Renovation Rescue – Day 18

The penultimate day of renovating! Even if I wanted to do more the property is now up on the internet for lease (click here to see the listing) and the clock is loudly ticking.

Today was a mad rush of trying to finish off the many small tasks that remain to be able to say that the property is truly finished. This morning was time to complete the tiles by putting silicone around the edges and where they join the bench tops. If I thought the grout was messy yesterday, the silicone today was even worse. Mainly because the stuff sticks to everything and it’s a real challenge to get a nice clean edge. Several cloths were well and truly ruined in this process and tonight I’m sitting here still finding silicone (of course in the “Havana’ shade) over my arms and hands. It did finish off the tiles nicely though and the kitchen is now largely complete.

Other tasks today included finishing off the front garden, completing the wooden tiling in the veranda which I’m thrilled with, finishing some painting in the bathroom and installing a blind above the toilet. If a tenant was to move in tomorrow I wouldn’t expect any complaints from them but I’m aiming to squeeze in the very final day this coming weekend and then walk out the door and hand over the keys knowing it’s completed to the standard that I’ve been aiming for.

Today I also had a visit from Jamie my property manager to complete the photos for the internet listing which is now up (a whopping 14 views so far) and I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes. I also had a visit from another agent to complete an appraisal on the property and the value today came in at a very different value to that which I got yesterday. This really is highlighting the importance of getting a variety of opinions as just between two appraisals so far there is around a 20% difference. I must say I think I know which one is more realistic. I’ll talk more about values next week when a few more figures are available.

In the meantime check out the listing and keep your fingers crossed that tenants come flocking in!

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Renovation Rescue – Day 17

Before writing today’s post I’ve been sitting at the desk making a list of all of the things that still need doing and I came up with about 35 things that I still need to do. If this was a week ago a lot of them would be large time consuming tasks but fortunately they are mostly small things that should not take long…I hope. I have one full day left before heading back to work and I’m aiming to get at least 25 of these tasks written off tomorrow. The remaining 10 I will class as ‘like to do’ jobs but not essential, such as pressure cleaning the outside concrete, it’s fun do do but won’t send a tenant running away if I don’t get to it. Enough about what hasn’t happened yet though, let’s talk about today.

After what seemed like a life or death decision of white vs. coloured grout, I picked up my box of ‘Havana’ coloured grout this morning, purchased a new bucket and got to work. Handy hint if you need to mix grout, get a mixing attachment that goes on to the end of your electric drill. I didn’t and it took ages to mix by hand to make sure it was well mixed through. That done though I got on to grouting the tiles. This was hands-down the messiest job I’ve had to do for the entire reno. Working across the back of the kitchen it went on easily and I got around the kitchen, bathroom and laundry tiles in just over a hour. Looking back after it though there was grout absolutely everywhere so it needed a quick clean up in the areas where it wasn’t meant to be. After waiting for it to start to set I then had to go back over it with a sponge to get the bulk of what was over the tiles washed off. In the entire process this took the longest (probably about 2 hours) as it involved constant rinsing of the sponge. Needless to say I’m sick of looking at the colour ‘Havana’ now. I left them until the end of the day to give the tiles a good clean over and they have come up well. I’ll do it again in the morning before using matching sealant in the gaps. So far the tiling project has gone without a hitch. I finished off some more painting after this and now the only painting left is in the smallest room in the house 😉

Today’s interesting event was that I made an early call to a local agent (the one that sold me the property in the first place) to get him to come in and do a valuation. Thinking it would be some time until he could make it I was surprised when he showed up at 4pm. We’d spoken a lot over the phone during the purchase but this was the first face-to-face meeting. He was impressed with the renovation and after giving him the grand tour (all 5 minutes of it) he did a few internal calculations and gave me a number. Whilst I was pleased (and somewhat skeptical) with the number he gave me, I’m keeping it under my hat for now until I get a few additional valuations and I can present my numbers to you all. I have a feeling that there may be a range come through so I’m excited to see what they are.

Now I don’t want to jinx myself but I’m taking a leap and declaring tomorrow to be the penultimate day for renovation rescue 2014.

