If You Thought Your Remodel Was Tough, Read This...

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Christopher Lee, his wife Amy and their baby daughter Ruby took on a remodeling project that would make seasoned DIYers shake in their work boots.

 

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(Credit: DIY Network) 

The Detroit family’s adventure in renovating an abandoned home that was once the Lee family’s homestead will be featured on a DIY Network series. 

American Rehab: Detroit” chronicles the family’s life as they live in the house while bringing it back to its Roaring ’20s glory. But with the home abandoned for years and damage including collapsing ceilings, a leaking roof and holes in the floor, the project takes a lot of time and work.

 

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Lee grew up hearing about his great-grandfather’s once-stately Detroit residence, which was lost in the Great Depression. He bought it 87 years later and, armed with a family photo from 1927, set out to restore it to its former beauty, the network said. Episodes air Thursdays at 9 p.m. on DIY Network and will likely re-run on HGTV in April.

 

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(Credit: DIY Network) 

According to the Detroit Free Press, Lee bought the house for $8,100 in a county tax foreclosure sale in 2007 after it had been vacant for at least five years. Lee’s great-grandparents raised 10 out of 11 children at the house before his great-grandfather lost the family fortune and the home in the Great Depression, he told the paper. The family held a reunion in the home in January 2014 after renovations completed.

 

Ellen Premtaj, owner of Elle Interiors in Allen Park, Mich., was hired by the show’s producers to design the residence along with the Lee family.

 

“It was non-stop, seven days a week for four months,” Premtaj said of the construction, which included gutting the kitchen, moving walls, building a first-floor powder room, completely redone master suite and guest bath, plus a porch, living room, two fireplaces and plaster moldings.

 

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(Credit: DIY Network) 

“It was a beautiful home,” she said. “It was just in really, really poor condition and poor repair. It had not had the TLC that it needed over the years.”

 

For others considering undertaking a similar renovation project, Premtaj advises several things to consider before beginning to work.

 

DO: Perform your due diligence. “It’s worth the investment to hire a designer because they can kind of troubleshoot some of the areas you may not think of.”

 

DO: Get advice from professionals, even if you do the work yourself. “They’re going to save a lot of money on the labor end of things, but I’ve been there, done it and can give them advice so they’re not making mistakes and costing themselves extra money.”

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DON’T: Underestimate the scope of what you’re undertaking. “Prepare yourself,” Premtaj said. “Know there’s going to be dust, it’s going to be dirty, you’re going to have probably a couple of arguments … on television, it’s all edited and pretty and they edit out the swearing and the cursing at each other. Just know going into it it’s not going to be all butterflies and rainbows.”

 

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(Credit: DIY Network) 

DO: Be imaginative. “When you completely gut everything, starting from a fresh palate, the sky is the limit,” she said. Mix up styles – a traditional outside with a modern interior – is feasible when doing a total renovation.

 

DON’T: Overlook easy fixes. Work around existing items that you like. “Giving things a freshen-up – an area rug, some new drapes – can really change the look of a room … but you’re not having a ton of renovations, a ton of time.

 

DO: Be sure the space works as needed. “The room can be the most beautiful room, but if it doesn’t function for you then it’s just not going to work, especially a kitchen or a bathroom or a family room.”

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