Thursday, July 19, 2007

A New Resident at This Old Chicago 2 Flat

Sunday, one of our residents picked up her keys and began moving things in. This time around, we made some adjustments with our lease and process, in hopes that we will have a much better relationship with our tenants. (as a refresher, our last tenants liked to watch loud movies in the room underneath our bedroom at 2 a.m. all the time. They didn't have much furniture, which compounded the problem. They also chose to sand the brand new floors themselves.) It was horrible.

(1) were a lot were vocal about quiet hours. We had it in the lease before, but had it highlighted at different spots-including a whole separate "plain english" page.
(2) we e-mailed the lease, which I think gave them time to thoroughly read it before signing.
(3) we placed a bed underneath our bedroom and positioned it as a bedroom. We also pointed out that our bedroom was right overhead.
(4) we gave the felt circles that you put on furniture to prevent the furniture from scratching the wood floors. Once they had them, we thought they wouldn't have an excuse not to use them!
(5) one of the tenants is moving from out of state, so we offered them furniture to borrow. I think by doing this, it helps build a positive relationship from the get go
(6) We were clearer about when the rent is due. Our old lease said payment was due on the 1st, with a 5 day grace period where there wouldn't be a late fee. The result? We always got rent on the 5th. (technically late) One time, when we didn't get it until the 8th, we charged a late fee, which the tenants thought ridiculous. This time around, I included a sentence that the rent is late regardless of whether or not a late fee is charged if it is not received on the first. I clarified that the 5 days is merely a grace period.

I'm optimistic that things will go better, but fingers crossed just the same. The tenants haven't fully moved in and aren't here all the time, so we have an opportunity to ease into having more people in the house. It's always funny that when you've spent all this time with free rein over the whole house, that there's now a bunch of it that's now off limits.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tenant Prep

Sunday, our lease began with our tenants.

In preparation, Friday night (after a grueling week), Saturday, and part of Sunday we furiously made preparations for the move in. We did some spot painting, which led to complete painting when the whites did not match up. (a bit aggravating). We did some cream touch up paint in the rooms that we had painted cream. (I ran out of paint initially with maybe 10-20 sf to paint). We also thoroughly cleaned.

Glenn worked on installing the radiator that we just picked up from the sandblaster. (he also handled the priming and painting of the radiator). Unfortunately, we were missing some parts, so will go back on Saturday to do the actual install.

Finally, we successfully got rid or moved the variety of stuff temporarily living in the rental-including a bed and entertainment center. I had posted the entertainment center on craigslist, received loads of interest, but never got anyone to actually pick it up. You can imagine on Saturday night the stress I had with this, when I had an e-mail from a person interested. She came over right away on Sunday morning, thanking us profusely (when we were so appreciative that not only did she show up to get the entertainment center, but she also was here before 10, making our finishing tasks MUCH easier). For the bed, we asked the tenants would they be interested, and they were. We just left it in the room underneath our bedroom. (a good anchoring scheme).

It feels so good to have the vast majority of our "to'do's in the rental done. That means, we can migrate over to some of our other house projects (which have sorely been lacking this year! Sprained ankles and bouts of food poisoning leading to an ER visit do not help move projects along!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Radiator moving logistics

Originally, I thought I'd rent a pickup truck from Home Depot or Lowe's to pick up the sandbasted radiators. They had a per hour charge which seemed like a better deal than U-Haul. (U-Haul wanted mileage too) The pick-up had to be carefully orchestrated to minimize u-haul time while insuring that Glenn would be available to get the radiators off the truck. (normally, it's a multiple person job, and there's no way I'd be able to handle it on my own.)

Anyway, so I have a brief for a pro-bono client due on Friday, and we need to get the radiator primed, and painted for a Saturday install. (tenant gets the keys on Sunday). So, Thursday afternoon, I call our sandblaster to verify the radiators were ready for pick-up. The manager tells me no, pick them up in the morning. (absent the fact that I have a brief due, if I pick them up in the morning, I'd have to rent the truck for 8 hours or so which is outrageous). I say, "okay, I'll pick them up in the afternoon."

