Renovating an Apartment in Romania: Costs and Results

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In late June, we have decided to purchase our own apartment here in Romania. It was an old two bedroom apartment that hasn’t been remodeled since it was purchased by its original owner back in 1977… so we knew that there was a lot of work to be done. However, the low market price (at 25,000 Euros / $33,850) and our desire to own our own home in Romania made us put our hands deep in our pockets and splash the cash for the purchase. You can check out the original article here, with the photos showing the 1977 apartment in its entire glory.

Fast forward a couple of months and we are looking at a completely different apartment. We basically have to replace and repaint everything, from the entrance door to the balcony. And although we did hire a team to do this – as it was clearly a job for somebody with a lot of experience and man power – it still proved to be extremely tiresome and fund drenching. The result? The costs for renovating and apartment in Romania were higher than anticipated, and you can check them out below:

– $2,460 / 1,863 Euros: payment of the team who spent almost one month taking the apartment down and building it up from scratch
– $1,350 / 1,020 Euros : replacing the old windows with double glazed windows
– $3,300 / 2,500 Euros: Initial Material costs
– $200 / 150 Euros: Additional material costs (mostly the electrical stuff)
– $500 / 380 Euros: Changing the bathroom appliances and purchasing the kitchen sink
– $990 / 750 Euros: Kitchen furniture & installing it
– $69 / 52 Euros : Miscellaneous

GRAND TOTAL: $8869 / 6715 Euros

We were initially anticipating extra costs of just $6,600 / 5,000 Euros, so having to put an extra $2,300 / 1,715 Euros on the table didn’t feel that nice, especially since we still have to purchase most of the furniture and we’ve kind of hit the bottom of our money bucket. But I can sleep on a blanket on the floor – what matters the most is that we have managed to purchase our own place and we’ll soon turn it into our home.

I didn’t manage to take any high quality photos of the place yet, but my wife did some nice before/after shots on her mobile phone and even though the quality of the images is pretty poor (and the place is still pretty dusty), it shows the huge improvement our apartment has seen. So here are the before and after shots of the apartment renovation works here in Romania:

before after 01

before after 03

before after 10

before after 09

before after 04

before after 05

before after 02

before after 06

before after 07

before after 08
Baby Romanian already enjoys his new room 🙂

By the end of the month, we should get the remaining appliances and hopefully by the end of September, we’ll have the place furnished up at least with the basics so we can move in. We can’t wait to get there and we really hope that there won’t be any hidden costs involved!

PS: I also promise to take some much better photos and share them with you soon!

20 COMMENTS

  1. Oh wow! Quite the difference!!! It is coming along very nicely. I bet you are excited, and don’t blame you. Congratulations once again. Many years of happiness with the family. It sucks to go over budget doesn’t it? 🙁

    • Thanks, Kem! Indeed, it sucks to go over budget, especially when you’re already low on funds AND you thought you used an inflated budget in the first place. But at least we like how it looks so far and from now on we know that we don’t have to rush stuffing it with furniture 😀

  2. WOW Calin. What a transformation. I can understand that you might be a little peeved to dig deeper into your pockets to get the job done, but how much extra would it have cost if you did it yourself. After all, you did say that you were not the greatest on the tools. I bet that Wife Romanian is very happy with the overall result, and getting excited to move in.

    • If a team of four trained people needed almost a month to get the job done, I would’ve certainly pushed the completion date to 2015 and certainly it wouldn’t have been as good. :)) We are all really excited to move in – it’s our first real house, it’s our own, so the feeling is great, after so many years spent living either at my mum’s place or her mum’s place 🙂

    • We are very excited to move and settle in. We always had a house, and even if it was our house too, we always had to share. Now this is our home, and everybody else can visit. I’m ready to sleep on the floor if needed, as long as Baby Romanian has everything he needs and we have the bare necessities.
      Best regards,
      A.

