January 3, 2020
A former client was planning to move out of her house in Orlando and into a nearby condo. The entire space needed a serious renovation, which included four bathrooms, a kitchen and all of the flooring. Because so much square footage of the condo would be under construction (95 percent), designer Chris Druschel of S&W Kitchens had to overcome multiple permitting hurdles in this Level 1 project.
“We had one month to design/select/and price this entire project, which required a whole different set of guidelines,” he explained. “For example, I had to show an emergency escape plan for the condo, which is unusual for our process, where I drew arrows from each room that led to the exit, and all doorways needed a minimum of a 32-in. opening.”
Challenge 1: Location, Location, Location
The client’s home is on the fourth floor of a residential condo building, which Druschel said was the main cause for complications and added about 20 percent extra to the design team’s anticipated schedule. A lot of condo buildings have a special service elevator for transporting trash, etc., up and down, but this one did not.
“Because the elevator is shared with tenants, we were only allowed to bring one garbage can of debris down each ride,” said the designer. “Once at bottom, it was a 1,000-ft. trek to the closest truck of ours to unload/dump.”
Druschel’s solution to this challenge was what he calls a steady stream of constant people power bringing down some 29 tons of trash from the demolition nonstop.
“This process took just as long as applying the special finishes throughout the condo,” he added, and explained that because of his company’s years of experience, the design team was able to project these delays ahead of time.
Challenge 2: Reducing Noise
With condo bylaws, sometimes the hardest obstacle can be having to work specific hours and only parking in certain spots. With this project, the biggest hurdle was the short time frame the team was given to remove the flooring because of the noise disturbance it would cause for the homeowners below.
“The condo association only allowed us five business days to remove 3,000 square feet of mud-set travertine and glued hard wood,” said Druschel. “We rented a floor-removing Zamboni-style machine with a scraping shovel to make sure we hit the deadline, which we barely achieved.”
The association was not planning to allow the team any leverage on the five days, so this was another all-hands-on-deck charge, and it proved successful – even though the Terminator floor-removal machine barely made the weight restriction on the elevator. Also because of the noise their work would cause, some of the tradespeople had to do things like cut cabinets at their own homes instead of inside the condo or on the balcony.
Challenge 3: Master Bath Obstacles
The team discovered that there were two large plumbing stacks that could not be removed in the master bath after the designs had already been drawn up.
“We had to re-design on the fly and come up with a new layout that accommodated the stacks,” Druschel explained. “The placement of the freestanding tub was a huge factor, and we had to find a new location for it three weeks into the project.”
The designer came up with a solution of relocating the tub to a different wall and placing it on a platform to accommodate the plumbing since they could not drill into the concrete below. He also had to build a plumbing chase for the new tub location, and then everything else was reconfigured.
In the former master bath, there was an awkward placement of the walls and soffit. Although Druschel knew that raising the ceiling height could affect the fire suppression systems and mechanical lines, the client insisted and wanted the height to be consistent throughout the unit, which added to the timeline.
Challenge 4: Guest Bath Headaches
According to the designer, one of the guest bathrooms was supposed to be a tub to shower remodel, but they were unable to accommodate a shower because of unforeseen structure limitations. The drain line diameter in the slab was smaller in size than a tub drain, which also caused its own set of issues.
“Typically when we have this issue, we put a pipe reducer coupling on to transition it,” said Druschel, “however, we couldn’t chip or cut the slab, so we had to stay with the same location and pipe diameter.”
The usual placement of the recessed shower niche had to be relocated because of an unmovable cast-iron plumbing stack. The designer moved it to stretch around the corner instead, which turned out to be a clever solution the client loved.
Druschel admitted that he ordered the wrong tub size because he assumed the space could accommodate a standard size, but it in fact was a larger, more unusual size.
“We had to order another tub, which was hard to get in and out of there – especially since it was cast iron,” he added.
Another challenge was that the client was out of town for the majority of the project, so there were lots of phone calls and pictures emailed back and forth.
“She trusted me since I had done another project for her, and there were a lot of things I didn’t even call her about – although of course there were some I did have to consult with her on,” said Druschel. “Some decisions I made on my own, and she was happy with all of them.”
Designer: Chris Druschel, S&W Kitchens
Photographer: Rickie Agapito, AOFOTOS
Cabinet Hardware: Amerock
Cabinets & Hood: Omega Cabinetry
Backsplash & Countertops: Cambria
Dishwasher: Fisher & Paykel
Microwave & Ovens: GE
Accent, Shower Tub Floor Tile: Crossville
Cabinet Hardware: Amerock
Cabinets: Omega Cabinetry
Countertops: Pompeii Quartz
Faucets, Shower Fixtures & Tub Filler: Brizo
Overall Floor Tile & Shower Wall Tile: Happy Floors
Cabinets & Mirror: Omega Cabinetry
Countertops: Pompeii Quartz
Shower Wall Niche: Happy Floors
Shower Wall Tile: Crossville
Toilet & Tub: Kohler