Well, my first question is whether or not you own the apartment? From your letter, I gather you don’t, which can make this tricky. Retirement communities, especially rentals that are built with religious or government money are generally not open to any structural or complex decorative changes. For example, it is unlikely that you would get approval to take down and replace existing kitchen cabinets even though you aren’t moving any walls or plumbing. Ditto the counter tops. Adding tile over tile, or even to cover a bare area of sheet rock behind the sink and the stove area will likely require some kind of approval. And, while you’ve indicated that you already have permission to change the flooring (except for adding wall-to-wall carpet), as a designer I would have to carefully question anything that would be nailed or glued down over an existing floor.

Changing a bathroom is likely a no-no unless the whole building is being upgraded and you’re allowed to have some say; but the good news is that an eating bar is probably fine! This can be bought or built to match or coordinate and can be secured to a wall with screws in a way that’s strong but not permanent

Before doing -or arranging to do- ANY work, I would suggest contacting your building manager. There may already be an Alteration Agreement in place that would outline what, exactly, you can and cannot do. If no Agreement exists, your building manager or management should be able to issue you a statement on company letterhead approving or denying your right to make the alterations you are suggesting. BE SPECIFIC in your request. If you want to add a back splash, be clear about where, i.e. “behind the stove and sink area.” I realize this seems a bit obvious, but if an inspector -with an 8th grade education- comes to your apartment and believes the tile should be ‘other’ than where you’ve located it, you could have to take it down, repair the wall and may even run the risk of loosing your lease!

Having your request and its approval in writing BEFORE any work commences protects everyone!

As to the work costing $5000. That really depends on what is allowed and the materials you choose to complete the job.

Take a step back, and get all the pieces of the puzzle laid out. Mistakes are more expensive to correct than doing the job right in the first place!!

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