  3. Nice transformation. It always always cost more than buyers plan, even when you have past experience. Simply because you improve your ideas as you go. The worst thing you can do is underspend because it either will need redoing again or will devalue the apartment.

    Also, make sure no one uses water to clean the parquet laminate! It comprises paper & wood dust & is not waterproof. The top coat is a plasticised lawyer & is waterproof, but the joints are not. This is why when you look at every Romanian home with this flooring, you see raised sidesies and edges. I have yet to see an installation where it has not been ruined by water ingress, having seen hundreds of properties. It costs 400 to 1000e per room to replace every 5 years making it a very expensive long term solution. If you use a mix of woodglue (PVA) & water on 100% of the joins when assembling, which is a very time consuming add on, it is waterproof so you would only do this on your own place due to the time and labour cost factor.

    • Exactly, having a place to call home is what matters the most to us. The place is not very fancy, everything is pretty basic in terms of decorating as we didn’t want to, nor did we afford to go over the top. But it looks new and it surely is an improvement!

  4. Calin:
    Like night and day! The pictures tell the whole story. I had to laugh at that B4 picture with you in it. You look like you were either deliriously happy, or ready for the loony-bin;-)
    For some reason, I pictured you, Wife Romanian, and even Baby Romanian on your hands and knees toiling away all by yourselves on the renovation. I am so glad you could afford professionals (not that you couldn’t have done it–eventually).
    You all definitely have a lot better sense of color than we Americanos! Most of our walls are just shades of beige–meh.
    The bathroom looks so much better without those 1960’s fixtures. I could not believe the differences in the kitchen and the enclosed terrace, either.
    BTW: Prince George has NOTHING on “Baby Romanian.” You ought to take him and submit his pictures to an agency. First comes catalogs, then TV…. He could support you in your old age;-)
    Thanks for sharing your pictures and your story.
    ~Teil

    • Haha, Teil, indeed I look pretty groovy in that photo. I promise I had taken no pills prior to my wife shooting it 🙂

      If it were just cleaning that had to be done, we would’ve done it without hesitating (as we did and keep doing so far and it’s extremely difficult too). However, we had to completely change all the electrical wires, take down the walls and put new ones, replace the wooden floors – things that required an expert hand and tools – things that we didn’t have. But from here on, it’s our job to do 🙂

      Thank you so much for your nice words about Baby Romanian. I am sure that my wife will try to follow your advice now that it’s here 🙂

    • Thank you, Teil, for your suggestion about Baby Romanian, and for the compliments as well. It’s just that we always felt he is SO beautiful, but I always thought it was because it was mine, you know? Every mom sees her kids the most beautiful things on Earth, or at least they should! Maybe we will go for it, if the opportunity arrives. I wouldn’t know where to start sending photos, there are a lot of scammers out there. Maybe he will be discovered by someone important on his own. I post A LOT of photos of him on facebook, after all, maybe we’ll get lucky!
      Have a nice day!
      A.

  5. It is great that you improved that pigsty that you bought. It is also great that you promote Romania as a place for cheap living. Still, you bought a third rate apartment in a pretty nasty area and in a small town. Most young people in larger towns in Romania live in nicer apartments than you and spend less on food (probably more on good alcohol).
    My point is that if you try to promote living in a cheaper third world country, at least say that is cheaper to live well here.

    • The area is really good, actually, just minutes away from everything you need to have close by: two supermarkets, a peasant’s market, the city center and non stop shops.

      And if you read more articles on this blog, you will see that I am actually talking about Romania as a cheap place to live in!

  6. You’ve done a great job on it. I need to re-do my folks’ apartment and it’s something I dread, since it will cost A LOT. Maybe next year, our new baby has drained our ‘paychecks’ so far 😀

    • It does cost a lot and even worse, it eats up a lot of time too. I know what you mean about the baby draining the funds – we rushed to finish this while we still had the money, because we were slowly but surely starting to dip our fingers into the savings :))

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