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Mr. Brown 04-05-2013 12:11 AM

Bought a Condo: Lots of Work Ahead
My wife and I just bought a great 734 sqft 1 bedroom condo! The area is great. It is surrounded by the biggest park in town, it's safe, nearby schools are great, and it's close to my work in LA. The only downside is that the previous owner has done very little to it since it was built in 1970. So in the next couple of weeks I will begin the long term project of renovating my new home. So far this is what needs to be done:

remove popcorn ceilings
replace deep stuccoed walls
remove drop ceilings in bathroom and kitchen
replace wood electrical covers and mis-matched fixtures
replace flooring (it has two types of tile, wood laminate, and carpet)
install plumbing for washer/dryer

My wife is going to school full time and I am applying to graduate school, so we don't have a lot of throw away money. I took construction and woodworking all four years of high school and grew up in a do it yourself family so I feel pretty confident that I can do a lot of the work myself. Any advice, tips, or tricks you have to help with these projects will be greatly appreciated!

Mr. Brown 04-05-2013 12:41 AM


Mikehole 04-05-2013 01:21 AM

Congrats on getting your own place.
Beware the popcorn ceilings, they usually contain asbestos. When you scrape it off, it gets airborne and everywhere, which is a bad thing.
If you plan on doing this yourself, you should definitely do some research into proper safety equipment (respirator, and LOTS of visquene) and procedures so you don't get that crap all over your new place.

Switching out switch and outlet covers is an afternoon trip to Home Depot and an hour's worth of work.

Removing the deep stucco walls probably isn't going to be worth your free time, which becomes precious, and you'll begrudge having to spend the 5th weekend in a row bullshitting around with the stucco walls. Just put a healthy fat layer of paint over them and learn to live with them.

Before you start tearing out drop ceilings (acoustical tile?) make sure that they aren't hiding vents and other stuff. Typically the kitchens and bathrooms have those because they are hiding exhaust fans and ducts. (unless you're planning on replacing them with sheetrock)

Flooring is almost fun to do because it makes such a huge difference. I've put hardwood (mahogany and walnut) in two rooms of my house and those rooms are night and day different from when they had carpet.

The washer and drying plumbing will also be a pain. Its not the demo of the walls or the plumbing itself that sucks, but the patching of the walls.

Good luck.

Mr. Brown 04-05-2013 01:43 AM

Thanks for the reply!

I have heard of the dangers with popcorn ceilings. I plan to get it really wet (keeps particles from getting airborne), using respirators, and laying down protective plastic. I hear you can have the scrapings tested, so I'll probably do that too.

I think I will either skim coat the walls to get a light stucco look, or install new drywall. I'm going to try removing it first on a test wall, but I hear it is really labor intensive and an all around pain in the butt.

I've looked under the drop downs (which are just the flimsy clear light cover tiles) and there isn't anything between them and the ceiling. It looks like they were only put in for the fluorescent lights. I'll most likely replace those with pocket lights. I'll also probably move the cabinets a little higher. They are pretty low right now. I think raising them up will make the kitchen look taller and mitigate the gap after removing the drop ceiling.

I think the floors will be fun too. I want to do that first, but since I'll be doing so many other things it should probably be last. I have to run the dryer vent through the concrete slab sub-floor the floor so I'll probably do the washer and dryer while I'm doing the floors.

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