You First

No really, YOU first.

I arrived at my client cleaning today and sighed in relief as the blast of air conditioning hit my face.

I miss air conditioning.

I miss it a lot.

I mentioned my love of air conditioning to my client and she laughed and then asked me when we might get central air.

“Well, it goes like this…”

  • Stabilize Cottage East (fix the codes violations – 2018)
  • Finish Cottage West (2019-2020) and rent it out
  • Finish Cottage East (2020-2022) and rent it out
  • Replace the windows in our house so it is more energy efficient (2023)
  • Re-do the electrical in our house so it can handle central a/c (2024)
  • Install a/c (2025?)

When the dishwasher down at the rental house in Belton broke down, it was just a few months after my fancy pantsy “all the bells and whistles” dishwasher broke down, out of warranty of course. And when faced with the choice of fixing it, buying a whole new one, or just getting by in our own house, we have gone without.

I only miss the dishwasher when I’m feeling especially tired.

And while the dishwasher that our tenants received wasn’t a new one, it was a functioning one. I recently told my renter, “Let me know if it exhibits any problems and I’ll just get a new one, no use trying to limp along and fix it.”

I realize that going without central a/c or a dishwasher might seem odd to some, but my eyes are firmly on the goal of getting Cottage East and West up and running and ready to rent. And yes, both of them will have central a/c and dishwashers, long before I have it. The sooner they are finished, the sooner they can be occupied, and I have found coping strategies in the meanwhile.

I imagine that someday I will cave and get a dishwasher again. And I certainly dream about the day when I will have central a/c in my own house.

Meanwhile?

You get it first.

A New Vision

The Cottage East in its current state. It has a new roof and the siding, brick work, and new windows will be installed this year.

We roll with the punches around here. I think it is in my DNA, honestly.

And when the new rules for Airbnb properties in Kansas City came down, I decided for various reasons, that focusing on turning Cottage West and Cottage East into bed and breakfast properties was simply no longer viable. And frankly? Turning them into rentals is a far better option – it means less work on a daily basis – I won’t have to clean up after each visitor or re-stock supplies, or even furnish the properties. It also means less insurance cost – a rental house versus a house you have furnished with electronics, furniture and more garners a higher annual rate. And I wouldn’t have to cover utilities, as those are typically separate from the rent when renting out a house.

Cottage West in its current state. New roof, new windows – but the wiring and plumbing and walls are all waiting to be re-done. We have it down to the studs. Next year we focus on this after getting Cottage East’s exterior fixed up.

Savings, less work, and less turnover – what’s not to like?

And I woke up yesterday with an even bigger concept – two rental properties in each building, thereby giving us the possible income we had hoped for from Airbnb, but still with less work and less cost.

I’ll explain.

The lot next to Cottage West that we plan on paving from 10th Street to the back alley.

In both the Cottage East and the Cottage West there are basements. Both have these jenky stairs, especially Cottage East where you have to bend halfway over to avoid banging your head. I had decided to simply utilize the basements for our own needs, and remove interior access to them, but yesterday morning I thought, Why not set them up as a studio or one-bedroom basement apartments separate from the one upstairs, with their own electricity meters and then just pay for the water service?

I ran the idea past my husband, adding in the concept of our own house as well. We have a large, unfinished basement with dirt floors. It too could be turned into a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette. This could serve as an individual private space for my dad, or for our daughter when she wants more independence in her late teens or early 20s, as an income-generator, and in our later years, as a place for live-in help.

It might not look like it, but I’m winning the battle with the weeds. More and more perennial plants take the place of weeds in this little area in front of Cottage East. Eventually it will look much like the front yard of my house – all flowers!

Now, back to the Cottages for a moment. We figure it might be difficult to separate water hookups, so we could provide water as part of their rental contract up to a certain amount, once it goes over that amount it is divided equally among the total number of residents in a building and added to their rent. All of it would be clear in the rental contract and agreed upon by all tenants. The electricity can be separated by floor and an individual breaker installed on the main floor for one tenant, while the basement tenant had their own unit in the basement.

