Author Topic: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?  (Read 7091 times)

jeastith

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Attached is a photo of our Philadelphia row home, which we've had as a rental the past two years, but have decided to sell.  To my knowledge, the brick has never been cleaned, and it is badly scratched up - before I lived there, people actually scratched names in it like "Bob" and stuff.  Ugh.  We tried to powerwash it ourselves, but it did nothing.  Doesn't look any better. 

We got an estimate to do an acid treatment on the brick and repointing.  The estimate came in at $2900.  The house inside is nicely staged and very clean, attractive in many ways.  I'm wondering if we will get this money back if we put the $2900 into it.  Can anyone with more real estate experience weigh in on this? 

warfreak2

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2014, 09:41:56 AM »
Attached is a photo of our Philadelphia row home, which we've had as a rental the past two years, but have decided to sell.  To my knowledge, the brick has never been cleaned, and it is badly scratched up - before I lived there, people actually scratched names in it like "Bob" and stuff.  Ugh.  We tried to powerwash it ourselves, but it did nothing.  Doesn't look any better. 

We got an estimate to do an acid treatment on the brick and repointing.  The estimate came in at $2900.  The house inside is nicely staged and very clean, attractive in many ways.  I'm wondering if we will get this money back if we put the $2900 into it.  Can anyone with more real estate experience weigh in on this?
You're not going to get more back, anyway. Just let prospective buyers know that you have the estimate, and then let them decide if they want to spend it.

DoubleDown

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2014, 03:53:09 PM »
Is that $2900 mate just for the front?? Honestly, I don't think the brick looks so bad, at least in the photo.

My two cents for getting far more bang for much less buck:

- Repaint that blue door in a nice, neutral color
- Repaint all the window frames
- Power wash the sidewalk
- Replace that light fixture with something nicer, like a black, wrought iron fixture
- Put out a nice, new welcome mat
- Put out some flower planters, and perhaps a window box with flowers

If you're still intent on doing the brick: I'm not a brick exert by any stretch, but I re-stained a similar sized area of the brick on my house and it came out looking like new for $60. I did not use paint, I used an awesome brick stain that I ordered off the internet from a British company (sorry I can't remember the name offhand, but if you're interested in pursuing I'll look it up for you). It's not paint, it's a stain that soaks into the porous brick and it's fantastic. It looked really crappy beforehand -- faded, light pink and uneven bricks. Afterwards, they were a nice, uniform deep red. You can choose different colored stains.

I would think you could hire a painter from Craigslist to put the stain on for a few hundred bucks in Philadelphia.

If you do choose to paint instead of stain, I see absolutely no point in "acid washing" first, that sounds like an unnecessary markup -- just start painting. Again, should cost you only a few hundred bucks plus materials. Good luck!

Another Reader

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2014, 04:32:57 PM »
Repointing is different than staining or painting.  Repointing is repairing/replacing the mortar, which erodes over time.  Eventually, water can get in cracks and voids and damage the structure.  Repointing could come up in an inspection report and could be an item of negotiation between buyer and seller.  If the mortar is in really bad shape, it might be worth fixing before you put the house up for sale.  However, I don't see anything alarming in the photo.

Improving curb appeal with cosmetic fixes will definitely help your house stand out and possibly sell faster.  DoubleDown offers some good suggestions that can be done inexpensively.


DoubleDown

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2014, 04:59:28 PM »
Repointing is different than staining or painting.  Repointing is repairing/replacing the mortar, which erodes over time.

I read right over that in the OP (thought I saw "repainting" and not "repointing"), thanks for the clarification!

Jack

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2014, 06:14:40 PM »
My two cents for getting far more bang for much less buck:

- Repaint that blue door in a nice, neutral color
- Repaint all the window frames
- Power wash the sidewalk
- Replace that light fixture with something nicer, like a black, wrought iron fixture
- Put out a nice, new welcome mat
- Put out some flower planters, and perhaps a window box with flowers


I agree with all of this, give or take the door and light fixture.

