Post Hurricane Katrina Renovation Goes GREEN!

Before and After Bay St Louis, MS
Before and After Bay St Louis, MS

It was June 2012 and a client from New Orleans called me up and was moving to Bay St. Louis, MS and wanted to buy a home and fix it up.   The client discovered me via internet while taking some elective classes at night at Tulane University learning about Energy Efficiency.  I am a preferred Energy Efficiency Partner with Energy Star and he was curious to learn more about how to make his future home more Energy Efficient.  My client was a Retired Colonel mid 40’s and was not new to the real estate side.  He owned several investment homes throughout the United States.  Being retired Military he was not at all concerned about taking on a fixer upper Renovation Project while employing Energy Efficient Components into a home.

The house he had found was a turn of the 20th Century French Cottage Home with French Style Doors just like you would see in New Orleans, as Bay St. Louis is about 55 miles NE of New Orleans.  This home he found was unfortunately heavily damaged after Hurricane Katrina as it sat two blocks of the Gulf Of Mexico in Bay St Louis, MS.  The previous owner tried several times to restore the home but all he accomplished was bringing the house down to a shell and finally gave up only to put in on the market to sell due to the heavy expense to rehab.

The agent selling the home worked with REMAX and had no idea on what a Renovation Mortgage actually looked liked much less how to interpret Energy Efficiency into a 100 year old home.  So I gave her instructions on how to write the offer and off she went to get an executed contract.   Once we were in contract my client worked diligently with a contractor that was very familiar with Renovation Mortgage Programs and had closed many with me.  His name was Mike Fearn with Champagne Fearn and Builders from Biloxi, making the construction commute very easy.   The bid process on this massive project took about 3 weeks along  with getting approval from the local Historic Board in Bay St Louis  which added another 3 weeks as I needed both of these documents to order an improved value appraisal.  Once appraisal arrived we finished up any missing financial conditions and of course homeowners insurance as this can be very expensive on the MS GULF COAST as wind and hail insurance is required on many homes.   Once we got all our conditions and insurance met off to closing we went and the day after closing worked started.   From the time we received an executed contract to the time we closed on this home it took 56 days.  Granted this is somewhat longer than most of my renovation projects timeline for closing/funding, but when you are dealing with over a $100k in renovation and working with the local Historic Board to get approval on what renovations are allowed to this Historic Bay St Louis Home truly made this project to close/fund a quick turn around.

 

Before and After Kitchen Renovation.  Look how the client installed closed form insulation in the walls!
Before and After Kitchen Renovation. Look how the client installed closed form insulation in the walls!

Once the project started til the day it was completed it took about six months as that is the max our renovation mortgage program allows.   The customer was meticulous about craftsmenship and meeting every detail was expected.  You can expect that from someone who has served in the Military as they are accustomed to details and routine.   This renovation projected included closed foam insulation under the floor, open foam insulation in the walls, recycled wood was used throughout the interior of the house,  mini- split ductless systems was installed upstairs, a 16 seer HVAC System was installed downstairs with the latest techno thermostat gadgets to communicate with the clients smart phone.   Along with a tankless hot water heater, complete new kitchen, new plumbing, and upgraded wiring was installed throughout this house as mentioned it was truly a GUT JOB.

Shortly after our client finished this project and was about to move in, his wife who  is currently in the Military,  got orders to move to Florida.  And once again our client was on the move and putting this house up for sale.   Weird but that is sometimes how life presents itself, always on the move, even if you cannot enjoy what you just finished.   The Real Estate Agent who sold the client the house had the luxury of Re-Listing the house since she had much knowledge on what went into the house, but til this day this Real Estate Agent still has no idea on how Renovations Mortgages real work and how they can change the homes once forgotten and transform then back into diamonds they once were.   I like to refer to our existing homes in the united states as Acres of Diamonds, as you would be surprised to find what is in your own backyard.   I never heard from this Real Estate Agent again on any referrals or opportunities to help other buyers in Bay St Louis, MS.    Two of my thoughts are either there is no one in this small town that is buying a homes that need renovation  or Real Estate Agent has not made this her business model to sell more homes and help change her community once damaged by Hurricane Katrina as there are still many homes/lots that need such programs in order for further recovery to continue.   I defer to think the Agent has not made this her business model as most Agents prefer not to make renovation mortgages their niche.   So sometimes what you don’t know might be the answer to your question.  And that is why I Blog on my Renovation Travels to make sure you are not missing out and get the answers to your questions.

 

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