no more “wood” paneling, popcorn ceilings and wall to wall carpeting everywhere. I have wood paneling at my lake house and the best I could do was merely paint over it. I am not sure how the home owners did it, but they somehow floated some sheetrock mud over the grooves in the paneling, or something. Whatever they did, the results look incredible. I thought they had pulled out the paneling and installed sheetrock.

They also tackled the popcorn ceilings. Popcorn ceilings are not all that uncommon at Parker Creek because when that area of Lake Martin was developed over the 1960s, 70s and 80s, popcorn ceilings were popular. The problem is that they are messy to remove. These homeowners removed the popcorn, right down to slick sheetrock, then painted it. Look at the difference!

The interior makeover is awesome. It was made brighter with new lighting, fresh paint, and updated interior finishes. The kitchen and bathroom countertops were replaced and tile backsplashes were added. All of the interior doors were replaced including closet doors. But enough of my talking about it – see for yourself!

I am happy to help you look for your own fixer-upper or move-in ready home in Parker Creek or anywhere on Lake Martin. Give me a call at the number at the top of the page or contact me here.

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Nothing Scary about this Basement in Lake Martin!

Like a lot of people, I love to check out how Lake Martin home buyers renovate their waterfront homes after the purchase.

I was really excited earlier this summer when I stopped by a lake home in the north Lake Martin area that I had sold a few years ago.  The young couple who bought it wanted me to see the results of their remodeling job. They renovated the bedrooms upstairs, and really put a number on the basement!

And wow – the basement (aka lake level) had been transformed!  Sometimes the word “basement” makes us think of a dark, damp and dreary space – sort of scary.  Nothing scary here!

The previous owners had used the area for storage.  While it was easy to see the potential for this large space it would not be an easy project even for the handiest DIYer or professional contractor, yet the buyers performed most of the work themselves. From design to installation of some tricky sheetrock and carpentry, this was almost 100% their remodeling work!

With this renovated lake level area the homeowners have probably doubled the size of their home.  They added a finished bedroom in the space and a bright family room with its own door to the lake side deck.  The existing bathroom was updated and expanded.  The interior stairs were improved and made more user friendly.

The exterior also received some updating.  The old single garage door was removed and replaced with two custom wood, barn style faux doors that look amazing and really add to the lake appeal of the home.

Don’t just take my word for it – look at these before and after photos below!

By the way, if you are looking for a contractor or subcontractor to help you with a remodel, renovation, or new construction around Lake Martin, CONTACT ME HERE and I would be glad to make some recommendations.

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It Takes a Village

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Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine.  I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine.

It truly takes a village of people to help buyers purchase a home here at Lake Martin.

Sure, you might be tempted to think that the only people involved are real estate agents and lenders.  While they are a great idea, agents and lenders are not necessary.  I will say that, according to the National Association of Realtors, 87 percent of buyers used Realtors last year to help them in their purchases.  Since I am an agent, this recommendation won’t surprise you, but I do think a great agent more than pays for himself or herself.  Choose one wisely.

Your agent should also be able to help you find additional people to assist in your purchase.  An effective agent should have the contact information of the below folks ready at a moment’s notice.

A first person you might need is a good general contractor or GC.  A GC’s advice can give you the data you need to be confident about your decision to negotiate with the seller and get a written contract.  You may need them to walk through the home on which you have selected to make an offer if there are big repair items, but please do not drag the GC around to every single home you view.  You want them to actually return your call when it really counts.

One of the first things to do after you have a written contract is to think about the land on which the home sits.  Before you even get to the house, it is a good idea to hire a surveyor.

When you consider that most of the value of a waterfront home is in the dirt, it’s a good idea to get data on that dirt.  A surveyor can help.  Some buyers elect to go pretty light here and only ask the surveyor to “mark the corners.”  This means simply finding each point of the property line and putting up some sort of marker.

Another option, albeit more expensive, is to get a complete survey of the property and its improvements.  At the end of this operation, you would be handed (or emailed) a survey that shows the home, the dock, the driveway and just about anything else that is on the lot.  A drawing like this can be extremely useful for future expansions but also could be helpful in case your neighbors get – shall we say – liberal with the placement of their yard art.

