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The Journey Begins: Research

10th January 2007

Dave

For years I have thought about investing in residential properties. I’ve had some experience in just about all phases of home building, not mention having seen every episode of “This Old House”, so I like to think I’ve earned a “BS” degree in everything housing. You probably notice a lot of that “BS” as I recount my adventures in buying foreclosed properties. My initial research began online looking for general information on foreclosures. From there I concentrated on Oklahoma law and then the individual County procedures. The difference between what you think you understand from research and the way things really are can be quite comical.

In Oklahoma, once a loan is in default, foreclosure papers are filed in the county the property is in. All parties are notified, a judgment, setting the amount of the default, is handed down by the court, an independent appraisal is ordered, fees are assessed, and an Sheriffs auction date is set. The default can be cured anytime up until the confirmation hearing. Each county has their own procedures for listing the properties, but you can get a list from the county Sheriff’s office. Their list usually includes the property address, name of debtor, lien holder and representing attorney, auction date, case number, and appraised value. With that little bit of data, a wealth of information can be researched. With the case number, the public can view the paper filed with the courts and even do a preliminary title search to determine other liens such as tax liens. I’ll go into this in more detail when I go over my first auction win.

Even though the appraisal typically sets the minimum opening bid (2/3 appraised value) I consider it meaningless. As I understand it the appraiser simply drive by the property to make sure it exists and then they do an analysis of recent comparable sales. There is very little physical inspection and an interior inspection is almost never done. The caveat “Buyer Beware” is in full effect here. In some rare cases a property can be sold “without appraisal.” I’ll give a hint an say this was the case in the property I ended up with, but the caveat should be posted in large flashing neon letters with alarms sounding when you see this case come up.

I started going to the Tulsa and Wagner County auctions several months before I was ready to start bidding. The Tulsa auction is quite a bit larger than in Wagner and operates in a slightly more formal manner due to the size, but for the most part they are the same. The lien holder starts the bidding at whatever dollar amount that they decide. Anyone else can make subsequent bids in minimum increments of $100.00 but less than $5,000. The lien holder is not limited to this rule, they can bid in any amount they choose. The lien holder (or their attorney acting in their behalf) will continue to bid until there are no more counter bids or until the bidding exceeds their loss. I was never able to figure out how to predict how the lien holder will bid. They often bid well in excess of the appraised value, and sometimes even open the bidding way over the appraised value. They almost always exceed the judgment and associated cost listed in the court papers also. If anyone has an inside view of how they operate I would love to find out more. I have a good idea they only bid up to their losses but I haven’t been able to determine if the general public can get this information beforehand

If someone from the general public is the high bidder they have 24 hours to put down a 10% deposit in a cashier check made out to the County Court Clerk. If the high bidder fails to put down the 10% the next highest bidder has the opportunity to by at their highest bid. That is if they can be contacted. If neither bidder places the 10% then the property is rescheduled for another auction. Once the deposit is received, a confirmation is set 4 weeks from the auction. In this time the default may still be cured but I understand this almost never happens. There are still a lot of things that can go wrong in the 4 weeks leading up to the confirmation hearing as you will soon see.

Well, that pretty much sums up my research or at least glosses over the high points. Next I’ll recount my adventures in buying properties at auction

I win ?

10th January 2007

Dave

While I was well into my research, I began looking for ways to finance my first investment. I only had about $10,000 in liquid cash so more financing was required. My primary residence had been paid for several years, so it was the obvious choice to raise additional funds. I used Lending Tree services to set up a line of credit using my home as collateral. My plan was to draw the funds as needed to save on interest. Any principle and profits from the future sale could then be used to pay off the loan or finance the next purchase. The plan changed over the course of the next few months, but overall it was a good plan.

With funding in hand and some vague notion of how the foreclosure process works I was ready to jump in with both feet. I went to my first auction ready to bid on a single house I had researched. I’ll jump ahead here and say that the property was recalled and was removed from that days auction. It took another few weeks before I could find another property but I found a promising one close to where I lived. The 3 bedroom 1 bath house had been abandoned and vandalized unmercifully. That didn’t deter me since I had planned to do a complete renovation anyway. Comparable (un-vandalized) homes in the area went for between 50 – 65,000. The opening bid was a mere 14,000 so there was a lot of room to make some profit. I had already determined that it would take about 7 -10,000 in materials and I would supply all of the labor so it seemed like the perfect candidate.

The property I wanted to bid on was one of the last ones of the day. I sat and watched a couple of spirited bidding wars among public bidders but most where either recalled on kept by the banks and mortgage companies. Once the bidding started, the attorney opened with the expected 14,400 minimum bid. I countered with 15,000..he with 17,000..I with 18,000…he with 19,000…I with 19,400… and that was all of the bidding. I won! I went immediately to the bank for a cashiers check for $1,940.00 and returned to the Sheriffs office. That seemed easy enough.

As I was walking into my home office, the phone rang. It was the attorney representing the bank in the foreclosure. He told me he had the abstract if I wanted to view it and that the sale should go smoothly from here. I had already talked to an attorney about getting a title opinion. He informed me the abstract must be up-to-date before he could render an opinion, so I told the attorney that I would have the title company pick it up the next day.

Fast forward a week and I call the abstract company to check on the progress. They ask for the legal description of the property which I give them as written on the copy of the court papers…”Lot X in subdivision Sun Valley Addition”. For some reason they cannot find the papers and tell me they will call back. They call back an hour later and tell me they have an update ready for “Lot X in subdivision Sun Valley Second Addition”, and that it will be $450.00. I run down and pick it up and take immediately to my attorney office. I point out to the receptionist that the legal description on the court papers do not match the legal description on the abstract. She calls the attorney to the lobby and has me show him what I was talking about. He immediately tells me that I do not want to buy this property and not to bother having him read any further (saving me his $250.00 fee). He tells me that the foreclosure proceedings are not valid and they will have to start over from the beginning. In short I had bid a property that didn’t exist. It depends on how I look at it. I had either paid $450.00 for absolutely nothing or I had paid $450.00 to save myself thousands in future losses. If the sale had gone through, technically I would have been renovating a home that never went through foreclosure. The only consolation I got was the attorney told me he would send me copies of all the new proceedings and let me know when it would be up for auction again.

It’s a true fixer upper. For an initial investment of $20,000, $10,000 maximum in materials, and do-it-yourself labor, a $30,000 net seemed like just the deal I was looking for. I had iuntended to bid on it again when it came back to auction but I found a much better deal while waiting. I’ll tell you all about it next.

