Haimi is a busy guy and his team is generally working on multiple projects at once. In fact, when I spoke with him he was in the midst of renovating the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel. If I hadn’t known Haimi, I might have been concerned that he wouldn’t have time to get this condo in shape as quickly as I need. But he assured me that all he’d need was two weeks to complete the job.
Haimi and I met at the condo and walked through the unit. I pointed out all of the projects that need to be done and he took his own set of notes, giving me feedback on the degree of difficulty for each of them. Yes, I knew the "cottage cheese" ceilings had to be removed, but his attention to detail was better than mine. He pointed out that the walls were not smooth and were done with a textured "orange peel" finish. It’s customary to match this on the ceilings, so if I wanted to do it right, we would recreate the orange peel finish on the ceiling. We added it to his list as something he’d include in his estimate and that I could remove if I felt we were spending too much money.
He also noted other things that I hadn’t thought about. The kitchen cabinet repairs could be sanded, but the worn, water-damaged sections would have to be replaced—another expense. An electrical outlet in a strange location should be moved out of the way—another expense. He thought the appliances were in good working order and that the countertops, although dated, were in good shape and we didn’t need to replace them. That’s another thing I like about Haimi; he doesn’t try to upsell me on projects that don’t need to be done. He also agreed that the lighting downstairs needs to be replaced. I suggested recessed lighting, but cutting holes in the ceiling to insert lighting cans is actually more expensive than installing LED track lights, which today look very modern and stylish. We agreed that track lighting is the way to go.
We also agreed that the 15-year-old carpet needed to be removed throughout the condo. In terms of new flooring, carpet is the cheapest way to go, but it’s not very desirable these days and it’s nearly impossible to keep clean. Plus, the carpet will need to be replaced every five to 10 years, so ultimately what seems like the cheaper option winds up costing more money down the road. Hardwood is every homeowner’s dream floor due to its natural look, durability, and easy-to-clean surface—but it’s also an expensive option that doesn’t make sense in a rental unit. The third option, which was already my favorite, is laminate hardwood flooring. We used laminate hardwood in our home office and we get compliments on it all the time. In fact, it looks so much like hardwood that most people think it is. It’s easy to clean, looks modern, and is stylish. It’s also only slightly more expensive than a quality carpet.
The biggest issues that we looked at in the whole condo are upstairs in the master bathroom. As mentioned in my previous article, the master bathroom is a mess. A hairline crack in the shower drain created a leak that damaged the living room ceiling, while the sheet of vinyl flooring is stained and peeling up from the subfloor. The porcelain sink is worn down to the cast iron and the tub is cracked and moldy. The entire bathroom save for the sink cabinet and vanity has to be gutted. The condition of the plumbing under the shower and tub is unknown, and we won't know what we're dealing with until those units are removed.
Even though my father-in-law didn’t want to spend more than $10,000 on this renovation, I had a pretty good idea that we were looking at double that amount for the work that needs to be done here. When you're talking about 1,300 square feet of flooring, painting, and ceiling treatment, there is no way you can get out of there for under five digits. Because of my history with Haimi, I also knew that he would not be tacking on unnecessary expenses or hidden costs, so when his estimate arrived, it wasn’t a surprise. In fact, it was a confirmation that I was pretty much in the ballpark with my own estimation. The work we agreed on is as follows:
Demolition of existing flooring and tacking throughout
Scrape all cottage cheese on the ceiling
Drywall repair to ceiling and necessary wall areas
Supply and install baseboard throughout
Preparation, sand, and paint inside of unit
Replace smoke detectors throughout: one in each bedroom and hallway leading to bedroom
Install one new smoke and carbon combination detector
Haul away debris
Supply and install laminate flooring throughout except for master bathroom
Strip old stain from kitchen cabinets
Supply and install new stain (paint) for kitchen cabinets
Supply and install new laminate flooring for kitchen
Remove hood cord and fasten to wall and recess inside wall
Supply prefabrication shower enclosure in one unit
Plumbing to be determined after opening shower (Plumbing NOT included in this estimate)
Supply and install tile flooring in bathroom
Remove existing toilet and reinstall after tile
Supply and install two new junction boxes in the living room for LED lights
$25,000 sounds like a lot of money, but in order to get top dollar for this rental unit, I realized that these very basic projects need to be done. That evening, I called Haimi and told him to round up all his sledgehammers.
Next Up - Part Four: Demolition
For parts one and two of this series about a firsthand account in renovating a rental property, look here, and here: