Flip This Condo #2 - Curb Appeal

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Our Chicago condo is on Armitage Avenue in Bucktown - a pretty busy street, but in a really spectacular neighborhood.

As such, we want to make sure that our building looks its best, while still providing privacy and security.

That means a decent amount of cleaning, some upkeep, and some construction-level projects.


The first major project at our condo required the removal and replacement of the front walk.

(That's the sidewalk inside the security gate, running to the front doors.)

The existing walk was a bit of an eyesore - it wasn't very well done, had visible "rocks" in the aggregate concrete, and it had sunk into the ground unevenly.

You get the idea. Don't fall off the side.
The photo above doesn't really show how bad the problem had gotten.

Our sidewalk was so far off-level, it was basically a fun-house sidewalk. The concrete had pitched and heaved so much that it made it tough to close the gate!

Fortunately, we were able to get this project tackled almost immediately.

We took three bids from contractors, and we had shovels in the ground within 48 hours.

Logan Square Waterproofing and Concrete did the work - they did a great job, and they were able to have a crew on site almost immediately.

The first thing that we noticed was that the existing sidewalk was comically thick - almost a full foot deep.

That made the sidewalk ridiculously heavy... and more prone to sink.

Especially because the sidewalk was not anchored to the house in any way.

Our new sidewalk install was a standard thickness, a much higher grade of cement (no more rocks and pits!) and most importantly - it was anchored to the foundation with rebar.

So..... normal.
So now, the first thing our potential buyers will see is... well, is a normal sidewalk.

They probably won't notice it, actually.

But at least they won't be put off by a sidewalk that seemed to be slipping into the abyss.

Now that the walk is taken care of, we can turn our attention to curb appeal - in this case, cleaning, landscaping and painting.

If you look at the first picture above, you'll see a whole lot more greenery than there is today.

Can you spot the differences?

We're on a pretty busy street in a very big city, so everything needs to be cleaned. That said, cleaning is generally pretty simple - we're going to pressure-wash everything, clean up litter, and so on.

Those arborvitae trees had to be removed a few years ago.

But we'll make sure that the bushes along the fence are trimmed back, and the entire area is well-mulched.

We're also going to have to re-paint the wrought iron fence and gate - and we'll turn to the pros there.

The iron is VERY rusty, and painting wrought iron is just an incredibly messy job. The last time I painted this fence, my hands were jet-black for a week.

The sunken bluestone patio is going to need powerwashing and tuckpointing, too - I can probably do that myself.

Ultimately, this falls more into the realm of "elbow grease" than a true "renovation project" - but it still has to be done.

I'd also like to paint BOTH front doors a new color. They're currently a dingy brown - which matches much of the external windows, sadly.

I think a glossy black would look really cool... but really, even a glossy brown repaint would help.

Update: Pressure washing is done!

Gross.

Hey, this works!

Like New Again.

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