Renovating an investment property – Day 30 – 298 Briston Private is now for rent!

Well, the work is done – I did a little light staging at Briston Private today and popped it up on Kijiji for rent. We’ll see what kind of response I get! I’m asking $1800/month which includes water and there is no HWT rental because the tank is owned. One parking spot right out front and tons of visitors parking. If you know anyone, feel free to pass that info along!

But I know you’re here to see all those “after” pictures, so here you go!


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

Renovating an investment condo: Day 27 – new powder room tiles!

Well, things at the condo had to take a back seat for a week, given my pup’s ruptured disc and the ankle I sprained carrying him in from outside. Damn, this has been a tough winter — five months of brutal! But luckily, Alex, my contractor, has carried on and things are almost finished.

We changed out the lighting in the powder room as the old ballast was on its last legs and the room was very, very dark.


I replaced it with pot lights, one over the sink and one over the toilet. This was more complicated than I thought as we had to completely rebuild the bulk head. But the room was much brighter, and I took the opportunity to swap out the blue paint for the same colour that we used in the laundry room (Sherwin Williams, Rhinestone).

And then, and just when I thought we were ready to wrap things up, the new brighter lighting revealed that toilet had been leaking and that the tiles had some cracks. If you know me at all, you’ll know that kind of thing drives me bonkers, so I went out and bought tiles at Lowes ($1.29/tile) and asked Alex to quote me on a new floor.

When Alex removed the toilet,  he discovered the seal was held in place with plastic bolts, which really isn’t a good idea because those can break so we added  that to the list of fixes.

I didn’t want to remove the pedestal sink, so we tossed around how to proceed, and Alex suggested I tile over the existing tiles.

I’ve only done that a few times: normally, we prefer to remove the tiles down to the plywood, install new plywood and start over. But here, it turned out the existing tiles had been laid over linoleum. To tear all of that up and lay new plywood was going to mean the floor was higher than the bottom of the pedestal for the sink, and cause transition issues. We agreed the simplest solution was to glue down new tiles.

This required Alex to put down a primer first so the glue has something to grip. And of course, I had to find time to get over there to paint the spot behind the toilet (which I did, after these pictures were taken: note the new colour):

Briston flooring 7

Briston flooring 5

While I dealt with my dog, and a crazy week work-wise, Alex started work on the tiles.

briston flooring 4

And here’s where things are at now:


Briston flooring 1

I just spoke to Alex and apparently he just finished grouting (I picked a white grout that matches the white in the tiles) and will do the baseboard quarter round tomorrow. I’ll meet him there at noon to make sure we’re all done, start clearing out the various stuff I have left there, and get some pictures so I can get this listing ready to rent!

Of course, no renovation is ever completely done!  There are a few small kitchen details to address and Chris from R & C Cabinetry will be back on Monday to finish those up.

And I discovered after all our electrical work was done that the front door bell doesn’t work: Mark Dods will swing by when he’s in the area to fix that. And then (I hope!) it will be ready for someone to move in and love!

I’ll post the before and after pics this weekend along with details of my budget and how I made out.


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

Renovating an investment condo – Day 17 – new cabinet doors!

My new Shaker doors arrived last Friday but Chris and Rebecca from R & C Cabinetry were booked so today was the day for the install. We had a little confusion because I thought Chris was picking up the trim paint and he thought Swedish Door Co., who supplied the doors for the cabinets, would be including it. Anyway, I managed to track down a quart of paint in the same finish from Bond’s on Bank Street and got to them so they could finish their work.

Here’s the before:

briston alex 1


And here’s the after:

Briston cabinet doors 3

Here’s another before:

briston 6

And after:

briston cabinet doors 1

And yet another:

briston 10

And after:

Briston cabinet doors 2

Don’t they look great? All new soft close hinges as well. Chris and Rebecca did a great job and are highly recommended!

I was painting the powder room on Sunday and realized the tile floor was cracked in places (we put in better lighting in the form of pot lights to replace an old fluorescent bulb and that’s when I could see the cracks.)  I’ve asked Alex to retile it — I’m using these black and white encaustic tiles from Lowes so it will be a little gem when we’re done. He’ll start tomorrow. Which means I’ll be over budget a little, but once I get started, I want to do it right!

And for those of you have asked, little Scout is recovering very well! He is still confined, but is wagging his tail and standing up on his own. Surgeon says it will take him 6-8 weeks to fully heal, but he’s very happy with the progress he’s making so far!


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

Renovating an investment condo – Day #14 – an unexpected and stressful delay!

