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It’s been almost a year since I completed my last home renovation. Overall I’ve been very happy with the results. It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot and in the end I’ll be able to sell the property for much more than I’ve put into it. It is time to do another. However, this time I decide to bring in some help. My girlfriend, Carri, and I formed a company Cord Renovation to continue with renovating foreclosures.

The process for finding a property went just about the same as the last. The Sheriff’s sales are posted a month in advance so there is plenty of time to research a property. Once I had a copy of the list, I could do drive by inspections for the next 4 weeks of sales in an afternoon. Once prospective properties were identified, I would look at the recent comparable sales come up with a figure I would bid up to. From that point, it was just a matter of waiting. Waiting for the weekly auction, and then the for the buying opportunity. One big change this go around involved using cell phones to participate in the auction. The Tulsa auctions allow proxies to bid, so it is possible to sit at home or in the office and follow each auction on an assistants cell phone. I could hear everything and give instructions if necessary, but mainly I just listened. This method worked fine, but I happened to attend the auction for the property I ended up with.

Out of the hundreds of listing over a 10 to 12 week period, a mere dozen or so looked promising. Out of those few, about half of them were recalled the morning of the auction. The few that I was able to bid on went far past my bidding target, usually by the mortgage company. However, during one auction a property I had overlooked came up NO/Bid No/Sale, which meant it would come back up again in six weeks or so. I would be ready when it did.

I went the the No Bid property immediately after the action. It looked very promising. It was a 3 bedroom, 2 car garage, brick house in a nice neighborhood in East Tulsa. It was definitely the worst house on the block but it had potential. I could easily see that it needed a new roof, new driveway, paint and massive clean up, but the structure appeared to be in good shape, with the added bonus of a large two story barn shaped out building. I took a few pictures and went back to my office to gather more information.

A property that no one would bid on should have raised some major red flags, but the more data I gathered the better and better it looked. On paper it looked like the deal of the century. The foreclosure appraisal was $75,000, with an opening bid of $50,000. A comparable sale just 4 doors down recently sold for $92,000 and another a half block away was on the market for $102,000. My preliminary cost analysis for what it would take to renovate seemed a bit high but I believed I could do well with this project if I could get it near 52K.

The bidding was uneventful. The mortgage company opened at 50k, I countered with 50,100 and got the property. No one else bid. At this point I would normally leave but there happened to be another property later in the auction that I would have bid on if I was unsuccessful on the first. It was an equally promising opportunity. It was a nice small house in an older but trendy neighborhood. Only one person bid on it and got it for 47k. It is my guess that they would have continued to bid if I had countered so no telling what it would have gone for, but I may have let a very nice prospect slip away from me. I will never know.

Any way, We had our next property barring the chance that the current owner would get his account up to date or some other unforeseen complication

Another fixer upper, but all-in-all a nice starter home for some young coupleAnother fixer upper, but all-in-all a nice starter home for some young couple

Looking past the rubbish I saw great potential for a very nice shop.

Nightmare on L-Street

11th January 2009


Over the last year or so, we’ve heard countless horror stories of families losing their homes in foreclosure due to unscrupulous lending practices, losing jobs to the poor economy, or catastrophic illness causing financial hardship. This is NOT one of those stories.

The confirmation hearing was set for 3 weeks after the auction. During this time it became apparent that someone was still living in the house. On several drive by’s we noticed cars, motorcycles, and a flatbed trailer come and gone. On one occasion, we noticed a faint light shining through the front window. At this point we weren’t too worried, we assumed the previous owners were in the process of moving out. We did some more research and discovered the owners had divorced within the previous 2 years so we assumed the wife and kids had custody of the house. We began to worry that we would be part of one of those stories where a single mom and her 3 kids were kicked to the street. Once again this is NOT one of those stories, however it is equally as sad.