Most buyers are attuned to the fact that a home inspector is a critical part of the process. Make sure the one you hire after you are under contract is certified.

My personal theory on home negotiation is not to use the inspector as a way to nickel and dime the seller into having to repair every little scratch on the home; remember, most of the time the value of a Lake Martin home is in the lot anyway.  It’s just my opinion, but even though I like an inspector to point out every blemish, I am just looking for the big things.  I am mainly concerned about the expensive systems or potential repairs.  I think buyers should approach inspections with the mindset of priority, ranking the repairs according to their preferences.

Contrastingly, some aggressive buyers in our current seller’s market are forgoing a home inspection.  The mindset of these buyers is that they want to make their offers more attractive to the sellers, thus beating out any potential competing offers, since the purchase is not subject to an inspection.  If you choose that route, be careful, and be sure you understand all the risks.

A septic inspector is also a very important person, and this inspection also should be set up after the contract is signed.  A septic inspector is needed because of two factors: 1) most home inspectors will not include the septic system in the scope of the home inspection; and 2) almost every single home on Lake Martin is on a septic system.

Many of the septic tanks were built in a time when there was no building code in effect.  In fact, the only time the word ‘code’ came up back then was to describe the Lake’s temperature in January.  Septic inspections are not a must for every purchase, but a buyer would be wise to at least consider it.

Next comes a termite inspector, who is usually paid by the seller, but that’s negotiable.  This is a totally separate inspection, done by a pest control professional.

Usually a termite inspector issues a Wood Infestation Report, or a WIR.  A WIR will tell you if, on the particular day and time inspected, the home had active or previous infestations of termites, powder post beetles and/or wood-decaying fungi.

Many people I talk to think this is a bond that guarantees against the cost of future infestation. It is not the same thing.  If you want a termite bond, negotiate for it.  A WIR is only a snapshot of that day.

Also, unless the house is brand new, I would expect previous infestation.  Most waterfront homes on Lake Martin are older and have battled the humidity of the South.  This usually yields some sort of previous infestation.  Don’t let this freak you out unless the damage is so great that your home inspector is concerned.

An active infestation, however, is a showstopper.  You had better get those nasties out of there before you buy the house.

A dock person is another lake-specific professional that might not translate to your hometown.  Every Lake Martin home is different, but this could potentially be an expensive repair or an important part of a planned renovation.

If the home you like has a dock that only needs a few top boards replaced, then it is no problem. Your solution could be a carpenter if the job is that light; however, if the dock is about to fall in, or if illegal foam has been used on the floating dock, you need to get the advice of a contractor that specializes in dock construction.  A regular home inspection does not usually cover the dock or seawall; so don’t rely on it here.  Get a specialist to review the situation.

Similarly, you might need to get a dock contractor’s advice if you plan a big expansion.  What if your planned expansion would run afoul of dock regulations?  Is that a deal breaker for you? Then you had better include that in your negotiations with the seller.

Selecting a good attorney is often the last choice made in the purchase process, but that does not mean it is an unimportant one.

First of all, pick someone that is a good explainer.  I have been selling real estate on Lake Martin for more than 10 years, and I still learn something new at each closing.  When you have questions about something as important and expensive as a home purchase, it helps to have a good teacher on your side instead of a person that just spouts legal jargon.

Another critical point in selecting an attorney is his or her local title search expertise.  Just because your cousin Vinny is awesome at health care law in New Jersey doesn’t mean he is good at searching title at Lake Martin.  Our lake counties are rural areas (thank the Lord), and the title chain often includes some cornbread and collards stains.  The local title agents know the twists and turns of the local courthouses.  Pick a good one and trust the one you pick, but get the title insurance anyway because no one is perfect.

I may have left a few villagers out, but hopefully, I have named most of them.

 

 

 

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Keep It Simple: A Great Cabin Gets Better

When my clients, Kane and Emily, found this Lake Martin cabin last summer, they liked the whole package.  The home felt like a lake house, the lot was flat and wooded, there was plenty of shoreline.  It wasn’t too much house or too much lot.  It was just right.