Nope, the manager says he leaves at noon. Huh? I called on Monday, and he said he's there until 5. If I knew he'd jerk me around, I would have just sandblasted them myself. Who does that? Have arbitrary hours they are open? Of course, my aggravation is increased by staying up until 3:30 the night before. I have a few choice words to say (which were modified from what I actually had wanted to say)

Despite my lack of sleep, on Friday, I wake up with an idea-I'll just rent a van from enterprise! We'd have it for 24 hours. I head out to pick up the radiators (which was quite an adventure, filled with many 8 point turns). When I arrive at 11:45 a.m., the manager is not to be found. He, apparently, went to "lunch." Alright then-I thought he was leaving at noon? (quite the operation he runs!) I convice some guy to give me the radiators, and I paid him, showing the receipt for how much it would cost. After the radiators are delivered into the van via a forklift, I highttail it out of there. Whew! Never needed to see the manager.

I even had the joy of parallel parking my van. For future reference, when a van is loaded up with with radiators only, driving over a blade of grass makes it sound like the radiators are going to go shooting out some door. I was quite happy to finally make it home.

Labels: ,

A leap of faith

I was swallowed up in the black hole of work, volunteer stuff, a bout of food poisoning, radiator activities, and tenant move-in prep for the last week. As a result many of my blog posts for the week stayed in my head-now I'm putting fingers to keyboard and playing catch up.

After choosing our 3 radiators at the radiator graveyard, we decided to get them sandblasted and painted before coming into the house. The tenant's radiator, we want to optimally install before their lease begins on July 15th. Of course, as seems typical at This Old Chicago 2 Flat, we decide to coordinate this feat when life is extremely busy for me. The week of July 8-July 15 resulted in many sleepless late nights and a fair amount of stress for yours truly.

We decided to have our radiator supplier deliver the radiators to a sandblaster in Melrose Park. I had called around to places closer to home, but apparently sandblasting radiators is not a popular activity in Chicago. Go figure. I even looked at the one that House in Progress wrote about, but it was just as inconveniently situated to us. So, ultimately we decided on the recommendation from our radiator supplier.

On Monday, July 9th, I called, got the price ($40/radiator), the hours of operation (7-5 p.m.), the turnaround time (2 days) so we were good to go. On Tuesday, I headed to "pick up the radiators" and "drop them off" at the sandblaster. (though they were deliver by 3 guys and a pick-up-I just was there to handle the particulars and insure the steam radiator was converted to hot water, we got the right bushings, and the radiators we picked out were the ones that made the journey.

When I arrived at the sandblaster, I was told (1) no guarantees they won't crack the radiator through the sandblasting and (2) they only accept cash. At this point, I really had no choice but to leave them there and cross my fingers. I did have the foresight though to at least get a receipt for our radiators, and take a picture to try to protect against a switcheroo.
We also spoke about picking the radiators up, and the manager said Thursday afternoon.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Radiator Graveyard

The last week, we visited what we affectionately call "the radiator graveyard" a couple times.

It's the place in Chicago where many radiators that are pulled from buildings in Chicago go, to wait for their next owners or their demise. It's the place to go if you have radiator heat with no intention of switching over to forced air but need a different size radiator, or need a radiator to heat a new area of your house. You can order brand new radiators, but they don't have the charm, and boast a much more hefty price. The selection is enormous, and they test the radiators for you to make sure they are leak free.

They also carry a bunch of cast iron tubs and claw feet.

Prices have gone up a bit since the last time we purchased a radiator at B&B Formica. Now, they are $14 a section. Delivery to our home was questionable.

We finally decided on 3 radiators. One for a room in the rental with inadequate heat, one for the same room in our unit, and another for our kitchen. Glenn would like to make a bench over it. After these purchases, we'll still have 2 radiators kicking around our house not in use.

One day, we will be done with radiator projects-but I don't think it will be anytime in the near future.

Labels: ,