Coronavirus Renovation Diaries: Small Steps Forward to the Starting Line

" Coronavirus Renovation Diaries: Small Steps Forward to the Starting Line

Welcome to the newest installment of the Coronavirus Renovation Diaries!

Last time, I talked about my experience buying my first home in the middle of a global pandemic, realizing that my unit needed more than a little TLC, and the fact that the virus was keeping me from making any major progress on my renovation.

It’s been about a month since my last entry and — as you may have been able to guess — the lack of an update stemmed from the fact that coronavirus threw some pretty major roadblocks my way. However, lucky, I’ve finally been able to make a little progress. Keep reading to find out more about what went down.

At first, it seemed like I may never get my renovation off the ground.

Shortly after I wrote my last post, a fourth person in my building tested positive for coronavirus. Around that same time, building management started sending out emails announcing even stricter restrictions, including that they would be fining people who did not wear masks in the common areas.

However, when my state’s governor finally relented and allowed real estate and construction businesses to restart their work, I thought I might have a shot at getting the green light to start my renovation. After all, the building’s manager had said that they were basing their policies off of being in accordance with state law.

True to their word, shortly thereafter, they did release a memo saying that limited construction work could begin. Unfortunately for me, they really meant limited.

Their updated construction policy included the following provisions:

  • They were not accepting any new work applications at the time
  • Contractors were only permitted to do work in unoccupied units
  • Demolition work was not allowed
  • Removal or replacement of flooring was not allowed
  • There was to be no prolonged hammering

Since my project would require a new application, demo work, the removal of flooring, and, more than likely, prolonged hammering, my hope of getting started was pretty much dashed. That said, I figured I could bide my time until my state moved to the next phase of its reopening plan just over a week later.

While moving forward with reopening, I found a loophole.

When my state eventually did move forward with its reopening plan, my building once again released a new set of policies. This time, the policies included allowances for guests and certain service professionals to come into the building. The construction policy, however, remained largely unchanged.

At this point, I was really starting to get discouraged. I had spent months making mortgage payments on a home that I wasn’t able to move into and there was no start date for my renovation in sight. At least not until I read the updated construction policy a second time.

Upon rereading, I realized that there had been one, tiny change since the last update. Now, building management was willing to review work applications on a case-by-case basis.

I knew this was my chance, so I quickly wrote out an email to the building manager, which pleaded my case. I explained to him that, since I have a physical disability, most of the renovations I was planning to do were meant to make the unit more accessible for me. Plus, until I was able to have them done, I was more or less prohibited from moving in.

That did the trick. Shortly thereafter, I was on the phone with the manager and, after explaining my physical needs and renovation plans to him in more detail, I got the green light to move forward. All I had to do was fill out some paperwork and deliver a check to the building.

Getting started, slowly but surely.

Since then, I’ve been able to have my contractor come to the building and measure my unit so he can officially order all of my materials. I’ve also had my interior designer come over so she can get a better sense of what I should do with furniture and artwork.

Like any renovation, mine seems to be growing by the day. At first, I was only supposed to be doing my kitchen, bathroom, and floors. Now, I’m also having my contractors rip out the ceiling and put in new lighting, paint the entire unit, and replace all of the closet doors.

The next step is to wait for most of my core construction materials to be delivered so that I can work with my contractor to set an official start date. In the meantime, I’ve also been tasked with some fun homework, including picking out an appliance package and creating a mood board for my interior designer so she can get a better sense of my personal style.

Tune in next time for when construction finally takes off.

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