Renovating an investment condo – day 8 & 9 – paint! And cleaning up paint!

I went to the condo yesterday hoping to get a coat of paint up in the laundry room before Alex showed up in the afternoon to install quarter round, now that he’s grouted the tile.

I was using his stepladder – it’s one of those long bench style ones where the legs fold out, so I folded out the legs and thought I had done securely. Wrong! As soon as I put the can of paint on it, the leg collapsed and the entire gallon of paint spilled on the freshly grouted floor!

The good thing is that I hadn’t stood on it, because I broke my ankle last fall and the last thing I needed to do was to re-injure it. The bad thing was that we have no hot water in the unit and I had almost no rags. I managed to ladle most of the paint back in the can using a drywall scraper and somehow cleaned the mess up but by then I’d had enough and decided the sun must be over the yardarm somewhere and that a bottle of wine was in order

I went back today in a better mood. Alex had installed the quarter round, so I painted the room, and touched up the baseboards. Here’s the before, with the tank removed, the linoleum gone and new tile flooring:

Briston Friday 7

And here’s the after: tile grouted, new quarter round, and fresh paint: briston Mar 24

I asked Mark Dods, my electrician, to install the blanks on the wall – one was for cable and the other was for telephone. Much brighter, don’t you think? The existing HWT was 12 years old and I’d decided to replace it — once you take the tank out, that’s a great time to redo flooring and paint.

While I was there today, I painted the areas above the various baseboard heaters that were exposed when the new baseboard heaters were installed and turned out to have a lower profile than the old ones. Here’s one of them from downstairs, before, and a similar one from upstairs, after I applied and sanded three coats of mud.


Briston Mar 24 2

Next step will be to caulk the tops: I have the caulking, just ran out of time today.

I was more than a little surprised when someone walked in this afternoon. Turns out it was Brian Barnes from Barnes Protection Services who I was expecting next Thursday or Friday – he had some free time and decided to pop round.

The unit has an alarm  but the previous owner said a tenant installed it and he didn’t know the code. Brian was able to determine that the panel wasn’t locked and he’s reprogrammed it for me and installed my code.

There were some “trouble” zones on the panel that didn’t disappear. He thinks some of the contact sensors were destroyed when the condo corporation installed new patio doors and windows and we doubt we can find the wires. However, it turned out there was a wireless box attached to the alarm panel in the basement, so Brian is going to look at wireless options. Meanwhile, there are motion sensors on both levels so the unit is well-protected.

Always a pleasure working with trades and I really appreciated Brian stopping round to lend a hand on a Sunday. He’ll be back again later in the week with a new battery (the old one works but is low) — he did say he thought the unit was very cute, and since he’s the demographic I’m shooting for as a rental, that was nice to hear!

We will pick up the new HWT tomorrow after work and Alex will install the drywall in the powder room where the fluorescent light used to be. Then Mark can come back to install pot lights and  hook up the HWT. After that, I have to get the plumbers back to reconnect the HWT so we can have hot water, and fingers crossed, I’ll have my new kitchen doors for the end of the week, ready to install . And then, apart from a few odds and ends (curtain rods and blinds and a few miscellaneous items, like closing up the hole left by the plumbers in the laundry closet when they installed the new shower head and faucet), we should be done!

Posted in Before and After | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renovating an investment condo – Day 6 & 7 – tile floor and mirrored doors!

I took possession of this condo last week and I’m super happy with how everything is coming together! I wanted to put a mirrored door in the foyer to brighten it up and make it look bigger; also wanted to put one in the second bedroom. MirrorWorks swung by today and installed this beauty in the foyer: here’s the before and here’s the after:

Briston Friday brighter 3

Briston Friday brighter 2

Eric and Brandon were great! The sliding closet door in the foyer was going to butt up against the new baseboard heater; they managed to winkle the installation by 3/4″ which was just enough to get that door to slide into place. (It did expose some rust on the ceramic tile under the previous track; I’ll look into products that will get rid of that).This is Eric working on the closet in the second bedroom. (Brandon didn’t want his picture taken).

Briston Friday 3

And here’s the before and after of that second mirrored door. It really makes the room a lot brighter! They replaced that old dated trim with one that is white and has a slimmer profile. It was $ 1,010.74  to do both sets of doors, excluding taxes, and they not only clean the mirrored doors, they haul away the old ones for you. MirrorWorks is a pleasure to deal with, and their work is always impeccable! (And thanks, Roch, for setting things up for me!)

Briston Friday 5

Briston Friday brighter 1

Alex was busy last night as well (he worked until 11 PM) installing the new tile floor in the laundry room. I bought really nice thick ceramic tiles at a crazy price (93 cents a sq ft at Lowes) – these are 13″ by 13″. So we’re talking about $ 60 worth of tile to do this entire room.

I’m putting in a new HWT so this was an ideal time to remove the old linoleum and put down tile. Alex will grout tonight and I’ll start painting this room on the weekend. I’m thinking a new light will also brighten it up considerably. Right now it’s a stacked washer and dryer, but down the road, I’ll replace that with a side-by-side set – the new HWT will be smaller.



