Kersten - November 20, 2007

While all the gentlemen worked hard Saturday on making our place more liveable via the wonder of bamboo flooring, I dinked around with several small tasks, including zapping myself on live outlets several times and emitting a few choice “$%^@!!!!!”s. After my arm stopped tingling for the third time, I shifted my attention to the window caulk. I stripped off the old caulk with a razor blade and then re-did it in white.


There are some spots where I’m not sure I did much better than the old version, though…progress? Who can tell any more?



Kersten - November 19, 2007

Our bamboo floor is in, and this place is really starting to look liveable. Whew.

Tai worked on it all day Friday by himself, then had some help from his two brothers-in-law Saturday to finish up the rest of the condo. The three of them were quite familiar with the process, having helped each other install this exact floor at least twice before.

They were able to continuously install the floor from one living room wall through to the back walls of the bedrooms. We still need three threshold pieces where bamboo meets slate, but the hard part is over.

I’m including some “before” pictures with this post just for reference, but of course you can check out more of the process at the usual corner of the internet.

Living room

Floor-office process.jpg
(Tai is the one on the right, brother-in-law 1 Luke in the middle, and b-i-l 2 Bricky on the left)


Greetings from San Francisco!

Sarah - November 17, 2007

In August of 2007 my husband Joe and I purchased a very old, very dirty house in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Our plan is to renovate the entire house in stages and mostly on our own. Renovation voyeur, was nice enough to include us in the ongoing renovation section of this site.

Our house was built in the 1920’s and is a very simple structure. It was listed as a three bedroom, one bath house with a big, overgrown yard. Since we bought the house in August we demoed nearly all of the interior walls. It was an extremely dirty job due to the old lath and plaster. We also modified about 150 square feet of living space so we could inhabit the house. We officially moved in a few weeks ago and we are slowly adjusting to the tiny space and lack of heat, which is not unlike camping.

In addition to the ongoing updates we’ll add to this site, we also have a house renovation blog called, House&Fig. There you can read about all kinds of things such as resources for building materials, green-methods, how-to videos, and general home design.

We hope you enjoy reading about our project and welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Sarah & Joe



The Before Pics

Rusty -

I should once again mention that I haven’t yet closed on this place. I’ve found that the process of closing on a co-op in New York City is slow as molasses in January. From the seller to the real estate agent to the co-op board to the seller’s attorney, nobody ever takes the initiative to get stuff done. There are only so many phone calls you can make. It’s maddening. And I’d say that the average time from offer to close is around 3-4 months (my and all of my friends’ experience). I know, it’s ridiculous.

Anyway, to the photos:

It’s actually a pretty decent layout, especially for how small the apartment is (approx. 425 sq. ft.). I’d personally prefer less room in the bedroom and put more room into the kitchen and bathroom, but there’s very little I can do here.

The bathroom is narrow, too narrow to rotate the tub to be at the end of the room. I hate those wrap around shower curtain rods and would prefer it to be straight, that means I’d have to build some kind of wall or something there. I’d like to replace the tub anyway but still don’t know. We’ll see. I imagine replacing the toilet will be tricky because it’s already far away from the wall and the waste-line isn’t easily moved. Don’t know what I’ll do there either. I’d like to keep the pocket door, though I don’t know if the existing one is salvageable.


Very little needs to be done here. The floors are in great shape, they just need to be sanded and stained, probably a dark walnut or something (there’s lots of light in this unit, I don’t worry about a dark floor). I like shutters when they naturally fit the architecture…these don’t. I’ll be taking those out though I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do for window treatments (if anything). I’ll definitely be taking out those terrible built-ins under the windows. I was also considering installing a flat-screen tv with in-wall surround sound, fully-set up, but both my wife and brother say that’s a bad idea. I think anyone would appreciate having something like that all ready for them when they move in but my wife doesn’t like forcing the buyer to orient their room around the tv and my brother says he’d rather choose the equipment than allow me to do it. So I don’t know yet.






The kitchen is tiny. So as a result I’ll open up the wall and bring it out a little bit into the living room and have a bar (instead of a wall). I’ll post renderings and talk about those plans later. But I will be doing Ikea, I will have an undermount fridge, I will probably have a below-sink dishwasher (our friends did it with a Fisher & Paykel and love it), I will use my left-over backsplash tile from my own apartment and I will do a beautiful floor tile.

Practically no changes. I don’t yet know what to do about a closet. I’d like to expand it from the existing one, though I wonder if a single person moves in if they’d rather have that space for a desk or something. We’ll see.



All in all it should be a fun little project (if I can ever close). Periodically I’ll be posting renderings and perhaps polls of possible options of things I’m considering doing to get everyone’s feedback. It’d be nice to close and be able to start demo.

Come on in

Kersten - November 16, 2007

Hello, and welcome to our renovation!

