Why we are here in the first place

I'm not sure if we ever expressed the reason my wife and I started to renovate homes in Lafayette. We saw so many homes being neglected. For one reason or another, the property continued to wear from weather or sheer inability to update. There was a void that needed filled. We made the promise to each other and those who follow us that we will be open and transparent with each of you. It will not be the highlights from HGTV that make you think flipping a home was some 1 hour long, easy as pie process. It will make you constantly worry and keep your stress levels high. Oh, and I'm having a kid in a few months so I'm sure things will calm down... But, as I've said before; at the end of the day, we get to step back and see a house turned into a home it can be one of the most gratifying jobs I've ever had.

What we didn't expect was the constant set backs from those we counted on to help with repairs. Let me preface by saying we are still learning the routine of remodeling homes to resell including organization, scheduling, keeping subcontractors on a tight time-line and then ultimately holding them accountable. 

So, with that said, the Shady Creek Project has been a bear to handle from an organizational standpoint. Our roofer repaired the roof in the rain - after being told not too. He flooded our first floor ceiling and caused significant damage. This company has yet to be located to recoup these damages. Our landscaper worked out for a bit but when the job got too much for him, he split with the money. Our primary contractor took on multiple jobs making my job the least important. 

I'm not saying this to bitch or complain, I'm telling you this to be open and transparent. Because, as of Tuesday, I was having one of those days it would be easy to sit down and stress over everything needing done. Thats when I received a knock on the door. Mike Wang, a friend of ours from CrossFit had called in a favor. Since he originally recommended the landscaper he felt responsible for what that person did to us. He called a friend with a bobcat that made quick work of all the left over jobs the landscaper never finished. I'm not a person that asks for help often and the fact that Mike moved mountains to get me what I needed the most at that time was emotional and humbling. In 15 minutes Mike and his friend busted their butts to finish the work. And, in the process unearthed some pretty amazing rocks for our finished landscaping (see pictures below).

People like Mike and his friend are what allow us to trust again. They provide comfort in knowing that good people are still out there. It recharged my batteries for this project and showed me that there are people who believe in what we are doing at the Heartland Concept. 

It's these kind of people that make the Midwest and specifically Lafayette Indiana a place we are happy to invest resources in and make a better place.

The Business Side of Things

Lets talk.

OK, so we are couple houses down at this point and some very valuable lessons have been learned. Hard lessons, easy lessons. Lessons you don't even know you've learned. But, today I want to talk about the business side of things and how it relates to working in building, housing industry.

First and foremost, it's completely flawed. Yup, I said it. Now, every industry is flawed but I'm thinking the contracting and sub-contractor industry is incredibly flawed. In my opinion, it's because there's so many 1 man operations that don't know how to run the business like, well, a business. I'll get to that more later but for now, what happened to get us here? During 2007 and 2008 when the housing bubble erupted into a volcanic mega cloud many contractors decided to get out of the industry. Taking jobs in other areas less stressful or competitive. When those people exited the market, no one jumped in to take their place. The pool we had to pull from had been dramatically lessened, almost over night. Fast forward to another hot time in real estate (like today) and you'll see many new faces and companies all hustling to get a part of the action. And this is where the issues begin.

See people like us need to get work done quickly. We are in the business of turning over homes fast and making them look like brand new ones. Unfortunately, the new home builders have most crews on lock down for obvious reasons. Others scramble to find smaller contacting companies to fulfill their needs. Some pay labors full time wages just to stay committed to them. For every good contractor, it seems that you have to go through 3 bad ones. Below are a few tips I've learned along the way. I hope these help as you start to plan out your next project.

1) 30/70 splits

My wife who worked in the industry for awhile saw this payment structure most commonly. The idea is that you give them 30% upfront for any material cost and 70% at the completion of the project. Completion of the project is not determined by the contractor, it is determined by you! When you feel the job is complete, then you pay. Be strong on this because it's hard looking someone in the eye and telling them you will not pay until the job is complete. 

There are special circumstances that might issue a 50/50 split. The only time this is accepted is when they can show you in writing why they need 50% up front. For instance our concrete contractor needed 50% up front for all materials. He had an itemized list showing me exactly what he needed to buy. I was comfortable doing this because he provided me with a certificate of insurance (see below) and if he ran, I could make a claim on his insurance.

