The Slow Flip, Condo Style

Condo kitchen after remodel

My grandfather informed me when I was young that real estate was a great way to accumulate wealth. Luckily, he was privileged enough that he could buy property. When Mr. ItchyFeet and I got married, we weren’t as interested in getting money as getting a dog. And you can’t have a dog in most apartments. Time to buy a condo!

In fact, one of the main reasons we got married was because I had saved up enough for a down-payment on a piece of property. I told Mr. ItchyFeet he would have to pay rent!… unless we were married. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea, but I guess it has worked out. We started looking for a house or condo that was close to work (I hate commuting) and less than $250k.

But it has potential!

We found this ridiculously rundown condo in a really great neighborhood. That condo had wallpaper from head to toe. The doors had wallpaper. The window sills had wallpaper. It was crazy. We naively thought wallpaper would be easy to remove. Ha! Not so much! We went over budget on the condo, but there were multiple offers and it had potential. The condo complex was an old officer’s military barracks from the now defunct Magnuson Air-force Base.

The first week, Mr. ItchyFeet and his mum started ripping out wallpaper… only to discover more wallpaper under the wallpaper. And then more wallpaper under that! Then one of them removed this bad patch of wallpaper to discover that the west wall had separated from the north wall (probably during an earthquake). There was a crack so large between the two walls that you could stick your hand through to the outside. No wonder there were so many spiders!

The Homeowner’s Association (HOA) had covered up the crack on the outside of the condo with a board and painted it the same color as the condo. This was all behind a giant rhododendron so you couldn’t see it. Guess who the president of the HOA was? The person we had just bought the condo from. That jerk! We had the HOA hire someone to bolt the two walls back together and fix the crack. Back to removing wallpaper.

Wallpaper is figuratively the worst

Once we removed the wallpaper, we had to wash the glue and mold off the walls before we could paint. We spent every weekend and our free time pealing and scrubbing walls. Hours and hours and hours. We see wallpaper now with abject terror! Run away! Then came the painting. I’m fantastic at painting but I take forever. I’m the slowest painter you will ever see. My dad once accused me of lying about how long it took me to paint a closet, as I was getting paid by the hour. No lies. I’m that slow.

We also remodeled the bathroom at the same time. We only had the one bathroom, so we had to disregard the “no peeing in the kitchen sink” rule. Lucky for us, the communal laundry-room downstairs in the basement had a bathroom we could use. However, we only had one key. There was one instance where I couldn’t find the key and had to poop in a plastic bag in the bathtub and take it out to the trash. That was awkward, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

So this old military housing had pink tile in the bathroom. Why? It was old, dated, and cracked. It had to go. No worries about the walls. Those popped right off. Unfortunately, they concreted the tiles directly on the floor. Like no joke. Concrete was used to set the tiles. We had to chip them out with a crowbar and hammer. It took four loud back-breaking days! Our new neighbors were not pleased. Then we had to re-level the floor with new concrete before putting down new tile. I think it was worth it?

Bathroom after remodel
Here is the bathroom after remodel. The new tiled floor was worth the effort.

Yup… it’s a ghost

Mr. ItchyFeet’s mum and dad were helping us tremendously throughout this entire process. His dad even spent Father’s Day (also his birthday!) helping us put up new bathroom walls. Those people rock! My mother-in-law didn’t believe us when we kept telling her the place was haunted. Then she had ‘someone’ touch her back while alone in the bathroom. I had tape tossed at me while she was there as well. Things would come rolling out of the kitchen while we were all in the living room. We even had a glass break ‘itself’ in half while sitting on a kitchen counter. No one even in the same room, and it didn’t fall. Totes cool! Those old buildings had a lot of history.

The place had wood flooring when we moved in and we briefly debated refinishing them. Then the fridge accidentally got tipped over onto a bottle of bleach and that was the end of that debate. Those floors were toast. Luckily nobody died! It was a good thing we took them out. Someone glued them directly onto concrete and they had mold issues. We added a moisture barrier before putting down plank bamboo flooring. Gorgeous! Thanks, again, for the help, Mr. ItchyFeet’s parents!

We could finally get that doggie we always wanted. It worked out well because I worked days and Mr. ItchyFeet worked evenings. She was hardly ever alone. Experts say you should move furniture around with puppies so they get used to different environments. Well, we ripped out a wall, completely opening up the kitchen to the living room. We gutted it and put in beautiful new cabinets. Our pup got very used to ever-changing environments. We rarely stopped construction her entire life.

Boxer mix puppy sleeping
Our puppy could sleep through any construction. She was the best!

We had hoped to sell after about six years, but the housing bubble burst and we had to ride that out. No worries. The condo was all remodeled and close to work. When we finally put it on the market, the plum trees were in full bloom. Couldn’t have timed that better if we had tried. It was absolutely gorgeous, and we got well over asking. Our real estate agent (PM for info if househunting in Seattle) did an amazing job! We took that extra money and put it into remodeling the kitchen in our new house. I do not miss construction!

Kitchen and living room after remodel
This is the kitchen and living room after the remodel. So pretty!

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1 Comment

  1. We had fun helping you remodel!!! That place turned out amazingly well!! Also that little grand-dog was the best ever!!

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