It’s Been an Age

(Post 107 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. As I mentioned in the post announcing Bast’s passing from COVID, I thank everyone for your generous donations to the original Fundrazr campaign, which resulted in sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not commit to more. The link above is to a new campaign to help Bast’s family.)

Monday is going to be a big day: the demo is going to start on the room that is going to be my new home office! I cannot believe how fast this moved and that the reno will probably be done before my new custom chair arrives!

I could not find a contractor to show up for an appointment to give me a quote and was getting quite disheartened. I then remembered that the excellent contractor who did roof work last summer does “everything.” I dug deep in my contacts, found his number, and next thing I knew, he was at the house explaining how we were going to realise my vision! He really seemed like exactly what I was looking for — someone who understands that I do have exacting standards (especially for electricity) but that I want to build according to local standards using readily available non-luxury materials. He thinks he can get it done for around 50,000 pesos (about 2.5K USD) all-in, and that includes a full bathroom! And a lot of that is within my power to control as he sent me out to buy the big-ticket items, like an inverter minisplit, floor tile, paint, bathroom fixtures, etc.

He was here sometime last week (Wednesday, I think, the days are blurring together) and I didn’t have time until today to physically get out to a shop and start working on my list. I came to the realisation on Monday night, after literally completing a 48-hour workweek in three days, that unless I learn to say no, I’m going to be working stupid hours indefinitely because there’s just that much work out there. I couldn’t figure out why I never seemed to have so much as 30 minutes to pop out to Walmart — it’s because I have never in the last 10 years worked the kind of hours that I am working now. Yes, it’s great that I’m basically printing money, but I have to take care of myself too. My main client is going on vacation for two weeks (amazing timing with the renovation) and I’m going to take a reduced schedule from clients during that time and try to get back into a more sensible routine.

At any rate, today was paint ordering day, which I decided to do at my neighbourhood Comex store. Since I was going that way, I did something I haven’t done in over a year and a half — I had breakfast at the food court at the Chuburná market! This was my first time eating at a restaurant (well, technically speaking) since March 18th of 2020! I’d been craving salbutes de pavo for ages and they taste best eaten fresh on site, so I knew they would be my first restaurant meal since the pandemic started. Of course, I paired them with a cold watermelon water. And I rather shocked myself by how much habanero sauce I was adding to them, way more than the few drops I used to add. I eat the local habanero sauce nearly daily now and even pair it with other chiles.

Next stop was the Comex store, which was an interesting experience. The store faces busy Calle 21, with buses zipping by, and you have to do your business at a counter and also with a guy yelling at you from the back of the store! I don’t hear well in loud echoey places, regardless of the language spoken, so I’m pleased everything got done efficiently!

I started by ordering a litre each of the two pinks for the exterior as I have a couple of touchups to do already (because of some work done by my ISP).

Next up was a couple of gallons of white. I have almost decided to have my bedroom floor redone and to have the room professionally painted. So I decided to get the materials for that also and talk to my contractor on Monday about extending the scope — pretty sure he can do all that for around 8,000 pesos more. This would just leave blinds to be added to turn my bedroom into the nighttime sanctuary I badly need. So I made sure to get enough white for both projects. I had calculated 2 gallons based on the square footage and my math was bang on with the professional’s! I was talked into using the same paint as was put on the exterior of the house as it’s good for both applications, so I can use the same white bedroom ceiling paint to do the top of the walls in the bathroom.

Then, I needed the two colours for my office and the colour for my bedroom. I was not offered nearly as many colour choices as I was when I was picking out the house exterior colors. But the turquoise and orange (bottom left) were exactly perfect. I was actually really surprised. It was such a relief not to have to look at a whole bunch of different ones and instead just go, yep, that’s right.

The purple (bottom right) looks pretty good in the photo, but I think it’s going to be a little bit lighter than what I was hoping for. I might regret that one. If I don’t like it, then I might just go back to the store and pick out something different in a darker colour and use this purple for my play room. But I will see once it gets on the wall, especially once I have darker floors.

I could not believe how inexpensive the paint was. It’s under 500 pesos per gallon! And I know it’s good quality paint.

Tomorrow, I’m going to pick out tile and an AC. My contractor told me to go with an inverter minisplit, which is about double the price of a conventional minisplit like I currently have in my bedroom. When I read a list of comparisons between the two, I was further convinced I’m in good hands with him. The advantages of the inverter minisplit is my list of concerns about working in a room with AC, including that it is less noisy and expensive to run than a conventional model.

After that, I still have bathroom fixtures and a ceiling fan to pick out. I’ve been doing a lot of online shopping this week and came to the realisation that the house of my dreams is out of my grasp here. There’s just not the choice for fixtures the way that you have NOB. Sure, I could get what I want on, say, Amazon or through custom ordering at luxury stores, but if I’m missing a part, I’m not going to find anything that matches here. So it’s both disappointing and freeing to make the decision to go with standard local materials. I just wish that “modern” wasn’t so popular here and that I could find some options that are closer to “rustic” or “vintage.” The flooring places I’m going to also sell fixtures and are near stores that only sell fixtures, so I’m hoping that in-person shopping will be more rewarding than online shopping was.

I think I have my bathroom tile picked out — just need to see it in person. I’m a little less picky for the office (and possibly bedroom) floors — as long as I get a wood look at a good price, that’ll be just fine. I would ideally like the same floor throughout the whole house, so I will try to get something that is fairly standard and that I’d have a good chance of finding again in a year, but if I can’t, I’m okay with that.

My contractor is taking care of a few things. The two doors will be custom-made. He’s putting a glass block where the current skylight is, rather than a skylight. He was the third person who told me to explore that option, so I know it’s the right one. It’s apparently a “for life” solution, compared to my having to replace a skylight every few years. Finally, the desk! Oh my goodness did I feel heard on the desk when he sent me this example of what he has in mind using local stone.

A friend warned me that this stone is very soft and stains, so I know not to consider it for the kitchen, but it’ll be just fine for a desk. I hope we can go with that colour — it’ll look stellar with the orange and the turquoise! I still have to sort out where I’m going to want holes for cables and also what I’m doing for a monitor stand (ie. if that’ll require more holes as well).

I’ll confess I’ve got too much going on and am feeling overwhelmed by how fast this project is moving forward. I thought I’d have a few months to do my shopping and detail refinement, not a week and a half! I’m trying to get in everything that needs to be delivered and then will probably take my contractor up on his offer to go shopping with me to make sure that the bathroom fixtures I pick out will fit in the existing spaces. The goal with the bathroom is to just replace like with like and not to have to redo any plumbing.

It’s going to be so amazing to have the office done and also to have one fresh, clean bathroom. It seems almost silly to give the master bedroom a refresh without doing the bathroom too, but I have more ambitious plans for the master bathroom (ie. girl needs a tub) so I’d rather wait and do it right. I knew that if I did not start with that forgotten little bathroom I’ve never used, it would never get done, especially since I would not want to have my new office disturbed, so it makes sense to start with that one.

You might want to bookmark my Instagram profile, as I’ll be updating from there while the renos are going on. I’ll eventually end up here with a before and after post, but if you can’t wait, Instagram is the place be. 🙂