Yearly Archives: 2012

Renovation vs Hell …..Hmmm, Less of a tough choice by day three.

Chapter 3

Ok I will admit, the thought of starting work on my bathrooms in the ongoing renovation of my home was not an easy one to accept. After the horror stories of the past workers I have had to deal with, starting work on this was’nt one that I jumped at, but alas, Its had to be done.

I followed the advice of my sometimes annoying, sometimes concerning, but full time weird friend Kim. She proposed that I hire her dad as my plumber to do the preliminary stuff. I did, and lemmie just say, he seems to be Kims’ dad for real…… Anyway my new water heater and the pipes it required were installed and the next steps were the stuff that made Chapter One and Two great reading, hopefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the drama that followed the first two days, the third day of work was actually what you would want it to be. The day started early and the tilemen showed up with a much needed bag of cement. The demolition done, it was time for the tile to go up and the reconstruction of the baths to be done. I took pride in seeing the tile that I selected go up and take shape, prior to that, the bath had been the same for so many years that it seemed too difficult to see it in any other design. The work of retiling was done in quick time and the masonry that came with that also called for the work to divert to the installation of two new windows.

Im happy to say that the tile and last bit of plumbing was completed with the expected work, but no more than that. Or so I thought, the last word I got in the plumbing for the toilet brought an interesting situation. Apparently, the waste line that was installed in my bathrooms some 35 years ago was placed into the floor, some 10 inches away from the adjacent wall. Today, most of the toilet sets that are sold on the market are designed for a minimum 12 inch clearance from the wall. This, is no small problem.

The options put to me were to, either to get different sets that were more inline with the older design, or to update the waste line position by breaking ground and moving the line forward. After some thought I decided to go ahead and reposition the line.The logic being if in the future there is a need to replace the toilet set again, there will be more of the updated designs than that of the older ones, and I will just be putting off having to move the line then. So, just do it now.

Im on to installing the final touches like the lighting, mirrors, cupboards and more in the rooms until the lines are moved and the toilets are done. Although sometimes scary and always costly, seeing the changes take shape, is worth it.

The last of this story will be done when the both rooms are completed and the pics of my finished baths will be proudly posted. Till then, this is my saying that you really should get as much advice as you can before you make your first purchase of items for your renovation of any room. This is important as the installation is always going to come with its own challenges and more than likely, the first guy that tells you “Yeah, that go work”, is not the guy you might wanna take advice from!

Golden Key Real Estate Joins the Real Spaces Family!

 

Well known Real Estate Agency Golden Key Real Estate is now a part of the Real Spaces Family. Specializing in affordable and attractive properties , the niche of this agency is in the East of Trinidad.

I met with Adrian De Souza of Golden Key some time ago, at the First Citizens Sponsored Mortgage Promotion held at Trinicity Mall’s Atrium, we exchanged information then. They are an active member of the industry and had been asked by First Citizens to speak at the same event, after my short presentation, describing the Real Spaces program to mall visitors, we spoke about working together. After some time, it’s finally here!The deal was struck at their well appointed offices at Emerald Plaza in St Augustine. The decor was so striking that I thought, I’d love if they would decorate my home office, If i ever get my renovation done!

Golden Key is a great addition to Real Spaces and we are very happy to welcome them on board as a number of our viewers and visitors to this site, are all asking about properties in the East and Central, well within the working range of Golden Key. Look out for more properties in the East and Central area and look out for more listings from the Real Spaces team and our featured agencies.

 

Renovation vs Hell….Hmmm, Tough choice Chap. #2

Chapter 2

So, you know your in renovation mode when the sound of power tools gets you happy and not irritated. This is of course, because that sound means work is progressing fine, a good beginning for the blog today.

 

It’s only the second day of my two bath renovation at my home and it’s starting to take the shape I expected. The workmen were here on time today and lucky so, I had scheduled a meeting with a new real estate agency that wants to come on board the Real Spaces family and didn’t want to miss the time. So,I welcomed the men in and left for the meeting, along the way I though I would  get the supplies needed for today, after the initial demo is done and all the old tile is removed.