The back door to Cottage West’s basement. I’ll need to widen the path and install solid concrete steps leading up to it.

In Cottage West, the basement tenant could enter and leave via the backyard and our plan is to eventually pave a driveway from the front of our property on 10th Street all the way to the alleyway, creating parking for everyone in Cottage West.

I keep cultivating more and more perennials like this one.

In Cottage East, there will be an adjacent parking pad constructed off of the alleyway for both the main/upstairs tenants and the basement tenant which they can access by walking through the backyard gate.

This is off of the back alley, which dead-ends behind our house. It will be a perfect parking spot for our tenants and for us. I hope to see a driveway that can hold three parking spots.

So…more income, less work, off-street parking for tenants and us if we want it, and eventually a separate living space for my dad. In other words? A win on all counts.

By my figures, it will take a total of five years. Two years until Cottage West is complete, another one plus for Cottage East and about one year for our basement apartment.

The daylilies are looking GREAT this year!

I like to think (and plan) long term, folks. It also means we are not incurring new debt, while reducing and eliminating any remaining debt. An all-around win.

I’ll keep this site, and this blog, for now. I see it turning into a website that profiles The Cottages and any potential future holdings, so that potential tenants and our neighbors know exactly what to expect from these homes. Clean, safe, insulated and quality rental homes that will be a benefit to the neighborhood. After all, our future tenants will be our neighbors, we plan to choose wisely!

Thanks, But No Thanks

The Tyvek is in place on the west side.

I guess, when it really comes down to it, I’m a libertarian at heart.

Not entirely, but I really REALLY don’t like the legislation that was handed down by the city on Airbnb properties.

So much so that my focus has turned to renovating the two cottages into rental properties, not Airbnb properties.

A recent Kansas City Star article details the new regulations and one of them stopped me dead in my tracks.

“Off-site owners must secure the consent of 55 percent of adjacent property owners.”

In both cases, our land borders half of each property. So there’s 50% of the vote. But the other 5%? Well, that belongs to someone else – and on one side it is a mentally unhinged neighbor who thinks that everyone is out to get him, the other, a neighbor who wanted Cottage East for themselves.

In neither case do I feel I should have to ask my neighbor’s permission to operate a business out of a property that I own. If I choose to rent the houses out, they don’t get a say, so why an Airbnb property? It’s complete horseshit.

Thankfully we had not put in some really cool things – like the floor in the bathroom made with real pennies, custom built-ins in the transition between the living room and kitchen, or a cute (and delicate) chandelier in the bathroom. These would have been perfect for an Airbnb guest who wanted a unique experience here in KC, but it would not serve us well when dealing with renters. At some point, we might decide to sell the big house and retire to one of the smaller houses. At that point, we could customize the smaller house to meet our needs and desires.

I understand that these regulations are probably due to the fact that some folks running Airbnb’s were doing so in a negligent manner. They allowed ridiculous parties and pissed off their neighbors. Thanks, guys, you screwed us all and I hope that you are NOT grandfathered in. Otherwise, the folks who are real problems are still there and none of these measures make any difference at all – except to trip up those of us who truly wanted to make a difference in our own lives. And do so in a manner that was responsible and respectful of our neighbors and ourselves because we live here too.

Quite a change, eh? It’s hard to believe it is the same house!

So the new Airbnb regulations, combined with the complete inability to get funding on most of these two projects, has given me some time to think. And we have come up with the following plan…

  • Pay off current debt incurred through fixes to both cottages
  • Get Cottage East current on taxes (we inherited THREE years of back taxes and will have the last remnant paid off by March 30th)
  • No new debt (the exception to this would be siding which we would get under 0% financing and pay off before doing any other work)
  • Stabilize Cottage East (install siding and replace windows)
  • Finish Cottage West and rent out by August 2020
  • Finish Cottage East and rent out by January 2022

Yep, two and a half more years, minimum.

Combined, we have about $80k in renovations for the properties. Which is about what they are worth. This is why we can’t get home renovation loans – they aren’t worth enough on paper and we don’t have enough equity.

