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Friday Cat Blogging

Is That A Light

Friday Cat Blogging


[Editor: I’m using this Excise rerun because I have been putting all of my non-sleeping time into finishing up the rehab and I can now see the end.]

Friday Ark


1 jams o donnell { 03.04.11 at 5:48 am }

There’s a look of pleasure!

2 ellroon { 03.04.11 at 11:34 am }

Love that expression (good composition and lighting too!). Congrats on the rehab.

When you have the time, I would find it interesting to hear what you actually have to do. My sister in law had a realty connected job where she took care of apartments. The stories she tells of walls covered in cockroaches and the literal crap people leave behind makes me vow I will never be a landlord….

3 Badtux { 03.04.11 at 8:10 pm }

Ellroon, when a building reaches a certain age there’s a variety of things that need going. For example, ROMEX wiring has a life span of 50 years. So if your house was built before 1961, all the wiring needs to be ripped out and replaced with new wiring, else you will not be able to get a certificate of occupancy allowing rental use of the home because the wiring could disintegrate and start a fire at any moment. HVAC systems are generally either end-of-life or non-existent, kitchens lack modern conveniences like a dishwasher, the kitchen and bathroom cabinets are all rotted out, all the plumbing fixtures are goners and need replacing… and of course everything has to be painted and the flooring (carpet and vinyl) replaced (you don’t put more expensive flooring into a rental house, it doesn’t last).

As for the joys of being a landlord, figure that they’re going to not take care of the place, and that you’ll have to rip out and replace a lot of stuff once they go. So rather than an expensive tiled-in porcelain sink that is much easier to clean than a stainless steel self rimming sink, you put in the stainless steel sink. Instead of a porcelain bathtub that they’re going to chip and make look ugly, and tile tub surround that will turn into a mold farm, put in a plastic tub and surround that you can just tear out and cheaply replace if they manage to ruin it. Instead of fancy granite countertops, put the cheapest laminate that’ll do the job of keeping the dishes off the floor, and expect that you’re going to need to replace it every five years or so. And so forth. So now you know why rental grade carpet and bottom-of-the-line vinyl flooring goes into these places rather than the decent stuff you’d put into your own home — landlords figure that the tenants are going to spill red kool-aid and their dogs are going to piss and crap all over the floor and rip up the edges and such and that the carpet will be a total loss in 4 or 5 years regardless, so why put decent carpet in the place?

The only reason to be a landlord is if you’re looking for a cashflow investment and can pay cash for the buildings you’re buying. The ROI turns out to be fairly modest, roughly the equivalent of getting 2% interest on a passbook savings account last time I checked, but it’s a safer investment than investing with Bernie Madoff, if a bit more troublesome. The most important thing to look for is tenants who a) have jobs, b) have a history of paying rent on time, and c) don’t utterly destroy places (by utterly destroy, I mean leave holes in walls, destroy plumbing fixtures, etc… Keith Richards is *NOT* someone I would rent a house to, given his propensity for blowing up toilets!). And to get those kind of tenants the place has to look nice, not like a dump… cheap nice (since you don’t want to put fancy fixtures in a rental), but clean and neat and well-maintained like a place you’d invite your own girlfriend or boyfriend to. If you can’t or won’t maintain your place to that kind of standard, don’t bother — sell it and put the money into passbook savings or something, because the trash that rents dumps will drive you utterly batshit crazy.

– Badtux the Landlord Penguin

4 Bryan { 03.04.11 at 11:13 pm }

Jams, he controls the one sunny spot in the house at that moment, so he was very pleased with himself.

Ellroon, the sun provided the lighting and Excise provided the pose. My involvement was point the camera and pushing the button about 6 times, and then cropping the one that was level.

This one was three doors, two light fixtures, all flooring, leaking shower, busted kitchen faucet, two major holes in the interior walls [cement board].

The first thing you do, before anything else, is gas the place for bugs. If they had pets, you gas a second time with a flea specific chemical.

The next step to strip anything left behind and dispose of it in accordance with the local regulations, which is a trip to the hazardous waste processor, and to the landfill transfer station.

