Condo Renovation Gotchas

Discussion in 'General Home Improvement Discussion' started by johnnymnemonic, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. Oct 31, 2011 #1

    johnnymnemonic

    johnnymnemonic

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    Hey all,

    We hired a contractor to renovate our condo here in South Westchester NY. We're pretty much gutting the place to get rid of floors and lead paint in the apartment.

    We try to learn as much as possible to avoid surprises, but we feel that no matter how much we read there's always more and more coming up that we haven't understood. What are some of the gotchas that you would point out?

    We asked our contractor repeatedly to clean as well as possible because of lead paint and because we have a small baby. Today, we visited the apartment - partial new subfloor is there, with some insulation stuck in. Dust and small stones are still there between the studs in the exposed areas. Isn't cleaning supposed to be done by now? Can air drafts later bring that dust into the apartment? I know the contractor plans to properly seal, but what if I later have a leak and the person I hire doesn't seal back properly? Surely if I'm asking my contractor to clean as much as possible they should do so and not count on proper sealing. I can reach out and remove those pebbles and dust, so I don't think it's too hard for the contractor to do so - what do you think?

    How can I tell if the insulation is sufficient enough, or if it's good quality? I feel like I'd have to work in the field for a decade before I can figure it out.

    Some of the brick walls are not currently sealed (they were plastered over). The contractor mentioned that they will put insulation on the brick walls which will act as a sealant. But I thought insulation doesn't glue to the wall, which could cause the brick to erode and invite insects.

    What plumbing and electrical gotchas do you foresee? I know of one - plastic drain pipe, versus copper - I intend to ask the plumber to use a copper one and incur the extra cost.

    Finally, among our lingering questions, is what underlayment should be used.

    Short of buying the materials myself (leaving the contractor to manage his team and use them), what can I do to ensure a good end product?

    Thanks, and sorry for the questions going all over the place.
     
  2. Oct 31, 2011 #2

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

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    If you could post some pics it would help greatly.
     
  3. Oct 31, 2011 #3

    johnnymnemonic

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    Hey old dog,

    I attached a few pics. Some are a few days old, the ones with the insulation were taken yesterday.

    Limit of 5; posting more later.

    Before condo (3).jpg

    Before condo (4).jpg

    Before condo (5).jpg

    Before condo (7).jpg

    Before condo (13).jpg
     
  4. Oct 31, 2011 #4

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    That clean-up you are talking about is done when the plumbers and electricians are done and it is time for insulation, you could ask if you could inspect it at that time.
     
  5. Oct 31, 2011 #5

    johnnymnemonic

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    More pictures.

    Before condo (15).jpg

    Before condo (19).jpg

    Before condo (23).jpg

    Before condo (25).jpg

    Before condo (27).jpg
     
  6. Oct 31, 2011 #6

    johnnymnemonic

    johnnymnemonic

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    Even more pics.

    Oct 30 (3).jpg

    Oct 30 (17).jpg

    Oct 30 (18).jpg
     
  7. Oct 31, 2011 #7

    johnnymnemonic

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    But that's the thing nealtw, our contractor already put 2/3 of the subfloors and insulation, and there seems to still be pebbles and stuff underneath.
     
  8. Oct 31, 2011 #8

    johnnymnemonic

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    More pictures.

    Oct 30 (15).jpg

    Oct 30 (3).jpg

    Oct 30 (19).jpg

    Oct 30 (18).jpg

    Oct 30 (16).jpg
     
  9. Oct 31, 2011 #9

    johnnymnemonic

    johnnymnemonic

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    More pics.

    Condo before (10).jpg

    Condo before (8).jpg

    Condo before (7).jpg

    Condo before (6).jpg

    Condo before (5).jpg
     
  10. Oct 31, 2011 #10

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    I think your over thinking this dust thing. Once it is sealed it will not move, evan if you poke a hole later there would be no reason for dust to move around. Your best bet for insulation is to build a wall 1'' away from the brick and use bat insulation but that will cost more and use 5 or 7 inches. We don't see brick here so I don't know about dammage
    caused.
     
  11. Oct 31, 2011 #11

    joecaption

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    I've never seen or heard of sealing a brick wall on the inside, no good reason to do so.
    I agree with the dust thing, he should at least shop vac the bottoms of the stud bays when the wirings done to make it look better but behond that it will do no other good.
    If he's putting in Fiberglass insulation batts then there is no "bad" insulation as long as he's not trying to suff in more then the bay will hold and compressing it.
    Any time I have a customer that does not trust me and just let me do my job quaility suffers.
    Is he licenced to do lead paint abatment? It now requires a special licence.
    He should be using Hepa filters on his vacuums.
     
  12. Nov 1, 2011 #12

    joecaption

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    Going with copper plumbing will gain you nothing and cost about 3 or 4 times as much in labor and materials. Most new homes are now plumbed with Pex tubing, fast to install, fewer joints (less chance for leaks) it expands instead of burting when it freezes.
    It will cut the labor cost at least 50%.
    Pex is not a "new thing" it's been out for many years with no problums. And no it's not the same thing as Quest. Completly differant product and materal.
     
  13. Nov 14, 2011 #13

    johnnymnemonic

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    Thanks Joe and sorry for the delayed response. I thought I'd get notified of each new post to my threads, but that is not the case.

    Yes, the contractor is licensed to do lead paint abatement.
    I don't know if he's using HEPA filters on his vacuums, and if I ask, won't I be the customer who doesn't trust him?

    Copper vs PEX plumbing - apparently, the building department explicitly forbids the use of PEX tubing so the plumber went with copper.
     
  14. Nov 14, 2011 #14

    johnnymnemonic

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    About the dust, I just stumbled upon one of my older pictures, one I took underneath partially mounted sheetrock. It shows a dead rat.

    Way back, without having seen this dead rat, I had asked the contractor to clean these areas. The contractor had said that this debris lies on the ceiling of the unit below, hence it's not for him to clean. Does this look right?

    Nov 13, 2011 (1).jpg

    Nov 13, 2011 (2).jpg

    Nov 13, 2011 (3).jpg
     

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