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Renovation Rescue – Day 16

So upon my entry back into the property this morning I’ve got to say I was more than delighted to see all of my hard work tiling yesterday was still securely fastened to the wall. The adhesive had set really hard and the tiles felt very stable and solid. Whilst laying in bed last night planning my day ahead I decided that coloured grout will be the way to go. Although I’d love to see what it looks like with a white grout, I’m thinking that tiles with white grout situated behind a stove won’t remain white for that long, particularly if a future tenant decides to get a bit Jamie Oliver in the kitchen. I think a matching grout will hide a few more cooking disasters. The colour I’ve chose will be ‘Havana’ which is supposedly a colour…

Before getting carried away with grouting though I had to finish the remaining tiles which were located behind the bathroom vanity as well as the laundry sink. These took a couple of hours by the time I prepared the surface (the vanity needed new base boards) and got all of the tiles in to place. Once again they came up looking really good so I’ll leave them until tomorrow before grouting the whole lot. I’m excitied to see the finished product.

The remainder of the day was taken up finishing painting the bathroom and laundry as well as installing a new exhaust fan above the shower. A recent Ikea purchase was also unwrapped in the form of the bathroom mirror and shelf. Those ingenious Swedes think of all the clever ways to put things together and fasten them to walls and this mirror and shelf combo was no exception. Some careful measurements, 4 screws in to the wall and it was up and looking great in about 10 minutes. I also managed to get some inexpensive bathroom accessories in the form of towel hooks and a cup holder which add to the space.

Before I wrap up today though I want to highlight the benefits of shopping around for items for renovations. One thing the laundry required were conversion taps for an automatic washing machine. Not the most common plumbing accessories but available at most large hardware stores they were looking at costing $150 when I checked them out online. Having a 10% off voucher I went to Masters and got a set for $135, I was pleased with my savings. Not so pleased the following week when I went to Bunnings and saw them out for $99. I picked up a set there and decided to return the more expensive ones. Then 3 days ago I go into another Bunnings store and what do I see marked down but the same taps for $49! I pick up a set and decide to return the other 2 sets. So although I have now spent $273 on 3 sets of the same taps, with the other 2 sets now returned I ended up with a set which is a third of the price I originally thought I’d have to pay. A pain to have to return the others but a lesson in shopping around!

Tomorrow I’m planning on grouting like there’s no tomorrow…and soon there won’t be a tomorrow (for renovating that is!)

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Renovation Rescue – Day 15 – Back at the Block!

IMAG2627_1After having 5 days back at work I’ve managed to score a highly valuable 3 and a half days back at the property due to ‘the race that stops the nation’ the Melbourne Cup (see picture to the right for my run-in this week with the actual cup itself…probably worth more than this property that I’m putting so much effort in to!). So with a weekend, a rostered day off and a public holiday I’m back renovating for a good few days in a row which I’m thrilled about. Now that I’ve got the finish line in sight (horse racing pun intended here) there almost seems more to do than ever. Not to worry though, a few major things to do in a day or two and then the rest is a range of little things in order to finish it off to the level that I’d like. The challenge I’m having at the moment though is where do I stop? It’s important to remember that it’s intended as a rental and although I will make sure it looks great it’s important to remember that it’s not going to be my home and at some point soon I need to lock the door, walk away and be happy with the finished product. Not quite yet though, let’s hear about today.

Due to other commitments this morning it was 2pm by the time I set foot in the door again and I had a big project that I wanted to complete today, getting the splashback tiles in to place. As I mentioned last week there are a lot of things I’m comfortable doing and feel skilled in but laying tiles is completely new to me so after researching as much as I could it was time to get in to it. I originally had a multi-coloured mosaic pattern in mind which you may have seem in a previous photo. With the success of the benchtops coming out as a speckled colour I thought it might be all a bit too much going on so I decided to go for a single colour. Tile adhesive at the ready I got to work. After marking out the area to ensure straight lines it all happened reasonably quickly as the mosaic tiles are in large sheets. The wall behind the oven was straight forward and it got a bit fiddly across the top of the sink and around the power point but as it all comes in a sheet a pair of scissors cut it into shape and you can barely see where one sheet joins the next. I’m confident this will further be blurred once I get the grout in.

The project probably took about 3 hours to do and I’m really pleased with the result as it’s really showing what the finished product will look like. The big question now is do I go with white grout or coloured grout to match the tiles? Any thoughts appreciated.