The place wasn’t as bad as it looked. As long as I could remove the graffiti from the vinyl siding it was actually quite new and in good shape. The roof had been shingled within the last 5 years. The floors had solid oak under old carpet. There was a lot of sheetrock work and the kitchen and bath would require a complete overhaul but it was a project that should give a good return.

Deja Vu Again Again

10th January 2007

Dave

I received a refund for my 10% deposit from the county clerk within 2 weeks. I fully intended to bid again on the same house when it came back to auction, but in the mean time I kept looking for other “deals.” I found several possibilities, but one looked especially intriguing. The opening bid was set at $0.00. I discovered that the property was being sold “without appraisal.” In many mortgage contracts there is a clause that allows the lien holder to do this in foreclosure. I can’t say why they might invoke this clause but in this case I have some idea. It could be due to the fact that the judgment was well below the appraised value, or that the place had serious structural problems (settling slab foundation), or due to the fact that the house did not sell in the first auction several months earlier. It may have been all of these factors working together.

My initial research determined that the property had an assessed value of $71,000, an appraised value of $60,000 (matching recent comparable sales), and a judgment of $25,000. I also discovered that there was $3,000.00 in current and back taxes. The property went though an auction about 2 months earlier in which the high bid was $40,000.00. The highest bidder and the second highest bidder both back out of the sale (neither placed the 10% deposit.) so it was back again in auction. I expected to bid up to $42,000. Depending on whether the HVAC required updating, I figure materials to renovate the place would be in the 7-12,000 range. This was actually a wild guess because I had no idea of what the interior would look like and a complete miscalculation of the cost to repair the foundation.

To my surprise I was the only person bidding on this property besides the bank. The banks attorney opened at $30,500, I countered with $32,00, and it was over. Here is where the fun begins. I went immediately to the bank for the $3,200 cashiers check and take it back to the Sheriffs office. The deputy looks at the check and tells me it is mode out wrong. It is made out to the Tulsa Count Clerk rather than the Tulsa County Court Clerk. I go back and get a new check. Later that afternoon I call the attorney’s office to see about getting the abstract updated. The assistant congratulates me and tells me that the rest of the process should go smoothly. Now where did I hear that before?

A couple days after the auction I get a call from a gentleman interested in the property. He tells me that he missed the auction and would I be willing to transfer the property to him for a “small” profit. He emphasized the word small. I told him I may be, but until I get the abstract back and title opinion I couldn’t make a decision. I had no intention of letting him have it but I also knew he could be trouble. If he really wanted the property, all he would have to do is contact the owner and agree to settle the default and give him a small fee for letting him do this. The owner would get little or nothing the way the auction went, so even a few hundred dollars may be all it would take to get the owner to agree. Until the final court confirmation the owner had the legal right to cure the default and retain the property. He would have another 3 1/2 weeks to do this.

It took the title search company 10 days to update the abstract. There was a great deal more work on this one than there was on the first one that I sent them. I take a quick glance at the abstract on the way to my attorney’s office. I notice a red page concerning unpaid taxes. Someone had bought a tax certificate on the property for the past 2 years. I comment on this when I hand it over. He tells me he will read it over and have his opinion by the first of the week. The following Monday I get a call and he tells me what he found. Another error in the legal description on one of the papers filed with the court. This error appeared on a single paper but it could potentially void the entire proceedings. He has a call into the bank’s attorney but hasn’t heard back. It would take another few days to determine if I should continue with the purchase. Finally on Thursday, less than 2 weeks from the confirmation hearing, I get a call that new papers had been filed with the court and that the sale could still go through.

It was finally the time for me to draw on my line of credit. I went to the bank and deposited $20,000 from the line of credit to my personal account. Except for the possibility that someone was trying to cure the default and problems with the foreclosure papers still existed, I felt somewhat relieved to get this out of the way. That relief didn’t last too long. The following Monday I checked my account balances online. Only $5,000 of the $20,000 had been credited to my account. I check with the bank and discover that there is a 10 business day hold on large checks. I would have to get documentation from the lending bank that the funds were available and my bank would release the hold. I go home and call the bank, which is in Rhode Island, and ask them to fax a statement on their letterhead to my banks Risk Management office. They inform me that their policy is to not release any personal information and that they cannot send the Fax but if my bank will call them they can confirm the funds are available. I contact my bank and they inform me that their policy is to get written confirmation. I’ll cut it short her and tell you that this went back and forth for 2 days. As ridiculous as the situation seemed to me I was going to have to wait the 10 business days for the funds to clear. It was now Tuesday, Thanksgiving was on Thursday, and the confirmation hearing was set for the following Tuesday. I had to have a cashiers check into the Court Clerks office by Monday at 4:00. I call my dad to see if he could help me out. He checks with his broker and his brokerage firm will loan him the money and will have a check overnighted. He receives the check late on Wednesday but too late to deposit in his bank. The Friday after Thanksgiving he takes it to his bank and guess what. They have the same hold period.
So now I have 3 days to somehow get the funds. But wait there is something else.

Ever since I get the call from the guy wanting to buy the property from me I check the court records each day to see if any new paper are filed. Sure enough at 7:30 Friday Morning, paper are filed that the confirmation hearing is “stricken.” I call the foreclosure attorney to see what this was about and they know nothing about it but will find out and call em back. Later that afternoon they call too let me know that the Judge was out of town and they could not finds out why the hearing had been canceled. The judge’s clerk agreed to place the hearing back on the docket until the judge could be contacted the next Monday. So here I was no funds (or at least no cashier check), not sure if the sale would be confirmed, not sure that the papers have been filed correctly, and still fearing that an outside source was trying to stop the sale. That weekend of waiting was no fun.

In the meantime, dad had contacted a long time friend who is a bank manager in s small time outside of Tulsa. He will vouch for him and cash the check and issue a cashier check immediately. I tell him about the possibility the confirmation hearing will not go through on Tuesday and that he should wait. We decide to wait until Monday morning before we go any further.

I finally get an answer about 10:30 Monday morning. The hearing is on but I don’t ask why it was temporarily stricken. My dad is in meetings all morning so I leave a message that I’ll need the cashier check. He finally gets free around two, but has to drive 70 miles round trip. We keep in touch by cell on his progress. I get a call about 3:30 that he is back on the road. We decide it would be best for me to meet him downtown. If everything goes perfect we will be cutting it close. There a great deal of street construction downtown and it seems like it takes me forever to find parking. I call dad back and tell him about the roadblocks and a way to avoid them. We decide that I will meet him outside the County Court House. About 5 minutes before 4:00 he arrives, pulls over to the curb, rolls down the window, hands me the check and I immediately start running. I make it just under the wire. The clerk takes my checks and prepares the receipts. The worst was over I think, or is it?