The drill is to start at the top and work down, and from the inside and work out. First wash is with soap and water, followed with chlorine bleach and water to kill any mold.

Then you start patching, sanding, and prepping so you can paint.

This is a concrete block house with a slab floor, with concrete board walls, metal door frames, and beautiful tongue-in-groove heart pine ceilings [heart pine is the center of large pine trees and is generally red in color. It was cheap when these places were built, and was the material of choice for ceilings, and walls in wooden houses]. The ceilings were in great shape, so they were done after being washed.

After every thing is clean, I start on the electrical by checking the plugs [two replaced] and the ceiling fixtures [two replaced]. All of the plates had to be removed for painting, so I replaced them with new nylon plates that are much harder to break. [The manufacturer claims they are unbreakable, but s/he isn’t a landlord.]

Next is the plumbing. Check for leaks, drips, and free-flowing drains. The shower control was leaking into the wall, so that was replaced, bleach was pouring into the wall, which was followed by boric acid after the wall dried out. The hot water handle on the kitchen faucet was broken, so it was replaced, a process that also required installing shut off valves under the sink.

I pulled out the toilet to install the new flooring in the bathroom and while it was out, I replaced all of the gaskets, bolts, and the flush valve. It is quick and easy when it is sitting on the car port with access from all sides. It can also be truly cleaned with a pressure washer.

The stove and refrigerator were also on the car port for the same reason, and that allows the use of tools and chemicals you don’t want to use in a closed space.

The painting is quick, even the crown molding, but then you have to deal with the flooring and some of the repairs to the metal door frames. Understand, nails are not used in these places. You are dealing with concrete or metal. Installing anything requires masonry and/or cobalt drill bits. Using them requires time and effort.

Lots of fun.

5 hipparchia { 03.05.11 at 1:51 am }

fleas… curmudgeon cat’s vet told me that you have to flea bomb three times, 9 days apart each time, to have any hope of breaking the life cycle.

6 Bryan { 03.05.11 at 8:43 am }

If the bomb only kills adult fleas, that’s the drill, but Black Flag makes one that works like Front Line Plus, killing larvae and eggs, as well as adult fleas. It is expensive and you don’t want to use it on a place that pets will be be back in within a day after use. It is some bad stuff, effective, but not something most people should use.

I don’t use it if I’m not going to replace the carpet. There are a couple of dusting products that work well on carpets, and are completely removed by the cleaning.

This is my “go to the concrete” drill.

7 ellroon { 03.05.11 at 2:16 pm }

Wow! Thanks for the vicarious pleasure of reading about hard work without having to do any of it. Told my husband about your post and we were shaking our heads in sympathy and awe. Do you get help or are you plumber, carpenter, carpet layer? (And I was proud when I was able to replace my garbage disposal!)

Sounds like you’ve been through this drill for quite a while….

8 Bryan { 03.05.11 at 2:33 pm }

I gave up on carpet laying a couple of years ago, but I do the rest. I’ve lived in a lot of places where if you can’t do it, it doesn’t get done. Most small farmers learn how to do all of these things, plus farming, so they have a leg up on me.

I have the tools, many inherited from my Father and material Grandfather, so that makes all the difference.

9 hipparchia { 03.05.11 at 2:46 pm }

carpet is evil.

that is all.

10 Bryan { 03.05.11 at 10:08 pm }

I really hate it. It is an infection or infestation waiting to happen.

11 Badtux { 03.06.11 at 12:06 pm }

But carpet’s cheap and easy to replace, so it’s what goes into rentals. Same deal with vinyl flooring. Vinyl flooring looks trashy, but it’s cheap to replace when the tenants destroy it. When that tenant destroys your fine oak flooring by dropping bowling balls and walking in spike heels on it (with literal spikes! Yes, I’ve seen wood floors destroyed like that!), you’ll cry. Not so much for carpet or vinyl. For both I personally would use professionals, because a) the Mexican invasion has driven the cost of professionals down to where it’s not worth the trouble to do it yourself, and b) they do the job *much* faster and with *much* less waste.

So for everybody who’s ever wondered “why is this nasty carpet stuff in every rental in the country?!”, now you know :).

