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The Dart: Butch Thorpe makes living flipping Natchez homes

JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Lee Hoggett, owner of the Floor Station, prepares a large tile for installation in a shower at a house on Primrose Lane in Natchez on Thursday afternoon. Hoggett was working with several of his employees this week on updates to a house that had been heavily damaged in a recent fire.

NATCHEZ — A tearful family with a tragic story is about the only thing missing from making Butch Thorpe’s house on Primrose Lane eligible for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

JAY SOWERS | The Natchez Democrat — Hoggett cuts through a piece of tile before installing it in a shower at a house on Primrose Lane.

But the lack of a TV show with deep pockets hasn’t stopped Thorpe from trying to give the house a makeover after a fire damaged it more than a year ago. When The Dart landed there Thursday, Lee Hoggatt and his workers with The Floor Station were hard at work putting down new flooring.

Thorpe owns the house but doesn’t live there. He flips houses, buying them with the intent of selling them for a profit. In addition to new flooring, Thorpe said he also plans to put in new cabinets, a new bathtub, reinsulate the house with foam, repaint it and put in new wiring and a new air conditioning unit.

“It’s a nice neighborhood, so it should be an easy sell,” Thorpe said.

Redoing the flooring in the house was more than a run-of-the-mill project for Hoggatt’s company. Normally, Hoggatt’s work keeps him in the office keeping the books, but the flooring job at Thorpe’s house gave him a much-needed break from boring routine of office duties.

“They got me out on this one and said they needed my help.” Hoggatt said. “I prefer doing this. Book work is for the birds.”

The crew began working on the house early this past week, and Hoggatt said it was about a four- or five-day job. No matter how many hours he sweats away putting down flooring, Hoggatt said he enjoys the work.

“There’s a sense of completion when you get it done,” Hoggatt said. “When you start something, you look up (after you’re done) and feel like you’ve built something.”

If there’s any drawback, it’s the amount of math that goes into estimating the right shape and size of each piece of flooring.

“There’s too much math,” Hoggatt joked. “I just had to teach it to myself and read a few books.”

As much knowledge as he’s gathered over the years, Hoggatt admitted that he’s far from perfect in his calculations. When he’s sawing away a piece of flooring, Hoggatt said mistakes happen fairly regularly.

“That happens about one out of every two I cut, or I’ll hit my knuckle with the blade,” Hoggatt said, pointing out a nick on the part of his hand that accidently grazed the saw. He then held up a donut-shaped piece of cardboard that was far from a perfect circle.

“See this diagram? That’s all my algebra right there,” he said.

There’s never a dull moment in the flooring business, Hoggatt said, though things get a little slower around the time school starts. Between work and four children, hobbies seem like a foreign idea.

“It used to be fishing, but I don’t have time anymore,” Hoggatt said.