I suit up the next morning and head off to the courthouse about 8:00. The confirmation hearing is set for 10:00. I find the courtroom listed on the court papers, but notice that the judge’s nameplate on the door doesn’t match. I’m a little early and no one is around so I decide to check if I have the right place. It turned out that the courtroom listed in the court papers. I finally find the correct courtroom but it is empty. It’s only 9:30 so I decide to sit and wait. Over the next 30 minutes the halls and surrounding courtrooms filled with people. Around 10:00 the hall began to empty as people moved into the courtrooms. The courtroom the confirmation hearing was to be heard remained empty. By 10:15 the hall was empty except for another couple and me. I heard them talking earlier about real estate and confirmation hearings. Were they the owners ready to contest the auction, were they attorneys, were they associated with the guy who wanted me to turn over the property for the small profit.

The courtroom is still empty at 10:30. Every one in a while the hall fills with people as a court goes into recess. My attorney happens to walk by, asks how everything is going, but can’t stop and chat. The halls soon clear again except for the couple that had been waiting with me. We sit and wait another 20 minutes when an attorney I had seen several times at the auctions walked out of the judge’s office next to the courtroom. The couple walks over and I hear them ask something about confirmation hearings. I can’t hear so I walk over to them to ask my own questions. As I near I hear the attorney explain that there is no actual court hearing in confirmation hearings. The attorneys simply notify the judges that all requirements have been met, the money has been deposited and the judge signs the confirmation. She explains that the so-called confirmation hearing probably was concluded in her office about 10:01, and that we can check with the judges assistant next door to the still empty courtroom. I follow the couple in and hear them ask about another property. The assistant tells them it has been confirmed and they leave. I ask about mine and she tells me that it has been confirmed also. I think to myself that the ordeal is finally over, but then I think to myself “or is it!”

I run into the couple again waiting for the elevator. They tell me that this is the first property they bought at auction. They ask me if I know when the Sheriffs deed is issued. I don’t know so we decide to go downstairs together to the sheriff’s office and find out. The deputy at the desk tells us that the deeds are signed once a week. If the judge sends the paper work by the end of the day the Sheriff will sign the deeds the next morning. If there is a delay then it will be the next Wednesday before it can be issued.

The next morning go back to the country courthouse. I first go to the county assessor’s office to check on the back taxes. I get the amount required to get them up-to-date, but am told that unless I have clear title to the property I shouldn’t pay the back taxes. I go back downstairs to the Sheriff’s office and wait in line to see if the deed has been issued. The deputy shuffles through a pile of papers, and pulls out a couple of pages. I sign one of the copies and ask what next. I’m told that I need to record the deed with county records. I spend the rest of the morning running to county offices to pay the various taxes and fees, but by noon I had finally ought my first investment property. But what exactly had I bought. I’ve done a walk around and looked in windows but I really knew very little about the shape of the property inside.

This is what I end up with. Guess what’s inside.

I finally had deed and full access to the property. The inside was nothing like I expected. The place had been boarded up so I could not see much of the interior prior. There were surprises around every corner. Some good, some not so. Neighbors began to stop by and see what was happening with the place. I let them know what I was planning and got a lot of information in return. Each neighbor had a different take on what happened with the property so I will probably never know the full details. One thing I can say for sure is that the place had been completely abandoned for close to 2 years. Neighbors had actually attempted to have the place condemned. The exterior had been neglected and was deteriorating badly. Kids had broken in and had been using the place as a club house. One neighbor even suspected the homeless had been living there. I’m guessing the lien holder finally took charge and winterized and boarded the place up. There were stickers on each plumbing appliance and most of the windows and doors were covered with plywood.

The interior was a mess. It appeared the previous owner had simply walked away from the place, leaving clothing, furniture, and personal papers, and much more. I spent a full day taking documenting conditions of the place, then the next few days cleaning the place up. Kids had knocked holes in most of the walls, or sprayed them with graffiti. Clothes, 45 RPM records, and papers were strewn all around the place. The garage was packed with so much junk, it would take 4 trailer loads to the land fill to clean up. I would have to clean up the place before I could start cleaning up the place. That was how bad it was. I also decided to clean up around the yard so the neighbors would know that the place would be fixed up.

Once the place was cleaned up a bit I began to realize exactly what I had bought. I’ll start with the bad news. I could tell from the exterior that there was some major foundation problems. Once inside though, it became more clear just how bad they were. There were cracks in almost all of the walls (besides the ones created by the kids). One interior wall, perpendicular to the back exterior wall, had a 3/4 inch gap halfway up the wall. The force had actually pulled (or sheared) a piece of the baseboard apart. The front right corner of the house was floating about 1/2 inch on top of the floor. It was evident that I would have to have the foundation repaired before I could do much else.

The kitchen and bath weren’t in very good shape. The bath vanity was made out of particle board that had gotten wet and was badly deteriorated. The green fiberglass one piece tub and surround had a large crack in the bottom of the tub.
The kitchen cabinets, counter top and appliances were still usable but outdated. The floors were carpeted over 12 inch vinyl tiles, but the carpet was in bad shape (except for one room). The garage overhead doors, front door, sliding glass door, all needed replacing. All of the woodwork (doors, trim, and baseboards) was vinyl coated particle board. The place would basically need to be gutted. There wre also a few surprises with the plumbing and electrical but I’ll go into that later.

Now for the good news. The roof had been replaced in 2004. I discovered some photos in a box in the garage that showed the condition of the place before the roof was repaired. There were some serious leaks in the front of the house and garage. The sheet rock on the ceiling had also been replaced where the roof leaked. I’m guessing about the same time the previous owner replaced the 4 bedroom windows in the front of the house. They weren’t exact matches to the original, and they would have to be re-hung when the foundation was repaired, but they would do. The heat and air had been updated about the same time, so that was an avoided (expected) expense. The dishwasher was fairly new. I would have to replace one valve but again another avoided expense. Finally, there were several huge rolls of carpeting in the garage. I could tell that it wasn’t new, but it appeared to be in near perfect condition.

I finally had a good idea of exactly what I had bought. Overall, I felt good about the situation. I immediately began to look for foundation repair estimates. In the meantime I decided to begin the demolition. I would remove all of the vinyl woodwork and doors, take the floors down to the cement slab, gut the bath completely and remove the built in kitchen electric oven and gas cook top. I was on my way finally!