The confirmation hearing went without a hitch on Tuesday morning. Wednesday afternoon, I went to the Sheriffs Office to pick up the deed just as I did the year before. It turned out that they had made some procedural changes, and I would have to wait a couple of days. We decided to wait until we had the deed before we attempted to enter the property, but we kept a very close watch on the property in the mean time.

I finally got the deed recorded that Thursday and immediately went to the property. I had written up a letter introducing myself and partner to the current resident. I explained that we now owned the property and would be happy to assist them in the transition. The letter requested that whoever was living there call us to let us know how we could help. While placing the letter in the door, a neighbor happened to be leaving her house. I went over and introduce myself and handed her a business card. She informed me that a single man lived in the house. She let me know how unhappy her family was with the previous owner. It would take me another couple of weeks to find out the scope of the neighbors complaints.

On Sunday I received a call from the previous owner. He gave me a hard luck story, which I knew to be untrue, and asked for a few weeks to move out. I told him that I would give him a week, as long as he kept me informed on his progress. Over the next few days it became apparent he was making no attempt to move out so I began to research the eviction process. I decided I would need the assistance of an attorney. I’ll skip the details on the eviction process, but hiring an attorney was definitely the way to go. I had an judgment several weeks later and finally had access to the property. Entering the property for the first time was a complete shock. I leave it with that said and just show a few picks. The picts really don’t give a clue to the enormity of the trash and filth but it is a start.


This was actually one of the better rooms.


This was another room I could get to. There were other areas of the house that it would take over a week to move enough trash where I could inspect the room.



Neighbors told me that they had not been able to use there back yards for 2 years due to the stinch and mosquitoes. The city had started proceedings to get the place cleaned up but the process was slow. We would get the yard cleaned up as soon as possible to avoid paying the impending fines as well as to please the neighbors.

Cleaning Up

11th January 2009


Once we had right to enter the property, we thought we could get started. WRONG! On first inspection we noticed about a dozen or so syringes and other suspicious finds. We called the police. An officer arrived and went through the house removing dozens of used syringes, and various stashes of what he believed to be illicit narcotics. He was interested in looking through the workshop in the back but there were still 3 dogs fenced in the back yard. We were to call him back if we found other suspicious activity in the back building.

At this point I decided the best thing for me to do was to hire a company to remove everything in the house to storage and have the previous owner pay for the clean up and storage, or sell the contents at auction to pay for it. Great idea, but due to the enormity of the trash, the danger of being stuck by a contaminated needle, it would have simply cost much more than I could ever get for the property. The cost of the eviction, and the delay in gaining access to the property was already costing us more than we had counted on so we went another route. We made arrangements with family members of the previous owner for them to remove his personal property. The agreement was that they would pick up the dogs immediately, and remove everything from the house within a week. We would allow them to use the workshop in the back as storage for 30 days. In return they would pay for a 30 cubic yard dumpster and clean up the trash. They were not to just take the things of value and leave the trash. The previous owner, himself, was not to return to the property personally. It seemed like a fair agreement. That wasn’t how it turned out though.

It would take another month for the the Dad and brother of the previous owner to move out everything they wanted to get. The first day, they brought a U-Haul and took the most valuable thing from the house. At the end of the long first day the father told me that they had everything out of the house they wanted except for stuff in the garage. They would come back the next day and finish the garage and then over the next few weeks clean out the workshop. It was more than a week before I heard from them again. Over the next few weeks they made several trips back to the house to pick up the motorcycles and power tools left in the garage and shop. They made no attempt to pick up any more of the trash. To add insult to this situation, about 3 weeks into this ordeal, the house was broken into and some of the things left behind were taken along with many of my tools and supplies. I called the dad to let him know of the break in and let him know the police were investigating. That was the last I heard from any of the family, although the previous owners escapades would continue to haunt this renovation.

