Wolk360 is a premier real estate, and design-build firm located in Raleigh, North Carolina, offering multiple levels of personalized service for real estate clients at different levels of need. One of the most recent projects is a unique niche the company is providing for clients who don’t have the time for relocation during a renovation, or their timeline prevents them from going through the process of finding property and waiting on the demolition and design-build process.
Wolk360 founder and president Jonathan Wolk, AIA discusses one of the latest projects within the firm’s diverse portfolio of projects.
Jonathan, what is this new approach?
We’ve got a piece of land we are working with and the opportunity to list two properties right now. One is a site we are listing with the seller who wants us to provide a turn-key design and build construction solution through the buyer. The other project is located in the North Hills community. This particular property was purchased by our company and we are finishing up the renovations and getting ready to list it on the market.
Can you describe the North Hills project?
The North Hills house is a split-level house, which is a very common design for the area from the 1960s-70s. We toured the house and decided to purchase it without a specific client or buyer in mind. It’s a house that was typical of the era with rooms cut up into small sizes that don’t match today’s lifestyles and needs.
On a split level, you come in and you’re on the main level with the kitchen, living, and dining rooms. This house has a nice sunroom too. We went in to modify the house to the way people live today.
What kind of changes did you make?
We removed all the walls and the interior walls from the main level. So now you have a nice open kitchen with a bar and instead of entering with a little foyer, you walk into this nice beautiful open area. Removing the popcorn ceilings along with the light coming into the kitchen creates a sense of bright open space with all new cabinets, quartz countertops. Along with removing carpet and installing new bamboo floors throughout the house.
And the bedroom renovations?
The upstairs bedrooms were actually decent so now with Covid everyone is looking for a home office, a home yoga, a reading room, or something similar. However, the bedrooms were too small for a master bedroom, but ideal for a children’s or guest bedroom. Our team renovated the upstairs bathroom with built-in shelves and opened up that space with all new fixtures. Going downstairs there was a den with a fireplace and now that we have the sunroom, we converted that space to the master bedroom. Now when you come down the stairs you’ve got a nice sized laundry room, the MBR with a really nice walk-in closet, and a master bathroom. We went from a master that was 12X12 to one that is 20X14.
Why not just tear it down and rebuild?
Now you have a luxurious first floor MBR with a fireplace and a separate entrance away from the kids, guests, and the rest of the house. It offers a great deal of privacy. This is a neighborhood that is known for tear-downs and rebuilding what we call “Mc-Mansions”. Instead of tearing it down and building a $2M house, we decided to preserve the original house.
Also providing significant updates that allow us to check all the real estate boxes of an open floorplan with a first floor MBR, quartz countertops and it presents like a $1M home that you can buy for ¾’s of the price without having to do a total demolition and rebuild. Split levels are typically not a desirable floor plan because they tend to be cut up, so we just made this a very desirable floor plan.
What are the advantages of this approach?
From a company standpoint, we control the entire process. Since we are the client we are making the financial, investment, and finishing decisions which means we can move a lot faster. This increases our turnaround time. For example, choosing a bamboo floor finish eliminates the laminate price point to save money but still provides an elegant look and feel. We are doing bamboo in the entire house except for the bathrooms and laundry. This offers sustainability and green features. The advantage for our company is that we are not only making a profit on the renovation but also on the sale of the listing.
How will you market this property & is this something you will continue to pursue?
We will list it with MLS soon and post it on our social media channels that it’s going to be on the market very soon. I would say this is 5-10% of what we do versus contracted customers to turn a property. I think this is a way to serve clients in a different way. Some want to go through designing, renovating, and building, but others just don’t have the time and need a place sooner. This is a way to fill that void. If someone wants a house in North Hills this is a way to get it now as opposed to going through the long process.
What does this cut for you in terms of the typical process?
There are several examples. One is with the hardwood floors as we’ve discussed before with supply chain issues. This hardwood floor has a particular glue to adhere it to the concrete floor but there is no glue available to do it. So a design-build owner might have had an issue with this delay and this could’ve put a damper on it because we are waiting up to 30 days for the glue to show up. It can delay closings, but providing the opportunity for someone to move into a place fully renovated and brand new without having to deal with the supply and logistics issues cuts the time frame drastically.
What is the value of the property pre and post-renovation?
We bought the house for $400K and we are putting $100K into it and will sell it for $650K. In this neighborhood, somebody else would’ve bought it, demolished it, and built a $1.5-2M home.
What about structural challenges?
We didn’t have many on this project because the changes we were making were all interior updates. The walls were not an issue because the roof stood on the trusses and we didn’t have any exterior load-bearing wall changes.
This is the kind of project we would like to pursue once a quarter. At this point, we don’t have the capacity to do one more than one at a time, but as we keep getting more and more successful with them we can get more done in a shorter span of time. Location is critical to these projects and we are very selective about them.
When homeowners in communities like North Hills see this kind of transformation without a total demolition they get a greater understanding of how they could transform their home into 21st Century functionality. It opens doors for surrounding neighbors to dream and consider the possibilities for their homes without relocating.
Wolk360 in Raleigh, North Carolina, is an innovative and creative buy-design-build firm specializing in helping clients create the perfect home. The firm is unique in that it has a multi-disciplinary team of designers, architects, builders, and real estate agents, so clients do not have to deal with multiple players when pursuing their dream. From acquisition, planning, development, demolition, and build they serve residential and commercial clients with high-quality start to finish custom projects.