Nicole’s House Hustle: Crisis Averted

published Mar 6, 2017
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The Bednarz family: Sean, Warren, and Nicole. (Image credit: Katy Cartland)

Name: Nicole, Sean and Warren Bednarz, Betty the dog
Location: Oak Forest — Houston, Texas
Size: 1,600 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 1 year

When the Bednarz family relocated from Austin to Houston so that Nicole and Sean could open a brewery, they were looking for a good bargain that didn’t need major work — a tall order in a new city. Since, as Nicole put it, Sean “doesn’t do anything without consulting online reviews, ratings or word of mouth,” they took to Yelp to find a pro: Realtor® Diana “Dee” Merced, a real estate agent and member of the National Association of Realtors® with decades of experience. Diana’s experience paid off big — especially when their new home’s old repairs came back to haunt (and soak) them.

Dee worked hard to find Nicole and Sean the right house — a remodeled 1950s bungalow on the same street as their new business, Great Heights Brewing Company — but her biggest job came after move-in: when illegal plumbing caused a full-on flood!

The sellers Nicole and Sean bought from, who’d been flipping the house, had used improper piping and glue. This crucial detail completely slipped by the inspector once Nicole and Sean were in the process of buying. Fast forward a little while later. With boxes unpacked and art on the wall, the pipes burst, sending water gushing into the house. Luckily, Nicole was home at the time, and her quick action of cutting the water supply mitigated the damage, likely saving her house.

It was a scary scenario — buying flipped houses isn’t as easy as it seems on TV, kids! — which is exactly why you work with someone who knows her stuff. For Nicole and Sean, that was Dee. She went to bat for Nicole and Sean, guiding them through recouping costs — thousands of dollars in all. After the flood, Dee went back to negotiate damages with the sellers on her buyers’ behalf. “I’m so glad we had Dee,” Nicole said, “or we would have had to pay a lot out of pocket.” Instead, they were able to focus on their future — their dry future — in their new home.

Sean, Warren, and Nicole (Image credit: Katy Cartland)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic. It’s kinda all over the place. I tend to like neutral basics with pops of color and layers of patterns.

Inspiration: Everywhere! Magazines, Pinterest, blogs, friends, travel, movies, gardening. I’m a graphic designer, so pretty much anywhere I go, I’m looking and taking mental notes of details. I also love thrifting and going to garage sales. Many of the furniture pieces in our house are from Craigslist or our neighborhood message board.

Favorite Element: The natural sunlight. I work from home and the sunlight just pours in all day. It’s the best.

Biggest Challenge: Fitting everything in. We downsized on this move, plus this house doesn’t have a garage and has teeny-tiny closets. We purged quite a bit, and we have a small shed for the mower and tools. I’ve slowly been installing Elfa closet systems (also found on craigslist) which have made a big difference in what we can fit.

What Friends Say: They always want to know where I find everything. My husband and I have been married for 11 years, so we’ve had ample time to collect things from all over the world. They usually leave saying, “Come decorate my house next!”

Proudest DIY: The veggie garden.

Biggest Indulgence: The sofa. We wanted a really deep seat for lounging and it’s by far the biggest splurge.

Best Advice: Make a list of priorities for your search and find a real estate agent that knows the area well.

Dream Sources: HD Buttercup in Culver City

\[Our (Image credit: Katy Cartland)


Rustic bench — HD Buttercup
Big patchwork pillow — Anthropologie
Gold pillow — World Market
Small pattern pillow — The fabric comes from a Peruvian poncho that my sister brought back for Warren. When it was too small, I converted it into two pillows.
Maps — a garage sale in Austin, TX

Cameron sofa — Z Gallerie
Media console — Laurie’s Antiques (Tomball TX)
Rocker with ottoman — Babies R Us
Leather Love Seat — CB2, via Craigslist
Rug — West Elm
House shaped terrarium — Target

Round table and chairs — World Interiors, Austin, TX
Green asian style cabinet — Three Hands, Austin, TX, via Craigsist
Desk — EQ3, Craigslist

Clock — IKEA
Chalk containers — Anthropologie
Kangaroo salt and pepper shakers — Australia
Painted vase — Afghanistan

Tufted platform bed — World Market
Dresser — West Elm Outlet
Left side table — World Interiors, Austin, TX
Right side table — Round Top Antique Fair
Wood carving — Paper Bear in San Marcos, TX

Canopy Bed — IKEA
Quilt — I made this (fabric from Joann Fabrics)
Yellow cabinet — Craigslist
Dresser — Craigslist; knobs from world market
Bulletin board — it’s a West Elm shower curtain wrapped on a garage sale corkboard
Rug —

Wooden hand — Nutcracker Market, Houston TX
Cream perforated vase — IKEA
Carved wood panel — a garage sale
Picture over toilet — wrapping paper from Eskayel, NYC, with IKEA frame
Gold geometric objet — Ross

Thanks, Nicole and Sean!

Tour more houses and learn how their owners averted crises in buying them in the House Hustle.

(Image credit: National Association of Realtors)

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This post is sponsored by the National Association of REALTORS® and was created by Apartment Therapy’s Creative Studio. Realtors® are members of the National Association of REALTORS®.
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