Feb 20, 2011

Regatta: My First Place

Picture it: Sicily, 1942...

Okay, it wasn't Sicily or south Florida.  In early 2004 I bought my first place in sunny Victoria, BC.  It was a pre-construction wood framed low-rise in Vic-West, a new/trendy area of Victoria.  I believe the property used to serve as an industrial area, which is marginally better than a cemetery.  But it was prime land, right on the water and a 15-minute walk downtown.

Railyards development in lower right, foreground
It was a colourful little development, with Hardie Board siding painted in primary colours, matched with corrugated steel and aluminum roofing.  Quite a departure from the typical Victorian home.

The advantages of buying pre-construction is...well, the price.  And I was late to the game, buying only 6-months before they were complete.  I bought a 700sf one bedroom, one bath, with its own walk-up and little balcony.  When it first came to market it was somewhere around $118,000 (circa early 2003), and a year later I got it (still pre-construction) for $142,000.  Luckily, I sold at the top of the market a year later...reno success.

By the summer of 2004, I got possession and learned my first life lesson:
  • The rule goes like this: in buying from a developer, you don't necessarily get what you were told in the sales centre.  Products and prices change from the time of the sale to completion.  So, as long as the developer gives you something that costs the same or more (however the latter is highly unlikely), they can change finishes on you without your knowledge.

In my case, they were going to polish the concrete floors, at a cost of $2/sf.  But, they found that the skim coat of concrete was cracking, so they carpeted the units...glued down...no underlay...with $2/sf carpet!  Now, envision with me for a second, $2/sf carpet compared to a polished concrete floor.  Needless to say I was pissed.  And there was nothing I could do.

As it turns out, this way the best thing that could have happened.  I was so irritated by the carpet that I ripped it up and installed hardwood, which led to painting, which led to a complete bathroom remodel.  And thus my first reno was born.

Please note the hideous synthetic berber carpet and zen-inspired fireplace mantel

Builder-boring bathroom

New hardwood, which I glued-down myself.  NOT fun...hire someone.

My first wetstyle.ca vanity and sink...it's been a design staple ever since.
I also loved hanging pendants from a shelf above the mirror.  Looking for an excuse to do this again.

I fabric'ed a wall.  I was young...

My new fireplace and trendy/expensive 2004 20" LCD TV.

I was on the second floor, with a walk-up from the sidewalk.
My friend Jeff lived directly above me.  Aside from his heavy walk it was a blast.