But the good news is this – once the cottages are done, they will be complete without any debt. And that’s huge. Free and clear, no debt, ready to make money. Eventually, after we have completed the other projects, we will turn our focus to renovating the 1956 Flying Cloud Airstream for our own uses. It will make a fantastic travel vehicle and allow us to tour the United States without having to worry about hotel rooms. I’m really looking forward to that. It might be years down the road, but eventually, we will take glamping to a whole new level!

So we will NOT be in the Airbnb business after all. But we will be renovating and then renting out Cottage West and Cottage East. And considering that we will live right next to both of them, just as we would have done with Airbnb, we will be very picky about who we have living there.

What does this mean for the status of this particular blog?

Well, folks, I think the writing on the wall is clear. No additional business for Northeast, no encouragement of the tourist industry, we are out of the game.

Last Push Before Winter

A brick path in the side yard between our house and Cottage East

Quiet = Work

I know I’ve been rather quiet since the roof was done on Cottage East. You might have thought that I wasn’t doing anything much.

And except for moving hundreds of bricks, here, there, and everywhere – aieeee, my aching back!

I’ve planted iris and daylilies on both sides of the path.

On a side note: I went in to see the chiropractor yesterday. “Oh yeah, I can see those muscles are tight in your middle and upper back,” he says, “Are you still moving bricks?” I tell him that I am. “Yep, that would do it.”

This path runs along the front of our house and I’ve widened it to a better walking width now.

My goals have changed from covering the entire backyard of Cottage East in bricks to simply creating paths wherever I need them. There were several reasons for this:

  1. The backyard of Cottage East is not level and I currently do not have the time or means to level it.
  2. The bricks needed to be moved right away – so instead of just making piles everywhere, I’m laying down pathways. Easier to walk on, less to mow, and if I want to do something different later, I can move them.
  3. Stacked bricks are attractive to others – I know I look at them with a certain level of acquisitiveness – and that just encourages ne’r do wells to come by and take some.
The view of the west side of Cottage East from my library window.

Last Push Before Winter

Once we pulled the brick facade off of the sides and put the roof on, we realized that some of the wood framing was badly rotted.

Of course it was. Murphy’s Law and all that.

They have removed the windows and are finishing out the openings, which will then be covered over with plywood and Tyvek until it is time to install the windows. This keeps it safe from intruders.

So we hired some contractors to come in, reinforce a structural part of the foundation (they raised floor about an inch), remove the rotting wood, install a concrete lip that directed rain away from the building, frame out the windows, cover the outside in OSB/plywood and wrap it in Tyvek.

The Tyvek is in place on the west side.

The finished the west side on Tuesday and are hard at work on the east side now.

Next year we hope to bring them back to install the windows and siding. That will stabilize the structure and get Codes off of our backs.

The large window header is in place. Later we can install three 30″ windows or some other combination of windows. Until then, the window opening will be covered over with the plywood and the Tyvek wrap. This will keep the house in good shape for winter.

Communication, Communication!

Speaking of the Codes Department – I’ve got the direct email of the guy who handles our area.

I try and keep him updated because I’ve found that he will work with us if we are forthright. The other day I sent him an email letting him know the roof had been replaced, the crumbling brick had been removed, and what our plans were for the rest of this year. I was honest with him and said, “That will be it until next spring/summer because financially we are tapped out until then.”

He sent me an email back thanking me and letting me know that he would come by, take some photos, and make sure we received extensions on the codes violations.

So much better than getting a summons to housing court, don’t you think?!

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The Roof, The ROOF!!!!

Cottage East – looking a little less decrepit now that it has its new roof

 

The Cottage East needs a lot of work. That said, it is going to take time. The biggest concern right now for us is getting the structure stabilized and Codes off of our backs.

To do this, we needed three things completed in short order:

  1. A new roof – layers upon layers of roofing are on Cottage East. We are having them take it down to the deck, and since those are the old original boards, a full re-deck will need to happen as well.
  2. Siding – on the east and west sides of the house the brick facade has been removed and now just waits for the new siding to be installed. We chose a firehouse red to match the brick facade that will still remain on the front and back of the house.
  3. Windows – ALL of the windows need replacing, but we are focusing first on the ones that are on each side of the house. Later we will replace the other six with vinyl replacement windows.

