My Flipping Condo - Part Six: The Transformation

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What You'll Need
Cabinet primer
Cabinet paint
Microwave steel braces
LED recessed lights
Door with frame
Laminate wood flooring
White paint
LED track light
Travertine flooring
Skylight cover
Floor and door trim
Sink enamel paint

For part five of this series, look here:

The single most exciting moment in any renovation project is "The Big Reveal." This is why almost every single renovation show on HGTV uses the last few minutes of airtime to share the fruits of everyone’s labor with the homeowners, who turn into blubbering, stammering, overjoyed couples.

The reveal of this condo wasn’t much of a surprise to me. I’ve spent the last two weeks dropping in on Haimi and his crew to check up on their work, making decisions on some issues that cropped up, and changing a few of the original plans. Nevertheless, seeing a space take on a new form is quite exhilarating, especially when your creative decisions come to fruition. And despite seeing each new improvement completed one step at a time when I finally showed up after the crew had completed the job, the end result left me nearly blubbering, stammering, and overjoyed.

The Finishing Touches

Before sharing the reveal, I should note that there were a few hiccups during the transformation. Although we sanded the kitchen cabinets down for priming and painting, a couple of wooden details needed replacing so we brought in a carpenter to shape a couple of cabinet finishes to match the existing cabinets. Also, the hanging microwave was pulling down the cupboard that supported it, so we needed to add a couple of steel braces to the cabinet to keep it secure. These extras that nobody would ever really notice cost an additional $500.

But there was more. The recessed lighting cans throughout the condo were old and burnt and far from energy-efficient. We pulled the cans out and replaced them with a newer, cleaner looking recessed lighting fixtures that support LED bulbs. The end result makes for a much cleaner, neater, and brighter look. We also purchased a pendant light for the downstairs powder room to give the room a much needed focal point. Sometimes, a new light fixture is all you need to change the entire look of a room. Continuing upstairs, we also replaced a very ugly hanging orb light with more recessed lighting in both bedrooms.

The old and new recessed lighting side-by-side.

As if the master bathroom didn’t give us enough headaches (cracked shower, rusty tub, worn sinks, and corroded plumbing), the new shower unit wouldn’t fit through the bathroom door, even with the door off the hinges. We had to remove the door frame and cut into the wall to get the shower unit into the bathroom. Then, we had to patch up the wall with new framing and drywall and buy a wider door and frame—which was another $200. Fortunately, we had saved on other materials so it didn’t add any extra cost to the budget.

The construction of the new bathroom door frame.

The Big Reveal

This brings us to the moment of truth and The Big Reveal. But it's not a reveal (on HGTV, anyway) unless you see the "before" and "after" photos. In the spirit of this tradition, I've put together a series of photos that will show the transformation from dingy and dated to bright and modern.

Starting in the kitchen, you can easily see how the worn walls, cabinets, and paint have been replaced by hardwood-inspired laminate flooring and lots of white paint. The surfaces were left alone, but actually, look improved when paired with the floor. We left the appliances as they were since they're all in working order and relatively new.

The bathroom before and after.

In the living room, the new laminate floors take over for the worn, torn, and stained carpets. The hanging light is replaced with LED track lighting several times brighter. The cottage cheese ceilings have been replaced with drywall and covered with a textured orange peel coating that matches the walls. A fresh coat of Polar Bear white Behr paint covers the walls and ceiling.

The living room before and after.

The old stairs have been recarpeted in a cut and loop pile carpet that's wear- and stain-resistant. The charcoal gray color complements the flooring and boldly contrasts with the white railing and walls for a modern look.

The stairs before and after.

Upstairs, the hardwood continues throughout except for the bathroom, where we replaced the linoleum flooring with cream travertine tiles. The lighting has been updated, and the fiberglass cover for the skylight and the wall and door trim has been replaced. The cottage cheese has been removed from the ceilings and, like in the kitchen, replaced by the textured orange peel finish to match the walls.

The final bedroom reveal.

The master bathroom sustained the biggest update. As mentioned in previous installments, the shower and tub were replaced, subway tiles around the tub were added, and new paint went up on the wall. Light fixtures were updated and, as mentioned above, the peeling linoleum floors were replaced with travertine tiles. Rather than replace the sinks, which would have been costly, we resprayed them with an enamel coating. It isn’t a permanent fix but should last for quite a while.

The bathtub before and after.

The Final Cost

When we first dove into this project, my father-in-law was hoping to spend about $9,000 on the renovation. As soon as I evaluated the property, it became obvious that it would cost at least $20,000. My contractor Haimi estimated the work at $24,750, and we also estimated that the plumbing damage under the shower (which caused a hole in the living room ceiling below) would cost another $3,800. In the end, we spent $29,670 on this renovation, which took two weeks and didn't throw any curve balls at us. The experience was quick, easy, and fun—mostly because I didn't have to do the work.

But my journey is not quite over. Now that the work is done, we need to rent this condo. Rather than paying for a broker to do it and incurring their fees, I'm going to handle the task myself.

Next Up: Part Six - Renting Your Property