Sanjay and Sejal Patel wanted to buy a beach house within a few hours of their Wake Forest home. The oceanfront duplex they found in Carolina Beach needed some work, and a television show captured the renovation process.
The Patels will appear on HGTV’s “Vacation House for Free” at noon Sunday. The show will highlight the couple’s process of finding a vacation home, renovating it and renting it out to cover renovation costs and the mortgage.
Both units of the duplex were redone, although the show will feature only one unit. The Patels figured the duplex setup would allow them to rent one or both units at a time.
The home, which was a dingy brown, was built in the 1980s and hadn’t been changed much. Both units had carpet and wood paneling.
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“It was ugly, but it was livable,” Sejal Patel said. “We could use it from day one.”
HGTV designers began working on the home in April, and the Patels got to see the finished product in June.
Workers painted the exterior of the home, created an outdoor space, removed a wall to make the ocean view more prominent in the living room and completely redid the kitchen.
“It kind of felt like magic,” Sejal Patel said. “We didn’t have to deal with any of it.”
“Vacation House for Free” aims to help buyers get the most money out of a vacation property. Designers renovate the property so owners can charge rent high enough to cover the mortgage and other expenses.
Sanjay Patel, who works as president of the Morrisville engineering company Anuva, said he thinks rental income will cover the cost of the home. At least one of the units is already booked into the fall, he said.
For a weeklong stay in mid-September, the home can be rented for $2,620, according to the Carolina Beach Realty website.
By next summer, Sanjay Patel said, he expects the family can charge higher rent. By then, he said, they’ll be able to advertise it as a home renovated by HGTV.
The family can also enjoy the home themselves, of course. The Patels, both 43, have three children. They named the house “Shore to Relax.”
The Patels own several other rental properties in Wake Forest and Charlotte, but they have never done a major renovation.
For “Vacation House For Free,” the Patels helped choose a Wilmington-based contractor and picked out some of the things they wanted in the home – such as an automation system that can manage lighting and other electric items.
“We wanted to do something different,” Sanjay Patel said of the automation system. “(Other homes) don’t have it, and it’s so convenient to have it.”
The Patels also opted to buy some of the furniture HGTV used to stage the home. They plan to use this year’s offseason to buy updated furnishings for both units.
“We were maybe one of the last houses people picked,” Sejal Patel said, “and now we might be the first.”