Why I no longer do the 50/50 Split - I'm convinced that those snake in the grass contractors price their work knowing that 50% payment will cover their labor so when (not if) they sneak off and leave, 50% is just fine to them. 

2) Keep a log of insurance and bonds

Only work with those who supply you with certificates of Liability or Bonded papers. If they don't have them and provide proof, don't use them. Their lack of ability to operate like a business will ultimately make you pay for their large mishap.

Keep a log of all the documents and a spreadsheet of when they expire. Set a calendar reminder of when they expire so that you can reach out to the contractor for an updated document.

3) Trust Your Gut

If someone doesn't seem right, chances are they aren't. If you don't want them doing a roof when rain is being forecasted, then tell them no. Trust me, we learned the hard way. There are many wolfs in sheep's clothing out there and it's hard to spot. If you stick to the first and second tip here then it will weed out those who are typically looking to scam you.

4) Finding the right contractor is a numbers game

In sales they teach you the 10-3-1 rule. 10 people are called on, 3 might be interested and 1 will buy. That means we have to call on a lot of people to make 1 sale. Finding the right contractor is very similar. You have to go through a lot of bad ones to find a really good one. Lucky for us, we have a few really good people we can call on.

It's not all doom and gloom so don't let this get you down. You will quickly forget all the bad stuff that happened when you step back at the end of the project, look up at the freshly updated home and smile knowing that you completed a big task. 

As always, reach out to us or comment below with any questions you should have. Happy building. 

100 Men Who Cook

Holy cow. The Heartland Concept was picked to have Alec Williams be 1 of 100 men who cook. Ok, you may wonder what that means but let me break it down for you - 100 men provide 500+ samples of their favorite dish to hundreds of people where the chefs dress up silly, provide great dishes and hustle for tips. All the tips collected go to the Willowstone Family Services, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services geared towards those who are affected by mental health issues. 


Why is this so important to The Heartland Concept? Well, Alec has been serving on the board of Willowstone Family services for over 2 years. He has seen what Willowstone does for the community on a daily basis and is proud to be a member of the organization. It's also a very big deal for Willowstone Family Services. Each year, 100 Men Who Cook choose just 2 organizations to partner with and this year, Willowstone Family Services is one of them. By bringing in tips and selling table sponsorships, Willowstone Family Services will be able to invest more money into the ongoing battle to provide services to those who need it regarding Mental Health solutions.

There are two ways you can be involved. 1) purchase a ticket and show up in person. Bring a date with you and have one heck of a night. I guarantee you will have some of the best food ever and you will not leave hungry. Or 2) follow the link below and donate a tip to your main man, Alec Williams. The goal is $350 so lets get started and make it happen!

Taking it one step further

Did you know? A cat doesn’t really have 9 lives. Did you know? Kid Rock’s real name is Robbie. Did you know? Heartland Concept teamed up with Beacon Real Estate Services and is a full service Real Estate Brokerage company.

Yes, these statements are all true. Especially the last one. Feel free to test the first fact and just google Kid Rock’s real name. You’ll see I’m telling the truth.

In the past couple of months, Alec has been working hard to get his brokerage license so that we can have an understanding and ability to view and purchase properties listed on the MLS. Now, we can do the majority of transactions ourselves. While many of our deals come from off market transactions, it’s important for us to have the MLS to run comps and find properties for sale similar to the ones we are renovating.

So, what does this mean for you? We would be glad to list and show homes for any client interested. However, our bread and butter is serving the real estate investor. Using the same tools we use on all our investments, we are able to help the buyer be more informed on the return on their money. Whether it’s cash flow from the rental side or projected income on a flip, appraising the value, or determining it through cap rates or a gross rent multiplier, our proven techniques can be passed on to those looking to invest.

If you are interested in partnering with The Heartland Concept on properties to invest in, please reach out to us through email (info@heartlandconcept.com) or by phone (765.201.0609). We will sit down with you and run you through the same steps we do when evaluating an investment. 


What we learned on the last Flip- Kenna Edition

In December Alec and I decided to take on a task of purchasing a home in our neighborhood, give it some good TLC, and see if we could bring an old home back to life. In 5 short months, we transformed the 10th street cottage and it was a whirlwind of a time! 

This week we decided to take some time to sit down and reflect over what we learned on our first full house renovation project. It obviously had it’s up’s and down’s but overall the 10th Street Cottage is what fueled our desire to dive into more projects!

