Sunday, June 2, 2013

Erin Gets a New Architect + Demolition Update

So there have been a few snafus in the princess palace project, mistakes that I have decided to repurpose as home design (and may even life) lessons.  These include:

(1) choose architects/designers/etc. who come well-recommended by people you personally know and trust;

(2) do not commit to anything major without getting an unbiased third party opinion;

(3) for every commitment, follow Ronald Reagans dictum: trust but verify.

Basically, I had to let go of my first architect, because I violated every one of the above rules.  I chose an architect that I had met through a real estate agency to look at a different place, and I then asked him to work for me when I found this place because I really liked his style and had hit it off with him.  I didn't know him personally, and had no connections to him other than a real estate agency that I had used to look at a different flat.  

After months of conversations about the renovations (as we waited for the deal on this flat to go through), I was so eager to move ahead with the project that I agreed to let him do the demolition (and even paid for part of it) without first getting (and vetting) his entire budget.

It was only after consulting with a number of people (including an experienced real estate developer who works for my university) that I decided that some of the figures were rather high, and I just had no control over costs. I therefore decided to cut my losses by halting the demolition, paying the first architect for services rendered, and meeting with a new architect who came highly recommended by the said real estate developer).  In the end, I don't think I lost very much money, if any, by switching architects at this point.

Second excellent recommendation from the real estate developer was to retain an architect to make the design/budget and also to supervise the renovation (ensuring cost control), but do a tender for the actual construction work.  This way, the architect has no skin in the game in developing the design and budget. Smart.

So Szabolcs (new architect) and I went to visit the flat again today.  Part of the demolition has already been done by the previous team.  Floor is dug up (turns out they used dirt as filler on some floors in these 30s buildings, as can be seen in this pic below.

Here, two walls have been demolished, opening up the kitchen/dining room area.  Below is the bathroom/pantry space, which hasn't yet been demolished, but that will be next, along with ripping up the floors.

Below you can see the holding wall, which trans-sects the flat, dividing the living room and bedroom in the front from the other 60 percent of the flat in the back.  Szabolcs is checking to see what is under the tiles and plaster, as I want to expose the brick on both sides of the holding wall.

It looked okay until we got to the other side; turns out that the brick is a bit uneven in places and has some fairly large gaps.

I am undeterred--determined to have one wall of exposed brick in every room (which I can do if I expose the brick of the holding wall on both sides).

Then we had another surprise--turns out there is some massive (and smelly!) concrete floor under the cheap-ass linoleum in the kitchen/dining area. Yuck (and may be expensive to haul out).

Random view out the living room window...

Next steps:
(1) completing the demolition of bathroom and floors and remaining walls;
(2) getting a mechanical engineer to prepare permits for the new heating system; and
(3) visiting flooring/home design stores (plus Ebay) to find lighting and electricity fixtures, bathroom and kitchen items, plus Swedish wood floors (the cost of which will be worked into the budget);

In two weeks, Szabolcs will be ready to finish the budget, which can be used to prepare the tender.  Proper renovations are unlikely to begin before then :(

All in all, I feel really comfortable with how things are developing and just as happy and excited as before!

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