Thursday, May 31, 2007

Union Station Meets This Old Chicago 2 Flat

Tonight, we show the aparment to 3 different interested people. One at 6 pm., another at 6:15, and a third at 7:30. I'm really hoping that we like at least one of them and someone takes an application. I promised one of the parties that there's always parking out front or 2 doors down (he wanted a parking space) which is usually true. (As I said, it's rare for there not to be). So, I'm also hoping that tonight isn't one of those "rare" moments. Last time around, our apartment was on the market for less than a week.

Fingers crossed on this one.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rental Status

Well, as I mentioned last week, we just put the rental back on the market on Friday. Over the weekend we had a couple parties express interest, and I just got a third e-mail.

1/2 of the first interested couple party was supposed to come by this morning to look at it. As a result, Glenn and I had quite an exhausting Sunday thoroughly cleaning the unit. The potential tenant was supposed to meet up with Apartment People after seeing our place. (which prompted the, "why don't you stop by here first.") Fast forward to today, and I had a message that the potential tenant did not make it back into town and he wanted to reschedule. Needless to say, this was a tad disappointing as it would have been great to have this settled already. We also held off on further advertising efforts (namely a sign in our window).

So, I've now returned e-mails and are trying to schedule appointments.

All and all though the viewing is pretty tricky. Things are so clean down there-I don't want to do anything to muck it up. Some of the possible projects include sanding the front stairs, going back to the fence, painting (which involves some sanding first).Of course, the other option is more cleaning. I figure I'll do more of that before the next appointment.

The life of a landlord...


Radiator Stripping-A sequel

We knew at some point this summer that we'd get to radiators-but had no idea that it would be this weekend! But, like any good sequel, you need to do something a little different. Otherwise, who would go see it?

The rental radiators were never done and we never planned on touching them. When we hired someone to move some radiators around, the person also chose to install every single radiator backwards. The result, is typically a color of paint at the top of the radiator, and sides, which looks particularly bad. (even worse than flaking paint!) With the mixture of both flaking paint and 3 or more colors staring back at you, it really was abominable.

So, I mention to Glenn "I think we should paint the radiator in the rental kitchen because it looks particularly bad. But, I think we should not bother sandblasting, just scrape off what we can, and go from there."

In the interest of working expeditiously, we left the radiator hooked up, and Glenn used the angle grinder with metal attachment. It worked magnificently. An hour or so later, this is what we had:

We don't have a before photo (sorry, I didn't expect Glenn to work on it right away-we were showing the apartment this weekend!) You have to trust me that it really did a wonderful job.

Of course, this method is horrible health wise because if there's lead paint on the radiator, you'd be kicking that up, which is a big no no.

We now are thinking that perhaps some huge radiators that we can't take out can be spot grinded. And heck, that system is much quicker than the sandblasting, so we'll have to see how the rest of the paint removal goes.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Up for Rent

We did it-we placed our rental up for rent. Let the nail-biting begin! We placed the ad on craigslist last night, and already have our first interested couple. They have, from the little we know, a couple similarities with the "sand the floor themselves, blast the tv at 2 a.m. tenants" but I'm crossing my fingers that the similarities are only the good kind.

We haven't put the sign in our window which found our tenants the last time yet. (forgot that today on our Home Depot run)

So, fingers crossed that we like the prospective tenants, and they like us. (sort of like dating on that front with actually a bit more commitment-they would be moving into our home!)

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Our Garden

This weekend was largely spent outside, and mostly on the garden. Spring/summer brings all that maintenance stuff-the lawn mowing, maple seed collecting (we have a maple tree that spews its seeds everywhere), and general clean-up. We also like to get our flowers out as soon as possible-flowers offer such a pick up when you come home, or need to escape construction dust. A sort of funny side effect of the garden is that it gives the illusion that our place is done. Our neighbor came up to me yesterday commenting about when they are done inside then they will work outside.

So, with all that in mind, we headed off to our favorite garden store, located actually outside of the city, Wannemaker's, and picked up some vincas, petunias, ipomoea, Silverdust, perilla magilla purple, dianthus, and some other purple flower I forget the name of. It was so hard to choose! I planted 7 pots, and put in the annuals in our front yard. (I had picked up marigolds last week, and finished planting them as well).

Here are some photos:

The tulips are still dying back, and the flowers will spread so the area will be fuller soon.