This will stabilize the structure, ensure that water doesn’t get in, and make it attractive on the outside while we work out the logistics for making it pretty on the inside.

The crew hard at work. They took down both of the chimneys shortly after this picture.

A Rough Start

Waiting for the roof wasn’t an issue, but having the supplies delivered to the front yard instead of on the roof certainly was. So when I came home on a Wednesday nearly two weeks ago and saw them stacking everything in the front yard, my first question was, “When are the roofers coming?”

The guy delivering the materials just shrugged and I immediately went inside to call Champion and find out what in the world was going on. I explained that if they left their roofing supplies where they could be easily accessed, these same materials had a high chance of sprouting legs and running away. And having stacks of roofing supplies just sitting there begging to be stolen ended up proving far too tempting for thieves on the second night. Despite my warnings, the materials sat there on Wednesday night and then vanished on Thursday night.

The following Tuesday I finally heard from the roofer who promised a start date of Thursday, August 31st.

That day came and went.

Bye bye decrepit crumbling chimneys! Hello original wood decking!

On Friday, the 1st, I saw some guys up on the roof. Before I could pull my shoes on and go outside, they were gone again. That evening, Dave came home and said, “Did you see they delivered more material?”

I swear my head spun round and my eyes bugged out. We were at the beginning of a holiday weekend and they had done it AGAIN?

A flurry of irate phone calls and an hour later the supplies were picked up with the promise that they would return on Monday.

“But it’s a holiday on Monday.”

“Believe me,” the rep assured us, “we will be there.”

Just look at the poor old dear, she is in dire need of a facelift! Also, we have about 3-4 more feet of space we could bring the ceilings up to. Doing so will create a more airy heigh

Bright and Early

On Monday morning, the roofers were there bright and early to begin work. While we both had the day off, apparently day laborers do not. They had TWO crews ready and willing to make it happen.

As you can see from the pictures, I kept tabs on them as they first tore off the multiple layers, taking it down to the bare bones.

It required a full re-decking due to the changes in codes, so plywood was then cut and fixed to all parts, before tar paper was laid and the actual shingles applied.

It took all day for them to finish, but finish they did, which was awesome in its own right.

We had plenty of looky-loos. Our neighbors all lined up and watched at different intervals, and there were the occasional challenges over territory and all that. I would love to say that we all get along, but some still have sore feelings over property ownership. It lead to tense moments, but in the week that followed things seemed to calm down.

My dad asked if I gave the neighbors “what for” and I said, “No. I believe they are entitled to their opinions, their concerns, and their frustrations. I’m doing my best to not cause problems, to be a good neighbor, and to not quibble.” He stared at me and shook his head. I guess Dad would handle it differently. I figure that if I live my life doing the right thing, things will eventually right themselves. And if they don’t, at least I’ll know I didn’t sink to pettiness or greed. And that means a lot.

See where the arrow is pointing? That’s the bulge.

Is That a Tumor?

On Monday evening, we walked over to take a couple of pictures and admire our new roof. Our neighbor was out. She found two nails on her property and had strong words of warning for us.

[sigh]

Be the better person. Don’t engage.

“And did you see the lump?” she asked. I looked at her in complete bewilderment. What lump? What was she talking about? She pointed up onto the roof, “There. They didn’t bring the chimney down far enough and there’s a lump. If it were me, I’d make them fix it.”

And so on Tuesday, when the supervisor showed up, we had a little talk and he was incredibly responsive. He promised to clear the area of nails (which he did before leaving) and we discussed the roof tumor. He went inside and upstairs in the house and we excavated the wall where the chimney was. All of the walls will come out for the new wiring and plumbing, so it didn’t bother me a bit to dig into the plaster. As he cleared the bricks he pointed out that it wasn’t the bricks causing the bulge.

