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Property #1 – Rehab Update 3

Property #1 – Rehab Update 3

First things first: 

Start here to learn about property #1, here for rehab update #1, and here for rehab update #2.

Okay, jokes over. Where did the summer go? It’s August and we’ve spent the best of every available day working on the house. Well, for The Troop at least. I’ve been able to sneak down the shore and get some time out with my girls when he works the night shift. But either way, we naively thought we would be done with renovations by now but that clearly isn’t the case.

We’ve FINALLY started doing work on the second floor unit that we will (read: hope to) move into by the end of the month. I don’t think it will be completely finished, but livable at least.

As for the first floor unit. I think we’re on track to list the apartment within the next 2 weeks or so. Fingers crossed.

So let’s lay it all out. Weeks 10 and 11 update.

Unit 1

The Living Room and Dining Room

These plaster walls have been such a pain in the ass.

Can I say “ass”?

It’s my blog so I’ll allow it.

There were a lot of cracks in both the walls and the ceilings so our concrete guy skim coated and sanded them. That treatment worked well with the walls but according to our sheet rocker, we wasted our money trying to fix the ceilings. He explained that while cosmetically it would be a temporary fix, over time the cracks would just become larger and reappear. So we dropped the extra cash and had both the living room and dining room ceilings sheet rocked. And then they were the first to get painted!

*NOTE: These are panoramic photos of the rooms and that is why they are oddly shaped.


As I said in the last rehab update, the kitchen has mainly been used to store tools, cleaning supplies and appliances. But it’s finally received some love from us.

I HATE the drop ceiling and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone would choose to spend money on something so unattractive.  So we took down a few panels and we were met with the answer. Above the drop ceiling were hideous, yellow ceiling tiles that were falling down.

I get it now.

Old gross ceiling

We immediately wanted to rip everything down and sheet rock the ceiling but this posed more problems than solutions. There were recessed lights, a ceiling fan and electric boxes all around the ceiling that sat too low for sheet rock. Of course we could relocate and re-install everything, but then we were talking extra cash and time that we just didn’t have.

Solution- Research the heck out of drop ceiling tiles and find something I could live with. I was surprised to see the lack of options at the go-to big box stores so I hit up Amazon and BOOM, I found these bad boys- Genesis Smooth Pro Tiles. These worked perfectly. They had a smooth white finish, we’re easy to install, and I could have them shipped straight to the house via Amazon. Score!


Genesis Smooth Pro Tiles
New drop ceiling tiles

I still need to add a tile around the ceiling fan, but am waiting until after we replace it with a new one.

The house has a side entry that both units have access to as it leads to the laundry facilities in the basement but it also leads to unit A’s kitchen. To create a more secure area for unit A, we replaced their kitchen door with an exterior door. This way, they feel as if there is another level of privacy from those entering the basement.


This room has been the most fun to see come along. In the past two weeks, we’ve sheet rocked and tiled and it looks great! Originally, I wanted to attempt tiling myself but due to time constraints, we were forced to bring someone in. I’m glad we did as he did such a great job!

I haven’t given up on tiling yet though. We still have our little bathroom in unit B that has my name written all over it.

Unit B

You may remember from when we first bought this house that the floor plan for unit B was extremely choppy. The property was originally a single family home prior to us picking it up and so this unit still resembled the 3 bedroom layout it originally was meant for.

First, we had to remove and alter some windows to make room for the kitchen layout. The back wall had three tall windows. If looking from the outside (below), we replaced the right window, keeping it the original size, filled in the middle window to make room for the stove, microwave and cabinets, and we shortened the left window so we could install kitchen cabinets below. When The Troop mentioned replacing, filling in and altering windows, I was nervous. That sounded like major construction. But I came home from work one day and he and his dad had already completed one! With my help, we were able to do the next two.

New window on the right, middle window being boxed in, old window still on the left.

New window on the right, middle window all boxed in, left window was framed to fit the new smaller size.

Moving inside, we wanted to make the small space feel as large as possible, so down came the wall separating the living room and kitchen and we shortened the wall between the living room and the hallway so you could see more of the space when coming up the stairs. We also tore down the plaster that was covering that awesome chimney!

Coming up the stairs and looking into the living room
The living room looking into the kitchen on the left and the bathroom behind the chimney.
The living room looking into the kitchen with a closet on the far left.

In the last photo, you can see an interior look of the windows that were either replaced, boxed in, or altered.

We also took down the ceiling tiles and will be replacing it with sheet rock, pulled up the bathroom flooring, roughed in the plumbing and electric, and moved the closet door from the living room side to the kitchen side.


Overall Property

Two new hot water heaters and brand new energy-efficient HVAC systems were installed. This is a great way to increase cashflow since you are separating utilities and having the tenants pay their own portion.

We did have a bit of an issue with the HVAC company. Overall, they took forever to install the systems and were careless while doing so. A workers foot went through the ceiling, a few window panes were broken, a hole was put into the siding, and the amount of scratches that were left on the hard wood floors would make you cringe. Needless to say, I will be having some choice words before we pay the final balance.


Free Labor

Our parents were awesome enough to come down for a weekend and they were super helpful.

My Mom helped assemble the Ikea cabinets for unit B. While these are pretty easy to assemble, they definitely require two people. Also, I would recommend that no matter how confident you are after a few cabinets, continue to refer to the instructions because there will always be that one step that you missed. We learned that the hard way and had to take a whole cabinet apart.

Peep our super cute matching #demoday shirts. =]


Meanwhile, my Dad took care of the overly outgrown landscaping along our driveway.

Thanks Dad!

The Troops parents have been over to help a lot. His father, who’s recently retired, thought his rough days of work were behind him but we’ve been taking full advantage of his new free time and we couldn’t be more thankful. The Troops mom has been assuming the perfect supervisory role. She’s been keeping our job site clean and all the workers fed.

Shout out to the best future in-laws ever!


It’s been a pretty productive two weeks and I’m so excited that the finish line is in sight. Especially since we’ve been doing so much on our unit (Unit B). But that doesn’t mean we get to slow down. Our goal is to have Unit A listed for rent and for us to move into Unit B by the end of the month.

Totally do-able right? Except that both of us our going away on separate bachelor/bachelorette parties for my brother and soon-to-be sister in-law next weekend.

If anyone remembers, we actually started off this rehab away on bachelor/bachelorette parties back in the beginning of June and will be finishing up the same way. Here’s to show that you don’t have to give up your social lives completely to get work done.

It’s all about balance.



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3 thoughts on “Property #1 – Rehab Update 3”

  • Wow – nice work, Lauren! I would love to hear more about the cost of these projects. Will you do a full budget run-down when you’re done? I’m also curious about how much of the rehabbing “analysis” you’re able to do on your own vs. paying for expert opinions (for instance – did you get a structural engineer in there before you took out the wall in unit B? If not, how did you know it wasn’t a load bearing wall?). Great to see your progress!

    • Thanks Megan! We will definitely be doing an in-depth cost break down. I’ve kept and recorded every receipt/invoice and am excited to see where all of the money went!

      In regards to the wall in unit B, we could easily tell that was wall was load-bearing by looking at the joists in the attic. Fortunately, The Troop and our family friend have building experience and were able to calculate the necessary header size to support the weight. So we don’t really have any analysis costs per se.

      Thanks again and we’ll be posting another update soon!

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