Johnny Rodas knows numbers. Specifically, numbers that relate to real estate. The Edmonton-born former sales rep was laid off from his oil industry job in 2009 and, in his newfound free time, became a big fan of home renovation and flipping shows. In 2010, he found a basement-less bungalow for sale a few blocks from where he grew up on the north side. He spent money to build a garage and renovate the house inside and out, then set a price and put it back on the market. The numbers worked. It sold three weeks later. And Rodas was hooked. “That was the very first one and it just snowballed from there,” he says.
He continued house flipping for four years, until he realized he could make the numbers work better by building. “I’m not a handyman, but I was always good with numbers, so I took the approach of how to manage and make sure the money works,” he says. “The main reason I transferred into building is it’s more straightforward. When you buy a house to flip, if you overpay by 10 or 15 grand, that’s a big hit. But if you overpay for a lot, you can make up for it in so many different ways during the build.”
Almost 10 years after that first bungalow, Rodas found himself with a booming building business (Platinum Living Homes Ltd.), pregnant wife and child, and in need of a place to call their own. They found one, across the street from RE/MAX Field in the highly sought after Rossdale area. It’s so coveted that, three weeks after moving in, there was a knock on their door. A man wanted to buy their new home. He made an offer. Rodas, with his recently settled, growing family, turned him down. The man came up with an improved number, one Rodas couldn’t reasonably refuse, so he did what he does best and built a new home a few blocks away in Cloverdale. Nine months later, the Rodas family moved into their brand new, two-and-a-half storey infill on the tree-lined street across from the Muttart Conservatory. The first thing passersby notice is the home’s formidable façade — with its brick and black features and blocky design, it stands out among its mostly Victorian-style neighbours, especially when lit up at night. At just under 3,000 square feet, plus a double detached garage and large yard, the infill takes up more horizontal space than most new infills. The extra square footage creates storage, a spare bedroom and office space around the second flight of stairs that standard skinny homes simply don’t have.
The design decisions were a team effort between Rodas, his wife Linda, Sebastian Mielczarek of Design Two Group and Niki Flis of FLIS Interior Design, whose expertise in creating sleek and simple decor fit well with Rodas’s desire to create a timeless interior. “I like simple,” he says. “I don’t go for elaborate patterns, more for dark colours. I don’t want someone to come in here in 10 years and say it looks dated.” Large windows brighten the light hardwood floor and white walls, but the black theme continues with furniture accents (pillows, lampshades) and key features like cupboards and stairs, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds. “Oh man, finding black cabinets that were perfect…” Flis laughs. “As soon as you touch black, you see all the fingerprints.” The solution was higher end, soft-touch cabinets with a chemical film that feels like a white board and is almost impervious to showing prints. (Two kids under two years of age mean the glass wall going up the stairs will have a different fate for the foreseeable future.)
And then there’s the rooftop patio, a luxury in any home, but one with extra appeal in the Rossdale neighbourhood. Only blocks from Gallagher Park, it’s essentially a private outdoor auditorium for Folk Fest. Mature trees, on the street and around the Muttart, provide beautiful foliage in summer and fall, and leave a clear cityscape scene come winter and spring.
So with a home of their own, and the Muttart, a kids’ park and budding downtown only steps away (and the new LRT line coming soon), would Rodas react the same to a similar knock-on-the-door offer? “It would be tougher, for sure,” he laughs, “even just being in this area, with the view we have.” But if the numbers work…
This article appears in the October 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.