Tomorrow I’ll be tentatively opening the front door in the hope that they have all remained on the wall overnight!

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Renovation Rescue – Two Weeks Down!

Wow, time flies when you’re having fun. After 14 solid days of 8am starts and 6pm finishes I’ve come to the point where time has gotten the better of me and I’m due back to work tomorrow. Whilst I had grand plans of having everything finished in 14 days I’ve come to the realisation that there is always going to be more things than you imagined. Whilst most of the big ticket items are competed and went according to schedule (painting, electrical, plastering and floor coverings) it has been all of the little things that you don’t think about that add extra jobs into your day. I’m anticipating that I’ll need an additional 4 days to complete the project and with work beckoning that means another 2 weekends. I’m not sure if it’s wishful thinking but I’ll give it a damn good shot.

This morning was the last visit to the property before having to depart for the week and I managed to finish two coats of ceiling paint in the bathroom which only leaves the bathroom walls to complete which is a half day job. The other surprise that we came across in the bathroom was the plaster above the shower. For some (initially) unknown reason there were 2 full sheets of plaster above the shower. The plasterer took the 1st sheet down earlier this week as the plaster underneath was perfectly fine. Still thinking there must have been a reason for the 2 sheets it quickly became apparent when I went to fit the new exhaust fan in. The initial hole that was cut out was not only too big but an odd shape. The fan just would not stay in. This obviously happened a long time ago and the way the problem was solved was to nail on another sheet of plaster. We’ve adjusted this approach by cutting out a square of plaster, placing it on an angle in a diamond position and using the same theory, making a modest feature out of it. Advice from my friend Ryan this week, if you can’t remove it or fix it…make a feature of it, so we did. The pics below show the current state with the plaster being fixed to the base sheet. I’ll remove this, paint it out and install the new fan next week. Morning gone, it was time to hit the road. I’m increadibly proud of what has been achieved in 2 weeks and cannot wait to get back in to the place for a few extra days and finish it off.

Keep an eye out next weekend for days 15 and 16.

Have a great week, and thanks for all of the support everyone!

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Renovation rescue – Day 13

After the painting in the lounge yesterday, today I felt a lot more confident that we could easily get through the kitchen and have it looking good by the end of the day. Once again it was ceilings first and then walls. One thing that I did today after the ceiling had dried was to replace the ceiling fan. Years of cooking grime had accumulated in the old one and it’s an easy update to give a more modern look. For around $20 you can get a new ceiling fan and replace it yourself as there is usually a plug mounted in the ceiling cavity so no electrician is required. 2 minutes…done! Whilst the first coat was drying back on went the over counter cupboard doors which had already had a fresh coat of paint and a set of the new door handles, easy. We also put back on the larger cupboard door in the lounge that had the ‘concealment device’ for the old hot water system as designed by the foreman. It came up really well and you’d never know what it is hiding (see the pictures below).

When the property first settled one of the very first things I did was to get in and measure up the windows for new window furnishings. Ordering blinds can take a long time but fortunately the venetian blind I had ordered arrive early this week (just in time). I ordered through who are based in Sydney and I found their prices to be some of the most reasonable for made to measure. The annoying thing with older places are that many of the windows, door handles etc are in imperial measurements so it’s difficult to get things that fit ‘off the rack’. It’s an expense to be aware of. Once the blind was up though I was really pleased and looking at the before and after pictures below you’ll see what a transformation the kitchen window has had compared to day one.

The afternoon was finished off with the second coats of paint and after that it was finally time to take all of the plastic covers off the kitchen cupboards, lift up the drop sheets and see what the finished product looked like. Unfortunately my current time frame is not going to allow for me to get the final feature of the kitchen finished until next weekend now (work beckons), from the pictures below I’m sure you’ll be able to see what this final feature will be (note the unpainted sections).

Overall the kitchen looks completely refreshed compared to the original and I’m thrilled. I’d even be game enough to cook a meal there now after mum gave the oven a good once over today. It’s amazing what 4 year old oven bake chips look like, think Amazonian shrunken heads but with more potato. There are a few 10 minute things left to complete in the kitchen such as sealant around the sink and some trim around the cupboards but it’s very close now.

