I've been sitting on this news until I found the right time to share it with you...
I went to visit our house, the construction site, with a carpenter, who'll be building some things for the apartment (more on that in a little bit). and on the way out, I passed the contractor and asked him if he had any estimated moving date, because the apartment pretty much looked ready (the streets aren't paved, faucets haven't been installed, and the kitchen cabinets aren't fully in yet), and the contractor said he'd be emailing us later that day...
Well, the email arrived, and it said pretty much (approximate translation):
"Regarding Building Project X, Building Number Y, Announcement In Advance Of Handing Over Apartments:
1. The apartment will be ready to be handed over at the beginning of November, 2016, and no later than November 15, 2016.
2. Get ready to move in, including taking care of last monetary issues.
3. A further notice about the exact date you will get your keys will be given to you at a later date."
Can I have a little freak out moment here?!?!
This is so exciting for so many reasons, but also stressful for an equal amount of reasons.
Number one, its exciting for the obvious reasons, that we'll be doubling the amount of living space we'll have in less than one and a half months, and possibly in just one month!! And our own place!
Originally they had said the apartment would be ready no later than this coming July, then they said perhaps by last August... And now a move in window that is very shortly!!
So many things to look forward to about this new apartment!
But the stresses especially are because it means we have so many things to do in the next month and a half, which include finalizing with a carpenter who will build a kitchen for our rental unit upstairs, finding a contractor to do the other changes we need to turn it into two separate apartments (not a big deal, but enough), and pack up all our stuff, and pay to fix the things we broke in this apartment (two cracked windows that we've dealt with but need to fix before moving) and painting the apartment we live in now, not to mention paying for the movers....
And we also have to furnish the apartment, and either buy new furniture or build new furniture... It's not bad stresses, good stresses, but still a lot to do now.
Lastly, we need to find renters for our rental unit we'll be renting out, and renters for our current apartment, otherwise we'll be paying rent and a full mortgage, and that isn't really something we could handle...
All these are good stresses, just a lot of things to do now.
Part of my stress is figuring out what to do regarding carpentry.
The carpenter we're going with is a relatively close (but not too close) relative who we trust and does a good job, and that makes it a little less scary, because we've heard so many stories of people hiring someone who came highly recommended, and ended up doing a bad job, because the people recommending him had vested interest in us hiring them, and weren't necessarily having our best interest in mind. This relative is the same carpenter who built my mother's kitchen, so I saw what a decent job he does, and trust him that when he says he's giving us a good price, he is.
At the very least, we need a kitchen installed in the rental unit we'll be having upstairs. Our goal is to make the apartment the best value, and therefore easiest to find renters for, without spending too much money, and also having it last the longest time, so we don't need to pay for repairs or to replace the kitchen soon after.
In this L shaped area, we'll be having bottom counters along both walls, nearly certain that they will be built by this relative. When I asked him about how his pricing compares to the other carpentry options, he told me that he charges 20% less than the other private carpenters he knows that work in this area, but Ikea kitchens would work out to be approximately 30% cheaper than his. However, Ikea is less customizable, which means that where the wall is indented in the kitchen, we would just have dead, unsable space if we got an Ikea kitchen, and that locally Ikea uses wood that swells and warps when they get wet, so it needs to be replaced more often. He advised that if we are looking to have the best quality for the least amount of money, we do bottom cabinets with him, and upper cabinets, since they don't get wet, from Ikea. That is what we'll probably do.
Then we have to think about the downstairs kitchen, the one we'll be using, not the one we'll be renting out.
What you can see in this picture is what they've installed of the kitchen so far- the bottom cabinets (minus the doors), minus whatever that piece is called that goes between the kitchen and the floor, and the granite countertop.
The kitchen also comes with an upper cabinet that spans the length of the shorter cabinet (on the left), and now we have to figure out of that is enough for us, and if not, what we want to do.
I'm not neat, but I want my house to be neat and not look cluttered. My house right now is extremely cluttered and a big part of that is the fact that there isn't enough storage space and therefore, everything is piled just whereever there is room. I have a lot of kitchen equipment.
I do not want my new house to be a repeat of my current house. I want space. The kitchen that the apartment comes with has only 2 more doors than what we currently have. However, much of our current space really isn't accessible now, because of issues with our sink that means that we can't store anything under there... And under our stairs we'll be having our food stockpile. But I worry. I am afraid that we'll end up with the same cluttered mess we have here because of lack of cabinet space. So I want to install more upper cabinets, along the length of the right hand side of our kitchen, and maybe also adding another layer on top of the upper cabinets that come already, so that the cabinet space goes all the way to the ceiling.
I could potentially get Ikea cabinets, which would be just along the right hand wall, but then I couldn't have it to the ceiling. I asked the carpenter for a variety of separate price quotes- one for the kitchen upstairs alone, one for the right hand single level cabinets for our kitchen, and one for the cost of cabinets above the single layer of cabinets on each side in the kitchen.
I will compare that to Ikea's pricing for cabinets on the right side, but he didn't suggest that, as we want to install dish racks inside the upper cabinets, so we can free up clutter on the counter, and if there are dish racks and the counters get wet, he suggested not getting Ikea since they will get water damaged more quickly from that.