A-Pier-ant Structural Damage

10th January 2007

Dave

This property would be my first experience with slab foundations. I had jacked up a house setting with a crawl space to replace rotting sills, aprons, and joists, but this was a whole new ballgame. My search for foundation repair experts began on the internet. I Googled various search terms to get a general understanding of what was involved. I learned that a great deal of the settling problem were due to trees close to the foundation. The way I understand it, tree roots travel under the house looking for water. By removing the water in the soil under the house the soil shrinks and the foundation settles. No matter how it happened the foundation had some serious settling problems.


Here are a few pictures that give some idea of the settling problem. I could show damage just about anywhere around the perimeter of the house though.

I sent out 4 emails to local foundation repair companies, explaining the damage, and asked for estimates. I recognized several names from the TV commercials. You know the ones with the Coaches and Baseball Hero. I figure these companies must have been busy recruiting and scouting foundation repair rookies because they never answered my emails. I did get an reply form a company that happened to be less than a half mile from the place. We made an appointment to meet the next day at 1:00.

A truck pulled up just a little before 1:00 the next day. A man with a clip-board got out scanned the front of the house and said walking towards me “Son, you need a Bunch of Piers.” I replied “it a-piers that way to me too.” He must not get my sense of humor (or lack thereof) since he just began to take notes without even a smile. He spent the next 20-30 minutes or so taking measurements and making notes. He must have got my little joke just as he totaled up the estimate because a broad smile came to his face. We sat down and he began to explain my options. To sum them up, I could go with 20 concrete and steel piers every 8 feet around the perimeter for about $7,000, or I could go with the same number of all steel piers for around $12,000. However due to the fact that it was December, their slowest time of the year, they would give me a 10% discount if I had the work done in immediately. I decided to go with them on the spot. They would start a couple of days before Christmas and finish just before New Years. That was the plan at least. It turns out that we would experience the mother of all ice storms a couple of days later. They had so many cancellations I was bumped up a couple of weeks. I was one of the few place in town with electricity. I had no gas, heat or water but I had electricity.

Just 3 days into the ice storm a large truck pulled up into my my driveway. More trucks began to show up right after. The foreman came over, introduced himself. He gave me a quick explanation of what was going to be done that day and asked for my check for half of the repair cost. Within minutes a six man crew was moving equipment, cutting large holes in the sidewalks and back porch, digging holes and in general working a lot harder that I would want to. Once they were well established, I decided to leave them alone and get back to work. I told the foreman I would be back around 3:00.

To my surprise, at 3:00 when I got back the crew was gone. All of the concrete had been cut, holes dug and the piers filled with cement.

They came back about a week later to finish the repair. A little larger crew showed up this time. Within minutes of arriving, the crew was placing large bottle jacks on each pier, dropping off concrete blocks and steel plates around each hole. Once again I told the foreman I had to get back to work and left around nine. By noon when I came back on my lunch break, the house had been raised, several holes already filled and the place was buzzing with activity. Cracks were being mortared, joints caulked, dirt compacted, concrete patches poured in the sidewalk and porch. I was impressed! The foreman told me that they would haul off all of the extra dirt, but I asked him to move to the back yard. I would eventually use it to regrade the soil surrounding the foundation. He would haul off the broken concrete and other debris though.

As the crew continued to work, the foreman took me around the house pointing out all of the improvements. The floating corner was now meeting the slab. The separating sheet rock had moved closer but not quite back to the original spot. He explained that it was not always possible to raise the foundation all the way. There were many factor involved in how much they could safely raise the foundation. The cracks in the brick were being re-pointed and missing brick replaced. Overall I was very pleased with what I saw. I told him that I was ready to get started replacing doors and windows. He warned me to wait a minimum of 4 weeks, to allow any settling that may occur. I gave him the final payment for the work and and went back to work. Several hours later when I returned the crew was gone.

Neighbors continued to come by while the work was being done. I learned that piers around the neighborhood were a source of great pride. The number and style of piers, the guaranty, the company name, and total cost were all factors in what made their foundation repair special. I lost on all count other than number of piers, but I’d use this company again.

I also began to get other visitors that had seen my property listed on the internet under foreclosures. It appears that the place was listed as sold for the judgment ($24,000). That was not the case at all. With the auction price, back taxes, legal, and now foundation repair, I was at $42,000. This was actually what the original auction had brought in, the one where both bidders backed out. Still a good price but no where close to what was listed on the net. Anyway I was on my way finally. I would have 3-4 weeks to plan, clean, buying materials, and make minor repairs, but I was now on my way. It felt good.

Setting up shop.

10th January 2007

Dave

Most of the heavy demolition and cleaning had been done by the time the foundation was repaired. I had three to four weeks to kill before I could begin full scale renovation so I decided to begin to organize the garage. I built a long work bench from the plywood and 2×4 used to board up the doors and windows. After taking another load of junk to the dump it was time to assess the situation in the garage.

It was obvious that some repairs were required on the garage door. All of the windows were gone and several of the wood panels needed replacing. I had hoped to get a sheet of plywood and repair the existing doors but it would not work out that way. The doors were 9 feet wide x 8 feet high. I may have been able to find sheets of 4 x 9 x 1/4 inch plywood, but I began to think that it would be much more work than I wanted to do. New doors were the way to go this time. Lowes and Home Depot had 9 x 7 garage doors in stock but the 9 x 8 would have to be be special ordered. I had time to wait for delivery but there was a catch. The special order doors were almost twice as much as the stocked models. It appears that the in stock sizes are bought with quantity discounts that the price is kept very low. I decided to go with the smaller door and re-frame the door opening. The only extra materials required would be four nine foot 2×4’s to frame in the 1 foot gap on the top. I planned on using a section of the existing door as siding but that plan would change later. This way would save almost $400.00 so it was a no-brainer.

I decided to go ahead and install the garage doors. The tracks could always be adjusted if any settling did occur. Besides that it would let the neighbors know that the neighborhood eyesore was going away. I had replaced several garage doors before, but it had been so long it didn’t help much. Even though the instructions that came with the doors are geared towards the novice and do-it-yourselfer, it still took me the entire weekend to install the doors. The main stumbling block involved installing the brackets on the center steel post. It was much more difficult positioning and aligning the brackets on a curved surface, not to mention drilling through steel rather than wood. I also discovered another minor problem. Both sides of the garage were about 3/4 inch lower than the center post. The sides rested on foundation while the center post was mounted directly on top of the floating slab. The difference only showed up when the gap on top was framed in. A 3/4 inch drop over 9 feet is pretty noticeable. It wasn’t a big deal though I simply shimmed the 2×4 frame to compensate. Once covered with siding it looked fine.

There were a couple of old 1970’s Genie screw type garage door openers in the garage. I could only find a single transmitter and receiver, but I decided if I could get one working opener out of the 2 it would be all I needed. I spent several hours over the next few days installing, cleaning, adjusting, removing and repeating. I finally got an opener to work for the most part but
the operation was a little erratic. The bottom line was that these openers were just too old. The receiver comminication with the transmitter was fine, but the operation seemed to have a mind of it own. It was time to update to a newer model.

The new door helped a little on look of the exterior. The largest part of the eyesore was gone, but the new door also accentuated the deterioration in the rest of the exterior. Even though it was January, I decided to concentrate on the exterior. Partly to make the neighbors happy, but I was really anxious to see how it would look once renovated. At least the garage was secure, and I would have a place to work and store tools and materials.

Pink Houses

10th January 2007

Dave

All right, John Mellencamp thinks pink houses are “for you and me”, but really would you want to live in one. I didn’t. Pink siding and trim with orange brick may have worked in the 70’s but it was time for a change. Driving by you really couldn’t see the full scope of the deterioration of the place but you couldn’t help notice the pink pealing paint. Several of my neighbors stopped by to tell me how glad they were to see the place painted, and a different color.

The next few weeks were quite busy. I had to be able to work during daylight hours. Fortunately, I am self-employed was able to juggle my hours. I began to get up between 5:00 and 6:00 A.M each morning, walked across the hall to my home office and worked at my “day job.” I would stop between 12:00 and 1:00 to go over to the new house. Once it got dark I would go back to the office and finish my day. I only had about 3-4 hours of good sunlight each day on the best of days. January turned out to be a fairly mild month for Oklahoma so it wasn’t too bad. While the sun was shining I didn’t really care how cold it was. I kept so busy I didn’t really notice. On the overcast windy days, it was a different story though.

My original budget didn’t allow for much in the way of materials. At first glance it looked like all that was needed was a couple sheets of siding and a coat of paint. Not even close! It appears that when they did the roof in 2004, they replaced quite a bit of the fascia. The only problem was that they used untreated/unpainted pine boards. The untreated pine weathered to make it look like cedar, which through me off. After removing a couple of pieces I found a lot of rot. It turned out that I would end up replacing virtually all the fascia, about 50% of the soffet and about about a dozen sheets of 4×8 siding. I scrimped a bit by recycling some of the siding. I was able to cut out the rot on some of the large pieces and use it to patch the eaves and fill in the gap on top of the new garage doors. I could have replaced another 20 or so sheets but decide that could come later of necessary.

One nice surprise was a piece of plywood I removed from the roof of the porch. The previous owner had tacked it up to make a repair, but I wasn’t happy with it. To my surprise it turned out to be a 4×5 piece of cabinet grade oak veneer 1/2 inch unfinished plywood. Since it was protected under the porch, the weather didn’t hurt it much at all. I would eventually use this to replace the vanity cabinet in the bath.

I spent all January redoing the exterior. One of the biggest struggles I had was finding warm enough weather to paint. Exterior latex should not be applied in temperature under 50 degrees. Technically, the applied paint shouldn’t be subjected to temperature under 50 degrees for at least 24 hours, but I cheated there. I was able to paint one side immediately after replacing the siding fascia and soffet, but had to wait another 10 days to paint the next section. Anyway by the end of January I had the outside looking pretty good. All of the rotten wood was replaced, painted, guttered, and all new doors and windows were in. The inside was still a disaster but at least It looked good to the public.

Commercial Break

10th January 2007

Dave

Before recounting my adventures in renovating the interior, I thought I would take a short break and talk about buying materials. My goal has always been to make this house look as good as possible for the least amount of money possible. That meant I have had to become a comparison shopper to say the least. I’ll search the internet for deal s when possible but most of the supplies would need to be found locally. I would usually start with Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sutherland’s, and of course the Garbe website when warranted, then check the prices in person. For the most part Lowe’s and Home Depot sell comparable products for about the same price. In store sales could make a big difference when you could find them though.

I went with Lowe’s for doors (interior and exterior), windows, casement, baseboards, tub, and sheet rock. I purchased all of this with there 12 months no interest plan. I had to buy everything at once and have it delivered but it was definitely the way to go. I paid cash for all other purchases at Lowe’s so I haven’t paid any interest at all. Some of those monthly bills got pretty steep though.

I also re-discovered the local lumber yard. They have a much larger stock of lumber and plywood than the home centers. To my surprise I also found that their prices were actually equal and sometimes even lower. I purchased all of the siding, and cedar lumber to do the exterior at Millcreek Lumber.

One of the nicest surprises I found was at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore.
This is a store operated by the local Habitat for Humanity. They take donations of just about any construction materials you can think of and re-sell to the public. I bought all or most of the door knobs, light fixtures, faucets, tile accents, and vanity counter top there. The savings were overall pretty good. I replaced all of the interior knobs in the house with new satin nickel knobs for $3.00 a piece. I got several light fixtures for $5.00 a piece on their monthly special. These were lights that had been in their stock for a long time. All of the light fixtures were solid brass and very good quality, although a bit outdated. The vanity counter top was another steal at $20.00. The plumbing looked like a good deal on the surface but after rebuilding them they turned out to be not quite as good of a deal. The Moen kitchen and bath faucet I bought for $5.00 each actually cost me about $60.00 and $40.00 after replacing the cartridges, wand, and other missing components. A little high for a used faucet. They work well and look OK but I will probably go new next time. I also donated some of the materials worth recycling back to them. Any way you look at it, it is a win win situation.


Here are a few of the items I found at the Restore. Will keep going back looking for more bargains.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog. Next up is renovating the bathroom.

Best Laid Plans

10th January 2007

Dave

I would start with a blank slate in the bathroom. The vanity was made out of particle board with a man made marble top. The particle board had gotten wet many times and crumbled in my hands while removing it. The sink basin and top was Very 70’s yellow with swirls of gold glitter. Both had to go. The tub and shower surround where a green one piece molded fiberglass unit. While cleaning the tub I noticed a large crack in the floor of the tub. It turned out that the tub had not been leaking but it had to be replaced regardless. Once I had the tub surround out I discovered that over half of the wall behind the surround had not been insulated. I was glad I removed it. I would end up removing the small medicine cabinet and mirror also. It would be cleaned up and donated to the Habitat for Humanity Restore.

Once the bath was gutted, I was ready to go. I started by insulating the outside wall, dropped the ceiling 18 inches and insulated that also. I installed a steel tub and insulated around it too. I finished the rough in with hardibacker around the tub and fiberglass backed sheet rock around the rest of the bath. I recylcled the oak plywood recovered from the exterior and built that vanity shell. I took special care reworking the sheetrock around the plumbing. Over the years it had gotten pretty bad.