I love this post, because Alec and I decided to each type up our own “5 Things We Learned” and decided to not share it with each other, before sharing it here! Let’s see how these compare :)

Kenna’s 5 Things She Learned

  • If you start a project, finish it. There were many projects that Alec and I took on that were overwhelming to us. So it was very easy when we only had a few hours that night or day to decide to do a smaller task instead of tackling one of the bigger projects. However, this left us with half finished projects throughout the course of the renovation. An example is the board and batten. This was a time consuming and lengthy project. After steaming, scraping, mudding, sanding, and painting the walls in the dining room to prep them for the board and batten. We moved on to other projects rather than finishing it all the way.  
  • Create a general task list and then a detailed weekly list- and go after it! Lists keep me organized. I love lists. We had an overall list of what needed to get done, but I wasn’t great at keeping weekly lists. Although sometimes things don’t go a planned, if I had a list I feel it would’ve kept me more on target throughout the project with accomplishing “To Do’s”. 
  • Samples are your best friend. When selecting paint colors for the interior I bought multiple small sample paints and put it on the walls in multiple rooms. I knew I wanted a cohesive color pallet and I believe that this really helped me with selecting the right colors for doing that. Where I didn’t do this was with the stain we used on the fireplace and floating shelves in the second bathroom. Instead on one of our runs to the home improvement store I hastily bought a stain. Well when we made it back and I put some of it on a sample board I didn’t like it. All in all, it took three trips and four cans of stain to find the color I wanted. If only I would’ve bought 3 of the smaller cans to begin with, we would have saved time and now storage space in our garage. I’ve built quite the collection of stains.
  • Blood, sweat, and tears is not just a saying. I’d elaborate more on this- but there’s too many examples to share. Just know that if you’re looking into doing a flip yourself- HGTV is not always reality. 
  • If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. I’m such a DIY’er and bargain shopper it pains me to purchase things from a store at full price. In almost all those cases I whisper under my breathe to Alec, “You know we could make this…” or “I bet I can find a better deal”. Sometimes though when I get too wrapped up in the price, I find that I’m looking at items that I don’t even like that much. An example of this was the mirrors for the bathrooms. I knew I wanted non-builder grade mirrors but mirrors that would still tie the bathrooms in together. At first I bought some mirrors online from a build supplier website, and then I bought another mirror from Target in the store. I bought them because overall they looked nice and they were having a weekend special. When all the mirrors arrived I quickly realized they weren’t going to work. So what did I do? I decided to buy mirrors I had my eye on for a long time. I loved them because they tied in new and old. Along with colors of silver and gold. They weren’t on sale, and I didn’t make them myself, but they finished off the bathrooms and I know I’d buy them all over again!

Risky Business

Well, I'm a little over a week into our new adventure. Last Friday I quit my comfortable job at a Health Care provider in our town. I'd been with the company for 5 years and had held many positions with them. Business Development, Health Care Liaison, VP of Business Development and back to Health Care Liaison. You see, 5 years in a company proved valuable in so many areas. It taught me organization techniques, how to go above and beyond for the customer, the right way to manage (and the wrong way to manage). But, most of all, it taught me how big of a desire it was of mine to run our own business. That is why I stopped working for the Man and ventured out on our own. 

My wife and I have had this desire to build something greater than ourselves. Maybe thats why each home we renovate and sell off is our way of building something that can last long after we are alive. We put blood, sweat and tears into something that we immediately turn around and sell for others enjoyment. Call it sick and twisted, but we find this most gratifying. Because of our conservative lifestyle and modest living, we were at a position we could financially back away from a secure paycheck to pursue a greater purpose.

Now that we are able to dedicate more time to the pursuit, we are able to provide more content, projects, and updates on our company each day. We feel this is what you the people deserve. We can renovate more homes in a year than we could if we did this half-time and after all, a wise man named Ron Swanson said, "Never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing." This couldn't be more true. So, as of Monday of July 24th, we've officially whole assed The Heartland Concept.

Keep a look out for more blogs, posts and of course projects coming soon!



We've been busy

It's been a while, folks. It's not that we don't want to write to you, updating you all on our progress. It's just that, well, we've been busy. Let me bring you up to speed. Ready?

  • We put a new roof on.

