Buying and renovating a flat in Norway is a hustle. No bigger no less than anywhere else is, however the process might be a bit different then somewhere else.
In the spring of 2020, just when Covid hit the Earth and people were quarantining we decided to buy a flat in Oslo. The housing market has dropped down because of the pandemic and the prices were affordable for what we had in mind.
For the past few years we had been living in a small rental unit in a city center and now with baby on the way, we had to find something bigger.
And so…. did the search began.
We used the most common real-estate finder finn.no. Now as we were looking for something with two bedrooms and a decent bathroom. The location was optional, however, with the amount of money that we had only locations in the eastern / southern part of Oslo were popping out. I guess the west is still reserved for the rich and white.
Anyway, the process starts with looking at the available living units that have two days for available viewing and a biding price to start with it. Usually the viewing would last for few hours, and you would be able to stay at the viewing for as how much you wanted but with the pandemic rules there was only a 10-minute window where you could look at the flat and decide if it’s for you. I mean, if you end up in it, you’ll have the rest of your time to see if it was a good decision.
We looked over ten apartments in different parts of the city and gave two bids for two of them. My wish was to end in Kalbakken in a small house with four flats, just like one where I grew up, with a big back yard where I would have the bunnies. But life had other plans end we ended in Trosterud, a neighborhood that’s 17 minutes ride with the metro.
When I look at it back now, I think that we couldn’t picked out a better location. We are well connected to the city center with public transport, there’s few lakes and hiking trails in the area, several kindergartens, schools, grocery stores, pharmacies as well.
And what’s best, our new flat has the same room plan as the one in Zagreb where we used to live <3
A big living room with dining area, open kitchen, two bedrooms, separate toilet and the bathroom. And – a glass balcony that’s looking over the fjord.
We bought the apartment from a 5 member family that needed a bit more space. They left us with an awful chandelier in the living room and several other things that we decided to remove or sell.
The apartment came with the refurbished kitchen and all of the appliances that we replaced with our own, except the dishwasher. We didn’t have that originally.
The bathroom and the toilet desperately needed a redesign but we didn’t have the money for that so we just did few cosmetic upgrades.
The biggest makeover was in the kitchen / living room area.
We decided to shut the entrance to the kitchen, covering the ugly water boiler, but making a small pantry, mostly for my shoes.
The next move was to cut off a bit off the wall that was dividing kitchen and living room. In that way we could fit our kitchen island bought, like many things, way before we moved into the apartment. Don’t do same mistake as we did, buying stuff way ahead. You have to feel and carefully measure your future living space. Sometimes only by living with certain stuff (like people 🙂 you can figure out it if it suits you.
We also decided to change the floors in the whole flat and to get rid of the wallpapers. I mean, it’s 21st century. Who else has embossed painted wallpapers?! But what looked very simple, tearing down the old wallpapers, turned out to be harder than expected. The wallpapers have been glued right to the concrete wall, without the plaster on it. And there was several wallpapers glued on top of each other.
So, we started with the main wall in the living room, continuing into our bedroom and leaving at that. The rest of the walls covered with wallpaper, suddenly, turned out to be very beautiful .)
The walls in the bedroom were fine, as we took of only one layer successfully and colored it in white and grey.
The biggest trouble we had was the main wall in the living room. That had to be plastered properly before coloring it. Debeli did its best with that and a friend helped him, but we needed proper help, like with the floors (we hired a person to do that). After a thorough search, a friend of a friend suggested a person who was working as a web designer in a company. Now, he’s painting walls. And he paints them well. He did the work in just three days. And we were struggling for over a week. Would be less, if the painting store didn’t sell us outdated wall color.
So, we bought two buckets of the same color in two different stores. It turned out they were two different hues. What a nonsense. The whole wall had to be done by a single bucket. Thankfully, it was enough of it.
The rest of the wall was refreshed with white color as we noticed that the previous owners painted the walls surrounding the furniture, not behind it as well.
The floors were a complete other story. Installing them was easy but getting the parts not so much. Together with the laminate planks we had to get skirting boards in matching color to the floor. No available in the same store where we bought the floor planks. I think we needed 12 of them, each 2 meters long. So, we found a place that sells them. On line info stated all 12 available. But not when we arrived. Few of them were, well, not listed as sold so we had to drive hour away from Oslo, to get the same color matching boards to finish the floor.
The bathroom and the toilet were the biggest issue; however redesign would cost us 1/6th of the whole apartment price so we decided to give it just a small make up.
The shower cabin was removed and water barrier was installed, after repainting the tiles from white to gray and filling the shower space with colored epoxy. When we added baby-changing table and all of the washing / drying machines, couple of carpets, the bathroom seemed as new.
I didn’t like the tiles in the toilet so we bought sort of linoleum tiles that were easy to attach that gave a completely different look to the old toilet. Few decorations and all was set.
Friends gave us an old sofa that we installed on the balcony together with the second hand BBQ that we use during the long summer days.
The final touch were the bedroom curtains and the Venetian one in the living room, while the paintings in the living room were given as a move in present to us.
It took us over 2 years but we have finally found a perfect book shelf that we added to the living room, together with some other details. Yes, Debeli plays the guitar sometimes 🙂
Living in the flat for the past two years here, I must admit that I don’t miss the old one at all. We designed it in a way that we like spending time both in the flat and the neighborhood . The nature in the surrounding area is beautiful. We have many lakes and hiking trails in the forest while it takes us only 17 minutes with the metro to the downtown city center. The fact that we have many kindergartens and schools in the area makes this an easy living.
The whole block had huge pipe reparation operation where new drain pipes were placed into the old one so we are safe for the next 50 years when it comes to that. The pipe in a pipe technique was cheaper and easier option that removing the whole pipe system, however which ever we, or our house association (borettslaget), chose the final price will be seen on our house bill.
Most of our furniture we bought second hand, except for the sofa and the washing / dryer machines. Kitchen island with bar stools, the dining table with 6 chairs, coffee table and the TV bench as well as the TV, guest bed and the swinging armchair for the baby’s room.
All of thees things were purchased on the web site called finn.no, a site that sells used stuff and were you can sell your old stuff. Every single thing that we bought used was easy and cheap purchase, but everything that we bought new we had tons of issues with. The floor planks, for example.
But the biggest f*** was a sofa, oh and the most recent one; the book shelf, that came scratched. When we called the supplier because of it he offered us a return of money for the first payment which was the most absurd thing ever heard. What are we going to do with the money and the shelf that we can not use?!
The sofa was another thing. When ordering the first sofa, we slightly forgot to think about the fact how will we fit the sofa parts in the elevator as they were too big and the spiral staircase does not helps, so we had to cancel that order and went with another. That didn’t have the armresting parts included in the measurements, so the sofa is not placed as originally intended but opposite. Turned out better that way. However we lost our minds with fitting the sofa right way, and even thinking on cutting the armresting part so it fits. We were going crazy day by day. And mind you I was heavily pregnant at that time and Debeli lost 20 kilos from renovation as he was going to the new flat everyday after work to do the work, sometimes even sleeping there and going back to his morning shift afterwards.
We made few mistakes that we should not make again (purchased most of the furniture before measuring the space thoroughly, having to short of a window between the move, but there was no money and time for doing it otherwise) but that actually makes the story, right?