A three part Series about the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty as told by our personal experience and other residents living in the wrap at the 2200 condos.

Part II –What it Actually Was Like Living in the Wrap

Wrap 5
To hear about why our condominium building was wrapped and what we anticipated it being like, please read Part I of our series here.

For some quick background, we live at 2200 Westlake, a condo building in South Lake Union. Our 3 building complex recently began a remediation (or repair) project that will take 36 total months and leave each phase of the project wrapped in non-transparent wrap for around 8 months.

About half of the project is complete so many owners have been wrapped, repaired, and now unwrapped. Now that the wrap has come down, let there be light!

Here’s what it was really like living in the wrap from our perspective vs. what we thought it was going to be like in Part 1:

  • It actually wasn’t dark, it was quite bright
    • With the wrap being white it was actually quite blinding when the sun was out
  • It did start to feel claustrophobic as time went along, especially when there was an added layer of plastic taped directly onto our slider door while the deck coating was being ground off and re-applied
  • From 8am-4pm when the workers were actively working it could be very loud- working from home, or sleeping in was not really an option for the most part
  • There was only a odor for a week or so when our decks were receiving a new sealant
  • The interior work was the most challenging – For a total of 5 weeks, the work came into our unit. Large sections of our ceiling near our windows needed to be cut open. Repairs were made, and then the sheetrock needed to be replaced, taped, mudded, and painted.  This was not a fun experience at all.
    • Having to be out every weekday morning by 8am was hard; especially on days we went to the gym and needed to shower later in the day.  That was weird showering with people in our unit.  But they gave us privacy and were flexible somewhat.  And we don’t have kids or pets, luckily.
    • Never being able to be home midday, come home early or sleep in just a bit for those 5 weeks when they were physically in our unit was challenging.
    • However, the workers were very clean and respectful and to our surprise we literally cannot see where the sheetrock was repaired.  They are good at what they do!
  • It went by much faster than we thought and we got used to it to be honest, though as we were reaching the end of the 8 months we were ready for it to be over!
  • The thing we are enjoying most with the wrap down is being able to look outside and know the weather – one thing we didn’t really consider was that we wouldn’t know if it was raining, snowing, sunny and warm, or freezing cold until we were out of the condo
  • Weekly updates from the building staff were helpful during the process so we knew what to expect and when to expect it
  • The HOA meetings with the contractors beforehand were helpful to illustrate what work was going to be done, but no amount of photos and drawings can quite prepare you for the several weeks of people in an out of your condo.  It’s a pain frankly, but over all a job well done and it wasn’t quite as bad as one might think.

Here is another resident of 2200’s account:
Ken and Dana live on the 10th floor in the South Tower of 2200

“Now that we look back on it, being wrapped was easier than we imagined it would be.  Although I do remember really clearly the day we came home and the wrapping had made its way up the scaffolding and covered our windows.  We knew for months that it was coming, but the day the light was blocked out it felt a bit ominous.  Dana cried.  That made it doubly worse for me!  Nine months of this?  How the heck are we going to deal with it?

In the months leading up to the wrap covering our windows, we talked about all sorts of alternatives.  Maybe we could move out and get renters.  Maybe schedule a big vacation to break it up.  But the ideas were too expensive and we are deeply rooted because of our cats.  We think they are super cool, but no one wants to pet-sit someone else’s cats for nine months.  So we had to stick it out.

An interesting thing about being wrapped – we couldn’t see the sun or sky, but the big white plastic sheeting did make the place really bright during the day!  Yet it was often misleading.  Regardless of sun, rain, tsunami – it was the same brightness inside the condo.  We found ourselves checking weather websites or webcams to figure out if we should bring an umbrella or floaties (for the tsunami, of course).  The wrap wasn’t really a big deal at night to us.  Sure we couldn’t see anything outside, but the covering didn’t feel quite so game-changing after sunset.

The wrapping definitely changed our habits.  We were more inclined to go out – even if just for a walk around the neighborhood.  We have great friends who would often invite us over to their place for dinner.  We used the gas grills on the building’s deck to cook dinner many nights.  Or we would simply go grab a drink somewhere outdoors and linger a little longer than normal before going home.

The wrap, however, was part of a larger rehab project that created more inconveniences than losing our view.  Construction noise during the day was a problem for me, since I work from home, so I had to find a co-working space to work from for about a year.  The hardest thing of all this was when the rehab work made it to the point where the crew was in our unit every weekday for three weeks straight.  The crew was really good about sticking to the hours we were told they would be in our unit and they did everything to make our place as livable as possible.  We slept in our own bed every night and I don’t think we lost any sleep during that time.  We had to shut our cats into the bathroom on those crew work days so they wouldn’t get in the way or escape, and the crew was nice enough to let them out when work was done for the day.  In hind sight, maybe a long vacation while they were in our unit would have been ideal – but three weeks went by fast enough.

Nine months later the wrapping came off and, of course, we were thrilled.  It was like we opened a big gift!  It’s great to see the sky again – especially through our condo’s big windows.  Like anything that wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be, when it was over we laughed at ourselves for wanting to move out a year earlier.  The three weeks of work in our unit and the nine months of wrapping really did go faster than we imagined it would.

When he asked us to write this, Marco posed the key question:  “Would you live in another building you knew was going to go through this process knowing what you know now?”  If it’s a home we are going to love, then we’d have to say “yes”.”

Living in the Wrap Series
Part 1: Why we are wrapped and what we anticipated it would be like
Part 2: What it actually was like living in the wrap
Part 3: Benefits and costs of the wrap – post-wrap wrap-up

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.