I still have a few flowers to get. We also have to figure out a landscaping plan for this area:

It was never planned, and just takes away from the rest of the yard. I think we are getting close to a plan there (Glenn wants a tree there, so I think we might do a sandcherry). We'd also like to put in a couple boxwoods. To the left, there's some sedum. (actually that and the forsythia are the only items in the yard that stayed after we bought it!) To the right, there's a rose bush.

To the right of the last photo, you can see that we've been making progress on getting rid of the rust on the fence spokes for painting. That project is still ongoing and will be in another post.
This year, I'm also putting together a spreadsheet of our annual plantings. Whenever I go to the garden store I scratch my head trying to figure out how much to get. Some flowers also have not done well, so it would be nice to remember that from year to year.

Now, our backyard, needs a lot more work. Glenn's been working on taking out old fence posts. We'll need a landscape designer though for back there as I'm having a really hard time envisioning the best way to use the space. I think that's going to be next year's project, but we'll see.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Operation Mothers Day and Birthdays

We were supposed to host mothers day, Glenn's birthday and his sister's birthday this weekend, but the condition of our place prevented that. Sometimes we fool ourselves that we can host events but sometimes the rigamarole that we need to go through doesn't make it happen. (which I'm sure any house rehabber can relate to) My sprained ankle just complicated matters. I knew I'd be up for the cooking, but the actual moving furniture and the like wasn't happening.

Instead, I brought all the food to my mother in laws. (I felt bad because it was mother's day, and I originally said I'd host). Cooking is similar to my house projects as i quickly fill up my task list. Yesterday, I threw together "easy" food including lemon saffron chicken skewers, mushroom bouches, and crudite for appetizers, grilled asparagus, parmesean basil corn, chicken in a bourbon marinade, and roasted rosemary red potatoes for dinner. All and all it turned out well. Glenn was a tremendous amount of help particularly since it was his birthday celebration and he should have relaxed more.

Oh, and the presents:

here's Glenn's from me:

Isn't it a great wrapping job? Excuse the wrapping paper. It's all I had that would fit. (except for teddy bears but I thought that was even less masculine). For the curious, the poking item sticking out is a corn grill basket. I could have gotten a bigger box, but that would have wasted paper. (he also got margarita glasses and mix).

Glenn's parents got him house related gifts from his wishlist included a spade set and a "Drill Doctor"

Oh, and we gave my mother in law this:

I tried to convice Glenn that we needed to do 6 more of those for our front steps.

After I finish posting this, I'm heading out to do some spring planting in our yard.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

The Memories

In light of my sprained ankle, actual house productiveness has significantly diminished. Yesterday my big "house project" was going through some piles of papers we had-including old estimates. (Glenn, on the other hand, had to catch up on a lot of things that we might do together-laundry, grocery shopping, home depot trips, dishes...)

I feel for the most part that I've interviewed every random type of contractor in the city of chicago. Some of the highlights of my paper review included:

1. An estimate for $25,000 for painting both units, and installing some drywall. If we paid an extra $1500 "pressure washing and light sanding of the garage would be included". Needless to say (I think) we opted to hire drywallers and to do our paint prep and painting mostly ourselves. Eventually we got around to pressure washing the garage on our own and did a bit more than a "light sand" I remember when the guy handed me the estimate and I had to really contain myself not to laugh.
2 Electrical estimates ranged from $6500-$38,000. In all fairness, the $38,000 estimate was a much wider scope of an estimate. After we got it, we significantly changed the scope of our project. (the estimate included running electrical to the garage). The estimates for just updating electrical in both kitchens and baths and installing outside lights was more along the range of $6500-$17,000.
3. Plumbing ranged i think from $4000-$17000. In the estimates one from the guy we really wanted to hire was included. Unfortunately, the guy dropped off the face of the earth for a week when we were anxious to get started. We ended up hiring this other guy which was a huge mistake. When we tried to get a plumber to come in just to give an estimate it was really difficult. It seemed like every plumber just wanted to do the small project as opposed to the massive overhall.

We also found various floorplans Glenn put together on Visio, and "to-do" lists. I even found my really early wedding planning notes.

The wide range of estimates also revealed a wide range of perceptions about renovation. I heard the spiel over and over again about how we should do forced air heating. "no, we actually like the radiators". How we should just tear down our garage and start a new. "no, this is solid construction." (for that one the guy laughed that we'd be able to scrape and paint it). The flooring guy who basically stormed out of our house and said that none of our floors were salvageable. (we sanded some of our floors, and they turned out great).

I knew getting involved with the project that we'd have to work hard, have patience and the like, but I never in my wildest dreams thought that getting a contractor would be so difficult.

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