Sunday, February 28, 2010

Empty shelves....

Ever since moving into this house, I’ve been dealing with the heating system. Some of issues that I’ve been having are extreme water evaporation from the furnace, cracked radiator, incorrect air valves and a steam locomotive racing across the tracks trying to get Marty McFly back to 1995… It’s really not a locomotive, but when the furnace kicks on, steam builds up in the pipes and after several minutes a banging sound could be heard throughout the entire house. It is normal for steam pipes to bang when pressure builds up within them. But imagine a construction worker swinging a hefty sledge hammer against the pipes. Yes that is pretty loud… I normally don’t have a problem with the noise until about 5:00 o’clock in the morning when the furnace kicks on. I’ve mentioned this issue before; however, recently the noise frequency has increased.

Enough is enough; I finally decided to contact a furnace repair person. I had a company look at the problem about a year ago and their initial assessment wasn’t cheap. They had recommended that several pipes would need to be cut and adjusted. A co-worker gave me a recommendation of a person and it turns out that he was awesome.
Ken looked at the system and concluded that the air valves were damaged and need to be replaced.

Rusty hell...

At the time of the repair, Ken didn’t have the appropriate replacement valves however he had instructed me what was needed. Thus the hunt for the replacement valves was on…I first went to the local big box store with the orange sign and found nothing. I then went to two high end plumbing stores in Northampton and yet nothing… I knew then that the search wasn’t going to be easy, however, for a long time I’ve known of a place in Holyoke. It is a place that has always been helpful when the big box stores couldn’t come through.

The name of the company is Holyoke Supply Company on Race Street. They specialize in Plumbing equipment for steam, gas and water. On the day that I went to the store, the rain was coming down pretty hard as I walked up to the door. I noticed a for sale sign on the building. The significance of the sign didn’t hit me until I looked into window. The shelves were completely empty… I walked up to the door expecting to see a sign stating that the store is closed, but instead I found an unlocked door. As I walked in, I notice the entire store was completely empty. However, there was a desk off to my left with stacks of paper on it. Behind the desk was an older gentleman. As he rose from his desk, I noticed his tired eyes. I instantly knew something wasn’t right. I asked, “Are you still open?” I was honestly hoping that he was going to tell me that the company was moving, but instead he stated, “We are closed” We talked for a couple more minutes. But he never mentioned why he was closing… Except he did mention that, “it was easier to close then try to stay open.” I left the store wondering why, competition against the box stores or possibly the economic situation… I don’t know… But it was certainly a sadder day and the rain that fell was truly fitting…

Here is a picture showing the store front….

I was able to find the valves at another store. I went to Haberman’s Hardware Store on High Street.
I began the weekend by removing the wall paper in the kitchen.

Here is the lovely design of the wallpaper and the room layout.

As I was removing the wallpaper, I noticed how grimy the drop ceiling tiles were. I then decided to finally remove the drop ceiling completely and expose the tin ceiling. I mentioned the tin ceiling about a year ago.

Here is a wonderful list of things that I discovered as removing the drop ceiling.

The light fixture was not secured properly to the ceiling.

Over by the refrigerator there was a large portion of tin missing from the ceiling.

The electrical wiring not properly done, nice mounting board.

Damage tin

And finally, A large amount of mouse poop from the drop ceiling..
Yes I said mouse poop… I was so overwhelming that after taking the drop ceiling debris to the dump, I cleaned the entire kitchen until the entire mouse poop situation was removed… So disgusting!!!

After cleaning the floor and washing the dishes once again, I decided to remove all of the wall paper and fix the electrical situation. The main power comes in through ceiling and powers both the main light fixture and a light fixture over the kitchen sink.

The problem was that the wires were exposed for the world to see. So to minimize the cable exposure, I decided to install an external conduit that will house both cables. The conduit is also paintable, thus allowing me to match it to the tin ceiling when I paint it.

After installing the wiring, I then installed a new light fixture.

Now that the light fixture is installed, I plan on adding new crown molding. The problem is that I have to build it out further to cover the damage of the tin ceiling and walls. So that will be an interesting fix… I also have to come up with a fix for the tin damage away from the walls. So I’ll have to think that one out… Anyway, until next, happy building…

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The five year plan in becoming a "Slum Lord"...

The world moves at its own speed. People and objects move around us in different direction. We learn to adjust and focus on ourselves without really understanding our impact in life. Many times we don’t know our influence onto others until many years later. I look at my little slice of heaven and wonder how my actions will influence those around me. I mention this because of my recent experience.

I promise I won't bore you with the specifics, but at the beginning of this year, it looked extremely promising in the romance department. It had occupied my time and caused me to neglected doing things around the house. Let’s just say, that little project is over... However, I’m truly not complaining. Seriously I’m not. Although it allowed me to catch up mentally and financially...

Around Christmas time I’d discovered that financially, I was running pretty thin. I had overlooked a couple of bills prior to purchasing some Christmas gifts. The break allowed me to catch up and refocus. Basically take control of my spending and get back on course with the house.
Since my last entry, things are starting to return to normal. The travelling for work has been helping. Kind of like a mini vacation from the house. So within the last two months, I’ve travelled to Boston, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virginia. The mini vacations gave me a chance to clean out my mind and get away from things here. But most importantly catch up in the savings department. However, the traffic violation in New Jersey didn’t help.

Anyway, the projects around the house continue to stack up. But I’ve come to a point where I want to update the kitchen. I am truly ready to update the kitchen. So I think I’m going to pull the trigger and make it happen sooner than later. Before I talk about the kitchen, I guess it would be a good time to let everyone in on my five year plan. I feel like I’m reporting to the board of directors…

My goal is to rent out both floors and purchase a second rental property. Yes I said it, another property. But to accomplish the overall goal, I need to fulfill several things. Currently the schedule is to complete the first floor apartment this summer (I estimate sometime in August) and move to an apartment for a brief period of time. I recently spoke with couple of mortgage managers about this plan. Before I could get approved for a loan the banks like to see a positive cash flow for more than three years. Personally, I think the current economic situation doesn’t help. But I need to prove to the banks that I can generate a positive cash flow that is more than 75% of the current mortgage expense. Basically the rental income must be more than the mortgage, taxes and insurance.

So with me moving to an apartment, the new added income would cover both the mortgage and a good portion of the new rental. Depending of course on the cost for the new apartment. The benefits of having the additional income for one year, I will meet the three year positive cash income that the banks requires. After which time, I would purchase a second rental property and begin the process of possibly looking for a third home. Thus the five year plan…

Ok, to meet that plan, I need to finish several projects that are currently in progress. But the biggest project that I think that needs the most attention is the kitchen. Honestly I’m just tired of the prune hands after doing dishes...
Here are a couple of pictures of the current kitchen…
At first glance the kitchen looks pretty good… Right? Well look a little closer… First you may notice that there isn’t a dishwasher… The next thing you should notice is the drawer next to the fridge… Yes it’s missing… All of the drawers are off their tracks. Basically they are not working properly.

Yes the drawer is also missing in the above picture...

My plan is to replace the countertop and drawers. Install a new dishwasher, sink and faucet. The current faucet leaks pretty bad… For the cabinets, I think I’m going to paint them and update the hardware. They work pretty well. I hope to start removing the wallpaper and begin to paint this weekend… Ok until next time, happy building…


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