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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another Renovation Under my Belt

OH MY GOSH!!!  It's been 20 days since I last posted!   HOW have you been able to survive???  hehehehehhe.

I've been EXTREMELY busy the past few weeks.  What with selling my house, packing, cleaning, moving out, moving in to the new place, unpacking and at the same time closing on a 2BR apartment I purchased launching me into a full-hilt reno of that place before leaving on a trip to the US (I'm writing this at the airport)...well, you get the idea.   During the 10 or so days of doing the reno, I wore the same work clothes day in and day out, no laundering and I didn't shave until the place was DONE.   I looked like some backwoods guy who walked out of the forest.

I decided to take some of the proceeds of the sale of my house to buy an apartment to rent out on a short-term basis for folks visiting CUE for a week or two, or people who've moved here and need a 'home' to stay in while looking for a house or apartment.   Most folks who come to CUE stay for more than just a few days and, past a certain point, a room with a bed in the middle of it just doesn't cut it.  The apartment is fully furnished down to the dishes, linens, and even a washer and dryer and it's strategically located within a short walk of all that most visitors want to be a part of.

It's an old adobe complex....how old, I don't know....with an interior garden courtyard complete with a 'Mother Mary' shrine.   There's no parking, but those who'd typically rent this place don't have a car anyway.  BUT, me.....the guy who did the renovating had to deliver a bunch of stuff (ie; many gallons of paint, kitchen supplies, artwork, etc), unload the car while illegally parked and toss it inside the gate, then dash a few blocks away, park the car, hike back to the building, gather up the stuff, and trek it up the 3 flights of stairs to the unit.   I think I lost a few pounds...YEA!!!

First, I started thinning things out.  The place was sold to me completely furnished.   So, I went through all the dishes, stuff in drawers and cabinets, and tossed out 'junk' that had accumulated from various renters over the years.  I gave most of it away to my painter who gives it to charities and whatnot.   Then, I made a list of things I needed to buy and started buying.   New pillows, kitchen cooking knickknacks, wastebasket, food starters such as cooking oil, sugar, and salt/pepper grinder, plus paper towels, TP, window coverings, and on and on it went.

Oh....about the TP.   Using a bathroom in Ecuador is a never-the-same experience.  Some places don't have toilet seats, some you need to bring your own TP, some have a person stationed outside and you pay a dime and the attendant hands you X number of squares and off you go.  Some have a big roller of paper outside the bathrooms and you roll off however much you THINK you're going to need.  Some you can flush the toilet paper, some you aren't supposed to...you fold it up and put it in the trash.   90% of the bathrooms don't have paper towels to dry your hands, sometimes they have a cloth towel that's damp from the 100 users before you, others have those old hand dryers which are worthless...I'd qualify for Social Security before my hands got dry.

Why this digression?  Well, I inspected the apartment before closing to make sure everything was clean and in order.  My agent used the bathroom.   A few days later, after closing, I had to 'go'.   I 'went'.   I reached for the TP and...ummmm....there wasn't ANY!!!    What to do??   Shamelessly, I went to the kitchen cabinet and found paper coffee filters....THANK GAWD!!!!!

Ok....stop imagining what that looked like.   


I hired my favorite team of Patricio and Rene to paint the place for me.   They sealed the ceiling as the chalky film on it would've gulped up the paint.  Then, 2 coats of white paint and 2 coats of paint on all the walls.   I had difficulty choosing colors as the gray'ish (with black speckles) cabinetry didn't work well with many colors and the units living space is long and narrow so the colors I chose needed to not give the feeling the walls were closing in on you.

Down came all the feminine pale blue window coverings and up went blinds.   While the guys painted, I re-stained all the doors and frames.    The outside patio had a washer, but no dryer.  I measured the doorway as I noticed it seemed awfully narrow.  The washer happened to be the exact same dimension.  I went to my old friend Jimmy who I bought all my appliances from in the my first house.  He said there are no dryers made that would fit.    Well, that wasn't going to stop me.   I wasn't about to have laundry hanging on lines to dry out like my early childhood memories...but is still quite common here.  The apartment has a window in the kitchen next to the door leading out to the laundry area.  I decided I would tear out the window and get a couple guys together to heave the dryer through the window, over a 3-story precipice and into the open-sided laundry patio, then have a new window built and installed.   It worked!!!    Patricio brought a plank to lay on the window sill and the short wall of the laundry patio to reduce the possibility of the dryer dropping 3 floors into oblivion.  Once I had the dryer, I ripped down all the laundry lines.

