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This was a fun project!!

The big challenges were how to fix the cut up floor plan, dealing with multiple bad remodels with small, narrow rooms, multiple floor heights and not enough beds and baths for the average buyer.

With most projects (Page being no exception), our goal is to solve the following….

Where and how to open up the floor plan?

Finding and maximizing the easy-to-get square footage?

Where and how to maximize the bed/bath count as well as open living space?

And Leverage all opportunities for outdoor living and entertaining space.

This all has to be done while improving curb appeal and staying within the budget and timeline!

So here’s our starting point –

The day I found out about the deal, the agent and I immediately drove the property, comp’d it out and within 4 hours we had an offer in to the seller (which were the family members of the woman who died peacefully in the home of natural causes).

Once in contract, we kicked the due diligence into high gear and I got my GC and architect in to confirm what I saw, including how to best lay it out, and the costs to do it all.

Obviously surprises can come up (and always do!), but once we feel good about the game plan, how long it will take and at what cost, we then figure out what we think the future sale price will be – then (and only then do) we move quickly to generate plans for the city and close the deal.

It’s a personal goal of mine to literally start the demo the day we get keys…

We don’t want to waste any time, and depending on how long we think the city will take, we also start ordering materials so we don’t miss a beat once the permit is ready.

Since we had to do so much roof work to open the floor plan and add sqft, we decided to take the whole roof off…

Do all our framing and shore up the floors and start rough-in.

And to save time (and maybe a little money…although in most cases you hope for a breakeven), we went with trusses so we could go from just walls to a complete home with roof within a few days!

One of the keys to this business is communication.  This project went so smooth and ended up with such a good design due to the frequent site visits by my designer (and myself).


By the way….the design is HUGE!  Everyone can tell when an average General Contractor does his own rehab without the help of an interior designer.  If you don’t use one on your rehab, you’re crazy.  My designer happens to be my wife, which can be good and bad (more on that topic in another post J), but you cannot skimp on design, because although you spend a ton of money on rough materials and labor, and then spend a bunch on finish materials – if you don’t make the style, finishes and colors all work, you’re doomed to taking less money than you could have, and potentially having your house sit on the market.  It all has to fit together and look right, and more importantly make people feel good when they see it and ‘experience’ it.  This is all a big deal that most junior rehabbers ignore.

I should also mention – when the market is on fire, everything seems to be selling.  But when things slow down or if the market is declining, you don’t want to be sitting on a poorly designed home.

On this particular rehab we went with a more clean and contemporary look-and-feel.  We had our buyer pegged as a younger couple that’s probably in the tech business, who would appreciate a more clean and modern look.  So we spent a few extra bucks and did an island with a waterfall feature…

It turned out awesome!

I also thought we accomplished the goal of curb appeal as mentioned before.  You’d be surprised how cost effective a front porch can be and it adds a great architectural element…

Here’s a couple more shots of the final product.  You can also go to the Page St post for all the ‘before and after’ shots, and can see the very cool 3D tour here:

Page Street Project in Redwood City Goes Live!


Project:  15107 Montalvo Rd, Saratoga

Strategy:  This project is located on the famed Saratoga street down from Villa Montalvo.  The existing home was 4000 sqft, low ceilings, overgrown backyard and no curb appeal.  We added 1000 sqft, raised many of the ceiling heights, performed a complete interior remodel, added a room upstairs with dormer to create a better elevation.  Also installed a new paver driveway and landscaping in front and back on the acre lot.




Project:  2341 Hilo Ct, Mt View

Strategy:  We added 250+ sqft to this house while staying inside the existing building envelope.  The backyard was a bit tight, so we added an Ipe deck and created an entertaining area with fire pit.  The design and modern, with flat panel cabinets.  We also opened up the main living area, extended the entry and added a bedroom.





Project:  1493 Sturgeon Way, San Jose

Strategy:  This was a cosmetic rehab with new everything inside, opened entry and changed door for better Feng Shui, removed a pool in back to create a larger lawn area, added new siding, windows, driveway and landscaping.





Project:  3100 Rawson St, Oakland

Strategy:  This was a full remodel of existing upstairs, opened up entry and allowed for better flow.  Fixed foundation and created 2nd unit downstairs with kitchenette.  Finished detached garage and fully landscaped and added back lawn.





Project:  1473 Ramon Dr, Sunnyvale

Strategy:  This house did not have a garage, so we created a carport on the right side of the house, installed 2000 sqft of lawn to create a large backyard, added outdoor entertaining and performed a complete interior remodel including new electrical, kitchen, baths, floors and opened up main living area.





Project:  117 Park Ave, Santa Cruz

Strategy:  This was a drug house.  We did a top-to-bottom remodel, open up some living areas, took it to framing and subfloor, made a back room legal, finished the detach garage into a family room, added access to alley for quicker beach access and installed a new redwood deck same level as the house to create an in-door/out-door living area.




