Extreme Makeover, Tucson Edition


    Carol’s daughter Missy had moved to Tucson in 2002. Since then, Carol had been going out there for anywhere from 2-4 weeks in February and/or March, to escape Cleveland’s winter weather.  In 2008, a small condo came on the market, and Missy sent us some photos of it.  The owner, Santo, slept under a canopy of army mosquito netting (!@#*!?!), and the rest of the unit was nothing but an accumulation of clutter....which he was leaving, so “that the buyer could just move in; it would be already furnished.”  Wow, yeah, that really attracted ME - gag me with a spoon.  Well, a year later, his health had declined substantially and his children insisted on him moving closer to them........so the price came down, almost in half.  So I agreed that it seemed like a no-brainer to buy it, for Carol to stay in when he goes out there.

     Missy and her mother spent numerous weekends and evenings cleaning the unit, washing and re-washing dishes and linens, appliances, windows, etc.  The carpet was also ripped out.  They threw out more than 20 large plastic bags of trash.  Santo was a packrat, and despite owning a plethora of cleaning supplies, had never used a one of them.  The photos above and below give you a general feel for what we walked into when we went out to work on it in December 2009.


Oh, yeah, this really looks like a place I’d like to vacation at......

He had that crazy lamp secured to the wall, since there is no ceiling light in the living room area.

Lovely kitchen floor, eh?

Leftover kitchen supplies that Missy and her mom didn’t think we’d need/want.

A dolly, two step ladders, three fire extinguishers, along with some of all the other junk that Santo hung onto.

Do you know anyone else who props up their toilet with pieces of wood?

Santo built shelves EVERYwhere; I guess he also feared running out of toilet paper.

He had turned the efficiency bedroom into his own private toolroom/hardware store.  He had as many as eight of the same tool; must have forgotten he had it, and so he bought another one.  He even had a machete, a gun, and bullets.

A very dated kitchen, that needed its Britta water filter removed, along with new water lines and a faucet.  Thank you, Rick.

On the left is the wallpaper border that I really wanted, but Carol disagreed.  We ended up with the one above.

After getting the walls and baseboards painted, we started stripping the floor of the carpet glue, and filling in the holes in the cement from the carpet nails.

Notice the difference between the filthy and the clean louvered panels?

One day’s work of Pat laying the tile.

Um, don’t we have to sleep here tonight?

Other half gets done the next day, and then rent the 100-lb. roller to seal the tiles down.

Yes, this really IS the same room......thank you, Habitat for Humanity, for teaching Pat how to lay tile, among many other skills.

So, we had squeezed in 10 days of work in December 2009, and other 8 days in February 2010 for Pat to return to tile the kitchen and the “tool room”.  Carol went in February also, but stayed until April 6, and completed some minor “finish work.”

Soooooooooo .....  first, the linoleum must be scraped off the concrete floor.

There IS a product designed to chemically dissolve the glue used with carpets and flooring.  But it needs 30 minutes to work and it stinks to high heaven and it instantly burns your skin if it splashes on you.  As the days progressed, with the combination of that stripper and mineral spirits, Pat was able to actually pull apart the linoleum from its glue layer, and the mineral spirits (non-smelling) dissolved the thin layer of glue in no time.  But it still took a good 2 & 1/2 days to strip the floor.    Enjoy the short movie below to see the finished product.

The kitchen counter/table had some stains that were permanent.  Amazing what a difference some sticky contact shelf paper can achieve.

While Pat was laboring away in the kitchen, Carol was painstaking pulling off all the wood planks and hanging devices that Santo had installed on the little bedroom wall. Then he painted the entire room the same color as the living room; we bought and assembled a white storage unit, so the tools that we did keep are behind doors and out of sight.  Yeah!

Pat also painted the bathroom walls, put up wallpaper border, painted the cupboards, covered the doors with contact paper, put on new door handles, and made a curtain to hide that open middle section.

We’re pretty pleased with our results.