Meanwhile, I’ve been mudding the drywall above the new baseboard heaters (the new ones have a lower profile than the old ones so part of the drywall has been exposed). I will sand and paint those areas tomorrow. The only area that’s a problem is the powder room, as it’s the only room where the seller didn’t leave the name of the paint. I think I can find something close enough that no-one will notice if it’s off a bit.

Definitely making progress!



Posted in Before and After | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renovating an investment condo – Day 5 -new lighting, baseboard heaters, and plumbing!

Mark Dods, my electrician, installed new baseboard heaters yesterday. Unfortunately, they are not the same profile as the old ones, meaning there is some drywall exposed,  so I’ll have to do some drywall repairs which I hope to get to tomorrow. The new lighting he installed looks fabulous though: I put in the same spider light I’ve used in my two previous investment condo renovations. And I do mean the exact same light!


When I sold my first investment condo, the buyer decided to swap out the light and sold the spider light back to me. I put it into my next investment condo, and after I rented it, my tenants asked if I could find another light for them because it didn’t work with their decor. (I took them to Home Depot and let them pick out a new light; they were right, the light is fabulous but it just didn’t work with their stuff, and I want happy tenants for sure!). So this is the third time I’ve installed this very same light in an investment property: third time’s a charm!

Anyway, here’s the before with the old light and tracklights:

briston 7

And here is the after with the new lighting! Along with installing the spider light, we replaced the two tracklights in this room with a couple of 5″ pot light on dimmers:


Doesn’t that look great? I’ll have to adjust the arms a little bit to even them up, but this is my favourite light ever. It was a splurge, but I always allow myself a couple of splurges in a reno, even when I’m working with a small budget.  (It was about $ 450 at Living Lighting.)

Again, here’s the before and here’s the after: you can see how the square light shade blocked off light and the tracklight was in conflict with the DR light (and way too close):

briston 10


Now the whole room looks more open.

I also put in a ribbon light in the foyer. Ribbon lights are my favourite, around $ 90 at Lowes for brushed nickel or $185 at Living Lighting in chrome, same manufacturer. (That closet door in the foyer by the window will be swapped out for a mirrored one on Friday morning by MirrorWorks. Talk about fast – they did the measurements yesterday!)


The plumbers (Andrew Della Penta from Penting Plumbing) got to work yesterday too. I wanted to remove this old showerhead and mixing valve and faucet in the main bathroom and  replace them with a new set as they were pretty dated.


To do so, however, the plumbers had to cut a hole through the linen closet wall to get access, which will be another drywall repair tomorrow. DSCN3566

However, I’m loving the new set, which really modernizes that bathroom with a rainhead shower. The tub surround was in good shape, so I didn’t want to replace the tiles, just give it a quick update. I’ll be installing a metal shower rod as well:


The plumbers also disconnected the washer/dryer and HWT, which will be replaced with a new HWT. My contractor, Alex,  plans to go over tomorrow and remove those items and tile the floor; I’ll start painting that room as well.

Mark removed the old ballast in the very dark upstairs powder room, so we’ll fix that drywall hole and he’ll cut in a couple of pot lights on a dimmer which will really brighten up the room. Luckily, because the hole is in the ceiling, I don’t have to worry about matching paint, although when he took out the baseboard, again, it left an exposed area that needs to be repainted and this is the one room where I don’t know the paint colour used by the previous owner.


So by this weekend, almost everything will be done except hanging curtains, blinds etc., and installing the cabinet door replacements — we had hoped to have the new kitchen and vanity cabinet doors this week but they are still under manufacture.

Joe at Swedish Door Co. says our best bet is late next week, but that’s still pretty good, to complete a little reno like this in under two weeks! I only took possession last Friday!


Posted in Before and After, Realtors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renovating an investment condo – day 4 -grout and electrical!

Things are a little delayed: Mark Dods, my electrician, had to leave early yesterday because he and his wife are expecting (so exciting!) and they had an appointment lined up; my cabinet doors are delayed (still waiting on an ETA there) and this morning, Alex’s son developed appendicitis, so he’s going to be tied up with family matters. Poor kid: that’s painful and I know how terrifying it is when your child needs surgery. Fingers crossed all goes well.

All that aside, I’m happy with the progress we’re making. Alex finished installing the hexagonal tiles last night and grouted; super happy I decided to go with a gray grout instead of white. Those tiles are so pretty, I wanted to show off the design.

Here’s the before and after: note that the metal edge that really bugged me is now gone.

briston alex 1


briston - hexagon 4

Here’s another shot of that gorgeous tile:

Briston - hexagon 1

Mark is there today, finishing up the electrical.

That track light above the fireplace is now gone, and Mark will be installing pot lights. Here’s the before and after (or more correctly, the before and “during” — the new lights will go up today):


MirrorWorks was also by to take measurements: I am replacing the sliding doors in the second bedroom and the foyer with mirrored doors. And the plumbers will be there today to disconnect the HWT, install new shower fixtures, and upgrade some shut valves. It’s coming!

Posted in Before and After | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renovating an investment condo on a small budget – day 2 – door knobs!