When was your townhouse built, and what style is the interior? If it's maybe 1950s - 1970s and contemporary inside (i.e., no moldings and such) then leave the light fixture as-is and paint the door. If it's older, on the other hand, I would suggest replacing not only the light fixture but the front door as well (using a door from a discount/salvage building materials store, not anywhere expensive). The ideal door would be stained wood with raised panels and a larger, more traditional-looking window, preferably with stained or leaded glass.

By the way, I personally like the light fixture and the door; it's just that I'm not sure they fit with the style of the building. If I'm wrong about that -- if what you have is more congruent with the style of your neighbors, etc. then certainly don't change them!

I would also consider getting some window grilles (aka "simulated divided lights") to make the windows look nicer. It shouldn't be too expensive given that you only have 3 windows, and you could do just the upper sashes of each. I think four-over-one on the second-floor windows and six-over-one on the first-floor window would look good. (Again, don't do this if it makes your unit look funny compared to the building as a whole.)

I would be inclined to leave the brick alone and call it "character." Only re-point if it's structurally necessary. If you're reasonably handy and it's not too bad (i.e., the mortar is loose in a few spots as opposed to the entire facade being about to fall off) then I'd take a whack at re-pointing it yourself.

One last thing: is it possible to get rid of those wires running along the wall? It may just be my pet peeve, but IMO those wires detract from the curb appeal much more than anything else in the picture.

feelingroovy

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2014, 09:36:22 PM »
I repointed a stone wall once in a foundation.  It's actually quite easy if you have the tools, and the tools are inexpensive hand tools.  The hardest part (for me anyway) would be going up the ladder. 

A mom

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2014, 06:00:05 AM »
I think the brick looks ok. I would change the door to something that looks more appropriate to the style of the house.

stealmystapler

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2014, 10:48:04 AM »
I think it generally looks fine. I'll echo that repointing could be a good idea if it seems necessary for structural reasons / longevity of the brick.

I'm wary of the acid wash, though. Based on the photograph, it looks like your rowhouse is turn-of-the-century or so. Older bricks can't always take the same kinds of treatments that modern ones can. Harsher treatments can take off the outer shell of the brick and expose it to severe deterioration. Be careful with that one.

jeastith

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2014, 07:54:33 PM »
Is this the stain you used?  See link below. I think this might be a good fix for us!  You can't see it in the photo, but up close the brick is badly badly scratched all over.  There are places where you can easily see names scratched in it!

http://www.homedepot.com/p/BEHR-Premium-1-gal-STC-33-English-Brick-Semi-Transparent-Concrete-Stain-85001/203939933?cm_mmc=shopping-_-googleads-_-pla_with_promotion-_-203939933&skwcid&kwd=&ci_sku=203939933&ci_kw=&ci_gpa=pla_with_promotion&ci_src=17588969 

Is that $2900 mate just for the front?? Honestly, I don't think the brick looks so bad, at least in the photo.

My two cents for getting far more bang for much less buck:

- Repaint that blue door in a nice, neutral color
- Repaint all the window frames
- Power wash the sidewalk
- Replace that light fixture with something nicer, like a black, wrought iron fixture
- Put out a nice, new welcome mat
- Put out some flower planters, and perhaps a window box with flowers

If you're still intent on doing the brick: I'm not a brick exert by any stretch, but I re-stained a similar sized area of the brick on my house and it came out looking like new for $60. I did not use paint, I used an awesome brick stain that I ordered off the internet from a British company (sorry I can't remember the name offhand, but if you're interested in pursuing I'll look it up for you). It's not paint, it's a stain that soaks into the porous brick and it's fantastic. It looked really crappy beforehand -- faded, light pink and uneven bricks. Afterwards, they were a nice, uniform deep red. You can choose different colored stains.

I would think you could hire a painter from Craigslist to put the stain on for a few hundred bucks in Philadelphia.

