In recent years flipping homes has gotten a bad rep, but it hasn't completely disappeared. Last week we met with Oakland-based designer Mila Zelkha, owner of renovation and real estate company, Mint Condition Homes. Through her company, Mila works to painstakingly and thoughtfully restore vintage bank-owned properties into quality, eco-friendly homes for first time home buyers. Her work is bright and beautiful and not only gives new life to abandoned properties, but also improves the quality of the neighborhood and uplifts it's residents.
Mila Zelkha has a varied, professional background, but all of her experiences led her to a passion of rehabbing vintage, eco-friendly homes. Mila received her BFA & B.Arch from Rhode Island School of Design. Upon graduation, Mila worked as the Program Director for The Green Roundtable, a non-profit dedicated to mainstreaming green design through education, policy and technical assistance. Eventually Mila moved back to the Bay Area, and began designing and managing construction for small-scale residential developers. During this time she observing techniques used for flipping and selectively began substituting eco-friendly material choices without changing their bottom line. "I've always put a value on quality, green design process and materials — all our homes affirm that the marketplace does as well."
Most of the buildings Mint Condition Homes restores are one and two unit bungalow-style residences. The houses are bank-owned or abandoned, have been poorly or illegally renovated and require significant improvements. When designing a rehab, Mila not only looks to the building for inspiration, but it's former inhabitants and neighbors. She respects the story and character of the original house, and restores it to it's original condition, if not better.
"Our innovative, multi-discilinary approach synthesizes marketplace demands for modern amenities with a desire to create a healthy living environment, reduces the environmental footprint using a green design process, and celebrates the historic context within which each home was originally built."
Often the projects will require new foundations, roofs, and updated electrical, water and gas service. All the material choices reflect the vintage character of the home and are healthy alternatives to traditional choices. Eco-upgrades include low and no-VOC finishes and sealants, cellulose insulation, salvaged electrical and plumbing fixtures for historic character, cork, marmoleum and bamboo flooring, custom made energy efficient dual-glazed wood window units, on-demand hot water tanks, Energy Star appliances and native drought-resistant landscaping.
Current renovations have received a GreenPoint Rating from Build It Green’s green building rating program. Mila's most recent accomplishment is having been elected as the 2010 Build It Green "Green Building Champion" — an exciting and well-deserved achievement!
Mint Condition Homes, LLC is a proud member of Build It Green, and a supporter of the Oakland Heritage Alliance. Mila Zelkha is an Associate Member of the American Institute of Architects, a Certified Green Building Professional, a Certified EPA Renovator (RRP), and a licensed Realtor® (#01857142).
(Images via Mint Condition Homes)
- Founded: 2005
- Founded by: Mila Zelkha
- Headquarters: Oakland, CA
Our innovative, multi-discilinary approach synthesizes marketplace demands for modern amenities with a desire to create a healthy living environment, reduces the environmental footprint using a green design process, and celebrates the historic context within which each home was originally built.