Renovating? A Stella Maris Story & Tips by Randy Strunk

So you have visited Long Island and fallen in love like many of us. You have discussed it at length and have decided you want to put down roots and buy a house here in Stella Maris.

You have several decisions to make, build or find a house and renovate. We found a house with storm damage and updates needed. The advantage of renovating is the timeline is faster. You can be enjoying your home much sooner!

I have listed below what was involved in our renovation and have relayed advice given to us by several other residents that proved invaluable.  Feel free to ask questions regarding the process after reading.

We were advised to look for a masonry house to renovate. Less materials that have to be replaced concerning termite damage now and down the road. Most of the masonry houses will need crack repair and probably updated electrical work. At the beginning of the renovation, it is a great time to put in new electrical wiring by chiseling paths in the wall. Then as the masonary repair begins, the conduit can be covered at the same time. Also remember you will want to do an assessment of all of your windows and sliding doors. We used painted, commercial grade, stainless steel doors/ windows with all internal components all stainless steel. Many residents replace with vinyl. Anything else will rust and quit working within a year if you are anywhere close to the water.

Your first project though will be the roof and roof supports. Are there leaks, storm damage, lost tiles, are supports weak due to insect damage. You will need to do a roof inspection and decide if a new roof is needed. A solid, leak proof roof is a necessity before you can do anything else. You will want to order tiles that can sustain high winds, and replace roof panels and support with pressure treated wood only. Do not compromise here, only pressure treated wood. It holds up against the weather and most importantly, insects.  Order your materials from Florida and have them shipped over on Seacor.  The other crucial element in repairing your roof or any other thing in your house is to use stainless steel nails and screws, do not compromise on this. Any other material will rust and you will lose a roof in a major storm some years down the road. Plus you will see ugly stains from the rust.

So your second set of projects will be electrical, sliding glass doors and windows as discussed above. Once these are ordered and installed, masonry work will begin to solidify new doors, windows, cracks and electrical paths.

Our third project was then the ceiling. We wanted can lights and the beautiful appearance of white washed cyprus. This allowed recessed lighting and electrical wire be run and hidden from view. Also this allows you to insulate.

We then painted inside and out. This is where many people skimp. Our house was painted almost three years ago and still looks brand new. I did my research and found that acrylic paint is best in the tropics. Benjamin Moore makes a paint called Aura. It is made specifically for our environment. It holds up to the salt and UV for years. I recommend this paint highly, one of our best decisions.

Once we were done painting, we decided to tile the entire house with fresh, sand colored 1'x2' tile from Nassau Tile. Another great decision, it made the entire house look new, inviting and a floor that made our bare feet happy!

Some of the other things to look at when renovating are the water pump and cistern. Chances are you will need to drain and clean. Make sure and check out the PVC piping to see if sections need replacing. When we first began, we installed a new pump. The renewed water pressure in the system blew open an aged piece of PVC and we had a minor flood on News Year Eve. We ended up checking out all exposed PVC in the house and systematically replacing all pipe that looked suspect. Absolutely no problems since.

It was easy to get materials from Florida and tile from Nassau. We stayed involved all along the way and our house turned out wonderfully. If you find the right house with the right bones, do not be afraid to just jump right in and renovate. As part of our association, you will have plenty of help and advice all along the process, you will never be alone.

Lisa and I are so glad we renovated over building. Within 6 months, we were able to really start enjoying our "new" house with family and friends.