Tuesday, June 26, 2012

home improvement: where's our al?

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say I’m a Home Improvement expert. I mean I think I’ve seen every episode and sometimes I feel just like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor.

But actually grabbing a tool and fixing something? No, I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m no stranger to broken appliances and fixtures, but I’ve always rented so I have a landlord to call when something goes wrong and then it’s not my problem.

Last summer that changed when I moved into Jason’s recently purchased second condo.

Jason signing the papers to buy the condo!

I’m a little more attached to Jason than I was to my previous landlords, so I’ve found myself volunteering and being enlisted to help with projects. 

Since the condo I moved into was a foreclosure we had a lot of projects to tackle. Our accomplishments included: 
  • Eliminating the cat pee stench from the condo by removing the cat-pee soaked carpet and applying many coats of a special enzyme to extract the cat pee from the concrete. 
  • Pulled out a set of cabinets above the kitchen bar 
  • Painted (and hired a painter to help) 
  • Tried unsuccessfully to fix the light fixture in the kitchen 
  • Installed appliances 
I think this is the only action shot I have of our projects last year. 
Jason's prepping our cabinet removal project.

And that’s just the highlights. We learned a lot during our projects last summer. I learned that I don’t like to paint after working all day. We learned that Jason is definitely still allergic to cats (no question there). We also learned how to install a dishwasher which involved a lot of trust between the two of us – imagine Jason with the flashlight reassuring me that he turned the breaker off for the dishwasher while I’m holding the screwdriver to tighten the screw that keeps the wire in place. Good times. Stressful, but still good.

What Jason and I lack in home improvement know-how, we make up for in project management skills. We’re both organized and we love to plan. Last year, Jason was in charge of researching appliances and carpets and I was incharge of aesthetics. Together, and with the help of a plumber, a painter, a handyman and a good friend, we got my place in great shape and I love it.

A few months back, we decided to turn our attention to Jason’s condo (the condo upstairs). It’s in much better shape than our last adventure, but it still needs an upgrade. This project began when Jason said he was thinking about getting hardwood floors to replace the stained and dingy carpet. From there our list grew to include:
  • Hardwood floor in halls, kitchen, foyer, living, dining and den 
  • New carpets in the bedrooms 
  • Tile floors in the bathrooms 
  • Replace kitchen cabinets 
  • Replace kitchen countertops 
  • Tile the kitchen backsplash 
  • Replace the kitchen sink and faucet 
  • Fresh paint everywhere 
  • Remove the cabinet above the bar 
  • Replace the florescent light tubes with recessed lighting 
  • Remove the popcorn ceiling 
Obviously, our eyes are bigger than our tool belts. After a bit of research, we realized we could probably spend $50,000 doing everything.

Look at how organized we are! This was to help us figure out how many 
square feet of countertop we would need. 

Since we don't want to spend $50,000, we pared the list down to:
  • Hardwood floor in halls, kitchen, foyer, living, dining and den 
  • Deep clean carpets in bedrooms 
  • Tile floors in bathrooms 
  • Refinish cabinets, replaces hinges, add hardware 
  • Paint countertops (looking more into our options
  • Fresh paint on all the walls 
  • Remove the cabinet above the bar 
  • Replace the florescent light tubes with recessed lighting 
  • Remove the popcorn ceiling (maybe) 
We’re trying to stay within a budget of $10,000-$13,000, which is going to be tight. We decided to keep the hardwood floors because it will have the biggest impact on the value and the look of the condo. We’re still trying to figure out what we can do ourselves and what we’ll need help with, but in the meantime we’re making progress on some projects.

Jason and some friends already removed the cabinet above the bar, which we forgot to document with pictures, but I can tell you it’s a great improvement.

The recreated "before" picture.

Since the place has tons of storage, removing the cabinet opened 
the kitchen up and brought a lot of natural light in. 

As you can see from the second picture we’re also making progress on the cabinets. All the cabinet doors are downstairs, on my condo’s deck waiting to be cleaned, deglossed, and painted.

For the rest of the projects, we’ll document our progress and share the highs and lows with you all!

As a sneak peak, here's some painting in progress...
Jason paints better when he's uninhibited by a t-shirt.

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