And they knew that with a little tweaking, just a little renovation, it could be even better.  It could become “theirs.”

They’ve allowed me to share their before and after pictures of the remodel of their Lake Martin home. These photos show that simple changes like removing carpet can have a big impact.  New sod and covered entry can make a home look new.  Take a look and see how they made a difference by making smart changes during the renovation project.

Outside:

Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE – The street side entrance

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER – a covered entrance and new landscaping

The new porch on the street side of the home is not a huge addition, but adds a more welcoming (and sheltered) spot to enter the home.  The lake side of the home is similar – small additions were made, building on what was already good about the lot.  The docks and sea wall were already there, and so was the hammock between the trees.  But adding new landscaping, a sandy beach area and a fire pit, makes this yard even more liveable, and really personalized to their needs:

Home from the water before

BEFORE – A view of the home from the dock.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER – New sod and landscaping, plus a sandy beach.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: Sandy beach where a boat ramp once was.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: The view from the screened porch.

Inside:  The Kitchen and Dining Area

Inside, the changes of the redo were simple, but with great effect as well.  The floor plan remains the same, the kitchen and baths have not been radically altered.  But small changes like removing carpet make a big difference:

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE: The kitchen/eating area.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE: Another view of the kitchen area.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: No more blue carpet. New lighting.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: The floors lighten the room.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER: The eating area gets new lighting.

The Living Room

Here’s the living room – it was already in good shape.  Let’s face it, in a second home like this on Lake Martin, you’re likely to spend a lot of your time hanging out. Kane and Emily realized this, and moved the TV over the fireplace and brought in their own the furniture:

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE

Great Cabin Redo

AFTER

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER – The TV was moved over the fireplace.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER

The Master Bedroom

And finally, they removed the carpet in the lakeside master suite and it makes a huge difference!  I really had to look twice at the pictures to make sure this was the same room:

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE – Carpeted master suite.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

BEFORE – Door and window looking to the water.

Great Lake Martin Cabin Redo

AFTER – Wood floors instead of carpet in the master bedroom.

Simple Cabin Renovation Lake Martin

AFTER – This looks like a new room.

Kane and Emily started out with a great cabin. As a matter of fact, I liked it so much, I showed it to my wife and my dad a couple of years before this. So from ground zero, they had a really nice Lake Martin home. But, by calling this a “simple” renovation, I run the risk of minimizing the amount of thought, effort and resources the new homeowners put into this transformation – perhaps I should say “smart” renovation instead.  Kane and Emily didn’t go overboard.  Instead they played up their cabin’s strengths.  This is what I mean by “smart” and I think they hit a home run!

If you’re looking for a cute cabin with good bones, but you just can’t see past the orange shag carpet and faux paneled walls, give me a call 334  221 5862 or email me here.  Let’s talk about your dream home, let’s discuss what is really essential in a good Lake Martin home  investment (the dirt, the view, the waterfront) and what things can be changed or overlooked for the time being (the choice of counter material, the screened porch that could be bigger).  I’d love to help and I’d love to be your Lake Martin real estate agent.

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Unveiling a Real Island Cabin Renovation

Lake Martin home remodels are common in the Little Kowaliga / Real Island area.  It’s an older – and very popular – part of the lake, so many of the homes have been there for years.  We last visited Lee and Amelia’s Little Kowaliga cabin renovation in May.  Doug Fuhrman of Southern Traditions Construction has since put the finishing touches on the home, and a lot of summer fun has already been had.

I think it’s a great example of a smart renovation – They made the existing square footage make more sense, and they added living space where it matters most: waterfront.  The bricks and sticks of a lake home pale in value when compared to the dirt beneath them, so this couple first got the lot they wanted, and then created the home they needed.  I dropped by last week to check things out:

BEFORE renovation, lakeside

Pre Reno House Lakeside

AFTER:

Post Reno House Lakeside

Enclosing the lakeside deck with a screened porch was a no-brainer.  They added lots of waterfront living space that can be used almost year round.  For those of you wanting to know what adds value to a lake home, it’s not the closets.  It’s usable waterfront space.  I’ve never had a buyer object to a large screened porch.  Ever.