“You have some buckling here, the foundation has slid down.” He said, pointing to a section of the house. We walked back outside, “Yep, here there is rot and the house is sagging. You will need to reinforce that before the siding can be done.”

It sure is a nice looking roof – don’t you think?!

And That’s When Some Random Carpenter Came Walking By

I would really like to say that my luck changed then. A carpenter who happened to be walking by right then and drew closer as we discussed what needed to happen before the siding could be installed – that he looked at it and said, “Yeah, that’s an easy fix. Cheap too.”

Do they ever say that?

This one sure didn’t.

After looking inside, getting down into the basement and walking around the entire perimeter, pointing to this and that, he said, “Um, you have some serious structural issues here that need to be fixed immediately.”

Well, of course, they do. Because really, that’s how our luck goes, right?!

“You are looking at about $12,000,” he says. “That’s labor and materials.”

Needless to say, that will not be our only quote, but it included shoring up the foundation, replacing the rotting 2x6s, framing the windows property, covering the exterior with plywood or some other boards and then wrapping it in Tyvek.

[big sigh]

Time for a home loan? I know it is definitely time for a second and third opinion.

Meanwhile, I’ve canceled the siding and windows order with Champion. The windows for just the two sides would have cost over $7200. That’s a couple thousand more than Window World would charge for ALL of the windows. Window World is coming out today to give us bids on the exterior doors, siding and windows. And this past Saturday we had a couple of other guys come out to give us a bid on the foundation and framing work needed. They mentioned that they have a good source for windows at an even lower price than Window World.

So…we’ll see.

Stay tuned, loyal readers (and sworn enemies of the crown), updates will follow as I have them.

Email Newsletter

I write about everything from gardening to community, education, the writing process, DIY, and more. I maintain four blogs, write fiction and non-fiction books, and I am a community educator.

Click here to join the email list and receive ONE monthly newsletter that will provide you will all of the links to my blogs, updates on my writing projects as well as book promotions and special pricing.

Your email will NEVER be sold or shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Should I Say Timber? Or LOOK OUT!?

Caution – Falling Bricks!

Frankly, I had dreaded the task of demo’ing the brick off of the sides of Cottage East. DREADED it!

Part of me was certain we were going to get smashed by falling bricks. Another was sure we would NEVER get the intact, yet buckled wall on the east side down. And as I envisioned the project, I figured it would be weeks and weeks of work.

Instead, it was completed in just a few short hours. By noon on Saturday, both brick facade walls were down, leaving only the wood frame in place. Tool use – an eight foot long 2×4 that we placed behind the bricks and against the wood slats, was all we needed to bring swaths of bricks tumbling down.

We had a few close calls. And Dave blackened one of his thumbs and cut himself at one point, but the walls are DOWN. We now have to figure out how to cap the ends on the front and back, which still have bricks on them. Short of removing both the front and back porches in their entirety, something we do not want to do, the brick on the front and back must stay on the house, so we need to either figure out how to cut and mortar half-size bricks in place or hire a brick mason to do it.

We are now ready for the new roof, side windows and siding to be installed in a couple of weeks!

Airbnb Regulations in Kansas City?

I am keeping a close eye on the proposed regulations for Airbnb here in Kansas City.

This article gives a good summary of what is being discussed. I am in a historic neighborhood, one of the areas that are on the thumbs up list for these regulations, but for my neighbors and fellow entrepreneurs down in south KC, things might be different. Considering they are providing a much-needed service down there to the Cerner folks, that doesn’t seem like a very fair, or business-friendly, plan.

What it boils down to for me is the reminder that what we need is good stewardship by owners of these properties. I can imagine that one of my neighbors across the street has quite a few concerns. It probably goes something like this, “If they won’t even keep their lawn mowed, WHAT kind of people are they going to be letting stay in their Airbnb?!”

The answer is – the best guests possible. NO parties, NO drugs, NO problems. After all, I live in between the two properties we plan to Airbnb. And I’ll be damned if I’m renting to a group of teens wanting to party down and destroy crap. Those are not the kind of people I want to see visiting our home turf.

