All posts tagged remodeling

Dealing with a HOA during construction (besides, is a condo right for you?)

Condos are not for everyone. They require a homeowner to adhere to a specific set of rules, sometimes arbitrary rules that make no sense to you. Most of the time, the rules exist to make sure everyone can live comfortably and coexist harmoniously. Say you have a bunch of kids skateboarding and yelling outside your home. Chances are, there are rules about when, where and how they can play. Have a neighbor that wants to paint their home pink? Sorry, there are guidelines about what color you can use. These are things you can’t control when you live in a regular home outside of a HOA, and it’s why many people enjoy living in a community where these things are controlled and regulated.

The downside: you pretty much need to get approval for everything other than painting your walls. These architectural rules vary from HOA to HOA, as well as how judiciously they enforce them, but in general they don’t like you making big remodeling changes without consulting them first. Mostly, they want to be aware of anything you’re doing in case something goes wrong in the future. They want to make sure other units aren’t affected by whatever changes you’re making and want to preserve the exterior look of the building. Seems fair, right?

Sometimes these approvals can get out of hand. And the bad news is you’re truly at their mercy. If you’re looking to buy a condo or currently have one and want to do some renovations, here are some tips:

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Friday Linkathon: Construction Edition

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. We failed inspection thanks to a brand new inspector that is having our contractor bend over backwards. While I appreciate his thoroughness, it’s slowing us down to a crawl. Good news: WE HAVE HOT WATER:

Takagi TK-4

Takagi TK-4

This is the Takagi TK-4. It’s been providing us hot water for the last couple of days and so far, so good. It’s about as loud as a bathroom fan, which was our biggest concern.

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Kitchen Renovation: Demolition! And why we decided to not DIY this part

Kitchen Demolition


Finally! We’ve started our kitchen remodel today and our old, nasty kitchen has been demolished. I was dreading this day for a while but it just means we are one step closer to the finished project. I think we’ve chosen a great construction company (TME Construction Inc.) who can get this done in a reasonable amount of time. Barring any unforeseen disasters (which are probably inevitable) this should take about three to four weeks, start to finish.

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The economics of a kitchen remodel: how to budget for a kitchen and not lose money

Much has been made of the value a kitchen contributes to a home. This wasn’t always the case and I have a few theories as to why. Anyone who has a home that predates the 1970’s probably has a very small kitchen in a very compartmentalized home. Back then, the Little Woman did all the cooking and she didn’t need a big, open chef’s kitchen, did she? It’s true that many older homes built en masse are also small, but if you look at pre-1970’s kitchen-to-rest of the home ratio and current kitchen-to-rest of the home ratios, the difference is clear. Cooking has become more of a group activity (or, depending on your perspective, men have become more involved in cooking) and therefore kitchens have become a place to cook and socialize, which warrants a bigger space. Now, the kitchen is the most expensive room in an average home. Although if Mr. Los Angeles got his hands on a home with a dedicated theater, this would be a a different story.

After installing our new floors and giving our condo a coat of paint and a good scrub, the kitchen was the room that needed the most work. The condo came with appliances that appeared Soviet in era and design and they had to go. So right after having to buy a home, we had to buy appliances (ick!). Instead of hunting Craigslist or getting ding-and-scrapes from the big box stores, we went to our local appliance store and just got what we really wanted for the long run. Mr. Los Angeles scored a top of the line fridge due to an advertising misprint. So that’s a big chunk of our kitchen remodel budget that was removed from the equation (about $5,000 worth).

Buying the condo was a touch-and-go process so for months I browsed Houzz and all of my favorite design and kitchen blogs and had quite the wishlist! Stone countertops! Instant hot water for my tea! A sink big enough to bathe a Labrador! ALL THE THINGS!!! But my ever-logical better half is wise in most things and we agreed that installing a kitchen that was appropriate to the home’s value is the way to go. We live in a decent neighborhood but we’re certainly not in Brentwood, and the median home price in our condo complex is about $180,000. So is a $50,000 kitchen really going to give us a return on our investment? In these uncertain times with a real estate market that has been described as schizophrenic, counting on a big kitchen remodel to carry the value of a home through the reselling process isn’t very wise. And when I hear phrases like, “a kitchen can’t be done for less than…” I have to laugh. Of course you can do a kitchen remodel for less! But there’s a lot of noodling that needs to be done to the budget and a lot of tough choices to be made. Here’s what I recommend:

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Do Old Homes Need to Stay Old?

My design sensibilities definitely lean towards modern. I love clean lines and a smooth, sleek look. Both my husband and myself seem to prefer this look. Maybe it’s because we’re artists and are looking at stuff all day and don’t want to come home to an over-decorated space.

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Kitchen Renovation: Buying an IKEA kitchen

Well low and behold, we have purchased the IKEA kitchen! I’ve been mentally preparing myself for a while, knowing that many people have experienced some frustrations during the purchase process (not to mention the assembly) so I came armed and ready. You can find plenty of posts on the subject, and one was even posted on one of my favorite blogs The Kitchn the very day I went to go buy the kitchen. If that isn’t a sign…

Here’s my take on buying an IKEA kitchen:

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