When Madeleine Sloback and her husband were house hunting in South Surrey earlier this year, they had no desire to get into the kind of high-dollar bidding war that has become all too common in the Lower Mainland’s red-hot real-estate market.
So instead, they went shopping with a counter-intuitive plan.
“I was always looking for the ugliest house possible,” she said.
A fixer-upper was fine because the pair, who were moving from Vancouver, planned to renovate whatever home they purchased. And while such a large project would be daunting to some, it wasn’t for Sloback, who owns an interior-design firm, nor for her husband, a contractor.
“The last two condos that we owned, we renovated both, so this was always the plan. We were looking for something that wasn’t appealing to everybody – we didn’t want to end up in a bidding war,” she explained, adding that their new home was the third they put an offer on.
The South Surrey home – a 1,600 sq.-ft. rancher – had been recently renovated, Sloback said, “but just renovated really poorly.”
“They did some really strange things, like take the only bathtub out, and they closed in the kitchen, so the layout wasn’t very family-friendly,” she continued, adding that the previous work had not been done with permits, and much of the electrical and plumbing work was not up to code.
“I walked in and said, ‘Oh, nobody is going to like this. It’s perfect!’”
Though the prospect of renovating an entire house wasn’t intimidating for Sloback – who, like her husband, is a former Earl Marriott Secondary student – she has introduced one new challenge to the project: a video series.
Sloback enlisted the help of a videographer friend to create episodes of a YouTube show, Welcome Home With Madeleine, that aims to detail the process from start to finish.
The first episode is already posted – and acts as something of an overview of the project, while also showing some of the demolition involved inside – and more will follow, though Sloback notes some work is currently delayed while they await building permits.
With the rise in popularity of home design and renovation shows on television as well as online, it’s likely that the show will find a captive audience, although Sloback said she decided to take the plunge into video not because she is angling for any type of HGTV deal, but instead so she can explain ideas to future clients.
“I decided to document it because a lot of times I’ll get questions from clients… and it’s easy to walk someone through the design process because you can show them, ‘OK, these are the things we’re trying to achieve.’ But when it comes to the construction, it can be very different,” she said.
“For instance, one of our episodes will be a rough-in discussion, and when I say ‘rough-in’ to a client that’s never renovated before, they think, ‘What the heck is rough-in?’ Well, now I can show them the episode and see for themselves… and I thought it would be great to start something like that with my own home.”
Wait times for permits aside, Sloback said they’re aiming to have the renovation finished by the fall, though the YouTube channel will continue beyond the current reno.
“I wanted to get comfortable doing it, and I totally plan on doing it with projects moving forward, and maybe branching out with different kinds of episodes, too,” she said.
“It’s been really fun, and it’s cool to get such positive feedback from people.”