So yesterday Alex began putting up the backsplash in the kitchen – when I popped round today he was finished. I decided I liked the look of the hexagonal tiles so much that I didn’t want to use white grout after all, and now I’m looking at greys so that we can see those shapes. I have to make up my mind tomorrow which is when Alex will finish.

Since Alex doesn’t work on Sundays, I decided to take on a small task in the condo alone today – changing door knobs. I’ve never done it before, but it turned out it’s surprisingly simple!

All the interior door knobs in the unit were brass (sorry they’re blurry; that’s kind of how I feel today too!). And now they are brushed nickel!  These are from the Saturn series by Defiant – about $ 15/knob at Home Depot. I got lockable one for the MBR and both bathrooms.  I remember using a client’s powder room when a visiting toddler pushed through the door and demanded to know what I was doing. Now I see the utility of locks for sure (that was mortifying).


The first one I installed  took me me a while — about 20 minutes to figure out how things fit together and after that, they were easy and much faster !

I was missing one for the laundry room so I ran back to Home Depot to get one. While I was there, I picked up a blind for the MBR  (more on that later) and a curtain rod for the living room, along with some different colours of grout both there and at Lowes, so that I can make a good decision tomorrow about the backsplash.

It’s surprising how much of a difference it makes to a property when you simply update door knobs! At just over $ 100,  I consider that a very good investment.

Posted in Before and After | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renovating an investment condo – on a small budget! Today – a new backsplash!

I took possession of my new investment condo at Briston Private on Friday and right away — literally as soon as I got the keys —  I loaded up the car with tiles and headed off to meet Alex, my contractor, so we could get started.

Among other things, I’m doing an inexpensive update to the kitchen. It had older cupboards where the cabinet boxes were fine but the doors were older and had been painted quite  few times. I’ve ordered new Shaker doors (in Decorator White) from Swedish Door Co. which I’m hoping will be in this week. One thing I really wanted to change n the meantime, however, was the backsplash.

The backsplash was white subway tile which normally I’d really like, but whoever installed it did so by using metal edging on the corners, which I really hated. Plus, it was crooked in places, and they hadn’t run the tile down the wall behind the stove so that you could see quite a lot of the drywall behind it.

Here’s the before, and you can see how that metal edge on the corner catches the eye. If you look closely, you can see how the tile isn’t straight either. I’m one of those people where if things aren’t perfectly straight, it bugs me, so I decided it had to go.

briston alex 1

I found this inexpensive marble knock off (it’s ceramic)  for $ 6.88/sq ft at Home Depot and nabbed it. (The marble tiles are about $ 19.98 sq ft.)

shaker 4

Alex initially thought he would have to remove the drywall to remove the existing subway tile and then install new drywall, but it turned it was so poorly mortared in places that he was able to remove it with his hands. Here’s what it looks like right now: we got rid of the metal edges entirely and are using white PVC edging. (The red line is the laser that Alex uses to ensure that things are perfectly straight.)

briston alex 3

And here’s Alex! (That track light behind him will be replaced with a pot light next week.)

briston alex 4When I dropped by this AM to check on things and drop off the grout, I  asked Alex  to extend the tile down the wall behind the stove, to hide that big gap between the sides of the cabinet and the stove. Luckily, I bought lots of tiles, so we should have enough. I had to go to three Home Depots to get the quantity we needed. At that price, they’d sold out of the white very quickly, so I grabbed more “just in case.” He wasn’t sure where I wanted to stop the tile so he’d cut a straight line, but it’s easy to continue the pattern now that he knows what I want.

briston alex 5

For grout, I went with a basic white (Mepei, Lowes, unsanded, $ 9.99 a bag and we’ll need two because there are so many grout lines) . I thought about using a light grey to show off the hexagonal shape of the tiles but I decided to stick with white.

I’m going to be there tomorrow to install new door knobs (the existing ones are really dated) and I can’t wait to see what it looks like grouted!

Posted in Before and After | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New listing steps to Carleton University! #110, 499 Sunnyside

I have a brand-new listing, literally steps from Carleton U! It’s a two bedroom plus den, two bath main floor unit  at the corner of Bronson and Sunnyside in the friendly condo building known as Fulton House. What’s great about this condo building is not just the sense of community and location, but it’s also pet-friendly. It has a great mix of professionals, profs, grad students and retirees. In the past, this style of unit (Model A, and 1320 sq ft according to condo documents) has been used as a three bedroom, as the den off the living room is actually larger than the second bedroom.

The owners spent over $ 30K on renovations including updating the kitchen and baths (one with heated floors), installing pot lights and custom blinds. Muskoka Cabinetry Co. created a stunning built-in for them as well. Did I mention the hardwood floors and woodburning fireplace? Great light in this unit as well. It’s really quite lovely!

I spent all day Friday staging it: here are some pics. You can find the entire listing with more pictures and more info at MLS listing 1135915. Or contact me directly! We’ll be reviewing offers at 7 PM Thursday March 14 at my office.


DSCN3555sunny 3ADSCN3513DSCN3527sunny 10sunny 9

Posted in Listing, listings | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment