Saturday was a good day. A very good day.
James agreed to accompany me to the house and help me out. We noticed that all the rest of the garbage was gone! Ike, our landscaper was hard at work when we arrived. His crew had all the grass removed from the entire front, back and side yards. The sod was there all ready to lay in the front yard and the back was nearly ready for hydroseeding that will be sprayed on Monday. I'm excited to see the results.
The weather was good, so I put the second coat on the front door. Dark Blue. It makes the front look so much better. I have a nice brushed stainless kickplate that will decorate the bottom of the door. I'll get that on sometime here in the next couple of days and it will really spruce up the front and add the needed curb appeal.
James and I painted the front window washing deck and facia boards and the porch stair railing as well. It really perked it up. We also got all of the smoke detectors in and some trim painted too. A good day's work in all.
I met with Miles, the electrician to see if he had any updates on the electrical problems too. He had good news. The breaker box does not need to be replaced after all. After taking it apart some more he found that it was an uncommon double box setup. We don't need a new incoming breaker, a new panel, or wiring of any sort! So I don't have to shell out another $600 - $1000 for that. I believe in miracles!
So, Saturday was a good day. A very good day.
Saturday was a good day. A very good day.
After the nearly 2 1/2 tons of garbage removal on Saturday 9/16, we could finally begin to see the yard. We knew it was rough and had about 800 doggy presents scattered all over. (Side note: unbeknownst to us we each found several such prizes throughout the day and were unaware until the stench brought realization of our little package, prompting an immediate trip to the side yard with a stick.)
Rod and I just stared at it and while we felt great about getting rid of most of the garbage (we figured we still had another small load to go), the magnitude of the landscaping issues began to sink in. I mentally began tallying up the hours of labor it would take to get it ship shape. No one in their right mind would pay top dollar for a house with the yard in this kind of condition. Do we pay the $$, have a GREAT yard, lose some profit, or do we scimp on the yard and hope to sell it anyway? We did the math. Landscape it is.
I stomped into the house to find our old stained Kitsap County phone book and began calling local landscapers. Within a day or two we had bids. We got more discouraged: $6000, $5500 (phone only - weird), and then Ike, guy just starting his business, (got his name off of Craigslist) came in at only $3,700! Ike's bid included items that the other $6000 bid didn't. We hired him on the spot. We'll have a fully renovated yard! Oh guess what? Ike will remove the rest of our garbage too!!!! I almost wet my pants at the news.
Ike was going to start on Tuesday or Wednesday, but the heavy rain postponed that and he didn't start until Friday and will probably finish up today, Saturday. James and I are heading out today to do some more exterior painting (second coat on the front door, the front window washer ledge) and install smoke detectors; we'll take a peek at the finished product.
I'll take photos and share! Stay tuned.
One of the smaller bedrooms - before of course (my taste in colors isn't that bad!)
Well down came the ugly fan/light in the living room (didn't even have any lightbulbs in it) and we put up a modern brushed aluminum one to replace it. James came to the house to help and I put him up the ladder to do the honors. Guess what? The wires were weird and there was an extra that he couldn't figure out what to do with. Oh, I know, James isn't an electrician, but he HAS put in hundreds of lights over the last few years. We decide to have someone look at that.
So off the ladder and into the kitchen to figure out what to do with the new stove. The old stove was pretty gross and had been hard wired into the house. We had disconnected it a few days before and it was sitting there waiting for someone to get it connected up. I spent about a 1/2 hour cleaning the void left by the old stove (yes, it took that long!). Turns out there's not enough wires! We decide to have someone look at that too.
My brother Dave had also noticed that we had only a 60 amp breaker for the whole house (usually 200). That means any large power draw could cause the main breaker to flip and the entire house go dark. Not good. We decide to have someone look at that.
I called Miles, an electrician, to look at all the above issues as well as put in the two new room thermostats. Guess what.
1. The light in the living room probably never worked, at least the wires didn't appear to be hooked up correctly or go to anything. He has to re-wire it. That'll be $125.