An by we, I mean this super amazing friend of ours, Ben Knodell. You see, this guy can out work and entire Army. In fact, he was once in the Army. They retired him because he completed all their work, ahead of schedule. In Ben's 26 years of life, he's most likely worked on a roof for 20 of those years. He is more comfortable standing 30 feet in the air, balancing on a roof line, with a Monster drink in one hand a roofing shovel in the other. He hauls roofing squares up ladders faster than you can walk stairs. He is, the most amazing roofer in the world. But, enough about this guy, lets get to the roof.

Our initial thought behind the roof was to mix industrial metal with classic asphalt shingles. After further review of the valley's and transition points, the roofers decided it wasn't possible. We ended up having to shingle the entire roof. Although our initial design would have enhanced something typically not thought of much but we decided to go the traditional route and shingle everything. After tearing up the existing shingle roof, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the wood was intact and protected well. On the backside of the house is a flat part that needed repaired, but this was expected and accounted for early on. Once Ben and I (Alec) tore off the old shingles and peeped the wood, Sunset to Sunrise Roofing Company made quick work of laying the shingles. The result is a newly roofed 1886 home that should last another 30+ years.

  • Front porch redesign

Big change. Huuuge. The screened in front porch acted as a 1 way mirror. You could see out just fine. But people couldn't see in. Kinda of creepy, right? Well in order to bring back the front porch, we tore off the screen and added a railing. We are pretty excited to see the new look and experience some front porch sittin'!

  • Stairway Board and Batten

We decided to run the board and batten from the living room up the stairs. It was a challenge to get these stairs to work with the rest of the house. So, in efforts to bring appeal to the steep stairs and deep plaster stamping, we carried forward the living room design. The top railing doubled as a handrail which actually creates more space. Double win.

This may have caught you up to speed on where we are at but there is still a ways to go! Keep on the look out for more information regarding the renovation and a sneak peak into our next adventure!



Paint. The hardest decision of your life.

It’s been another week, and we’ve made progress on the home! Although the type of progress is not something that’s easily shown in pictures, it will make all the difference in the world when it comes to resale. We’ve been caulking and painting trim! There was no doubt when we purchased the home updates were necessary to items like the roof, windows, the bathroom, etc. However, when it came to the details of paint selection and freshening up the space, we could have easily “put some lipstick on the pig” and slapped paint up on the walls. Nonetheless, if you knew my husband, you’d know that would never work for him! When we do something, it has to be done right. I love that about him, but it’s also hard for my “I want it all done right now” personality to see the benefit of spending hours on patching seams, caulking corners, and spending the time to paint the trim in all areas including attic closet spaces. The upstairs now has new ceilings, caulk and freshly painted trim, so tomorrow we begin painting the walls! I’m excited for this step and to see the transformation of the space. Picking paint colors for an entire home can be daunting. So I’d like to provide you with some tips that I used during this selection process.

Picking Paint Colors

  1. Let the house tell the story. At first glance, what type of house style is your home? While walking our dog around the neighborhood I always admired the warm cozy cottage feel I thought this house had. Now that it’s ours, I wanted to stay true to the original feel. I knew I wanted the home to feel fresh and inviting, so for me that meant warm, light, neutrals were the right color palette. 
  2. Buy samples. Samples are this girl’s best friend! I browsed online for hours and hours at paint colors. I thought I had everything selected and ready to go. I decided to get a paint sample for the overall house color, and once I put it on the wall in three rooms, I realized it was not at all what I wanted. The color felt too dark, and with the current floor plan, it would’ve made the rooms feel small. So back to the store I went. After buying a few more shades I landed on a color that hit all the right tones for me. 
  3. Pick a brand. In the past I’d find a color I liked, and I wouldn’t pay much attention to the brand of the paint. However, with the last two houses I’ve stuck with the same brand (this house I selected all Benjamin Moore colors) and I feel it’s made the house colors really balance each other. If you visit their websites, they’ve already done half the work for you by having look books with complimentary colors. If you want variations in colors between rooms, browsing the look books is a great place to start!
  4. Lighting. The one item that can be easily overlooked, but makes a huge difference is lighting. Another reason why #2 is so important. Depending on what type of lighting you have in each room, will determine how the color looks. Natural daylight shows the truest color; Incandescent lighting brings out warm tones and yellows; Fluorescent lighting casts a sharp blue tone. We’re in the process of changing out light fixtures as well, so I made sure to take the new lighting plan into consideration when picking the paint. 

Our colors: