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Thread: Renovation Product List Blues

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Renovation Product List Blues

    AHHHHH who knew that there were so many different choices in product for renovations! It does not help that we are gutting the condo and starting fresh with blank walls. We will be getting everything from light fixtures, to appliances, to laminate wood flooring, bathroom fixtures and tile, and even new interior doors.

    I have spend several hours in Lowes, Home Depot, and a few regional chains. We are looking for inexpensive, yet medium to good quality products.

    Anyone have any suggestions on specific brands to look at and brands to avoid at all costs? What products have you used in your projects?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    We have used a cheapo maytag oven that seems to be pretty good actually. Thomasville cabinets that we really like. We looked into laminate and decided to go with pergo just cause it seems to be about the nicest and best deal laminate.

    American standard makes good cheap, quality toilets.

    The best light fixtures will be the ones that you like the look of best- regardless of brand name.

    We have used Velux for our skylights and really like them, we've purchased granite countertops through home depot and some tile we liked (don't even think it had a brand name) from Lowes. Are happy with both.

    Essentially, anything you find at one of those places should be good.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Your post makes me so glad we our builder does most of the nitty gritty for us. They have a showroom and give us like five options for faucets, door handles, doors, trim, moulding, etc. We had to still pick out flooring, countertop, lighting and cabinetry, but for each of those places we just went and picked out what we wanted within the budget and were good to go. It made it so much easier than just giving us an allowance for all the little things. Our builder is out of Fort Wayne, so it required a few trips down there, but for the most part it was sooo easy.

    Anyway, can't really help you, but to say that I am glad I didn't have to worry about that stuff! My advice is to pay more for the things that you can't replace easily - kitchen cabinets, countertops. Things like carpeting, bathroom fixtures, etc. are more apt to replace more frequently.

    We put Pergo in our daughters room, it had the attached padding. It was a breeze to put down. The hubby helped someone else put down a cheaper version and it was a pain in the butt.

    We want pictures!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    have you considered bamboo flooring? not that expensive and a renewable resource!
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    You, as well as most on Cyburbia, are in this racket we call development planning. While my fiance works for a construction company in the area and can ask their subcontractors for deals/places on house stuff, you may want to ask some builders (with whom you have a good rapport) where they go for stuff and if they have any good recommendations.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol
    have you considered bamboo flooring? not that expensive and a renewable resource!
    How difficult is the installation and what form is it when we get it? We were looking at cherry colored laminate flooring that had the underlayment pre-attached because it would save money, and it had an interlocking system that would allow us to just put it down without nails or glue.
    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    You, as well as most on Cyburbia, are in this racket we call development planning. While my fiance works for a construction company in the area and can ask their subcontractors for deals/places on house stuff, you may want to ask some builders (with whom you have a good rapport) where they go for stuff and if they have any good recommendations.
    Funny you mention that. I went to a buying showroom place to get prices and they were a little shocked that I had a full comprehensive listing of everything that I needed including sizes, materials, and styles. He understood after I told him that I was a city planner. Apparently another one had been in the day before and was just as over prepared as I was. But I will ask a few contractors that I know about what products they use.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  7. #7
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    my fiance works for a construction company in the area .

    How funny. My fiance also works for a construction company in our area.

    And as my name implies- I am a professional bowler

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michiganplanner's avatar
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    Why?

    Why mskis, why?

    What's the point of totally gutting the place if it's a condo. Your value, at any given time, is as only as good as the guy next to you (former loan officer opinion).

    But since I understand the need to put your touch on it:

    I'd say "go trading spaces" on things. Repaint and refinish first. We had 2 different types and colors of kitchen cabinets when we bought our house back in Feb.
    2 days, a coat of primer, and 2 coats of antique white paint - only a trained eye can see the 2 different styles of cabinets.

    Are you gonna vary from the Dave way and get appliances on credit? If so, Home Depot had and probably still has some attractive offers. With the purchase of a Maytag fridge and oven we were able to get a $400 credit to use for a dishwasher. On top of that, the grand total of the purchase qualified us for $150 in HD gift cards. They take awhile to come (we bought the appliances in Feb. and the cards are just coming), but they make the too many to count trips to HD a little easier.

    Bamboo goes in just like a traditional hardwood or laminate product. They have nail down, glue, or glueless varieties. Lumber Liquidators in Detroit is were I have found some that I like.

    Hope that helps. PM if you need some specific details.
    I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner
    How funny. My fiance also works for a construction company in our area.

    And as my name implies- I am a professional bowler
    Off-topic:
    Do you ever feel like a sheep among wolves at the company picnic? I just lay low and hung out by the beer tent...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  10. #10
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    How difficult is the installation and what form is it when we get it? .
    Bamboo is EASY!

    It's really not that bad. It comes in round poles but most of the leaves should already be removed. Soak the bamboo in water for about 4 days to loosen the outer most "bark", and then a small widdling knife should take that off much easier. Plan on a couple of weeks of widdling. Once they are stripped, simply split into thirds. If you split them in half, they are much more likely to crack when you flatten them. The flattening is the hardest part of this. It is recommended to have a 2.5 ton elephant sit on the slightly curved poles for at least 2 days. But I have yet to find an elephant that can sit still that long or doesn't relieve itself all over your driveway and new bamboo flooring. And then there seems to be a shortage of 2.5 ton elephants rigth now. Check eBay. After that, nailing in the1/2 inch wide strips of bamboo should only take a crew of 4 about 10 days to cover a standard living room.

    sorry- it's a slow day around here
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.Ē-- William H. Whyte..

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Some cheap tricks:
    For a small space, like a bathroom or accent wall, you can sometimes get wall paper out of the clearance bins. Just make sure you get all you want.

    For a moderate-sized space, you can sometimes buy wall paper border out of the closeout bins and then use paint on most of the wall.

    Alternately, you can do inexpensive paint or plain wallpaper and upgrade it by using a very nice wall paper border.

    If you want something very upscale-looking with a more modest price, you buy very large tiles (like in marble) and use the smallest grout-line to get an effect similar to slab marble countertops without the high price.

    You can also do a more eclectic kitchen and instead matching everything, have different surfaces for different purposes and shop for a piece of slab stone on discount because it is too small for the whole kitchen...etc. If it's done well, it can be more attractive and functional than a more matched kitchen without the high price.

    Tile is also good for mixing and matching stuff out of the bargain bin or from disconitinued lines or using fancier accent pieces to spice up less expensive field tiles.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michiganplanner
    Why mskis, why?

    What's the point of totally gutting the place if it's a condo. Your value, at any given time, is as only as good as the guy next to you (former loan officer opinion).
    Kind of my thought as well. Seems to me that putting that kind of expense into remodeling defeats the purpose of buying a condo in the first place. I don't know how it is in Michigan, but around here, the median price of housing makes most condo purchases, outside of the very high end models, a bit of a risky return on investment.

    But what do I know? Not an hour ago I put a final counter-offer on a 94 year old house that is going to need a new roof, new electrical, upgraded heat, a new kitchen, and lord knows what else. Baring backing out after the inspection, I have a feeling I'm am going to be one renovation poor planner in the next few years.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jmac's avatar
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    We are closing on our first house this week (), so I am listening with great interest! Thanks for the timely thread, m'skis!

    I'm liking that bamboo flooring, btw...

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michiganplanner
    Why mskis, why?
    You know, that is a very good question, with a very good answer. It was a former Apartment and almost been updated since the 50ís. The condo in itís as in condition has rusting metal doors, rusting metal cabinets, countertops in the shockingly tiny kitchen are falling part, grossly old carpeting, and the tub and sinks all need to be repaired.

    The stove is an older gas stove and to be honest, I donít trust it. The refrigerator is very old, takes for ever to get cold, leaks, and sucks energy. I am purchasing it in its ďas isĒ condition which all the required elements (other than the appliances) are up to residential building code, so it is a glorified face lift and some renovations.

    A model that is finished similar to what mine will be, (other than mine will be a little bit better with hard wood and tile floors and a renovated bathroom) is located directly two floors down and sold for $25,000 more than what I am paying. I know from my product research, doing most of the work my self, worked out an agreement with a licensed contractor... I will be able to renovate mine for around $15,000. This will include the removal of two very small interior walls and a closet, new appliances, new cabinets and counter tops, floors, interior doors, repair of a few walls, new bathroom fixtures, new lighting, and several other items. So in several years when I go to sell it, not only will I get my ROI, I will make a substantial profit.

    Additionally, unlike the East Side of Michigan, the Grand Rapids area is booming with new construction and urban redevelopment including several new projects in downtown, so the cost of the condo will only increase from here. Especially after the MSU Med School moves to St. Maryís Hospital which is located about 2 Ė 3 blocks from the condo. Most of the individuals who have purchased these units are in the medical field, and with the GF in nursing school, this will allow for her to make some great contacts!

    I will post pictures on Monday of the existing condition and I think that you will agree what I need to gut it.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michiganplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    You know, that is a very good question, with a very good answer. It was a former Apartment and almost been updated since the 50ís. The condo in itís as in condition has rusting metal doors, rusting metal cabinets, countertops in the shockingly tiny kitchen are falling part, grossly old carpeting, and the tub and sinks all need to be repaired.

    The stove is an older gas stove and to be honest, I donít trust it. The refrigerator is very old, takes for ever to get cold, leaks, and sucks energy. I am purchasing it in its ďas isĒ condition which all the required elements (other than the appliances) are up to residential building code, so it is a glorified face lift and some renovations.

