The Budget for Emily & Aaron's Condo Renovation

The Budget for Emily & Aaron's Condo Renovation

Renovation Diary
Oct 17, 2014
(Image credit: Emily and Aaron)
(Image credit: number)

Name: Aaron and Emily Choi
Type of Project: Full remodel, including the kitchen and two bathrooms
Location: La Jolla, California
Type of building: Condo; 1300 square feet

The Renovation Diaries are a collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

How much does it cost to turn a 1970s nightmare into the home of your dreams? We've been introduced to Emily and Aaron's condo project, and yesterday we took a look at their inspiration for the finished space. Today, we've diving into the budget.

From Emily:

We know we need to break down the work in order to keep the cost down, but we also know that we don't have the talent when it comes to building with our hands. If I had a picture of the "book shelf" we built together from scratch, you would totally understand why we stay away from diy renovation. Luckily, Aaron is in the agricultural business and has people on payroll that can do electrical, plumbing and construction work. While they may be able to do all the work, we also can't afford for them to neglect their own responsibilities at the farm, so we decided to have them do all the initial rough work and bring in a general contractor to do most of the finished work.

We plan to have Aaron's employees do the following:

  • Demolition
  • Structural work for the stairwell, which includes shoring the ceiling joists, cutting back a structural beam, and restructuring the opening for the stairwell
  • Plumbing
  • Build in a new exhaust in the kitchen that vents into the garage
  • Remove popcorn ceiling
  • Electrical

I plan to do all the design, sourcing of material and structural engineering through my own freelancing studio, ECC Studio.

We have found a subcontractor and fabricator for the following:

  • California Flooring and Design: They not only gave us a great deal on solid wood flooring but gave us an excellent deal in installation.
  • Rainbow Stone: We got all our prefabricated cabinets from them. I would say their prices are comparable to IKEA, but the cabinets are made with plywood and solid maple.
  • Alex Deutschman: He is building a number of furniture pieces to fit the nooks and crannies of this home. He's very affordable and so easy to work with.

Our general contractor is Jorge Parra-Loli from Tierra Nexus Construction. They are doing majority of the work. Starting in the kitchen they are doing the following:

  • drywall, texture, paint
  • assembling and installing cabinets
  • all other appliance installation
  • backsplash
  • carpentry work to accommodate our existing conditions, including building a customized wine rack

In the 2.5 bathrooms they are doing the following:

  • drywall, texture, paint
  • tile work
  • converting one of the bathtubs to a tile shower
  • repainting the vanity

In the rest of the condo they are doing the following:

  • drywall, texture, paint
  • stair railing
  • fireplace tile and wood frame
  • install new closet doors
  • baseboards

Budget Specifics:


    Kitchen cabinet labor: $2500
    Kitchen Tile labor: $280
    Countertop labor (2 bathrooms and kitchen): $3471
    Electric/Plumbing: $900
    Re-finish Vanities in bathroom: $900
    Fireplace: $600
    Tile Labor (bathroom and fireplace): $3030
    Reinstall new folding closet doors labor/materials (two rooms): $850
    Custom master shower labor: $3900
    Hand rail labor: $2500
    Misc woodwork for floor and doorway: $500
    Drywall and painting: $4380
    Baseboard labor/material: $2100
    Total: $25,991


    Samsung refrigerator from Home Depot: $1,600
    GE electric cook top from Pacific Sales: $900
    Frigidair electric single wall oven from Amazon: $1,279.99
    Z line stainless steel wall mount range hood from Amazon: $319.95
    Amana dishwasher from Pacific Sales: $300
    Samsung washer & dryer from Home Depot: $1,000
    Total: $5,399.94


    Franke farm house sink from Home Perfect: $700
    Danze Pull Down Kitchen Faucet from Home Perfect: $248.99
    DECOLAV undermount bathroom sink (2) from Home Depot: $59.99 x 2 = $119.98
    Ikea ODENSVIK bathroom sink: $120
    Glacier Bay Toilet (3) from Home Depot: $98 x 3 = $294
    Peerless apex two handle bathroom faucets from Amazon: $117.10 x 2 = $234.2
    Delta shower faucet from Home Depot: $187.65
    Total: $1,904.82


    Rainbow Stone white shaker kitchen cabinet: $4,000
    Restoration Hardware gilmore drawer pulls: $300
    Caesar Stone quartz countertop (3 slabs of frosty carrina): $3,579
    Ikea HEMNES vanity: $140
    Total: $8,019


    African walnut solid wood flooring (floor and stair nosing) : $5800


    Arto Conch tile: $1,093.27
    White subway tile (shower and backsplash)from Lowes: $300
    Marble tile (fireplace) from Lowes: $100
    Total: $1,493.27


    Customized desk, deck furniture/planter, dresser, cat litter bench, mirror frame: $2,650
    Power room vanity light from WestElm: $70
    Master bath vanity light: $130
    Recessed LED lights: $1,000
    Pendant lights: $338
    Stairwell light: $120
    Desk light: $120
    Total: $4,428

Total Budget:


Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week as Emily and Aaron's renovation gets underway.

(Images and diary text: Emily and Aaron Choi)

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