Installing the tile turned out to be a real adventure. I found a set of tile 6 inch, 12 inch, bull nose at Lowe’ that went with the accent tiles I bought tat the Habitat Restore. It was also the least expensive matched set that I could find there. It wasn’t exactly cheap but the price was in my budget. The plan was to do the ceiling in 6 inch, the surround in 12 inch with the accent strip and finished with the bull nose. The ceiling went up just fine, but after setting the third or fourth field tiles the trouble began.

It turned out that there were very large variations in the sizes of the 12 inch tile; as much as 3/16 inch difference between the smallest and largest. I had planned on a laying the tiles in a typical grid pattern with a 1/8 inch grout line. The 3/16 inch difference killed that idea. I switched to a running bond pattern so that the difference in grout line wouldn’t be quite as noticeable. Since I had already started I kept on going. I did my best to match the sizes by rows and more or less eyeballed the grout line. After setting the entire surround I decide there were about 5 or 6 tiles that were just too big. I went back to Lowe’s and found 6 more tiles that were close to the smaller sizes; chipped out the larger tiles and replaced them with the new ones. I compensated for the irregular tiles by filling the grout into the distressed edges. It made for a much larger grout line, but it also almost completely disguised the irregularities. It may not be everybody’s choice, but it looked OK to me. I believe I had bought tiles from several different runs from the manufacturer. Several of them were obviously returns, because they had what I thought was grout haze, but turned out to be thinset. It was very difficult to get them clean. I’ll know better next time. I should have had Lowe’s pull down a new pallet rather than take what they had on the shelf. Fortunately, the floor went down without problem and I was very happy with the overall final results.

The Entry

11th January 2007

Dave

The previous owner had begun to do something in the front entry. I’m not sure exactly what they planned, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted.


I decided to split the space near the front door for a closet in the bedroom and a coat closet for the entry.

At one time the door to the bedroom had been in the hall right next to the adjacent bedroom. I decide to move it closer to the front of the hall. I left the original door as is and would use it for the for the bedroom closet. I framed for a pocket door for the entry coat closet.

I had replaced the front door when I was doing the exterior so this project went pretty quick. On the other hand this was just the beginning of the sheet rock work. I finished the new sheet rock, tiled the floor, and installed a light and door bell. The painting would wait until I was ready to do the entire house though.

Sheet Rockin’ Good Times

11th January 2007

Dave

For the most part the bath and entry were new construction as far as sheet rock goes. The real fun would start with the patching. I don’t think there was a wall in the entire place that didn’t need at least one patch. Not only were there a lot of patches to be done, there were countless previous patches that didn’t exactly blend in with their surroundings.

The ceiling had the typical 70’s popcorn texture. That was the first to go. Fortunately it’s a snap to remove. I used a garden sprayer to wet the popcorn and it slid right off the ceiling with a 12 inch taping knife. The next time I will go ahead and round off the knife corners. There were a few gouges that could have been avoided. The entire ceiling took less than 2 hours to clean. I just wish it went back up as easy.

The walls had a thick texture knockdown finish. I don’t like the look but it is there to stay. The real problem was that any place that was patched in thee last 25 years showed. Each patch had it’s own version of the knockdown texture. My solution was to make all of the repairs and then re-texture the entire house. I started with the ceiling. I knew I didn’t want to put the popcorn stuff back up but on the other hand I didn’t want to spend the time to completely rework the ceiling. I compromised by putting a thin knockdown (basically an orange peel) texture. I thinned regular joint compound to a consistency of thick soup and sprayed it on with a hopper sprayer. I tried several tools to knockdown the spray , but what I finally settled upon was a spray shield. It was a 2 x 3 piece of flexible plastic on a 2 foot wood pole. After letting the texture set on the ceiling for 5-15 minutes I would wipe the face of the shield over the semi-wet mud. I would make one short sweep and wipe off the excess and take another swipe. I used the same technique on the walls but varied the consistency of the mud. On new sheet rock or patches I used a heavier consistency to try and make it match the surroundings. I then went over the entire house with a thinner consistency. It really helped hide all of the patches. I basically had a top coat of the same texture throughout the house. I’m not going to tell you you can’t find the patches if you really tty, but looking over the wall casually you can’t tell new sheet rock and patches from the old.

I ended up spraying six gallon buckets of thinned mud on the walls. I finished them off with a light sanding and a coat of PDA primer. The top coat of paint would have to wait until all of the trim was up. Sheet rocking is hard messy work. Toting hoppers of mud isn’t much fun either. The worst was over. It was time for trim carpentry. I always enjoy that part of a renovation.

Coping with Carpentry

11th January 2007

Dave

The 70’s weren’t exactly the golden era of home building. From aluminum wiring to faux woodgrain vinyl on particle board woodwork to popcorn ceilings and swirling gold glitter faux marble, this place screamed 70’s. Except for some of the aluminum wiring all of that would soon be gone from this emerging new house. Just to emphasize the point, I offered some of the removed materials (interior doors, vanity top) that were still in good shape to the Habitat for Humanity Restore. All were refused except for the medicine cabinet and a set of drawer pulls. Everything else went to the landfill. I was afraid the landfill might even reject the stuff, but they took it all anyway.

I bought several contractor bundles of pre-primed baseboard and casement from Home Depot. It was very reasonably priced I thought. It is some of the softest wood I’ve ever come across. I’m not sure how well it will hold up over time, but it will look good for a while at least.

I began trimming the windows first. All of the windows were replaced and needed to be trimmed out. The original windows were trimmed with sheet rock. I don’t mind the way it looks, but I dont’ believe sheet rock is durable enough for window surrounds. I would trim them in plywood and wood molding. The fastest way for me to do it was to build the shells off the window and install as a single unit. It is much easier to get tight and square joints this way, or at least for me it is. After they are built it is a simple matter of sliding them in and shimming the sides and finish nailing the casement to the wall. There were 2 shells that I had to score the sheet rock and trim a bit to make fit, but it worked fine.

windows

The windows trimmed out pretty quickly. The doors would take much longer. I replaced all of the interior doors with pre-hung 6 panel molded doors. 20 years from now, these may turn out to be the equivalent of the vinyl coated doors I replaced, but any way you look it they look much nicer than what was up before. I put together the mitered pieces of the casing and then tacked the assembled pieces to the jambs and walls. I trimmed the closet openings the same way. This helped keep the mitered corners good and tight and square. It worked well for me at least.