– Badtux the Landlord Penguin

12 hipparchia { 03.06.11 at 2:57 pm }

i’d much rather have vinyl than carpet.

13 ellroon { 03.06.11 at 4:30 pm }

Oh great… now I have to be worried about my wall to wall carpets…

14 oldwhitelady { 03.06.11 at 4:31 pm }

Yay! As reruns go, you can’t get better than this! Excise is such a cutie.

15 Bryan { 03.06.11 at 7:43 pm }

Square-foot ceramic tile is the best solution for rentals with slab floors. You install and forget about it for decades. If they want cushion, let them buy a cheap rug. You use the off-white and gray grout so you can replace an individual broken tile.

The quartz sand really eats carpet, and there is no way of keeping it out. It also eats the new, and expensive, laminate flooring, as well as hardwood floors. Ceramic tile is the only thing that stands up to the sand.

Well, Ellroon, to you keep a free flying parrot, chickens, squirrels, or horses in your house? [They supposedly only brought the horses in during hurricanes.] Small town and rural rentals are certainly interesting.

I’ll tell him you said so, OWL, and he’ll respond “Dur”. He’s cute, but he’s not very bright.

16 Steve Bates { 03.06.11 at 10:34 pm }

Three of my last four rentals (where I live) had hardwood floors… glorious acoustics and easy to clean. But the abode before my current one was a cheaply built apartment with the worst godawful carpet I’d ever seen. Of course it wore out in the course of 15 years, and apartment managers being who they often are in large cities, I was charged for the damage when I moved out.

I have friends who still live there and I like staying out of jail; otherwise, I’d contemplate torching my old apartment… actually, no, that wouldn’t do any visible damage to the place…

17 Badtux { 03.07.11 at 2:25 pm }

Steve, here in California you could sue your landlord in small claims court if they charged you for new carpet when it was at end-of-life and withheld the cost from your deposit rather than returning your deposit. There are general guidelines that courts here follow about how long paint and carpet lasts. 15 year old carpet would decidedly be end-of-life and if a landlord withheld money for new carpet from your deposit when you moved out, you’d get double damages in small claims court.

Too bad you live in that libertarian paradise called “Texas”, where the bidness of guvment is bidness and the only rights you have as a tenant is the right to be reamed up the rear, good and hard…

– Badtux the Tenant Penguin

18 Badtux { 03.07.11 at 2:30 pm }

Regarding ceramic tile floors, Bryan, I’ve seen them destroyed by tenants — there was one rental I saw where I have a sneaking suspicion the tenants were throwing *bowling balls* around in the house, half the tiles were cracked or chipped — and they’re *much* more expensive to fix than carpet. My current rental has tile floor in about half the place — the only carpet is in the living room and bedrooms — and there’s quite a few cracked tiles where previous tenants dropped heavy things onto the floor. If I were flooring my own concrete-slab home I’d definitely put down ceramic tile house-wide and then area rugs in the living areas for comfort, but I’m surprised that you don’t have tenants smashing your tiles there. Must do a good job selecting tenants, is all I gotta say…

19 hipparchia { 03.07.11 at 9:33 pm }

bryan’s right about the sand – and there are days when i’m convinced it’s not quartz, it’s gazillions of tiny little industrial diamonds instead.

20 Bryan { 03.07.11 at 9:53 pm }

Badtux, bowlers aren’t a problem, and ceramic tile is easy to replace if you have the proper tools. When you have the storage space and can by it in bulk, replacing tiles is cheap and quick – grind out the grout, and stone chisel the remnants. A little thinset, drop in the replacement, and replace the grout. With carpet you have to pull the entire room, which means 4 yards of carpet, 16 square yards of pad, and installation for a six-inch hole in the center caused by a candle that was unattended. Oh, yes, and a gallon of Odoban to kill the odor.

If you paid our tipping fees for waste, you would really reduce the trash you generate. Broken tiles are useful in the bottom of flower pots for drainage, or to add interest to outdoor stepping stones, when you mold your own. Old carpet is garbage.

I don’t see how the fleas can survive in it, Hipparchia.