Things were coming along great with my investment condo and then on Sunday, I let my little spaniel buddy out in the back yard and he came back in with his legs looking a little stiff. I thought maybe it was because he kept sinking into the snow which was piled in the back yard — I could seem him sinking through the crust.  I went off to paint the laundry room at the condo and when I came back in the afternoon, his back legs were almost crossed and he was quivering with pain.

The next morning his condition was worse and I rushed him to my vet who said it looked neurological and he thought Scout  might have slipped a disc. So off we went to see Dr. Philip Jull,  the only animal neurologist in town. Dr. Jull  said he’d have to do an MRI to see the extent of the damage but he thought Scout had twisted his back and ruptured a disc and would need immediate surgery.

He said that Scout could still feel pain in his feet which meant he had a 95% chance of recovery if he was operated on  quickly but the old guy was already getting worse. When I left the clinic, he could no longer stand and was dragging himself in a sitting position on the floor with his front paws, one leg pointing straight out, and panting heavily. If we waited and he lost sensation in his feet, his odds would have dropped to 50%, so I opted to go with the surgery and Dr. Jull and his team stayed several hours after the clinic closed doing the surgery. Great team; super impressed with the care Scout received and I owe a big debt of thanks to Dr. Jull for his quick action and commitment to Scout’s health.

Anyway – the good news is that the surgery was successful. Dr. Jull found a ruptured disc and one that had degenerated and operated on both. When I saw Scout on Tuesday he could stand again with a little help but was clearly in pain. Nonetheless, he gave me the stink eye for not taking him home right away. (He’s wearing a harness that allowed him to be assisted walking with handles on the front and back.)

Scout 1

But he could stand on his own, although he was wobbly. (That’s a Fentanyl patch between his shoulder blades.)

Scout 3

He came home yesterday and is walking (which is amazing) but had to be carried out to the car. I’m lucky to have such great friends: Eric Ritterath, from work, came to help me lift him into the car and carry him up the stairs at  home to bring him in. As you can see, he was standing with almost no support from Eric at all.

Scout today 1

Here’s my poor little guy at home with his surgical scar revealed. He was in a lot of pain, as you can imagine, and is on a regimen of different medications to ease his pain and help him urinate while he recovers.

Scout scar

He was anxious and distressed until I took the Fentanyl patch off last night; we think he may have had an adverse reaction to it because almost instantly, he was able to sleep and he’s been pretty much tail-wagging and his usually patient self since that patch came off. Here he is all tuckered out in the area I had to set aside for him: he has to be confined in a limited space for the next couple of weeks.

scout today 2

Dr. Jull says that Scout’s recovery is going well and that in 3-4 weeks he should be almost back to normal. Pretty amazing to see a dog that can’t stand to one that is standing and wagging his tail again in such a short period of time! Here is a shot of him today; he managed to break out of his confinement area twice and really wants to be able to roam. Dr. Jull says that’s good that he wants to do more than he should.

Scout standing

My good friend Jake Morgan built me a ramp today so that I don’t have to carry Scout outside to do his business, which spares me lifting him up and down the stairs — I was starting to feel my own back giving out! (The upper ramp from the back door was just cobbled together from an old cupboard door and a coir welcome mat.)

scout ramp 2

The vet bills on this were prohibitive ($ 7500 so far) so I’ll be doing some serious fundraising — my daughter, Jade, who is a talented artist,  offered to draw people’s pets for $ 75 a sketch and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response – she’s had to create a waiting list. Here are some samples of her work:

I’ve received a  donation of a beautiful piece of art from Frank Van Boxtel and a signed copy of Andrew King’s recent book, OAK ISLAND REVEALED, which I will raffle off when I have time to get tickets organized.

Here’s the lovely abstract painting of a peony that Frank donated (unasked for, I might add: he just contacted me and offered it — so generous!). Same thing with Andrew: he said as an owner of a senior dog himself, he wanted to help.

Tickets will be $ 5 a pop and all proceeds will go to Scout’s recovery. The painting is a 12″ by 12″ acrylic (isn’t it lovely?) . If you are interested, let me know, and thanks! Frank Peony

So with all that happening, I had to put my involvement in the condo on the back burner but my trades were terrific: they kept on working. Alex Martinez got the drywall repairs finished; Mark Dods finished up the electrical, which included installing new pot lights in the powder room, and installing some new lights, and Brian Barnes got the alarm system working again (the owner hadn’t installed it and didn’t know the code).

And some really great friends showed up on Monday to help Alex remove the old HWT and move in a new one (thanks Marc and Victor!). New cabinet doors have arrived and will be installed on Monday; I’ll paint the powder room this weekend and post all the pics then, this property should be up for rent next Tuesday or Wed!

Posted in Pets | Leave a comment

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