Drama #2

The meeting went well and then I was off to hunt for material. This is when the days’ drama started. As is stated by Murphy when he developed his witty “Laws” “What can go wrong will go wrong, at the worst possible time”. Enter a strike at the TCL cement factory causing a nationwide shortage, just when the workmen decide that the job absolutely needs, a bag of cement, not ten, not five, ….one. This I thought, should not be a problem as its just the one bag I needed.  The closest hardware store I could find after my meeting in St Augustine, was in Tunapuna, braving the traffic I got to a hardware along the main road, I think it was a drive by or drive up or some other arbitrary name.

They did actually have the one bag of cement that I needed, only problem was they were not going to sell it to me “unless I buy other things in the hardware”, now I did need some other stuff, I’m sure the workmen needed stuff they forgot to mention till the very last minute, but the thought of being commanded to buy other stuff or not get the cement, was not a cool feeling. So, I called the workmen anyway and sure enough, they needed more stuff, not much tho, two lengths of white pine straight edges for plastering the walls, and a box of concrete nails, two inch, please. To my further surprise, the clerk calmly let me down by saying, “sorry, thats not enough, to sell you the bag of cement” ….really? I decided instead of getting into a buying frenzy to “win” a bag of cement, that I would still have to pay for, I left.

I then did the only thing I could think of, I called to Roopnarine’s where I bought all the tiles and asked for Janelle, a short spritey sales person that helped me along the way in buying all the tiles, grout, thinset, edges, moulding and more when I needed it, maybe she could help me get the one bag of cement?  I got her on the phone, announced it was me, and then immediately promised her lunch if she helped me, …….no cement.

Defeated, the final call went to the workmen, ” Fellas, no cement to be had”, hmmm they thought it over and then suggested, “well the only other thing that can be used was a product from Harricrete called, “Plastermix”. I got all pumped up again, rushed him off the phone and called back Janelle. The offer of lunch still stood, I envisioned the trip to Roopnarine’s in Chaguanas going so well, nice weather, no traffic, …….no plastermix. Dammit!

Then a stroke of genius came over me, grabbing up my trusty BB, I typed in Harricrete, and believe it or not, the number was there on the google search engine thing! I called with a long shot and asked if they sold retail at the factory, “Yes we do, but where are you now” by this time I was approaching Piarco, heading to Baghwansing’s “Oh, she said, well you can come if you’d like” instructions to get to the factory were really easy as its just following the road east of St Helena’s Junction for about ten minutes.

A bit of a country view surrounded me just minutes after the St Helena’s Junction, then two or three turns later in I was turning at the sign that said, Harricrete. Nice.

Pallets of good stuff for all those that need cement for plastering

The security, receptionists, storeroom manager, even the forklift operator who brought the order were all super friendly and helpful, I was in and out of the factory in no more time than I would have been at a large hardware store and the trip did’nt seem to be a bad alternative to buying out a store in Tunapuna just to get a bag of cement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One tip tho, Apparently, the one bag of cement translates to four bags of Plastermix, and at fifty pounds each bag, its seems to be a lot of material for my two modest bathrooms, and at $50 or so for each bag I think its great deal .On my way back out of St Helena’s, I got the other stuff and arrived at the house a hero.

The workmen seemed to have the second bath under control as it apparently had tiles that were less stuck on, the workmen seemed to have found a rhythm and the work was moving at a pace.

Poor guy had to cool his hands off, drill was too hot to handle.

At least a half inch of plastering between the tile and the wall, is that normal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the time of writing this I still have a way to go till the end of work today, but supplies crisis averted and work moving along, at least the second day of demo is going a little better than the first, now if only I could get a handle on the dust problem!

Look out for chapter 3 on this continuing saga!

 

Renovation vs Hell….Hmmm, Tough choice Chap. #1

Chapter one. Demo Day 

As both a home owner and a blogger on this site, I hold the unique position of being able to write about the benefits of particular designs and styles over another; while at the same time mull over its cost to install and the durability of the selection (how long the installed item will last till it needs to be repaired or replaced).

What we as young homeowners were never told tho, was to consider the hassle of having the work done in the first place. Now don’t get me wrong, It’s not like I expect to have the work done without, …….well, having the work done. I appreciate that the install in some cases will also include the demo of the existing work in place. But you see, these are just words to some of us, “demo” “remodel” and the classic Trini renovator phrase “Change up”.