Tomorrow I walk back in to the property after 2 flat out weeks and evaluate where we are at and importantly what’s left to do!

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Renovation Rescue – Day 12

So today I think I have come to the unfortunate realisation that my 2 week time frame for this project is just a bit tight. Not tight like your jeans after Christmas lunch, more like when you’ve just taken them out of the tumble dryer (there’s still some stretching to do and they’ll fit perfectly). That’s what I feel like, stretching it out right to the last minute I can work on it and then review where I’m at. I’m confident that by Sunday the property will be 95% complete but being a bit OCD as I sometimes tend to be, 100% would have been nice. Anyhow, let’s not dwell on what has not happened yet and focus on today’s activities.

I’d been eagerly awaiting the plasterer to come back and finish sanding off all of the work he had done and I was not dissapointed when he turned up at 8:30 and got to work with his fantastic vacuum powered sanding machine. It took him about 30 minutes, to do it by hand would have taken hours and been very messy. Often it pays to pay a professional to do things. Advice to self: don’t think that you have to do everything yourself (or have the skills to do so!). Whilst he was doing this I thought I’d work on some of the last areas to wash down being the bathroom. I really am finding it difficult to describe how filthy the bathroom is. How it got so filthy I’m sure is a combination of many things but check out the pictures below so see a few of the shots from when I was half way through, they speak for themselves. After finishing this and feeling like I needed a good shower myself it was time to get on with the major project for today, the lounge.

With the lounge now plastered to within an inch of it’s life it was on with the paint. Now painting is one of those things that I’m always really excited about doing as you know you’ll usually get a good result. This enthusiasm today lasted for about 15 minutes until I realised the magnitude of today’s task to get two coats on both the ceiling and walls. If they were in a clean condition then it would have been a lot easier but this truly felt like one of the longest days of the entire project. Just getting the cornices to come up well seemed to take forever. But with a few coffees under my belt and the hits of today that we all love from such fine artists as Miley Cyrus playing in the background two coats on the ceiling and walls was completed by the end of the day. A very, very boring and time consuming job to be doing but I’m pleased with the end result.

The day finished up with a visit from my long-time property manager Jamie who has a great eye for detail (knowing almost every property in the area) and the feedback so far was really positive. Thanks Jamie!

With the front half of the property now almost complete tomorrow we head into the kitchen.

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Renovation Rescue – Day 11

Day 11 of the reno and even though I’m absolutely exhausted at the end of each day, today I couldn’t get back to the property fast enough as I had planned to do what I anticipated to be the most fun activity of the entire project and it certainly didn’t let me down. I actually did the first part of this project yesterday (as it takes 48 hours to complete) but didn’t want to blog about it until I could display the finished product to my trusty followers. It was time to re-surface the benchtops!

Now usually most people probably would not get all that excited about bench re-surfacing but I had discovered this product called Rustoleum Countertop Transformations. It’s so much cheaper than having to get new benchtops and a stack of fun to actually do. The benchtops were a revolting green colour (once again a remnant from the 70’s) and were in fairly ordinary condition. Whilst intact, they were faded and had several nail and screw holes throughout them from various things. There were a number of steps involved including sanding the benchtops, giving them a coat of an adhesive base paint, spraying ‘decorative chips’ over the surface (as well as about half of the kitchen), waiting overnight, scraping and then sanding back, then finally applying a  2-part protective coat over the top. Throw in a visit from my friend Dora as well as a quick lunch with friend and fellow renovator Ryan and it was a hugely successful day. I need to say no more, I’ll let the videos and photos below show you the fun part!

The award winning masterpiece below filmed by the technologically savvy foreman shows the highlight of the process (besides the finished product). The Sir David Attenborough style narration is excellent.

And this is the product instructional video showing some very smiley Americans having a great time with their countertop transformation!