BEFORE picture of the 1980’s kitchen:

Pre Reno Kitchen

AFTER:

Kitchen after

Amelia updated everything in the kitchen, keeping the layout of the appliances the same.  They swapped out the peninsula for an island, and gained a little more room to move about the kitchen.  The floors, the windows, the walls – all new and fresh.

BEFORE – The main living area with no lakeside access and the deck outside:

Living room before

AFTER:

Living room after

New everything

fireplace in remodel

The old lakeside windows went out, and new sliding glass doors went in.  The screened porch replaced the old deck, and Viola! Room for everyone with a view of Lake Martin.

BEFORE, the home had two bathrooms, but they were awkward and outdated (and pink):

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AFTER:

Bath after IMG_4973

They had some fun with these bathrooms, and for those that are wondering, that is wood grain tile at the base of the shower.  Pretty neat.

BEFORE picture of a bedroom with the familiar green carpet:

bedroom

AFTER:

bunk room

bunk room

The bedrooms have all been freshened up with new carpet, lighting, windows, etc.  These built in bunk beds have space underneath for stowing luggage and whatever else their three sons and their buddies might bring to the lake.  In the future they may add drawers for concealed storage.

BEFORE, the side entrance

side entrance

AFTER:

Side Entrance Post Remodel

The tiny (and not very useful) covered side porch by the entrance of the house was enclosed and became part of the new living area.  New decking replaced the old concrete slab entrance, and everything feels shiny and new.

My thanks to Lee and Amelia, and to Doug Fuhrman at Southern Traditions Construction for letting us follow this renovation.  So it’s a fresh start for this lake address, and now the Lake Martin fun continues . . .

If you’re a buyer who is looking for a Lake Martin cabin to renovate, give me a call, and I’ll help you find a property that makes sense for your vision and your budget I can help you find the right combination of lot and home, just like I did for Lee and Amelia.  Give me a call at (334) 221-5862, email me at [email protected], or click here to contact me.  

Previous Posts in this series:

Real Island Renovation Begins

Real Island Renovation Part II:  Peeling off the 1980s

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Do You Really Want a Lake Martin Fixer Upper?

Many home buyers think they do.

“Oh, we love a project,” the wife might say while the husband rolls his eyes in the background. Or a husband might wave his hand at a sagging roof and say, “I can handle this, no problem,” while the wife looks on in shock at the man who doesn’t even own a hammer.Renovation

I would venture to speak the unspoken thought of us real estate agents, and say, “Really?”

Can you really handle it? Those of you with construction experience, I will acquiesce to your judgment, but only when you realize that on Lake Martin, where so much value is in the dirt, a fixer upper can be a big project.

Plus, it’s relative. One person’s tear-it-down-and-start-over home is what I might call another person’s “tooth brusher,” as in, “It’s perfect, just bring your toothbrush.”

Whatever your self-assessment, before you buy a home that you are planning to fix up, I would put three questions before you:

First, do you have the budget?

The home improvement shows on TV fail to mention the pesky issue of budgeting. If you buy a fixer upper, you need to set aside some cash above and beyond the down payment to do the work. For instance, if you buy a home at $300,000, more than likely you would get an 80 percent loan or $240,000. That leaves about $60,000, plus closing costs, that you would need to have at closing. If you planned to spend $30,000 on renovations after you buy, that’s about $90,000 cash you need to have budgeted.

Many buyers assume they will just get their renovation budget from their lender. Perhaps this worked more easily before 2008’s taxpayer bailout of the banks. An extreme example of the old way went like this: you bought a home for $300,000; it appraised for $500,000, so at closing the bank gave you $75,000 that you used for renovations. Instead of having to bring money to closing, the bank gave you money. No more. First of all, I have not seen an appraisal come in appreciably higher than the contract price in a long, long time. Even if it did, if a buyer is getting conventional financing, the loan underwriters would have a hissy fit when they saw that the buyer was putting no money down and was walking away from closing with cash. It just doesn’t happen these days. You had better have some cash for renovations.

Secondly, do you have the patience?