    A model that is finished similar to what mine will be, (other than mine will be a little bit better with hard wood and tile floors and a renovated bathroom) is located directly two floors down and sold for $25,000 more than what I am paying. I know from my product research, doing most of the work my self, worked out an agreement with a licensed contractor... I will be able to renovate mine for around $15,000. This will include the removal of two very small interior walls and a closet, new appliances, new cabinets and counter tops, floors, interior doors, repair of a few walls, new bathroom fixtures, new lighting, and several other items. So in several years when I go to sell it, not only will I get my ROI, I will make a substantial profit.

    Additionally, unlike the East Side of Michigan, the Grand Rapids area is booming with new construction and urban redevelopment including several new projects in downtown, so the cost of the condo will only increase from here. Especially after the MSU Med School moves to St. Maryís Hospital which is located about 2 Ė 3 blocks from the condo. Most of the individuals who have purchased these units are in the medical field, and with the GF in nursing school, this will allow for her to make some great contacts!

    I will post pictures on Monday of the existing condition and I think that you will agree what I need to gut it.
    Sounds like you've got it all worked out! Get those pics man! The one thing I wish we had done more of, was taking more "before" pics.
    I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Factory Seconds

    I used factory seconds for the doors on my entertainment center and bathroom cabinets. I will probably use factory seconds for kitchen cabinets if I ever get around to kitchen renovations.

    We have an outlet store that has stacks of unfinished cabinet doors for $2-$10 each. And a cabinent outlet that not only sells single cabinets, but usually has entire kitchens worth for under $5000. Usually from someone who chnges design after the cabinets are made.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Additionally, unlike the East Side of Michigan, the Grand Rapids area is booming with new construction and urban redevelopment including several new projects in downtown, so the cost of the condo will only increase from here.
    Hey! Them's fighting words! We got our fair share of loft people wrecking havoc downtown too ya know!

    Do you think you have a wooden floor underneat the crappy carpets?
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  18. #18
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    I'm sure I'll be spending a lot of cash at the local Home Depot, but if we get the house we just bid on, I plan on getting as much material as possible here. The of the coolest building supply stores in town.


    On a materials note, no offense to those of you who like it, but does anyone else find manufactured hardwood flooring (Pergo, etc..) kind of ugly compared to the real thing?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by biscuit
    On a materials note, no offense to those of you who like it, but does anyone else find manufactured hardwood flooring (Pergo, etc..) kind of ugly compared to the real thing?
    Yes, we were unable restore our original floors. We chose Bruce floors. They are individual random length planks that look much closer to the original floors.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by biscuit
    On a materials note, no offense to those of you who like it, but does anyone else find manufactured hardwood flooring (Pergo, etc..) kind of ugly compared to the real thing?
    I think it depends on what you are looking for. My sister has the real thing and it is a soft wood and it gets scratched real easy. We put pergo down in my two year old's room only because of the durability for both scratching and liquid damage.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    I think it depends on what you are looking for. My sister has the real thing and it is a soft wood and it gets scratched real easy. We put pergo down in my two year old's room only because of the durability for both scratching and liquid damage.
    That's a good point, I probably wouldn't have a problem using it in the bedrooms. It is low maintenence.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Hey! Them's fighting words! We got our fair share of loft people wrecking havoc downtown too ya know!

    Do you think you have a wooden floor underneat the crappy carpets?
    It's all about da west cost!

    We checked It's concrete... I was tempted to just put a stained top coat of concrete and call it good. GF's response was simple and effective. "I don't think so Mike..."
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  23. #23
    Another renewable source for flooring is cork. We installed it in our kitchen remodel and love it -- it's durable, soft (saved at least two antique goblets of Mrs. G's that some nameless person dropped while drying them), quiet and has an R-3 value. We got pre-finished so all we had to do was glue it down and walk on it.

    To the extent that I can, I purchase at local home centers as opposed to the big boxes. I do visit the BOB for framing lumber and other supplies where I can't justify the mark-up the local guy has. The local guy, however, has better finish lumber than any of the boxes do, and is competitively priced IMO.

    Oh, yeah. Dimmable light switches by Lutron. Excellent and energy-savers to boot.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by biscuit
    On a materials note, no offense to those of you who like it, but does anyone else find manufactured hardwood flooring (Pergo, etc..) kind of ugly compared to the real thing?
    I do not like the look of it. I just haven't seen a laminate that looks and feels like real wood. In my opinion it is worth the price to go with hardwood.

    We refinished our hardwood floors before we had kids. They are the original floors (80 years old) and cannot be sanded any further. I figure they have about 8-10 years left on them provided we care for them properly (all furniture has felt pads on the legs) and buff them once a year. Probably will replace them with bamboo when the time comes.

    We have a green building supply store locally that I have been getting most of my supplies from, but they are about double the price of HD or Lowes.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    Oh, yeah. Dimmable light switches by Lutron. Excellent and energy-savers to boot.
    Can you put a dimming switch on any light circuit? Or do you have to have a fixture that can be dimmed?
    I have a dining room light that I would love to dim, but I am unsure if it is safe for me to switch out the swtiches.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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