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Renovation Rescue – Day 10

After a week and a half of going hard at this renovation, I’m really starting to feel for the contestants on The Block. Two weeks of this full-time is going to be pretty exhausting, eight weeks must be crazy but I’m sure I’d be finding it easier if I was being followed around by TV cameras every day. After having a few wet and cold days last week today it was almost 30 degrees so although the other extreme it was a great day to get a heap of things done. Fortunately for me the partner of one of the owners in this block of units is a plasterer, so calling in a favor I was able to get him to really tidy up a lot of the damaged plaster throughout the house as well as cover the brickwork in the kitchen. A lot of these style of units have exposed brickwork and although a hit in the 70’s now it’s not so much of a feature. I decided to go halfway and cover the kitchen brickwork and leave the lounge. It also helps to brighten up the kitchen and make it feel like a truly separate space. Unfortunately the plasterer won’t be back until Friday morning to sand it all down (and there’s a surprising amount to do) so that will delay the rest of my painting by a day but it won’t be a big issue as there are plenty of other jobs for tomorrow.

Whilst the plasterer was inside it put a hold on any work in there so I got back into the front garden. Some advice to gardeners of the 70’s – please don’t cover your garden beds in black plastic sheeting to try and keep the weeds down, it doesn’t work and it’s a nightmare to pull up 40 years later. Moaning over, I dug up the garden bed, made an edging out of the many volcanic rocks that I dug up and started planting out more of my long suffering agapanthus. I got half done before the combination of heat, the plasterer finishing up as well as it being lunchtime and I threw in the garden shovel for the day.

After lunch it was time to start hanging up some curtains that were purchased last week, these were for the bedroom and the lounge area (a venetian blind for the kitchen arrived by courier today but that will go up later). Coupled with a few sturdy but inexpensive curtain rods from Ikea they didn’t take too long to go up. One thing I must say though is although the Ikea rods are great their curtain rings are terrible. They do the job but in a not-quite-right and quirky Ikea way. I was eager to get these up so that the creases have a chance to start falling out of them. They are a touch too long but the rods can be raised up so that they will sit correctly.

Finally today it was time to do something special in the kitchen in order to prep it for my next fun activity that I’ve been busting to do for ages. As you’ll see by the photos it looks like I might be concerned that the oven had a case of ebola, don’t fret though, the oven is perfectly fine (if in need of a good clean). Stay tuned tomorrow to see one of the most fun activities that I’ve been up to so far!

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Renovation Rescue – Day 9

Today really felt like a major turning point in the renovation. In what is quite a small property it seems that there are hundreds of tiny jobs to do all the time and you get to the end of the day and think what have I achieved? Even though you’ve been flat out since 8am you look back and think, well I spent 3 hours washing down walls or 2 hours digging up old roots out of the front garden…not exactly something to write home about. So after the success of the vinyl installation yesterday I was very excited to be finishing off the floors with the carpet being installed for the lounge and bedroom. I have been looking forward to a big ticket item and this was just the one! Yesterday the vinyl installer arrived right on 8am so I was there ready to go at the same time today. 8am…9am…10am…11am…and then a phone call. Wavering between glass half full and half empty as I sometimes do I was expecting a no-show but fortunately they were just confirming the address and would be there in 5 minutes. As promised they soon arrived and got straight to work.

Having already removed the carpets and underlay was a huge time saver and after a brief inspection (and confirming the carpet was the one I selected) things progressed really quickly. The carpet underlay was amazingly put down in less than 10 minutes. Rolled out, cut to size and stapled down in no time. My glass had suddenly turned to more than half full! The rolls of carpet were soon in and the two guys had it down in just over an hour, they even trimmed up a nice section to finish off the base of the bedroom wardrobe. I couldn’t be happier with the end result and it has made an enormous transformation to the place. I’m really starting to see what the end result is going to look like now.

The other interesting achievement today was something that ‘the foreman’ had been thinking about for a few days. There is a cupboard in the lounge that has 4 shelves in it and on the top shelf gracefully sits the old hot water heater. Now I have no idea how it would have been put in there in the first place but even less of an idea how we could ever get it out (without some sort of helicopter and cable setup) so we needed to cover it whilst still allowing the cupboard door to close. Along comes the foreman with a tailor made piece of plywood with two holes with string through them. Liquid nails goes around the outside and it’s inserted into the cupboard, pulled tight and fastened to a nail either side (see the pictures for this to make sense). Once the liquid nails has dried the string is cut and the holes filled. The end result once painted is a neatly covered up old hot water service that no one will need to ever know about! Very impressed.

Tomorrow I’m going to be in the mood to get plastered!   

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