If you do choose to paint instead of stain, I see absolutely no point in "acid washing" first, that sounds like an unnecessary markup -- just start painting. Again, should cost you only a few hundred bucks plus materials. Good luck!

DoubleDown

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2014, 11:58:56 AM »
No, I ordered from here (FWIW, I chose "Old English Red" although they have lots of other colors). Also, there are a ton of good examples on the "Projects/Customer Gallery" menu choice:

http://www.dyebrick.com/

I don't have any info on the Behr stuff, although I noted it says it's concrete stain, and didn't list brick in its applicable uses, so I'm not sure if it would be a good choice.

The stain from dyebrick.com is more of a transparent stain, so I don't know if it would cover the graffiti by itself. But, my guess would be that if it doesn't cover it outright, you could scrape away the graffiti with a masonry tool, then stain over it to match the rest of the brick (like the product disclaimers always say, try in an inconspicuous spot first!). Also, the stain dries really fast, and multiple coats makes it darker and darker, so you can get an even color all over.

I don't mean to sing the praises of this stuff too much, but it really worked wonders for my house. I had a lot of faded and unmatched tone bricks (I think exposure to sun over the years faded parts that were exposed). The brick stain made it all look new and even again, and three years later it still looks that way. Just about the best $65 I ever spent.

jeastith

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2014, 10:01:33 AM »
After researching and seeing many people had used Behr concrete stain for brick, we went for it, and DAMN!  What a difference!  I'm indebted to you DoubleDown!!!  It looks a million times better - all for $28.  Went on beautifully.  We spent 4 hours between the two of us staining the brick, and we even "created" brick where there had been a white concrete patch and it turned out amazing!  See photo.  Thank you for sharing your ideas! 
Jeannie



No, I ordered from here (FWIW, I chose "Old English Red" although they have lots of other colors). Also, there are a ton of good examples on the "Projects/Customer Gallery" menu choice:

http://www.dyebrick.com/

I don't have any info on the Behr stuff, although I noted it says it's concrete stain, and didn't list brick in its applicable uses, so I'm not sure if it would be a good choice.

The stain from dyebrick.com is more of a transparent stain, so I don't know if it would cover the graffiti by itself. But, my guess would be that if it doesn't cover it outright, you could scrape away the graffiti with a masonry tool, then stain over it to match the rest of the brick (like the product disclaimers always say, try in an inconspicuous spot first!). Also, the stain dries really fast, and multiple coats makes it darker and darker, so you can get an even color all over.

I don't mean to sing the praises of this stuff too much, but it really worked wonders for my house. I had a lot of faded and unmatched tone bricks (I think exposure to sun over the years faded parts that were exposed). The brick stain made it all look new and even again, and three years later it still looks that way. Just about the best $65 I ever spent.

DoubleDown

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2014, 08:39:57 PM »
Wow, it looks great! Nice work, and what an improvement. I'm glad you found the Behr stuff and it worked for you.

The other changes are great too -- the storm door really improves things. I'm confused though -- which picture is the way it looks now? The two pictures you posted recently are both different from the original, and the light fixture and house numbers etc. are different in both.

jeastith

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2014, 05:31:40 AM »
Yeah, we've taken photos at lots of different times, so sorry that was confusing.

We just keep working on it, and here's how it looks as of yesterday.  Painted the door, spray painted the house numbers and mail box to match.  I have a silver knocker I'm going to hang on the door - a new door just isn't in the budget.  I just can't get over how well the stain worked.  The brick looks rich and beautiful again, but still lots of character since its a stain, not a paint.  Just love it! 

Don't have a photo with the storm door closed since I took this pic to show my husband the new paint color, which looks a bit lighter in the photo than it actually is. 

jeastith

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2014, 05:32:57 AM »
Now if I can just get those silly black cables moved, we'll be ready to go!

mpbaker22

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Re: Should we put $3000 into the facade of our house before selling?
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2014, 10:24:31 AM »
Much better.  It's hard to tell what's going on from the pictures/tree.  I would look into putting some sort of matching paint on the cornice