The fact is, a major part of the renovation includes the effective removal, or “demo” of the existing work. This can be a simple cabinet that’s bolted to a wall in a bedoom that’s been there since your grandmother moved in, or it can be a lot more. Case in point….

I’ve been working on my own home renovation for sometime now and have finally gotten to the two bathrooms of my modest home. Both shared baths, (No en suite at my place) the decision had to be made to do them both at the same time and loose use of the rooms altogether for a few days, or go one by one and juggle the schedule of the workmen till it’s completed. well, after waiting this long to get to the bathrooms, I decided to go all out and have them both competed together.

Drama #1

Getting the material was a somewhat relaxing experience, partly because Real Spaces takes me into a lot of home stores across T&T, but also partly because I’m not really fussy, and selecting the tile to replace the old one in my 35 year old baths, was as easy as pointing to the one that looks reasonably priced and of a comfortable quality and design. Can I also add that the two baths are going to be tiled in the same pattern and trim, just because I really don’t want to be fussy.

Wall tile to be used, 6 cases of 10x 13.

 

Thinking that the tricky part was over, I consulted with the tileman and a date was set for the “demo” stage of the work. “No, problem” he said; “We will strip off all the old tile in a day and take two days after to tile up the both rooms.” Two days and the major work is over? Then it’s just the basic plumbing, to change the single sink into a double, and change the toilet, then we’re done!

Wall moulding, to be placed at eye height to break up the monotony of the tile pattern.

Little did I know that the devil lives in the details of renovation too! The day has arrived and the tilemen arrive for work, a little late, but hey, It’s Trinidad! Gear in hand, BOSCH Drill with all the tips and everything. After a short breakfast break, they pull their masks on and get to work. Within minutes the first sign of the unforeseen appears. Apparently the tile is stuck on with more than a few milimeters of thin set. This is a 35 year old home, and the tile has been along for the ride every day of those years. So, the men surmise, the tile would have been installed with cement and not thinset all those years ago, by the industrious lads that built the place.

The look of 35 year old cement laid tiles being removed, not a pretty sight.

 

Unlike today, where everything is designed to fail in 5 years to 10 years, (cus your gonna wanna re-decorate anyway) the tile was designed to stay on till the end of the Mya Calendar. Tho given when I’m actually writing this blog, it just might have! Sooo, I’m hours into my “demo” phase, and already cringing in fear of delays in the project because of the unforeseen circumstances, not to mention, that the house will be without a “throne” for the duration of the demo and retile work….Great!

As I type, the guys are on their third or fourth break between exclamations of how this is the hardest tile removal they have ever done, sounds like they’re gearing up for a price increase to me. But, that’s to be revealed in the later chapters of this exciting, no -washroom period of my life. I hope my brother’s offer of crashing at his place still stands.

This is just chapter one on this saga and i’ve been taking pics along the way for your entertainment / edification. As its going, we will all be having an interesting read at the end of this multipart blog.

End of Renovation vs. Hell, Chapter one. Demo Day

 

 

 

 

Current CNC3 Season Ends, More filming in the works!

As you may know (or maybe not), the current season of our beloved series has come to an end on CNC3…… for now. The past ten weeks have been great, and, I met a lot of interesting people and filmed a lot of great properties along the way. The season was great for more than those reasons too, a new station was used for the series, now in its third year, and we attracted a lot of new viewers. We also launched our Real Spaces Financing Program, this is kinda a big deal for me as I’ve been working on this project for some time and having stores elect to have the program included into their in-store marketing was a big step in making the Real Spaces name, more than just a television series.

Over the years, the series has actually helped a lot of persons in the various areas that it was designed to. Each week, we get emails and phone calls enquiring about properties featured on the series, and even more about those that are found my internet browsers, looking for information on properties to make their new home, or as we say, “their next Real Space”.

This is a personal growth experience for me as well. As the producer of the series I faced many challenges in getting this show to air, and in all, as much as four or five years have gone into this project in one way or another. Good thing tho, I think the time spent making the Real Spaces idea into a real working platform for sales and marketing of local real estate has been to the benefit of all who may have browsed the site, watched the series, followed up with a call to the mortgage officers or real estate agents, or had their properties filmed and featured.

