Flipping homes a labor of love for Paxton men

PAXTON — The popular home-renovation shows airing on HGTV and the DIY Network — with titles such as “Flip or Flop” or “First-Time Flippers” — don’t have much appeal to Dave King and Ryan Maness, even though the two Paxton men could be considered made-for-TV candidates.

Indeed, the 34-year-old King and 33-year-old Maness have a deep enthusiasm and interest in house flipping — buying a dilapidated home for a cheap price, then renovating it extensively, and then selling the new-and-improved home for profit.

“I want to do this for the rest of my life,” Maness said.

However, King and Maness are the first to admit that flipping houses also is a lot of work, so they understandably cherish their time away from it.

“I see it all day,” King said, “so why would I want to go home and watch it (on television)?”

King and Maness started their own business — Total Rehab Construction (TRC) — this summer and immediately began embarking on their first house-flipping venture.

Their first project: Completely renovating a two-story home at 506 E. Pells St. in Paxton. The home — built in 1930, according to the Ford County Supervisor of Assessments Office — was in total disrepair, they said.

Since then, they’ve demolished the closed-in front porch and built a new, open porch. They’ve torn down a bunch of interior walls. They’ve put up new drywall throughout. They’ve refurbished the wooden cabinets in the kitchen and built a new counter top. And they’ve painted ... and painted.

“Too much to say,” King said. “We’ve put in brand-new electrical, brand-new plumbing, brand-new heating and air.”

And, yet, they’re only about “70 percent” done, Maness said.

In a couple of more months, they hope, the home will be finished, ready to be put on the market again.

The goal, they said, is not just to make money for themselves, however. The goal, they said, is to bring new life to a home that stood out — in a negative way — amongst the many beautiful houses surrounding it, including the historic Middlecoff Mansion directly across the street.

“When we got here, this house was an eyesore,” Maness said. “When we leave here, this will be one of the best-looking houses on the block.”

Already, the renovations under way have drawn compliments from neighbors, Maness said.

“People stop just to tell us how happy they are that somebody’s finally doing something with this house,” Maness said. “I mean, it’s been sitting vacant for five years, something like that, or four years.”

King and Maness are quite aware that the lofty expectations they have for the property might not come to fruition. The housing market could crumble, and the asking price might need to be lowered. Or, unforeseen problems could arise in the renovation process.

Accepting that “it’s a gamble” is the most difficult challenge of flipping homes, Maness said.

“A person could easily lose sleep over that,” Maness said.

But Maness and King have accepted the risk. That’s why they went into the project with an intentionally inflated budget — with contingencies accounted for — even though, of course, they hoped not to spend that much.

The renovations, so far, have not been quite as extensive as King and Maness initially projected.

“I expected it to be worse,” Maness said, “because you always expect the worst and hope for the best in this business. You expect everything to be messed up. That way, you’re not like, ‘Oh, my god, we have to fix this?’”

“And if something goes right that one time, then that’s a good thing,” King added.

One thing they have done to save money is salvage some of the features of the home — for example, the 8-foot-tall windows, the old meandering stairway leading upstairs, or the wooden kitchen cabinets.

“We could have took six weeks doing custom cabinets like what are in here (in the kitchen),” Maness said. “But they were already here. All we had to do was put a little bit of elbow grease into them.”

“We try to keep the nostalgia if we can,” King said.

“If we can re-use it, and it’s cost-effective, structurally sound and it makes common sense, then we’ll do it,” Maness said. “Sometimes that happens; sometimes it doesn’t.”

In completing renovations, TRC workers discovered some interesting things that had been covered up over the years. There was an old brick fireplace that was buried by drywall. There was even an autograph found on an interior wall, presumably that of a person who did work on it decades ago.

“The guy that did the plaster signed his name on his work, and we found it, and it was from 1942 or 1962, something like that,” Maness said.

Maness and King said they treat the old home —and the work they put into renovating it — as if the home could someday be their own.

“We’ve put our heart and soul into this thing,” King said.

“This will be our house from now until the day I die — no matter who buys it; no matter who lives in it, no matter what happens, as long as it’s standing,” Maness added. “I mean, your kid’s always going to be your kid — no matter how old they get; no matter how far away from you they move — and that’s kind of like how I think of this house.”

Maness said he decided to get into flipping houses because he “got tired of working for other dudes.”

“I had a falling out with my last general contractor, and I was just done working for other people,” Maness said. “I mean, why make someone else money when you can make it yourself?”

So far, the move has paid off for Maness. And having his own business has put an added level of pride and ownership in his work, he said.

“When you do something yourself versus doing something for somebody else, your name’s on it; you have the responsibility; the burden’s solely on your shoulders, so you have to make sure it’s done right,” Maness said. “And when you’re finished, you get the wonderful feeling of looking back and going, ‘I did that.’”

Maness said he enjoys house flipping because it gives him a sense of accomplishment — in particular, seeing how an old home looked at the beginning and then seeing a few months later how he and his crew have turned it into something beautiful.

“When you tackle a big project and you’re done — and it’s done right; it’s done properly — that’s a really good feeling,” Maness said. “And now, we feel that for ourselves. But when you work for somebody else, after a while you take stuff for granted. When you hang drywall, you just hang drywall.”

When asked if he would recommend flipping houses as a career, Maness, however, said “no.”

“They shouldn’t,” Mannes said. “We have enough competition.”

Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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danny12 wrote on December 05, 2016 at 2:12 pm

This is a brilliant business idea. It should be applied in other areas too because it besides profit it also brings value to the areas it operates in. All you need is a professional effective team, a home designer, a good business manager and some money for a good start. It makes a huge difference between experienced people and novices, knowing what products like granite countertops in costa mesa are about for instance is really helpful for a business of this type.

archiebrower wrote on December 07, 2016 at 1:12 am

Tiny House Hunting, Flipping Vegas, Tree house, and this one are my lists of favorites house renovation shows on TV, in TLC, FYI and HGTV channels. I love to get ideas about house renovation and fixes, although minor DIY ideas are just known to me, it is perfect to have quality references like these. And for the resources of materials I also make sure that I obtain it from reliable one like at http://caldwells.com/, where most of our materials bought from.