Tai (my sweet, handy husband) and I (Kersten) are in the middle of a renovation for a condominium in the Marmalade/Capitol Hill West neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Renovation Voyuer was kind enough to give us a platform from which to shout about drywall, tile grout, low VOC paint and similar goodies, and you get to peek in on us and let us know what you think of our work. Check out all the “before” pictures you can stomach here.

A couple of things make us different from what you’ve seen on this site before. One, this is a temporary place for us — once we’re done with the remodel, we plan to immediately start looking for land and build a modern home somewhere in or near Salt Lake City (a longer explanation here). That means that while we are concentrating on doing high-quality work on this place, we’re not breaking the bank. In fact, during many of our shopping trips for this round of supplies, we’ve eyed fixtures, lights, flooring, finishes, etc. that we think will look great in a longer-term house and therefore will be worth spending the extra cash on.

Two, you’re catching up with us mid-process. In fact, you’re coming on board just as the fun begins! If you’d like to read about our sub-floor saga, the grueling tile process, and my numerous complaints about not having a functional toilet in the condo, check out our original blog. From here on out, we’ll be talking a lot about some of the finishing touches — those little things that will make our trashed-out condo a bona fide home. But, if nitty-gritty construction is your thing, there’s plenty on slc202 dating back to August ‘07 to distract you from whatever your real life work is!

Finally, we’ll be doing cross updates. So while we’d love the extra traffic over at slc202, I anticipate that anything on will mostly be duplicate material. Sorry in advance about the redundancy, but there is a limit to my snarky creativity!

Intro To My Flip

Rusty - November 15, 2007

I know, I already have an apartment on this site, but as a result of my interest in home renovation and real estate investment I’m currently in the process of buying a co-op here in Park Slope, Brooklyn and will be renovating it and re-selling it. I thought I’d document the process here for you to see and give feedback.

New York real estate investment for small-time investors like me is tricky. There are three basic types of residential properties: houses, condos and co-ops. The problem when you’re a cash-lite investor like me is that houses are too expensive to even get into and condos generally don’t need major renovations (condos are a new phenomenon here in NYC). Therefore, most of the properties that need fixin’ are co-ops*.

Therefore, it’s tricky.

So I haven’t yet closed on this deal. But things are looking good, the co-op board is okay with me renovating and re-selling it, they aren’t requiring a co-op board meeting (as most of the information they would need isn’t relevant for someone who won’t be living there), my mortgage broker has found a loan product that will work for me and the project is well within my scope and budget.

Next post: before pictures

*If you’re not familiar with the term, a co-op (cooperative) is a corporation in which you buy shares. That means you don’t own actual property (the corporation does), you own shares in that corporation with the exclusive right to your unit. Your life is basically the same as a condo owner except for two major things: co-op boards and co-op red tape. To be able to buy a co-op you have to be accepted by the co-op board (who set their own rules and can reject you for whatever reason they want). This means complete transparency of your income/assets to any number of your future neighbors. Plus, most co-ops don’t allow investors in, they want permanent residents. And then there’s the red tape. Banks don’t like shares, they like property as collateral, therefore their terms for loans and HELOC’s are often worse or more inconvenient than it is for property. From the amount of money required to put down to their loan-to-value allowance to the amount of paperwork required is all different with a co-op.

Sol: Milan, Italy

Rusty - November 6, 2007

13 Votes | Average: 3.92 out of 513 Votes | Average: 3.92 out of 513 Votes | Average: 3.92 out of 513 Votes | Average: 3.92 out of 513 Votes | Average: 3.92 out of 5 (13 votes, average: 3.92 out of 5)
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LOCATION: Milan, Italy
SIZE/TYPE: Apartment

These are the pictures of my former home. I bought it 6 years ago, and with a small budget I turned it around. Very old people used to live there and it was almost abandoned, since no renovations had been done in years. I sold the house last year. (more…)

Chip & Katie: Brooklyn, NY

Rusty - November 5, 2007

40 Votes | Average: 4.88 out of 540 Votes | Average: 4.88 out of 540 Votes | Average: 4.88 out of 540 Votes | Average: 4.88 out of 540 Votes | Average: 4.88 out of 5 (40 votes, average: 4.88 out of 5)
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NAME: Chip & Katie
LOCATION: Brooklyn, New York
SIZE/TYPE: Apartment, 1918 co-op

We bought the apartment in the fall of 2005. It had originally been a one-bedroom, but had been shoddily converted into a two-bedroom. The kitchen had been moved to the foyer, and only had two cupboards, a sink cabinet, a stove, and a small refrigerator. It all looked very hodge-podge. We were expecting our second child, so our goal was to maximize as much of the 700 square feet as possible and make the apartment tight and clean. We were drastic. Many of the pictures show the original details of the apartment. Rest assured, the pictures make the apartment look much more charming than it actually was. I¹ve included a few detailed “before” pictures that show up-close the poor the condition of the apartment. As I’ve looked back at these pictures, I’ve asked myself many times if we could have preserved more of the original details. But each time I look back and think about the condition and existing layout of the apartment when we bought it, I feel we made the right decision. (more…)

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