2. He needs some parts and wires to get the stove done. That and the thermostats is an easy fix and only $55.
3. Big problem with the breaker box. The type of wire used was incorrect. Yes the main breaker is way too limiting. The situation is not safe. Fixing it up would be anywhere from $600 (basic fix) to $2000 to re-wire the whole box.
Garbage In -
You've heard about our garbage. We have old TV's, a washer and dryer, soon we'll have an old stove out there too. There are toys, blackberry bushes, old lighting fixtures, two toilets, broken vinyl blinds, about 200 pop cans, 2182 cigarette butts, tree branches, an old BBQ and an even older bike, to name just a few items on our growing pile. It's time to do something about it!
We had signed up for a huge dumpster with Port Orchard's Waste Management company immediately after signing our house deal, hoping we'd have it in place when our deal closed. Well, we kept getting put off; "it'll be there next week" was what we were told - two times. We were almost into week three when I got a call at 7:00 a.m., the dumpster was there but they couldn't park it. The driveway was too steep. Our extra parking wasn't quite wide enough and required a street permit from the city. I quickly decided that we'd forgo the dumpster and figure out another way to get rid of our garbage. Sigh...
All week I got bids coming in for debris removal: $850, $800, and the lowest at $700. It sounded like an awful lot of money just for some garbage. So I arranged for a 24 foot Budget rental truck for Saturday the 16th. $100. My brother David, Rod, my soon-to-be son-in-law Daniel, and I spent the day loading the truck with all of the garbage we could. Believe it or not it didn't even all fit!!
Rod, David and I had the task of dumping it. We waited at the transfer station over an hour just to get in, then the fun began. We kicked, threw, heaved, and lobbed garbage out of the truck for over an hour. It was actually kinda fun. When we weighed out and paid ($212) we had dumped almost 2 1/2 tons of junk! No wonder we were exhausted and very grimy.
Speaking of grime. All three of us felt like we had a layer of dust and dirt that made it into every pore of our body. We washed our hands, faces, and wiped down our clothes; to no avail. We just plain felt dirty. On the way back to the rental place to return the truck we were all blowing our noses (each of us trying to gross the others out by how dirty our kleenexes were with black gobs of debris) and using sanitizer on our exposed epidermal areas.
We're about 12 days into our project and now we have two almost new bathrooms and the hardwood floor (courtesy of Ikea) is being installed. We'll be putting in carpet in two of the three bedrooms and in the family room downstairs.
Originally the master bath was going to be tiled using materials that were intended for the dining room. The former owners had selected several tile colors and had them there waiting for use. Well I wanted the flooring to flow between the rooms and elected to have the hardwood throughout the living room and dining room. So, we were going to use some of the tiles in the master bathroom to re-do the floor and shower. Guess what??? We couldn't find a box that wasn't full of broken pieces! Someone must have dropped them when they were moving them. All but about 3 of the boxes were ruined. So now we're over budget on the master bath. I had to go out and purchase new tile. Another $500. It does look nice though.
Our labor costs are a few hundred over as well. Adam charged us more per hour than he charges James (my hubby). We're not sure why. He also tried to charge us for his trips to the hardware store. I didn't pay for that though. He didn't say anything when I gave him the money for the lesser amount.
Lesson: Don't assume anything.
Our painters came over the weekend and sprayed every room. The house looks so much better!! We needed them to do that quickly so that Adam didn't have to work around them. Having them come on the 1st weekend worked out pretty good. One problem - they literally sprayed everything. We should have specified that they tape off the outlets so we didn't have beige paint all over them. I ended up spending hours scraping paint off of them so we didn't have to replace them. They also sprayed the doorbell box & the thermostats too. I'm having a really hard time getting those clean. Not sure how I'll take care of those. I refuse to buy new ones.
Lesson: Don't assume anything.
This is a photo of the family room before we got to it. Nice, huh?
We hired the contractor that James regularly uses. He was between jobs and does great work. He was to start right when the house deal closed - Friday 8/18. That meant I had to shop my head off and make sure he had all the materials in hand that he would need for the first couple of days work.
The first shopping trip was pretty fun. I bought tub surrounds, light fixtures, sheet rock, mud, painting supplies, paint, sinks, faucets, and more. I shopped my head off (carefully tracking how much I spent of course)! Unfortunately half way through Adam's first workday, there was something I'd missed, so he had to run off to the store. I hated that. It meant I hadn't thought through absolutely everything - bad Kat. For the next two weeks while Adam did the bulk of the interior work putting the bathrooms and hardwood floors in, I took multiple trips out each week after work, driving the hour trip (that's with no traffic - one way) out to Port Orchard.
By the end of the week...I'm dead. I think I've worked about 100 hours. I worked all weekend and spent several nights at Home Depot getting more materials and then making the trek out to the house.
Rod has met the neighbors. He thinks George is having an affair with the lady across the street. He went into her house, shut the door, and didn't come out for a long time. Hmmmm. He also tried to convince Adam that the nice big tree in the front of the house was incorrectly planted right on the drain field, while it is obvious that it is not. There's that nice big patch of green grass that denotes the drain field about 15 feet to the East of the tree that is a dead give away. Hah! Take that George. We're not cutting down the tree just cuz you don't like it dropping leaves on your driveway.
Problems. The heaters in the house don't work. Even though my first post on this does mention heat, we didn't know the heaters didn't work until later. We had to get an eletrician in to take a look. There we had our first cost over run. The house has individual wall heaters and none of them worked. I had to fork out about $800 bucks for new heaters and then the cost of the electrician. But I still feel pretty good because our initial estimate included some $$ for major roof repair and it turned out only to need cleaning. So, I think we'll be o.k. Yeah!
We now have a pile of garbage in the front yard that is taller than me. There was still some stuff from the original owners: tv's, chairs, broken toys, dressers, BBQ's, and other junk, plus the original tree trimming and blackberry brambles from our first furious cutting frenzy. Now we've added toilets, shower stalls, sinks, and a tub surround that is sawed in half. Our house is looking just great - kidding. Although Rod did come one day to find a neighbor lady pawing through all the junk. We also kinda had our eye on a bike that was left, but noticed it was missing a day or two later. We're pretty sure it wasn't George though. He seems to be pretty well off and doesn't look like the type to dig through rubbish.
I think I signed up for a trip to the nearest psychiatric hospital. What was I thinking?
My dearest husband, James, regularly buys and sells houses. Some turn into rentals, others he sells after extensive remodeling and pockets a sweet chunk of change (which we then use to go on cool vacations - see May/June postings below). Well after a few months of watching "Flip This House" and "Flip That House" and "Property Ladder" and other various cable shows on real estate I thought "Hey I can do that!" So after saving up a bunch of money, I joined forces with my brother-in-law Rod and we bought a house to fix up.
The house came to us by way of a friend of the guy who cuts the hair of the cousin who knows our pastor...anyway they heard that we (my husband) buys houses. So James goes out and checks the property out, estimates the cost to fix up, crunches the numbers, and realizes it would be a good one for Rod and I to sink our teeth into. Less than a week later, we have a house deal signed. We were so excited!
I naturally took the role of the project coordinator/manager and began plotting schedules, booking construction talent; Rod and I chatted on the phone daily making plans on what we would fix, how, and how much we'd spend. We even spent a day at the home cutting down trees and clearing branches before the house deal even closed (the house was vacant).
Here's what needed to be done:
1. Entire yard renovation
2. 2 entirely new bathrooms
3. New flooring throughout
4. New paint throughout
6. New lighting in many rooms
7. General repair of deck
8. Roof and house pressure washing
9. And about 1000 other miscellaneous details
The house is in Port Orchard, Washington. It is 1660 Sq Ft, 3 bedroom 1 & 3/4 bath with a family room and nice sized yard. The house and yard are a garbage pit and need a lot of clean up and care.
We are currently exactly 1 month into this project. I initially plotted our schedule such that we'd hold an open house on the weekend of October 9th. I'm am hoping we'll be done sooner. Why, you ask? Well, my dearest little sister is pregnant with daughter #2 and the week we closed on the house deal she went into premature labor at only 7 months along!!! She's been on bed rest and IV medication to keep that little sweetie in there a little longer. So, knowing that she'll most likely give birth early, I'm driving to get this thing done before Sierra is born.
Will we make it? Come back and read on and see!!