Not least of all, me, I have certainly benefited from the experience of making the series a continued success at the end of this, its fourth season (some years have had two seasons). I’ve learned about the demand for properties in Trinidad and Tobago and the price range and locations most targeted etc. etc. (trade secret BTW) but what I think i learned the most, was how many people through their conversations with me during their queries about properties, have expressed their dream of home ownership.

In case you didn’t know, a lot of Trinibagonians are seeking their slice of our version of the dream. The dream of homeownership……… some may have not have ventured the thought, but having the system in place to have a viewer call and be put in direct contact with an actual mortgage specialist is a step that many have never even thought would happen. This for me, is one of the best parts of this project. I think if many years from now the series ends (hopefully many many years from now) and we had assisted in placing families into homes across T&T, even in our little, way it would have been worth it.

Until the next season begins, or the next incarnation of the Real Spaces brand appears, Thanks for browsing, reading, watching, using and hopefully liking, Real Spaces.

 

 

 

Print version of T&T’s Real Estate Television Series on its way?

Talks are currently being held to develop a print version of the popular Real Spaces television series for Trinidad and Tobago distribution. This full color publication will be targeting the daily newspaper distribution for national reach and once approved, will include more tips from suppliers, properties from agents, and financing facts for our viewers-cum-readers.

The proposed quarterly publication should be a reality soon and if so will for the first time, include giveaways and other competition based content that have previously not appeared on the Real Spaces series.

The Real Spaces brand is also working on further development of the interviews segment for home owners or other design enthusiasts, that are seeking a mix of hard to find facts and everyday tips in the design of their real space.

Real Spaces to consider requests to shoot Tobago and Barbados Properties

Now into our fourth season, Real Spaces is being asked to start featuring properties in Tobago and other caribbean islands as well. These can include Grenada and Barbados for our international viewers and website visitors. This is great news that the interaction on the site is working to the point that the type of properties will be determined, at least in some part, by the viewership.

The logistics are currently being sorted out and hopefully soon we will be adding properties to the line up from different caribbean destinations. Rentals, sales, and maybe even tourist accommodation.

Stay tuned for the official update.

Real Spaces on location at D Rite Stuff

Recently, Our main Sponsors First Citizens approached us to produce a segment on their new Pre-Approval Mortgage Certificate. Normally, we try to make these segments both informative while offering some imagery or location that is in keeping with the them of the series. As our customers tend to be renters seeking homes for sale, or new homeowners seeking decoration tips on this new place, this imagery can sometimes be in the direction of decor, construction or renovation themes. So, for this tip we turned to our friends at D Rite Stuff.

With branches in West Mall, Ellerslie Mall, Grand Bazzar and Long Circular Mall, D Rite Stuff is known in the West and upper Port of Spain as “The Brand” in home supplies. However, according to store manager, Bryan, “We are trying to gain some visibility with customers in the East, Central and other parts of the Country and not just for those customers that hail from the North- West”.

No suprise then that we were given a warm welcome to the LCM branch one evening after closing, to shoot our brand new tip with our favorite rep of FC, Pasea of their Movietowne branch. Like any true star, Pasea just needs one name.

The shoot was great and the tip was well worth pulling out all the gear it takes to shoot on location! (which can be a lot) Now, customers of FC can be Pre approved for their mortgage loan and take an actual certificate to the agents, showing that they are indeed approved for the property range they are shopping in. A great way to get the ball rolling much faster as an individual on a house shopping exercise.

Great job to Pasea and her husband that is always quietly present and supporting her on all video shoots, not to mention to Bryan and his sister, who were more than happy to help out!

Real Spaces saying thanks guys for another great shoot!


 

 

 

Beta Homes kicks off the new Real Spaces Financing Program

The Real Spaces financing program is finally here! in the works for the past year, the structure of the financing program will allow qualified customers, the ability to have their larger purchases financed by First Citizens. Deployed at strategic partners, the Real Spaces Financing Program will begin with our first partner, Beta Homes, located on French St. Woodbrook Port of Spain.

Specializing in cabinets, entry and interior door fabrication and design, countertops and fixtures for bedroom and bathrooms and more, the retail partner is a great location to access our financing program for make overs or renovations to your home or other personal spaces.

Look out for many more additions as we continue to roll out this program across Trinidad and Tobago and turn our viewers into satisfied customers on our Real Spaces Financing Program.