Renovation of Houses In the Portland Neighborhood

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Sometimes selling or buying a house has a lot of “red tape” attached to it,
BUT what about
the red tape that is appearing on Portland Avenue?
Work has finally begun on a few houses in the Portland neighborhood that were purchased at the beginning of this year for total renovation. Oracle Design Group Inc. purchased the two properties at 24th Street and Portland Avenue.  This group has begun work to transform them into quality homes. The houses will be made available for rental units for the first fifteen years and at the end of that set amount of time, the properties will be available for purchase.
The work that Oracle Design Group Inc. is looking to accomplish will provide Portland with a safer environment. Oracle Design Group Inc. realizes that many of the older homes in the neighborhood have lead based paint issues.  This will not be the case for the properties they are looking to renovate as proper removal guidelines are being followed to remove the lead.  These attributes of Oracle’s renovation plan will encourage a higher design standard for any future construction in Portland.
The president of Oracle Design Group Inc. is Dr. Mark T. Wright who received his Doctorate in Urban and Public Affairs, Planning and Development from the University of Louisville. He is married to Caryn A. Winter and together they own and operate Oracle Design Group.  Among other honors, Dr. Wright received the President’s Award from the University of Louisville, as well as The Cornerstone 2020 Award for Excellence in Design in a Traditional Workplace. For his work establishing a mentoring program for at risk children in Louisville’s Middle Schools, he was awarded The Apple from the Teachers Award from the Jefferson County School Systems.  In 2001, he was presented The First Annual Architect’s Award for Excellence in Community Design.
Chris Byrd is also a valued member of the Oracle team. He holds a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Kentucky. Mr. Byrd is currently the Project Manager for Oracle Single Family Homes Revitalization 2009.  He is also certified in Lead Safe Work Practices, Lead Worker and Renovator.
The purchase of these few houses should be viewed as successful for our Portland neighbors. Many of the homes were owned by Portland residents that had been on the market for some time without a prospect of a buyer. The homes being renovated will provide quality housing for other Portland residents. Oracle has experience with a variety of housing programs and has developed affordable housing in Louisville and the surrounding areas.
Many in the real estate industry feel that for improvement to happen there must be a mixture of rental and homeowners in our area. We need to consider quality housing for our neighbors who may not qualify to become a homeowner.  There are many residents who may not be able to buy due to situations and circumstances outside their control that deserve quality housing.
The Oracle Design Group Inc. looks to provide this quality as they move forward in the renovations in the Portland neighborhood.


Louisville, Kentucky is a city full of historic architecture and neighborhoods dating from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. The Oracle Single Family Homes Revitalization 2009 is  breathing life back into many of these homes that has fallen into disrepair. Some of the homes require extensive work while saving as much of the decorative architecture elements as possible.

With a little imagination you can see how these homes once was full of life and how proud the people who built them must have been.

What would they say today?

The thought that leads to NO action is not thought- it is DREAMING.

We have created a pictorial walk through the process of restoring these few homes. As the process continues there will be updated photos so make sure to check back often.

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Is it worth hanging onto this property?

Home Improvements

The biggest mistake that I see when investors buy a property is that they think it needs an elaborate renovation. Before attempting any work you should see how much it is going to improve your income (are you going to be able to charge more rent from these improvements?) and how long it will take for you to get your money back on the improvement.

If you are in a certain area where the houses are all alike then it might not be worth adding what you think the tenants may want. More often you will find people are satisfied with the way the house is built and there is no need for renovation. Most are looking for affordable rent, a clean environment, and working plumbing.

I would suggest if you are thinking about renovationing you might wait till you find a good tenant to work with. You can tailor their needs around the renovations and not what you would want if you lived there. This will also encourage the tenant to stay in the property longer and have a better relationship with the landlord.

Review Your Outgoings

Are there repairs that you could do yourself without hiring a repairman? Most everyone can change batteries in a smoke detector or light bulbs.

At some point the property will be vacant while you are finding a new tenant. A quick advertisement in the local newspaper and a “For Rent” sign in the yard of the property will usually generate enough calls.

The most important expense at this point is tenant screening. To offset the cost you can charge a fee to perform a credit check. You can get references but from my experience you have to be very careful with these.

I had one renter who told me he worked at a factory and gave me his supervisor’s number. Everything checked out – he had a great paying job and been there for many years. After a few months and the rent wasn’t paid I found out the reference he gave me was his brother. His brother did work at the factory and was a supervisor but the tenant never worked there (or anywhere else).

What is the cash flow of the property?

A good rule to follow is that you want the rent to cover your expensives on the property. If you’re digging deeper into your pocket to support your habit of being a landlord then you might have a problem.

Other Suggestions

  • Always make sure the new tenant puts the utilities in their name and you call to have them taken out of yours.
  • Set a time to inspect the property with the tenant. I would recommend about twice a year. Many tenants don’t call their landlord about leaking roofs etc until you have a major problem with major expense- they think if you are putting money into the property then you are going to raise the rent.
  • Every year have the furnace/space heaters cleaned and inspected


Your landlord responsibilities should include providing a safe, smoothly functioning home for your tenants. That means, for example, making sure plumbing, wiring and appliances function, outdoor areas and stairways are safe.

If you must evict do your homework. Make sure you are following the law and consult a lawyer if necessary.

You have to be able to smile, walk up to the individual, be polite and friendly. You must be able to treat them like a customer. Many tenants don’t understand that this is income to you and think that you are being unfair when wanting your rent on time.

I would suggest once the eviction process starts that you have no contact with the tenant. You should try to make the eviction go as smooth as possible to prevent damage to the property.

Rental property is a business, and if it’s not a business you like, then it might be time to consider selling.