Once again, the home improvement shows come into play, creating unrealistic expectations for some buyers. Sure, they show little problems here and there during the fix-up project, but these snafus are easily fixed by the home reno hero. What you don’t see is the extra money it takes and the time the project was set back by the bump in the road. Home renovations are infamous for dragging on longer than expected. Are you hiring an experienced contractor who can anticipate the potential hazards and help you navigate? Are you patient enough to expect the unexpected?

Trust me, your project will not be wrapped up in a neat 30-minute TV show schedule. Things run long. If you go into the project knowing that, you will be fine.

Lastly, do you have the time?

Time to renovateYou have gotten this far, so I assume you have passed the first two tests. You have some money set aside for the home renovation, and you have promised your contractor you will be patient during the fix up. But do you have the time to make it happen?

Remember, we are on Lake Martin. You would likely be buying a home to use during the warm months. If you have spent the spring looking around, finally settled on a home, agreed to a contract with a seller, and closed, it might be Memorial Day. Look at the calendar and start counting ahead.

If your contractor tells you it’s an eight-week job, and you factor in two more weeks to be conservative, that’s 10 weeks. Ten weeks after Memorial Day is August. Are you ready to start a project that will take two thirds of your first summer on the lake? Think about it.

True, I have made the argument that Lake Martin is more than a Memorial Day-to-Labor Day place. We have year round activities. But think twice before taking on a huge fix up project in the first 12 months you own your home. I pass along the advice of architect Bryan Jones: Live in it a year. Have fun. Learn the home. Then make a plan.

I think you will be a lot happier in the long run.

The rewarding side of fixing it up

If you have the time, money, and patience to renovate a Lake Martin home, the rewards can be huge.  Don’t think I’m against a fixer upper – not at all!  I enjoy sharing “before” and “after” pictures of clients’ renovations because it helps others see what can be done with older cabins on Lake Martin.  If you get your numbers right, you can end up with a super lake home and a solid investment.  I just finished a series on a client’s cabin reno in the Little Kowaliga / Real Island area, and I’ve followed a couple of transformations in Parker Creek.  If you missed them, here are the links:

Unveiling a Real Island Cabin Renovation

Parker Creek ReThink: Making Room for Teenage Boys

Lake Martin Dream Cabin Renovation in Parker Creek

If you’re looking for a Lake Martin cabin to renovate (or if you prefer a move-in ready home), give me a call – I’d love to be your realtor.  I can help you with any property on the Lake Martin MLS, regardless of who has it listed.  Call me at (334) 221-5862, email me at [email protected], or click here to contact me.

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Real Island Reno Part 3: Advice from a Contractor

Is a waterfront construction project on Lake Martin any different than one in the city?  I wasn’t sure, so I asked Doug Fuhrman, owner of Southern Traditions Construction, and lead man on this Real Island renovation project we’ve been following.  I was hoping there would be some exciting insider scoop I could offer my readers, but Doug’s response was,  “Not really.”

Ha!

OK.  So since construction is construction, no matter where you are, let me offer some real estate tips based on my experience selling homes on Lake Martin.  While these things may seem painfully obvious, you’d be surprised by what some folks do to their waterfront homes:

1) Windows and doors:

You are at Lake Martin to enjoy the water, even if you never dip your toes in it.  You need to see it.  And even better if you can see it from lots of places inside a home.  Why stick a tiny window in a great room when you can use a big one?  Seems pretty obvious to me, but you’d be surprised.  No buyer ever says, “I liked the house, but there was just too much view of the lake from the home.”

It’s hard to tell from the angle of this picture below, but across the front of the great room (back wall of the new covered porch) is a wall of glass.  New sliding doors have replaced a set of smaller windows, and the new bedroom addition on the right has wall to wall windows (minus space on the left for a closet, and the far right for the new master bath).  This is not fancy architecture; it’s just putting more of the lake in front of your eyes.

Real island Reno Stage 3 6

Before: Real Island Reno Outside

2) Covered outdoor living space

It gets warm here.  It also gets sunny.  And every now and then it rains.  The picture above is a great example of an outdoor space that is OK, but how much more use would it get if it had a roof?  The new owners of this home agree, and are creating a covered space that will be comfortable all day long – rain or shine.  Again, no buyer has ever said, “The inside of the house was great, but I don’t want that huge screened porch.”

3)  Access to the water

Make it easy to get from the house to the water.  A few years ago I sold a $500k waterfront home that literally had no way to get to the water (other than climbing over a wall and scrambling down a very long hill).  This was one of the first issues the new owners corrected, and imagine how much easier it is to enjoy Lake Martin!  Make it a priority to have the fewest steps possible to get from the inside of the home to the dock, and if the only way to the water does not cut through the master bedroom, even better.

In the process of rethinking this Real Island home, Lee and Amelia decided to add sliding glass doors to the front of the home where there was no lake access before, plus keep the side entry for folks coming in from the street.  Simple and efficient, and with a eye toward the lake.

Real Island Reno Stage 3 4

If you’re looking for a home in the Real Island / Little Kowaliga area, check out my Little Kowaliga Neighborhood page.  You’ll find all kinds of info on this part of Lake Martin, and most importantly, you’ll find a live feed from the MLS with all homes that are currently for sale in this area.

If you have ANY questions about Lake Martin real estate, give me a call at (334) 221-5862 or click here to email me.  My job is help people buy and sell homes, and I serve the Lake Martin area 100% of the time.

If you have construction questions, however, I am not your guy.  Give Doug Fuhrman from Southern Traditions Construction a call at (334) 531-3914 or email him at [email protected], and he’ll be happy to share his years of construction wisdom with you.

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Parker Creek ReThink: Making Room for Teenage Boys

Sometimes a Lake Martin waterfront purchase is all about the lot.  Sometimes it’s all about the home.  In this case, for my buyers, it was all about where to put their three teenage boys plus their friends.  Two summers ago, Kent and Andrea found a cabin with a large wooded lot and a great view of Parker Creek near Parker Creek Marina.  The cabin was cute, but they really needed a little more room . . .

If you’re looking for a home on the west side of Lake Martin (Kowaliga Bay, Little Kowaliga / Real Island, Parker Creek), you’ll find a good number of older cabins that are dated or don’t have a modern, open flow.  Some of these cabins have been added onto over the years and are a little wonky.  But if you like the lot and the view, I urge buyers to be open minded about the home – that is the one factor you can change.  Sometimes buyers have a hard time visualizing a remodeled home while standing in the midst of fake paneling and little choppy rooms, hence my recent efforts to share some recent renovations and give buyers inspiration.

I drove by Kent and Andrea’s house in my boat last week and took a few pictures.  They graciously said I could share them with you, to give you a taste for what a remodel or facelift can do for an older lake home.  They expanded the home, adding living and sleeping space, but did not stray far from the original footprint.  The result is a fun home with modern conveniences and room for all the guys:

Pre Renovation View from the Water:

Parker Creek Rethink Old Waterfront

Post Renovation Water View:

Murray's Lake Home April 2013 - 2

Pre Renovation Street Side of the Home:

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 2.52.50 PM

Post Renovation Street Side of the Home:

Murray's Lake Home April 2013 - 1

So how do you know how much money to put into a Lake Martin renovation?

Think about the LOT first.  You don’t want to overbuild, so consider things like water depth, view, privacy, etc.  On a lot like this, with a view like theirs, Kent and Andrea could not really overbuild.  It’s an awesome lot.  In the back of a tight slough without year round water, however, buyers need to be conservative.

If you’re looking for a home in the Parker Creek area, check out my Parker Creek Neighborhood Page.  Here you’ll find all kinds of info on this part of Lake Martin, and most importantly, you’ll find a live MLS listing all the homes that are currently for sale in Parker Creek.  I have Neighborhood Pages for most of the neighborhoods on Lake Martin, and they’re a great resource to utilize when house hunting.

If you’ve been searching the MLS and are feeling frustrated with the homes you see, give me a call.  I can help you pinpoint the homes in your price range with most potential.  That’s my job.  My number is (334) 221-5862, or you can click here to email me.  I’d love to be your realtor.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Dream Renovation in Parker Creek

Real Island Renovation Begins

Real Island Renovation Part Two: Peeling Off the 1980’s

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