TDH Updates: May 2015 – City Apartment Renovation

We’ve gotten a lot of messages from people interested in our adventure of buying and renovating The Damyang House over the last year or two, so thought our latest renovation project might be of some interest as well.  This time we were looking for an apartment in the city; a task and project that was considerably easier and cheaper (and not nearly as dramatic), but not without its headaches!

By most accounts our approach to Korean real estate is completely backwards.  While most compete to bid on the newest move-in-ready developments in desirable neighborhoods, we have spent our time doing the exact opposite.  This approach could be due to years of watching HGTV, but is more realistically a result of financial necessity;  Korean real estate is crazy expensive.  The aforementioned “dream apartment” goes for almost 400 million (in Gwangju at least)…we ended up with a house in the countryside and a nice city apartment for substantially less than that.  Sure sacrifices were made (apartment location is great, but neighborhood lacks), but overall we’re pretty happy with the result.

The 32 pyeong(1200 sq ft)/3 bedroom apartment we settled on is in a complex that was “the shit” back in the day, or so I’m told.  Today it’s a bit rundown and filled mostly with an older generation that couldn’t care less about moving to a trendy neighborhood or the working class who can’t afford to.

The selling points for me were simple.  First, the location.  Geographically we’re in a good location and getting anywhere is quick and easy.  The main bus terminal is a five minute walk, both jobs are a ten minute drive, downtown is a few kilometers away and the expressway to the house is close by.  Second, the view.  Simply put it’s a fantastic view.  We looked at a couple dozen apartments before stamping papers on this one and I can assure you having any sort of view other than another building or a parking-lot is a luxury.

Renovations only took a few weeks and included new floors, mouldings, wallpaper, lighting, doors, custom kitchen and bathroom, some new windows and just about everything else you would expect in a top-to-bottom renovation.   Here are a few before and after photos of the main rooms.

Living Room:  Pretty straight forward.  New floors, wallpaper and most importantly: new lighting!  The utility space at the front of the room had already been reclaimed and renovated by the previous owner so that saved us a bit of money.

BEFORE

 

DURING

AFTER


Kitchen:  Plans A, B and C were all aborted for one reason or another.  Mostly because of strict rules regarding cutting any of the walls.  Even widening the main entryway was denied.  The utility space in the rear of the kitchen was reclaimed and made more of a usable space.  We had to replace the windows, and raise the floor about six inches so it was all much more complicated than it looks.  Sort of a funky layout for a kitchen, but it’s the only option we had left!

BEFORE

The utility space

DURING

AFTER

Bathroom:  What a nightmare this space was.  I wish I had better photos so you could see how low the ceiling was.  It was a very cave-like bathroom.  We had to raise the ceiling and replace everything in here.  The goal was to make it brighter and a bit less scary.

BEFORE

DURING

AFTER

Master Bedroom:  Old Korean apartments have utility space between every room and the outside windows.  Additionally, the inside windows are often frosted.  Design-wise it’s a bizarre setup, but probably made sense from a heating standpoint as old apartment windows aren’t very efficient!  We opted to take out the inside windows, reclaim the utility space and essentially bring the outside windows into the bedroom.  Our contractor already thinks I’m insane so he didn’t even flinch at this request (but did tell us a million times how cold we would be….he was wrong.  Our apartment has the old boiler system which cannot be adjusted so it’s constantly too hot, even in the winter).  We again had to raise the floors in the utility space to make it flush with the floors in the living room and bedroom.

BEFORE

DURING

AFTER

14 Replies to “TDH Updates: May 2015 – City Apartment Renovation”

  1. Hi Stevie, I'm not comfortable posting what we paid for the apartment, but will say the renovations we under 10 million for everything (including some of the appliances and custom curtains, but not the furniture). Feel free to PM me if you want more details~

  2. Thanks Homes!! There s not much information out there about this topic so we re happy to help. Let me know if you have any specific questions!

  3. Builders and renovators matters a lot in setting the proper structure and layout of the building. This is an appreciable task. Getting a dream home is the utmost longing that everyone has. For those who wants to enjoy the fun of hill station can go for apartments in Himachal.

  4. Hey thanks! I think apartment renovations like this are fairly straightforward for most contractors. Certainly a lot easier than renovating a house! We saved a load of money because the previous owner had already replaced a lot of the windows…that brought the budget down considerably. But yeah, for 10 grand we have no regrets.

  5. Every apartment in Korea requires you to pay a management fee, which is used to maintain the apartment complex. Our complex is being repainted this month after about 10 years of neglect lol.

  6. It looks like a perfectly lovely living space and I love what you guys have done with the kitchen storage cabinets. That new coat of paint definitely made the whole room feel a lot more modern!

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