The dumpster was filled to the brim the first 2 days of the clean up and it hardly looked like we had made a dent in the mountain for garbage. After we had the dumpster picked up, we began to fill my little 4 x 8 trailer. Over the next several months we would fill that trailer 21 times and take it to the dump. Some of this was construction debris, but for the most part it was trash left in and around the house. During the first week of clean up we discovered the city Nuisance Abatement office was in the process of filing a claim against the previous owner. I contacted the city inspector and told them I was now the owner and would clean up the mess. Since ownership had changed hands, he said he would have to start over with the notices so I would have a little more time to comply. It was close but we got everything cleaned before the final inspection.

It had been more than 2 months since we got deed to the property and we still hadn’t started on the renovation. The legal and clean up cost were also a surprise. Initially we intend to have the property back on the market within 3-4 months. After getting to the point where we could actually begin to plan out the renovation. From what we could determine, we would need to replace the carpeting in the 3 bedrooms, gut and redo the bath, install 7 foundation piers, replace the roof, repair driveway, finish updating the HVAC that had been removed for some reason, rework the kitchen cabinets, and paint the entire house inside and out along with the exterior of the workshop. This was a lot more than we expected, but there were other surprises awaiting us also.


Can’t really tell how bad it is from this photo but the bath will need to be redone
CrackThis was the only sign on the exterior of foundation problems. It will take 7 piers to correct

shed porch

Renovation at Last

11th January 2009


It took much longer than we ever could have imagined, but we had utilities, foundation piers installed, new roof, new garage door and the exterior was painted, we were ready to start on the interior. The interior was a good new / bad news situation. The good news, crown molding throughout the house, uncompleted custom cabinetry in the kitchen, bath and den, 12 x 12 floor tile in 3/4 of the house, and an uncompleted utility room. The bad news included, the bath with one entire wall would need to be gutted, wall paper several layers thick needed to be removed from most of the house, a lot of sheet rock repair was required also.

We started with the bath. The wall between the master bedroom and bath had extensive wood rot and need to be replaced. Since we would start from scratch we decided to leave out the door to the master bedroom, and create another closet out of the alcove in the master. The renovation was pretty straight forward other than replacing the wall. We tiled the batch surround, added a new vanity with solid surface sink. The tub and toilet where left but we upgraded the faucets and shutoffs.


There wasn’t anything out of ordinary for the bedrooms other than sheet rock repairs. It was a simple matter of repair and paint and carpet.



The living and dining area renovation weren’t difficult either. There was a lot of sheet rock damage but nothing out of the ordinary.

The kitchen was a lot of work. all of the cabinet doors need to be replaced. Fortunately we were able to reuse the raised panes and with new rails ans stile. It save a lot of time in the lay out and construction. The previous owner had started a new section of cabinet but they were far from complete. They were constructed with cabinet grade pine and raised panel rail and style doors. The profile was a little different than the original cabinets but by painting all of the cabinets and replacing the laminate counter top and tile back splash they looked like a good match. We made some modifications to the layout of the new cabinets. We extended the counter top out about 5 feet to make a bar area. The cabinet was very functional with a large amount of cabinet and drawer space along with a large counter area. We were very happy with the final results.



The utility was the last interior room we did. This was another room the previous owner had started but failed to finish. There was a lot of sheet rock work to do. We put a new1/4 skin over the entire ceiling and completed and patched the rest of the walls. We added a new water cut off and drain for the washer, and added an exterior vent for the dryer. There were some very nice corner cabinets above the washer and dryer area which we reused, and a long shelf with coat rack on another wall. All we had to do was repaint them. The only minor problem in the room was finding a door to fit the hot water heater. Orignally it had a plywood door when it was in the garage. It wasn’t a standard size door. I ended up cutting down a 24 inch hollow core door and re built the interior support.


With the interior 90 plus percent done we would start on the workshop. We were beginning to see a light at the end of the renovation tunnel.

Just a funny!

07th March 2011


When we were working on the “L street house” a  neighbor lady came over.  She introduced herself to me and I introduced myself and Dave as my fiancee.  She says, “Really? Even after all this? You still want to Marry him?”  LOL Still working on it!