Finally it was time for the baseboards. I cheated here a bit. I recycled the vinyl coated simulated wood grain pieces in the closets. I painted them but I know good and well that paint will not stick. Who looks in the closets that closely anyway, I told myself. I replaced the rest of the baseboards though. The first couple of coped inside corners weren’t the best you will see, but with a little caulk to fill the gap and no one will ever know. By the time I got to the last coped corner it fit very snugly without the need for any caulk.

coping baseboards

I was finally ready for paint. Painting is not my favorite thing to do, but it was nice to begin to see a finished product. It was on to the floor next. I rather enjoy laying tile so I was looking forward to the next projects

Floored!

11th January 2007

Dave

Tiling the kitchen went quickly without incident. The tiles were uniform in size and cut easily. I used a good quality thin set (Versabond) to set the tiles and 5/16 inch spacers. I would make a couple of changes later though. I increased the path from the french doors and also added tile to the kick space. Once I had the tile grouted I was ready to lay carpet.

The carpet wasn’t as easy as the tile. It seems counter intuitive that the the carpet would be harder than tile but it was in my case. The first problem came from trying to nail down new tack strip. Most of the nails blew out the surrounding concrete. It didn’t matter what size the nails were small or large or how I hammered them down they all failed. Several internet sites had different ideas on how to do it but none of them worked for me. One idea was to drill and use plastic anchors. I found a better solution though. I drilled pilot holes and then used a slightly larger masonry nail and it worked perfectly every time. I did discover that a hammer-drill is actually much easier on carbide drills than high speed drills are. I went through my fist bit half-way through the first room. After switching to a small hammer drill I was able to complete the installation with just 2 more bits. At first I glued the strips before drilling, but quickly gave up that step. It just wasn’t necessary.

tiletile

Installing the padding wasn’t any problem. I miscalculated on how much was required but that was easily solved by an extra trip the home center. Laying the carpet had it’s share of surprises though. When I walked into the garage for the first time I was surprised to see several huge rolls of carpet left by the previous owner. Two of the rooms had the same carpet already installed. There were some serious stains on the carpet in the bed rooms but I assumed it was from the kids that had been using the place as their club house. Other than the stains the carpet looked almost new. Not only that but it was a very high quality carpet. I rolled it up and stored it on top of the other rolls in the garage before I started the demolition work. I planned on cleaning it after re-installing it. I assumed the rest of the rolls were of equal quality. Boy was I wrong.

Reinstalling the cut pieces actually went pretty well. I would have to add pieces to do the closets but that was no problem. Once I had the two previously cut pieces laid I began to roll out the carpet that had been stored in the garage for the past few months. It turned out that the carpet was used. I’m guessing it came from some sort of show room because the pieces were enormous. Some of the carpet looked brand new while other parts were heavily worn. The previous owner must have selected a part of the carpet that had little wear for the 2 bedrooms. I still had to carpet one bedroom, the hall and the living room. The bed room wasn’t a problem. I was able to find a piece large enough out of the wear pattern. It was like new. The living room was a little more difficult. I cut out the largest piece I could of good carpet to fit most of the room. I would have to seam a strip on the side but at least it was all nice carpet. Doing it this way didn’t give me a low traffic piece big enough for the hall so I would have to splice a couple of pieces together. Once it was down it looked Ok but I will have to make some changes. I’ve decided to remove the carpet in the living room and re-use it in the hall. It will be plenty big enough to do the hall in one piece. I’ll lay hardwood or bamboo floor in the living room. Beside that a light tan carpet in the living area isn’t a good idea for me. It would be far too difficult to keep clean. The new floor will have to wait until the end though. It looks OK for the moment. I ended up taking a large trailer full of carpet scraps to the dump. I ended up using less than a third of the total carpet. Most of waht went to the landfill was the heavily worn areas though. At least part of it got recycled.

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The place was finally beginning to look habitable. Still a lot to do but a lot had been done.

Kitchen Reno

11th January 2007

Dave

The first thing I did was remove the old gas cook top (an uncommonly large 70’s model) and the built in oven. I replaced them both with a professional series gas range and a built in microwave cabinet. This would save me quite a bit of room. I lost the drawers under the oven, but gained several feet of counter top. At the same time I increased the size of the adjacent den/living room by 10-20 square feet. I moved the refrigerator surround over about 2 feet to gain this space in the living room. I had hoped to keep the original walnut stained plywood cabinets doors. I planned to sand and paint them. It probably would have worked out OK but I made so many changes to cabinet layout several of them no longer fit. The decorative routing would not allow me to resize them. I could have tried to duplicate them, but if I was going to all that trouble, I decided to go ahead and redo them all.

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Once I decided to replace all of the cabinet doors I also decided to move the dishwasher. Moving it to the other side of the kitchen placed it closer to the sink as well as making it a bit more inconspicuous. I also gained a large drawer in that space so it was worth the effort. I then sanded and painted the face frames and shelves. I got stock sheet vinyl from Lowe’s for the counter top. I was able to get 2 sheets of 4×8 which was way too much material for less than what the right amount would have cost me to special order. I plan on using the excess to cover the under-sink shelves and will have some left over to cover work benches in the garage. The back splash design came directly from a home depot tile display. I chose it because I already had the white tiles left over from a previous bath remodel. All I needed were the colored tiles and the white trim pieces. The entire back splash cost less than $50.00.

The doors went together very quickly. I already had all of the tools needed from a previous kitchen remodel. All I had to buy was the wood. I had hoped to use the glass I saved from the sliding glass doors, to make the top row of doors, but the glass was tempered and could not be cut. I ended up using plywood for all of the doors. I went with poplar for the rails and styles and cabinet grade birch plywood for the panels Normally I would have used rock maple but I thought poplar would be easier to work with. It may have worked out that way, but I will most likely go back to maple the next time. The benefit of the small saving of time sanding the joints was lost on quality. maple machines much nicer than poplar. On the other hand poplar was less expensive so its a 6 of one type deal.

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Once the kitchen was to this stage (first of May 2008) I started planning on selling the property. Technically I still had about 5-10% of the work left to do but the place looked completely habitable. In fact it was. Much of the remaining work involved decorating which I wouldn’t even attempt. Up to this point I kept everything rather simple. White walls and woodwork, safe colored tile etc. The kitchen back splash was the only decorating I had attempted and I kept it fairly simple. I would get help from others later who would supply some very interesting decorating ideas.

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If I learned one thing since starting this project it that you need to be flexible in dealing with problems and situations as they arise. You need some basic knowledge and a plan but you need to adapt as you go along. I’ll explain more as I bring this adventure to an end in the remaining blog posts. Yes it will eventually end.

