Comment of the Day: What It Takes To Fix Up a Midcentury Mod

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT IT TAKES TO FIX UP A MIDCENTURY MOD “A house of this vintage and vernacular requires a fairly specific buyer possessing a working knowledge of the systemic underpinnings of a home. The first priority will be to upgrade electrical systems, HVAC and plumbing (below grade) – this assumes the aforementioned has not been upgraded within the past 10 years or so. . . . Equally important is the roof and with a flat roof, extra care has to be taken to ensure proper water shedding and flashing details. Next is insulation (particularly with respect to a flat [roof] as there is no plenum), this will involve removing all of the gyp. bd. at the ceiling in order to access the area in question. New electrical wiring can then be run as well as HVAC ducting, followed by high efficacy insulation. Of course, work on all of the above items will result in potential new discoveries such as dry rot, termite damage, non-compliant items per current codes, etc. Expect to reasonably expend $100K for the items noted. This is before you can consider updating the bathrooms, kitchen, new lighting, etc. As there is no garage (not a deal breaker but lack of covered parking could be), consideration should be towards erecting a architecturally harmonious structure on the driveway side of the home. Project is not for the faint of heart but in the end, well worth the effort and potential rewards. This house would likely qualify as a City of Houston Historic Landmark and if pursued, could potentially also include the related tax breaks.” [JAH, commenting on More Backstory on That 1960 Walnut Bend Mod: Nobody’s Screwed It Up Yet]

8 Comment

  • Good points to consider. Has anyone added a roof to such a home? I wonder if capping the existing with new, including an air-space, would be cost-effective and energy-efficient? Might require an add-on parapet detail…

  • Movo-

    Adding a roof to a house like that would be equilvalent to adding a turret. It would ruin the MCM asthetic of the house.

  • no,no, I meant a second flat roof!

  • I think that Icynene insulation is the way to go, rather than adding a ‘second roof/turret’.

  • I have to disagree with the price factor. If you do a lot of work yourself, you should be able to renovate a Mod for far less than $100k. I did mine for $35k – including new electrical service and A/C.
    This is important for several reasons. First, $100k just doesn’t make sense in some of Houston’s lower-priced Mod markets.
    But more importantly, you don’t have to be rich to buy and restore a Mod. True, it’s not for the faint of heart – but a little sweat equity can save you a TON of money in it.

  • ” …you don’t have to be rich to buy and restore a Mod. True, it’s not for the faint of heart – but a little sweat equity can save you a TON of money.”

    Even with a $100K property improvement expenditure — and of course this makes sense only if the surrounding properties are of a like value — you will still have to involve sweat equity.

    Agreed, you don’t have to be “rich” (chances are one would have to secure a loan anyway) but the point is one needs to go into this sort of undertaking with “open eyes” not to mention, an open pocketbook.

  • Yeah – that $100k seemed a little out there to me…

  • This house might take more to fix up than we might think. A friend who lives in the neighborhood says that the HOA recently hired her son to cut the lawn because it was so overgrown. The sculpture is apparently included, since it was tipped over and had to be moved in order to mow. My friend says that the pictures of the exterior are very forgiving and perhaps outdated because the place looks abandoned, now.