Frank and Lauren Novak and their business partner, Michel Morris, stepped out of their comfort zone with their second New Western flip — a sinking house with significant foundation damage. “That was the first one we had foundation work on that we knew needed foundation work going into it,” Frank recalls.
Some investors might have wanted a little more experience under their belts before tackling a house with foundation issues, but not the trio behind Capital City Flips in Austin, TX. “We had to basically lift up the middle of the house three inches,” Frank adds. “I think we did it in 15 or 17 interior piers and adjusted all the exterior existing ones.”
The story gets better — or maybe worse depending on how you look at it. Once the house was lifted, the sewer lines cracked. In a stroke of luck, the team’s plumber was onsite at the time. He was able to fix all the sewer lines before the foundation crew closed up the holes. “After the second one was hit, we just went ahead and decided we’re going to run all new plumbing. We worked with the guys that were doing the work so that we could learn also,” Frank notes.
From bottom to top, the learning continued. As a result of the foundation work, a new roof was needed next. The shifting of the house caused damage to the shingles, something they hadn’t expected before. Now, that’s something the team factors in for future projects. Knowing that a failing foundation typically causes roof damage as well, they allocate money for roof repair if they know there’s fairly extensive foundation work.
The renovation also included a new HVAC system, bathroom and kitchen re-do, and three installations of windows – yes, THREE. “The first didn’t meet code. Every time the inspector would come out and see the energy stickers on the windows, he’d say they were wrong,” Frank remembers.
He would call the big box retailer, wait two weeks, and out they came with new windows. Again, the energy coefficients would be wrong. So Frank would call, get new ones, and the whole process happened again, a total of THREE times. The silver lining? The big box retailer worked to make it up to them and the windows wound up being almost free, and there was no delay in listing the house.
The team’s second flip certainly gave them a big challenge with a big learning curve. Along with the value of new knowledge and experience, it wound up being a big financial win for the investors too.