Our Home in Laguna Niguel

Purchase History:

In the spring of 2019, I coordinated a transaction with a business partner. We purchased a property in Laguna Niguel, California, intending to use it as a work-from-home personal residence and also as part of a retirement strategy for Carole and me.

In early, 2021, my business partner passed away. I secured conventional financing that would allow me to purchase the property from my partner’s estate. I closed escrow to become the sole owner of the property in September, 2021.

After concluding the purchase, Carole and I decided to modernize the property. We had already replaced the roof and the interior pipes. In the fall of 2021, we began to consider an extensive remodel. Being that we’re three miles away from the marina in Dana Point, we wanted to make our house feel lighter and more “beachy,” consistent with our Orange County community of Southern California.


Avatar Property Services, Inc.

After speaking with several contractors, Carole and I decided that we liked Mark Scarlatelli and his partner, Sarina Carmona. Together, they operate Avatar Property Services, Inc.

Mark and Sarina gave us a high level of confidence that they could guide us through an extensive renovation of our property, focusing on the downstairs and also the master bathroom. We’re extremely grateful to Mark and Sarina, and their entire team. They’ve been giving us exceptional services, going far beyond what we expected.

For that reason, we highly recommend Avatar Property Services for anyone looking to complete a construction project in Southern California. Contact them at the following email: scarmona@avatargreen.net

To memorialize the project, we’re publishing images from when we acquired the property. We’re also publishing images to show the entire project, from demolition to reconstruction. We will include video files and explanations, too.

In the fall of 2022, we continued the construction with the remodel of our backyard, modernizing our swimming pool. We use Ponce Construction as our pool contractor.

Follow along to see how the project turns out. We expect to complete the project before Christmas, 2022.


Images of Home Before Remodel

Outside pictures of the house and garage, from spring, 2019.

We began looking for a property in the spring of 2019. We saw the pictures below and the house caught our interest.


Outside pictures of the house and garage, from spring, 2019.

While looking through various real estate links that featured the property, I decided to pursue a transaction to purchase the property.


Walking through the front door.

The interior of the house featured a living area on the left, with a dramatic staircase on the right. Aches separated the formal dining room from the living room.


Past the dining room, and into the rear of the house.

Passing the formal dining room on the left, we’d walk through an arched doorway. We saw a family room on the left, with French doors that went out to the pool, and the kitchen to the right.


Beyond the kitchen, a second dining room.

We liked the view from the kitchen sink. On the other side of the range, we had a second dining room, with a second set of French doors that went out to the pool area. Outside we had a built-in barbeque.


Top of stairs, an office.

At the top of the stairs, we walk into an office with a built-in bookshelf. A spiral staircase goes to another area with more space that we use for storage.


Three bedrooms upstairs.

In addition to the home office, we have three bedrooms upstairs, and a second bathroom. A half-bath is downstairs.


Relocation Condo: Downsizing

Temporary housing in Silicon Valley

While the experts at Avatar Property Services renovated our property, Carole and I needed to set up housing where we could live during construction. Fortunately, an opportunity opened.

Stanford Hospital offered Carole a 13-week nursing assignment. She signed a contract in late September. Then she secured temporary housing in a tiny condo on Winchester, near Santana Row.

The condo is quite small, with less than 700-square feet in total. Basically, the entire condominium would fit nicely inside the master bedroom in our Laguna home.

The furnished condo included a bedroom, a small kitchen, a bathroom, and a must-have, in-unit laundry. We expected to be cramped in our down-sized living quarters. We looked forward to sharing our time together.

Below I include images of the small condominium that Carole found online. We also include some images showing how I work in the cramped quarters.

Demolition: Day 1

Starting the demolition

We trusted in Mark and his team at Avatar implicitly. While Carole and I set up our temporary housing in Silicon Valley, the Avatar team coordinated a dumpster. Then they went to work to tear out the old in order to make way for the new, modern interior we wanted.

As the pictures show, the team at Avatar did their best to keep dust to a minimum. They wrapped our bed in plastic. They also used zipper-lined plastic to keep the house as clean as possible through the construction.

Demolition: Day 2

Continuing demolition

Each day, Carole and I looked forward to seeing new pictures that showed progress on the demolition. The images below show the view from the top of the stairs, and how the Avatar crew tore out the kitchen cabinets.

Meet Mark Scarlatelli

Learning from a master builder

Mark, the founder of Avatar Property Services, has been in the construction business for more than 20 years. He has built commercial projects and completed many home renovations throughout Southern California. Both Carole and I valued his expertise, and the fine design skills of his partner, Sarina.

Demolition: Day 3

Continuing demolition

By the third day, the Avatar crew were pretty much complete with the demolition. Next, the team would install the electrical and plumbing. Then, they would start to put the house back together.

Avatar Advises on Marble

Picking materials

In addition to overseeing all of the demolition, Mark and Sarina help us immensely with the design. Carole and wanted to modernize the property, in alignment with the beach communities of Dana Point and Laguna Beach; our house is three miles from the Dana Point harbor.

We’re looking forward to continuing with the development project, and we’re grateful to Mark’s team at Avatar Property Services, Inc. From the video below, viewers get an idea of Mark’s expertise.

Ready to Rebuild

Walking through

Carole and I visited our property during Thanksgiving week. We met with Mark and Sarina, expressing our gratitude for their leadership on the project.

We also met Luciano, a craftsman that is doing an amazing job for Avatar, and for us. While we were there, Luciano installed the new horizontal fireplace. As Mark described in the video above, Avatar will install a marble wall where we see the plasterboard.

We’ve also taken delivery of the new appliances that Avatar will install. We’re more enthusiastic than ever about this project. We consider ourselves fortunate to have such a talented contractor and design team.

Project Walk Through

Getting close to the next phases

Every two weeks, Carole and I return to Orange County so we can appreciate the work in progress. Mark and his team have been busy installing utilities. When we return in mid-December, we anticipate that we’ll see the house being readied for paint, and for the new flooring. Then, the cabinet installation.



Carole and I returned to visit progress on the property during the first week of December. While we were gone, the contractors completed a significant portion of the “behind-the-wall” work. They also prepared for painting. Before we left the property, the house looked much brighter, with white walls throughout. 

Appliances and Lights

Stainless steel and crystal

We upgraded the refrigerator to a Subzero model, with a window in the door. We also ordered a pre-plumbed coffee maker and an upgraded dishwasher. The microwave will be installed under the counter. We kept the Decor range and the Decor warming drawer.

To go with the more modern look, we purchased crystal chandeliers. The large chandeliers will hang over the formal dining room, and also over the entryway. The horizontal chandelier will hang in the second dining room, where the mural on the wall used to be. And we will have three pendant lights that hang over the peninsula that separates the kitchen from the family area.




Besides modernizing the interior of our home, Carole and I wanted to update the pool and backyard area to match our interior. The pictures below show the demo work before the rebuild. We began the pool / backyard remodel in November, 2022.

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