Final Chapter: Book 1

11th January 2007

Dave

Once the place was nearing completion it was time to think about how to sell the place. After sitting down and figuring the total cost of the renovation and recent comparable sales in the are, I had a good idea on how much I would net on the sale. I soon discovered that that short term capital gains on the sale would eat into my profits significantly. It occurred to me that that I would be far better off selling the place I was currently living in. Basically, if you have lived in you main residence for at least 2 of five years, you are able to sell the property and exclude the gains up to $250,000. Of course their is much more to it than that but I definitely qualified for the exclusion. I decided to sell my existing home and move into the one just renovated.

I could start a whole new blog on my experiences with real estate agents, showing homes, home offers, staging home decor, closings and such but I will save it for a different time. I’ll keep it short and just say that it took me right at 3 months to close the deal, but considering the housing mortgage crisis we were in at the time, I did quite well. I sold for less than I had planned and there were a few minor setbacks but overall I’m satisfied with the outcome.

One drawback was that once I closed on the sale, I had to close the line of credit. One of the stipulations on the contract was that I had to live in the property as a primary residence. It is possible that I could have got a release on that term of the loan, but I decided to close it out. It would have been nice to keep the loan active and draw on it as soon as I found a new project , but instead I’ll start over scratch. I’ll most likely incorporate before I start the next.

I’m in the new place full time now. I’ll spend the next 2 years upgrading and finishing the home decor and such. I’ll have a much better idea of what to expect next time. I’m looking forward to the next project, but I’ll take a break for a bit.

Just a funny!

07th March 2011

Carri

When we were working on the “L street house” a  neighbor lady came over.  She introduced herself to me and I introduced myself and Dave as my fiancee.  She says, “Really? Even after all this? You still want to Marry him?”  LOL Still working on it!

We are just about ready to start our 2012 home renovation projects, but before we can begin we have a few projects to complete. We moved into our 2012 renovation the first part of October. The move was lengthy due to the fact we also had to re-establish a shop in the new place, but that is a story for a later date. Once we had moved out of our old home, we had a lot of work to do to get the place ready to rent.

The first task was to redo the cracks in the sheet rock and repaint. Once this was done it was time to redo the floor. We went with an inexpensive laminate floating floor from Lumber Liquidators. I’ve always said I would never use a fake wood flooring product, but in this case I couldn’t resist the low cost. We will see how it wears in a rental unit but I will have to say I am impressed with the ease of installation. It doesn’t look too bad either.

The field of floor took an afternoon to install. The snap and lock system is very easy to install. Trimming out the baseboards and transitions between the laminate and carpet or tile took another afternoon. I made the the transitions out of 1×4 oak flooring ripped into 3/8 x 4″ strips. I beveled the edges and finished with polyurethane. Using finish screw with plastic anchors installed into the concrete slab. Once again I made my own quarter round from flat stock poplar.

I used the sprayer to paint the ceiling so there was a lot of over spray on the soffit above the kitchen cabinets. Instead of repainting, I decided to cover them using 12×12 inch vinyl tiles. Another inexpensive easy way to dress up the place.

The final task was to install the closet doors. That was one project that we had intended to do for the last 4 years. We considered several different styles of doors but in the end we decided went with a sliding track and slab doors that match the rest of the doors in the house.

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Except for some miscellaneous minor repairs the place was ready to put on the market right before Christmas. We put an ad in Craigslist to sell or rent the property but the only inquiries we had where from real estate agents. That wasn’t a surprise but we were disappointed with the few rental inquiries we got. The last 2 times we put a house on the rental market, they were rented the same day we made them available. The good news was that right after January first we began to get quite a few inquiries about renting the property.

Once again we opted to go with a Tulsa Housing Authority (THA) Section 8 Program. We will get about $125.00 a month less each month than a normal lease, but the peace of mind that we get the rent on time each month is priceless. Unfortunately getting a property to pass the THA inspection process can have a price. Once we had a rental prospect I went through the property carefully looking for anything that might cause the inspection to fail. I made sure I had the proper ventilation in the hot water furnace closet. I added ground fault interupts (GFI) near all sources of water, and tested each recepticle around the house for proper ground. I was confident the place would pass easily, but I was wrong.

The inspector arrive right on time and met me in the garage while I was sweeping the floor. She immediately stopped at the garage door and pulled out her note pade and began to make notes. She let me know that the garage door opener must have a dedicated outlet near the motor. The extension cord I was using would not be allowed, even though it was a 12 gauge cord. She then went to the utility closet. Once again she began to make notes. I assumed that she would tell me that I would have to raise the hot water heater an other inch off the floor, but instead she said that the PVC relief drain I was using needed to be changes to brass, copper or CPVC. It had something to do with the fire rating of schedule 10 PVC. I was a little disappointed at this stage but at least both of the were very simple fixes.

By this time the prospective renter had arrived and I left the inspector while she was checking outlets for ground, to greet the renter. I took here around the garage and explained the issues the inspector brought up. By the time I caught up with the inspector, she was once again making notes. She was standing by the master bedroom windows. She mentioned that the small window size bothered her. Even though these windows were the same size as the original windows, they were too small for todays code. Bedroom windows must be large enough that a typical adult can crawl out of them in case of a fire. She told me that it would have to be replaced. Now this was a huge surprise, but I immediately agreed to replace the window. I even told her that ti would be done the same day. Although I don’t think she believed my, nor did the tenant, the inspector agreed to come back the next morning to reinspect. I was on my way to Lowes while the inspector and tenant were still in the driveway.

I picked up a single stock sliding window that would closely match the opening of the two small windows I would be replacing. The sliding window was the same height but about 8 inches narrower that the existing opening. I stopped by our new house to get as many tools as I thought I would need and returned to the rental property. With in an hour I had the old window removed and the rough opening reframed with new window installed with 2 screws just too keep it from being blow out by the wind. I took inventory of any additional supplies and tools I would need and went back to Lowes and home to restock. Carri came by after work about 4 and helped clean up while worked on the hot water drain and outlet for the garage opener. By 8:00 that night I had the window intalled and trimmed and ready for paint the next morning. The inspector arrive just as I was cleaning the paint brushes the next morning. She compliment me on the job, and signed off on the inspection.



Looking at the picture it doesn’t really look like ther is much difference between the window sizes. However, there is a significant difference between the size of the opening when the window is open. It would have been very difficult for a normal adult to crawl though the original window in an emergency. In the end it was time and money well spent.

Well, the tenant has moved in, and I finally get a break. Or at least I can begin working on our new house. I can’t wait to start on it and begin the blogging process on the experience. This next project is going to be fun!