Eastside Home: Renovating Highland Park homes for the long run

After (top) and before (bottom) photos a Highland Park rehab. Photos courtesy Andrew Ward

Highland Park has attracted many residents interested in old homes and classic architecture, including Andrew Ward. Ward, a 4o-year-old film industry worker, has rehabilitated properties in Highland Park – including the bungalow shown above  on N. Avenue 54 –  and is now working on one in Garvanza. But he wants to make it clear up front that he’s no house flipper He means no “disrespect” to the investors but he prefers to keep the homes he renovates and hold on to them as rentals.

“I am in this for the longer haul,” Ward said in an email. “I am buying homes with interesting architectural integrity, restoring the exteriors in compliance with [historic district rules] and then renting them out with the hope of attracting a tenant who  appreciates  the work that has been done.”

Click on the link below for a Q&A with Ward.

What kind of properties are you looking for?
Essentially the property has to have good bones… and an interesting exterior… and it has to have the potential to be transformed into something that will give you a more open living plan inside. It sounds weird but generally the properties find me. I don’t find them.

Which ones do you avoid?
I try not to write anything off…. but anything that has a serious foundation issue on a hillside … The biggest issue in 90042 is that of the houses that had their wood siding  stuccoed over….. that’s a real shame… it can be very labor and $$ intensive to remove the stucco only to find the siding in really poor shape and then you are in for the replacement cost of the siding…. and generally you need to have it milled  – it’s not a stock item at Home Depot.

Before and after of a Garvanza bungalow

What’s your strategy when it comes to renovation?
When rehabbing a space I try and envisage how I would like it if I were to live there and go to lengths to do quality rehab work which is all done with permits – to LADBS code. My rehabs don’t tend to be merely ‘paint jobs’ but are more extensive in that I demo the existing interiors to the studs, reframe, rewire and plumb to give a more open, spacious and contemporary living space. A penchant of mine is that I replace the windows to reflect the true integrity of the windows that originally were built with the property, which usually means double hung wood framed windows. There is a local company here in Frogtown (Vent Vue) that makes such windows.

My vision is that these properties have been around in many cases for over 100 years, the work that I do now needs serve the property for at least that amount of time in the future.

Why not preserve and rehab the original interior features?
I would love to! But unfortunately most of the interiors have already been gutted with previous remodels or have had poor owners or tenants. There are some cases where I have uncovered an original floor that has been covered by tile for 30 years and have restored it … My philosophy right now with the units I am rehabbing is that I call a spade a spade: if there is nothing inside of real historical value, I gut the interior back to the studs, rewire, replumb, reinforce the framing and open the living space up to it’s maximum potential. I want to do quality work that will see these homes through the next 100 years – or more!

How much have you spent?
The project on N. Ave 54 [pictured above] was a 12 month project between January 2010 – January 2011, mainly because I was out of town a lot that year. It was a fairly costly project  (just north of $100,000) so I would have to stop for a few months to rebuild my capital in order to continue. That project had some big ticket items: $20,000 in foundation work and close to $7,000 on new double-hung windows.

Is this your main job?
No. I’m an Assistant Director in the film business… that is my main income generator. The job is freelance so in-between projects that’s when I hit it hard with the rehab work.

Recommended Supplier & Services:
Vent Vue Window Products for wood windows

Eastside Home is looking for the Before-and-After stories and photos from residents who have made over their bungalows, condos, apartments and lofts after a months-long renovation or a week-end of painting and clutter clearing. Send your stories and photos to hello@theEastsiderLA.com


  1. This is great. Lovely interview and great idea for a series of posts.

  2. Thanks for saving stuco’d houses.

  3. I love this guy! Great interview.

  4. Tina Gulotta-Miller

    I know Andrew Ward and he is fabulous. The mission style bungalows that he rehabbed in Garvanza are right around the corner from our remodeled 1905 bungalow. Garvanza has several properties being rehabbed right now. Andrew did a superb job with these homes and he is the kind of investor you want in an HPOZ.

  5. This is AMAZING! As a homeowner in Garvanza, I couldn’t be more excited. This area has such a rich history and it’s wonderful to see it come back to life.

  6. Tina Gulotta-Miller

    Also….Andrew hired Charles Fisher for both properties to do a Mills Act. Please click on his link as he is available for Mills Act application, property research and community history.


  7. I am a friend of Andrews, well done x

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