A home-remodeling dream team remakes the North Shore.
John Kannenberg and Dave Jacob perform extensive, and expensive, improvements to houses, mainly in the North Shore, then sell them, often for more than double the purchase price. In fact, their last three projects have each fetched over $1 million. But don’t call them house flippers.
“It makes my skin crawl,” Kannenberg says from the living room of a recently renovated Whitefish Bay house that sold the day it hit the market. “We add value. People who are flipping take a house that is tired and maybe make it pretty, but structurally it’s still old.”
A recent project, a house on East Fairmount Avenue in Whitefish Bay, exemplifies the extent of their transformations. Kannenberg and Jacob, partners in business and life, purchased the house with a view of Lake
Michigan last June for $445,000. The upgrades included a 1,000-square-foot, two-story addition to what had been a 3,200-square-foot structure. They sold the house in late February for $1.2 million, with Jacob serving as the real estate agent for both parties. “You have to realize that a ton of money went into it,” says Kannenberg, who wouldn’t disclose the amount, but insists it’s more than what they paid for the house.
Their skill and finesse haven’t gone unnoticed. Kannenberg and Jacob buy homes that are sometimes “the rejects of rejects,” says Andy Stillman, a broker associate with Keller Williams Realty, “[and] turn them into something pretty fabulous.” Buyers seem to agree. Jonathan Good and his wife, Meredith, purchased a Kannenberg/Jacob makeover on Santa Monica Boulevard in Whitefish Bay in late 2011. “We knew we … couldn’t get that quality at that price point if we had to do the work on our own,” Jonathan Good says.
While the couple give these projects the white-glove treatment, the remodeling of their own Shorewood house has been at a stand-still. “We figured we’d finish the floors and re-do the kitchen,” Kannenberg says. Nine years later, those renovations have yet to come to fruition. “It was going to be a six-month thing,” Kannenberg says, flashing a wry smile.