The overhead covering of the laundry patio was that rippled fiberglass stuff that doesn't age well.  It was discolored, dirty, and in shabby shape.   The guy who made the new window ($100) gave me a bid of $150 to tear out the fiberglass and install bronze-colored glass.  This would look FAR better, let in more sun, and open up a view to the cloud-filled skies.  It turned out great.  Again, I was amazed at the amount of work (and 3-4 guys) to put it all together.  They, too, had to trek all the material and their tools (including welding equipment) up to the 3rd level, bring in and cut aluminum framing, climb around in perilous positions, and cut the glass on the spot.   All for $150 and several hours of work.

The laundry area looked quite used and bleak, so I gave the entire area a fresh coat of white paint.

With all the fresh paint, the electrical outlets and light switches looked tired, so I replaced all them with fresh white fixtures.

Then, it was clean, Clean, and more CLEAN!!   Inside and outside of all the cabinetry and closets.  Unfortunately, Patricio sent his father to paint in lieu of him one day.  Well, Senor did not have the same skillset or process as Patricio and his team have refined.  Senor was dripping paint all over the tile floors, on the moldings, on the plug-ins and switches (even with their faceplates OFF).  He didn't tape anything off.   Well, I wrote a note Patricio translated to Spanish by Google, informing him I didn't hire his Dad, I hired HIM and his team and the quality of work I've come to know from them.  I said if he is going to substitute someone other than those I know, that person had better be trained to the same standards and, clearly, his father was not.  Patricio was very good about it and apologized and went to work cleaning up Senor's boo-boo's.  

I got all this done 1 day before my first 'tenant' was due to arrive from Seattle via Quito!!!   I was bleary-eyed.   She is staying in the place while I'm away for 3 weeks in the US of A and she's taking care of my feline kids.

When I get back, I'll set the apartment up on booking websites complete with photos, full description of all that it includes (ie; microwave, toaster, blender, coffeemaker, washer, dryer, TV, DVR, stereo, etc), booking terms, and payment options.  

Ok, on to the photos.  Some before and afters.

The 'Before'

Piled up everything in the middle of the room to cover with a tarp and ready for paint.

The 'After'

The 2nd bedroom, or office 'Before'

And 'After'

A fold out seat will sleep an extra person in the office

Doors before restaining

After restaining

The laundry porch before

....and after a coat of paint and the new dryer

The overhead of the laundry patio before....

All the stuff they hauled up to install the new laundry patio overhead

They stuck a couple wires into the electrical box to get more power for the welder

My man 'Ricardo' installing aluminum braces for the new glass.  He also made the new kitchen window as well as windows in my 'old' house.

The 'After' shot of the new glass laundry patio overhead.

'Before' shot of the eating area.

'After' shot of the eating area.

Bedroom 'before'

Bedroom 'after'.  Not a whole lot of difference but new paint and blinds.

Rene painting the bathroom.

View out the kitchen window.


  1. I hope you plan on using a picture of the bathroom toilet or maybe the sidewalk outside the building as the "main" photo for any booking websites:)

    Cool to read your news - I must have just started reading your the blog from the beginning the day of your last update. Its a good read, thanks!


  2. Enjoy your trip.

    Charlotte nc

    ps don't forget the Swiffers!

  3. Great blog, Dano!
    Are you from the Seattle area? If so, are you familiar with the area around the airport? I am flying out of Seattle to Quito in Oct. and need a room for 3 people
    and two large dogs the night before departure. I am from Alberta and not familiar with the area. You could e-mail me at labsandlimos@live.ca if you have any suggestions. Thanks.

  4. Hey Dano,

    Timing is everything. Of course we want your place when we arrive the beginning of November. Let us know when you are getting back from Seattle.

  5. Fabulous!!!! As always, you tell an amazing story. Will you be stopping by San Diego while in the US? I'm currently in Denver until the 15th. Ron

  6. Congratulations on your new business venture!

    Would be so grateful if you, please, reply to my comments to your previous post.
    Come to think of it, your favorite painters team and their charges would come handy too, if possible.

    Have fun in the USA!

  7. Those glass laundry patio overhead is new style, I think this is a good idea.

  8. A fold out seat in the office....
    Does that mean this place can fit 5????

  9. You can actually spot the difference between the old and the newly stained door! Is that Dark Walnut or Antique Cherry stain on your new door? Oh, two thumbs up for the top coat, Dano In EC! I can tell because of the glossy effect. It will add protection against things that may scratch the paint off of your door. It would be better, though, if it had a polyurethane top coat for UV protection.

    Marla Hinds


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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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