And by the time we open for business? We will have a lawn service because I’ll be darned if I want it looking shabby around here!

She Dreams of Airstream

This past weekend we worked our patoots off to get the yard as ready as possible for the Airstream. We have built approximately 120 feet of fence and have another 24-32 feet to go. We also have made space for two spacious driveway gates – driveway west near Cottage West and a wide driveway on the east edge of our house and side lot which butts up to Cottage East. This will enable us to park our vehicles in the western driveway if we so choose, and guests at Cottage East and the Airstream RV to park close to their respective destinations.

On Thursday afternoon we will receive a delivery of gravel that will serve as driveway and an adjacent RV pad. Later on, we will worry about paving the driveway to the west.

Along the way, as I’ve moved brush, dug up a cherry tree, and helped my husband build the fence, I’ve been dreaming of decorating the RV, both inside and out.

I am considering making, or possibly having made, a couple of murals to hang on the “dog fence” – the fence that separates the RV yard from the dog yard behind our house. It would be nicer than looking out to see a plain old boring fence and I’m hoping for a 50s vibe. Something retro, something that centers around camping, forests, and more. Think Jellystone Park, 50s glamour, mid-century cool.

A Couple of Murals Possibly

In any case, my mind is spinning with ideas. These little potholders gave me the perfect idea for a mural…

mural idea 01

And then I’m thinking about something like this one…

mural idea 02

Or this…

mural idea 04

Or this…

mural idea 03

What do you think?!

Counting the Days

I am so excited to get into the Airstream and assess it and what we will need to do with it. Just a few more days and it will be here!

It feels as if we have done little in the way of progress and accomplished a whole lot – all at the same time.

We have a long way to go. And plenty of work to make the Airstream ready for guests. It is our last major purchase for a while, but it will be the first to be put into service.

Making a List

So what do we need to do? Well, at the moment, without being able to get into it and down and dirty, I would say that it needs the following:

  • A concrete pad poured that will have water and power outlets
  • A 8’x24′ wood deck with open walls and a corrugated metal roof
  • Fixes to at least two windows and door (cracked glass, problems with leaks/seals need replacing)
  • Replace toilet with composting toilet
  • Fix gas stove that won’t close
  • Check gas and water lines
  • Check to see if furnace works
  • See if original refrigerator can be repaired
  • Curtains and bedding
  • Other decor, books, CDs, and furnishings
  • A picket fence and arbor at end of “RV yard”
  • Murals and decorations outside
  • Landscaping
  • Safety equipment – carbon monoxide sensor, fire extinguisher

But considering our luck? It will need more than that. Life is nothing if not unpredictable.

It is forward movement, however, so I’ll settle for that.

It’s Officially Official

The door handle for stepping up into the Airstream
The door handle for stepping up into the Airstream

Officially Official!!!

Our last purchase that I was dancing about and hinting at is officially ours. And I am over the moon. I LOVE Airstreams and I’m still in shock that I actually HAVE one!

This fridge is currently not working, but I'm dying to see if I can get it fixed. How awesome would that be?!
This fridge is currently not working, but I’m dying to see if I can get it fixed. How awesome would that be?!

Even if it is located elsewhere (soon to be moved).

This darling 1956 Flying Cloud 22-foot Airstream will soon be parked at the back of our property.

It has a couple of dings. We plan to buff it to a high shine once we have completed the necessary fixes. It is going to shine like new!
It has a couple of dings. We plan to buff it to a high shine once we have completed the necessary fixes. It is going to shine like new!

I discovered it at a local estate sale and envisioned it sitting in my backyard in a secluded spot, where guests could come and go via the alleyway and feel as if they were camping while still in the city.

The original gas stove and vent above it. The door won't stay closed, we will need to fix that.
The original gas stove and vent above it. The door won’t stay closed, we will need to fix that.

Think 50s…

Think retro…

It even has a built in screen door. SQUEEE!!!!
It even has a built in screen door. SQUEEE!!!!