Project:  285 Nevada, Redwood City

Strategy:  This project had a challenging layout as much of the sq ft was downstairs and the upstairs was only a 3 bedroom/1bath.  We added a bath upstairs, created a true master bedroom, opened up the kitchen and dining area and did a complete remodel of the home.  We also added a kitchenette downstairs and created a bedroom so it could be used as an in-laws quarters or rental.  Also added new French drain and completely landscaped the yard.




Project:  3663 Folsom Street, San Francisco

Strategy:  This San Francisco gem located in Bernal Heights had great potential to be a modern house.  We took advantage of that with the design and opened up the floor plan and created a true master on the middle level.  We also captured additional square footage on the lower level by adding a legal stairway and digging out the crawl space.




Project:  1181 Fernside Street, Redwood City

Strategy:  This house was on slab and had significant foundation issues.  We secured the existing foundation with piers, floated the slab and raised the walls to be level again.  We opened up the kitchen and did a complete interior remodel, and added a deck out the back at the same level as the house for adding living area.






I get this question all the time… “what type of deals and/or property are you looking for”

So I thought I’d break it down for you…

The quick and easy response I usually give people is – “a good deal for us is anything that makes money!”

The next question is – “how much money or profit do you need to make?”

This is a tougher one to answer because that depends on a lot of things…

The deal size
Where it’s located
Risk level
Time to market
Etc, etc…

As a value-add investor/developer, we search for properties that are in need of improvement or repair, are distressed in some way, or have sellers that don’t want to go through a normal retail-sale transaction process.

So we’re interested in land, homes and condos that can be purchased, remodeled and sold for a profit….it’s that simple.

That being said, we do have a ‘sweet spot’ and that’s what I thought I would outline in this article.

Price Range

In the Bay Area, we have focused primarily on single family homes that can be purchased for $600k – $1.2m, and sold for $1m – $2m. This is not to say we wouldn’t purchase deals for more or less than these numbers (had a recent purchase at $400k, and sold another one for $5.6m), but this is where we see the most active buyers who will appreciate (and pay for) the improvements we deliver. The buyer profile we see a lot are two professionals working in or around Silicon Valley, and can afford these price ranges.

Project Type

The projects that have performed the best are the ones that need to be reconfigured (have a functionally obsolete floor plan) and can support the adding of cost effective square footage – usually in the form of additional bedrooms or baths, and 2nd or 3rd living areas. The big caveat on adding square footage is the city that the property is located (cities like Daly City, Los Gatos, San Mateo, Lafayette can be brutal to get permits!), and whether the current floor plan lends itself to cost effectively (our magic word) adding square footage.

Here’s an example of one that had the old school/cut-up floor plan in the living area…, so we really opened it up to maximize a more modern flow…

Chestnut Kitchen Before

Chestnut Kitchen After

On this one we also added a master bedroom out the back and an additional bedroom in the front. The lot supported more square footage, but going up (adding a 2nd story) was not cost effective, and going out more than we did would have taken too much of the back yard.

When we analyzed this deal, we looked at doing an…

As-is remodel (not adding square footage) – in this case it limited our ability to make a profit, since most buyers won’t pay enough for a small 2 bedroom home
Adding out with additional square footage but keeping it a single story – this turned out to be the best/highest profit option

Going up with a 2nd story and adding max square footage – due to additional costs and time needed, this option would not work

In most cases, adding a 2nd story is too costly because you have to rebuild half the house to support the weight (reinforce walls, add foundation and footing, etc) and tie-in, not to mention a completely new roof.

So back to the question – What are we looking for??

Here’s a list of the types of deals we typically buy…

Major damage like foundation, mold, fire, etc
In original condition or dated with poor layout and functionally obsolete
Small homes on big lots that don’t fit most buyers, like families
Probate or some form of trustee sale
Divorce situation, where they need to sell fast or don’t want to deal with listing the property
Hoarder homes, heavy drug users, elderly, etc that cannot or don’t want to show property
Short sale and foreclosures

We also like multi-family and land! …so if you come across bare land that can be developed, a house that needs to be scrapped or an apartment building that has value-add potential, bring it to us.

That’s pretty much it J

And of course, if you have any questions be sure to send me email or call me to discuss.

Talk soon,

What are We looking for?



Project:  1750 Chestnut St, San Carlos

Strategy: This project included an original home with a very challenging, compartmentalized layout with a very small kitchen and only two bedrooms.  We looked at many options – just remodeling the existing footprint, adding square footage and keeping it single story and maximizing the size with a two story home.  We decided to create a true master and add an additional bedroom in front with a open kitchen and living area.  We also took advantage of the detached garage that had windows out to the back yard and created an entertaining/bar area.




Project: 3342 Buckingham Drive, San Jose

Strategy:  This was a cosmetic rehab – new kitchen, baths, floors, stairs, landscaping; added a half bath under the stairs and created an outdoor living space with a trellis.


Meet the team

Rod Smith

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Laurie Weiss

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