Flip This Condo #3 - Shower Repair

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We're quickly approaching the end of the final lease on our condo in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood.

We'd like to hit the market as soon as we possibly can, so we've been working to get the house looking its very best.

This week - time to fix a leaking shower.

In prior "Flip This Condo" posts, we discussed the project in general, and the replacement of the front walk.

It's a 3 bedroom condo, with three tenants.

Two of them will be moving out on June 1, and the third will move on July 1.

Which means that the HEAVY lifting will take place during June.

But we're already well underway. This week.... repairing the shower in the master bathroom.

Tile Shower Leaking

Our master bathroom has a LOT of marble tile. The floors & walls are more or less covered, all the way to the ceiling.


The shower is also made from marble tile. Pretty standard.

Pretty standard... his story checks out.
Over the years, I've replaced the caulk lines in the shower a few times.

It LOOKS perfect. There doesn't appear to be a problem.

However, in recent years, we noticed that the shower was leaking a bit.... water would get behind the caulk and mildew it, for instance. We'd reapply caulk, and the problem would go away.

This nuisance became an "issue" when we noticed discoloration/wetness on a drywall seam on the ceiling below.

Clearly, water was able to seep out of the shower, and eventually work its way to the lower floor.

Not a lot of water -- and not a big deal if you're living there, but we're trying to sell this place, so I wanted to get to the bottom of this problem.

Removing and Repairing Grout and Caulk

We interviewed a few grout companies in Chicago, and ultimately went with Sir Grout.

They weren't the cheapest team that we interviewed - in fact, several were substantially cheaper.

However, most of the companies we spoke to looked at the shower, thought it looked fine, and suggested... replacing the caulk again.

Sir Grout was the only company to suggest that the grout itself had cracked - allowing a tiny amount of water to seep through tiny cracks - basically, capillary action.

They suggested that we grind out ALL of the grout on the floor (and some on the walls), and replace it with an epoxy-based grout.... and then caulk and color-seal the remaining joints.

A much more comprehensive solution than we'd tried previously - and one that matched the work that they'd done in the past.

And, guaranteed for 2 years! SOLD.

The work was done yesterday, and the shower will be ready for use on Saturday.

Next Steps

Our remaining projects - in the order they need to be completed:

Main floor circa 2012 - for reference.

1. Hardwood Floor Resurfacing and Staining - The floors on the upstairs level are looking awfully rough.

This presents an opportunity, though... we'll be sanding out 15 years of wear, and applying a dark stain, which will make the condo look substantially newer.

TIMEFRAME - June 7-14

2. Baseboard Replacement - It's subtle, but it works. Given that we'll have these fantastic new hardwood floors, we need to add a taller baseboard.

We'll be going from a 3.25" baseboard, to 5.25" - a substantial difference. And again - it will make the condo look brand new.

TIMEFRAME - the DAY after the hardwood is finished. June 14-21.

3. Cabinet Painting - Years ago, we added a floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinet to our kitchen.  (It's to the extreme right in the photo above.)

It was a great addition.

But even though we bought the same cabinets from the same manufacturer, it was IMPOSSIBLE to match the finish on our existing cabinets. We actually had to hire a specialist based in Iowa.

Now, all that work will have been for naught - people want white cabinets. We're having these painted. (It's not a job that I'd consider DIY-ing.... too important and too much work.)

This also gives us a chance to pick out some new cabinet hardware. A subtle update that will help sell the place.

TIMEFRAME - ASAP. For real, we could start this tomorrow.

4. Wall and Trim Painting - Over the years, we went with quite a few different colors at 2117.

The downstairs was blue, the kitchen was green, and everything else was beige.
Live in a place long enough, and you cycle through lots of colors.

Our tenants have changed some rooms to gray, or to eggplant, or whatever.

Ultimately, we're going to paint the entire house gray. Once again, it's an opportunity to go with what's popular today.

I'd also like to re-tile that fireplace, but that's pretty far down on the priorities list.

TIMEFRAME - ideally, the day after the baseboards are installed.  June 15-22.

5. Carpet Replacement - This goes last.

Our final tenant moves out over the 4th of July holiday, and I'd like to ensure that this installation is as close to that move-out date as possible.

We'll probably do something very similar to what we'd installed previously - a neutral color, basic carpet.

TIMEFRAME - Final week of June.

That's a lot to take on!

No kidding. And, we just bought a pressure washer, so that we can get the OUTSIDE looking nice again!

We'll get the hardwood floor replacement scheduled ASAP., and ideally, everything else will fall into place in the June schedule after that. 

The NEXT thing to think about -- given that we're looking at 5 years worth of depreciation (and the associated recapture tax at the time of sale), we MAY want to try a like-kind 1031 exchange.

But that's another story. 

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