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University District renovation update: Floor plans, dumpsters, financing, and more

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Between 6 & 7

Last month, we showed you this great house in the University District that’s currently undergoing an extensive six-month rehab. The new owners are documenting their progress on this blog, and we’re checking in along the way to see how they’re doing. In a couple months, we’ll reveal the full renovation of this 1927 home.

Our first visit detailed finding the house, then what they found inside once they got the keys. Today, we’re looking at a few issues that renovators in Detroit might run into as they get into the rehab.

Digging through the attic
Between 6 & 7

The first is paying for the whole thing. Owner Miranda Steinhauser notes the options they had for financing an unlivable home, detailed here. The house didn’t have a working kitchen, the plumbing needed work, and some critters had taken up residency. So they knew there was a lot to do before it could become a place where they could live. Since a traditional mortgage wouldn’t work, Steinhauser notes these options:

“Banks would not give a mortgage for a home that wasn’t in a livable state. Suddenly, the terribly-flipped-but-livable homes we’d seen on the market made sense. It was recommended to us that either we:

a. Buy the home with cash and then try and finance the renovations later.

b. Get an FHA 203(k) loan.

c. Buy the home with a land contract from the owner.

After discussing, and then subsequently rejecting the idea of a land contract with the home owner, we looked at our finances. We could afford to buy the house cash, but not the renovations, and it seemed risky knowing that we’d own a home with no guarantee that a bank would, in fact, loan us any money to make it livable.”

Then they heard about a “Purchase and Renovate Loan” through Wells Fargo, which would cover both costs. According to Steinhauser, “We basically had to provide the bank with a chosen contractor and bid of work to be done, the bank would then send an appraiser to the home, and if the costs of the home plus the contractor’s bid were less than the appraised value of what the home would be worth upon completion (minus a contingency), you are granted your mortgage and renovation costs.”

They went with contractors Amy Haimerl hired in Detroit Hustle, Cal and Christian Garfield. They went through the process of developing a bid for the project, and Steinhauser’s boyfriend and home co-owner Brandon Suman learned AutoCAD to help with the process.

They got the keys three months after starting the financing process, and started going through the years worth of stuff that had accumulated in the house. They moved furniture and such out of the main living spaces, and found so many treasures.

“We found a 15 year old original Roomba that had committed suicide by mangling itself in its own power supply and driving deep under a heavy couch and out of sight until it’s battery died.”

The biggest challenge was the attic, which was loaded with paper, costumes, mattresses, and years worth of stuff. Squirrels were finding it pretty homey.

A metal shelving system was resting on a floor for so long, it had created holes in the sub-floor.

One of four dumpsters that were needed.

Much more of this purge can be found here. After the house was clear, it was time to get into the serious business of planning, which included a new kitchen and connecting some of the main rooms downstairs. We’ll update with some of these details in the coming weeks. Questions about the renovation? Ask away in the comments.