The carpenter also told me that he would charge the same for each piece whether we get it done all at once or in parts. So we can decide to have him do the rental kitchen upstairs and either one side of our upper cabinets in downstairs kitchen or not, and then see how we manage with just what we have, and then as needed, or if we save up money, we can spend on installing more cabinets, bit by bit, in our apartment. We don't need to do all or nothing to save money, so we have more options to consider, factoring in how much the move and all the construction will cost us, before we decide if we want to spend extra on making the perfect kitchen now, or doing it in steps, as needed, when we have extra cash.
The carpenter is in touch with private contractors that he's worked with, and seen how they do things, so he will be putting me in touch with ones he'd recommend as a fellow professional, to do the last of the changes we need to do to turn the house into two apartments. (Opening up and installing a front door, installing a window, putting up drywall to block off the stairs, making a storage space above the hallway, installing a boiler upstairs, and installing an electric box meter for the upstairs.)
So much to do, so little time to do it! All the preparations and measurements need to be done before we move in, because as soon as we do, we need the construction done ASAP so that we can rent out the upstairs apartment to help with the mortgage.
And then there's the headache of finding people to take over our current contract for our apartment, which can only be done once the move in date has been finalized. Wish us luck with that!
I'm not even sure when we should start packing, since our apartment is so small that we don't have any place to put boxes once they're packed. I'd like the move to be as stress free as possible, but I'm not sure if there will be more stress if we're living with our life half packed in boxes for the next month to month and a half, or if we rush last minute to pack everything. For those who have experience moving a family (we only moved once, and we didn't do a very good job of that), I'll gladly take advice.
And now for some pictures of the apartment:
One side of the front yard.
The other side of our front yard, and the stairs leading up to the rental unit and two more apartments (not ours). I think I decided that bikes, skateboards, and other outdoor riding toys, and gardening tools will be stored under the stairs.
Where the tenants will have their front door. (See that indent? That's where we'll be breaking down the wall to put in the front door.)
Our entrance, and view through to the backyard.
Our teeny tiny master bedroom, which I know will look bigger once all the construction materials are removed from it, and once it is furnished (small places always look smaller empty).
The other side of the teeny tiny master bedroom, and door to the en suite bathroom.
The master bathroom.
What will start off being a guest room and my office. Hubby also wants to build a workbench for himself here, but we'll see about that.
The kids' room. Double decker layered quadruple bunk beds along two walls, low cabinets for toy storage and a work desk along the wall with the window, and floor to ceiling cabinets/shelving along the other wall for clothes.
An alternate view of the living room/dining room/kitchen. It isn't so big, but it isn't so small either. Measurement wise, I think it's 260 square feet, which is probably 1 1/2 the size of what we currently have. As I wrote this post, I did an approximate measurement of this apartment and our current living room/dining room/kitchen is about 185 square feet. The new one therefore will be about a little less than 1 1/2 times the current size, which will also feel more spacious since the layout is better, and some of the things currently in the living room (like my desk, etc...) will move to the office/guest room.
But not in terms of numbers, just looking at the space. Right next to where the kitchen (the part that is installed) ends, there will be an oven. Beyond that, the rest will not be kitchen space- it will be room for a couch or two, our dining room table, etc... And since there is a recessed space for our bookcases, they won't be taking up room either.
And... a lovely view of our backyard, with that eyesore sewage thing or whatever that is in the middle.
Our under the stairs storage space.
Our stairs... which somehow will become a storage space too.
Our bathtub room.
And separate toilet room. Which we probably will add a small sink into.
For our rental unit upstairs, there's that first picture I showed you where the kitchen will be, but why not just show it again, as a refresher:
Here's another angle of the same room. All shown here will be free room for the tenants to do what they want with it, other than immediately to the right of the window, which is where the front door will be.
And from another angle- where the kitchen side (ending where that yellow wire for the gas line is) meets the rest of the room. That is approximately 290 square feet, bigger than our living room/dining room/kitchen by 30 square feet!
A view from the master bedroom down the hallway and into the living room/dining room.
One view of the mater bedroom, and entrance to the en suite bathroom.
Another view of the master bedroom, with its floor to ceiling windows (that have blinds to cover them if you want privacy, don't worry!). Approximately 130 square feet.
Not such a good view of one of the other bedrooms. 125 square feet, approximately.
One view of the not en suite bathroom.
Another view of the main bathroom. Washing machine and dryer also go in here.
And finally, the last bedroom, also approximately 125 square feet.
If not for the fact that we want a yard, I totally would prefer the layout of the rental unit to our own. We're renting it out for a very good price, from everyone I heard from locally, especially since it is a brand new, great apartment, centrally located. If you are reading this and you know you are local to me and want to inquire about the apartment and the cost, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Depending on when we can start construction and how long it lasts, it will either be available from the middle of November, beginning of December, or middle of December.
Ahhhh!!! And now I can stress!!
If you were in my place, what would you do regarding construction? Do you have thoughts and personal experience with Ikea kitchens? Would you do the extra kitchen cabinets now or wait for another time? And when would you start packing? Any advice? I'm all ears!