“50s-Style Glamping in the City”

I want to limit this to couples only. While there is room for another bed to be made where the dinette and built-in seating is, I like the idea of it just being a space for a couple to go. I found this cute retro radio/CD player to put in the RV.

I’ll burn some CDs with 50s era music to complete the mood.

Inside the old Krefft refrigerator
Inside the old Krefft refrigerator

We will build a deck with a corrugated tin roof and painter’s tarp curtains and a couple of those old metal shell back chairs. There will even be a BBQ complete with a tin full of briquets in case someone wants to grill. The galley will contain a 3-in-1 breakfast center with toaster oven, coffeemaker and grill.

The dinette area. The seats lift up and display storage below.
The dinette area. The seats lift up and display storage below.

The bathroom will include a composting toilet (my bow to convention) and a shower.

Built in storage at the back between the dinette and bathroom
Built in storage at the back between the dinette and bathroom

I hope to figure out how to fix the vintage refrigerator and have it working again. It is adorable!

The shower with a fold down seat.
The shower with a fold down seat.

It isn’t parked in our yard yet. The seller needs to move a PODS container and we need to get moving on the privacy fence for the back. I hope to post an update in early August once we have moved it.

This will hopefully be our first piece of property to be put into service as an Airbnb. There are several fixes (windows, making sure all of the systems work, possibly adding solar) before we can put it into service. I am aiming for an “available” date of next April.I want to provide people with a rustic, private, and fun environment for their next visit to our fair city. Look out Airbnb guests, here we come!

My goal is to provide people with a retro, yet comfortable, private, and fun environment for their next visit to our fair city. Look out Airbnb guests, here we come!

Finally – Forward Momentum!

From my emergency trip to Panama to rescue my ill father, to tree removal, refrigerator troubles, and a host of other unexpected costs, moving forward on our future Airbnb projects has been riddled with stops and starts.

It seems that the tide is changing, however.

Cottage West is holding steady with her new roof and gutter, windows, paint job and front porch.

And Cottage East, which we have owned for all of three weeks, now has a green light for a new roof, vinyl siding on the east and west sides, and new windows on those two sides as well. After we have the walls up and intact, we will also have the electrician out to install a 200 amp box.

I should have listened to my husband when he suggested putting in a 200 amp box in the Cottage West. But I didn’t. And because of that, we can’t have an electric on-demand water heater installed. A 100 amp box just doesn’t give you that option. So I wasn’t going to repeat THAT mistake!

I just signed the contract with Champion for the roof, siding and windows and in approximately 8-10 weeks, Cottage East will have a facelift!

We have also acquired a unique Airbnb offering. I will sign on the dotted line on Wednesday, and we will transport it to our location in early August. I’m very excited about this project and we are busy planning and building the privacy fence along the back of our property as well as a cheery little picket fence and arbor that will give that section of our yard a private feel. I’ll be at liberty to tell you more in a few weeks!

So despite the crazy heat and swarms of mosquitoes, we are hard at work in the yard. First the fence, then we will need to remove the brick facade from Cottage East before the siding guys arrive.

It’s a lot of work – a dizzying array of projects – and we are doing our best to juggle priorities and keep up with mowing and more. But I finally feel as if we are moving forward. And that is so exciting, folks!

This weekend we spent some back breaking hours taming the yard – which is determined to grow into a jungle of weeds on us. I made the decision to mow down (and not use) our “crop garden” this year and probably next. We will return to it AFTER we have dealt with the renovation projects on our plates. And by that time, I plan on having a regular mowing/weed-whacking service handle the bulk of our weekly work so that I can focus on creating lush beds of flowers, herbs, and eventually crops again.

Strike While the Iron is Hot?

There is a quote by Richard Branson that I particularly like:

richard branson

And to that end, I have made a purchase that promises to fill the next few years with hard work, around $55,000 in repairs, and keep us jumping.

You may, or may not, have noticed that the header now reads “The Cottages.” As in, plural, not just one cottage but two!

This old dear is actually four years older than our own home, which sits squarely between The Cottages…

Cottage East - at time of purchase

And yes, that west wall is in terrible shape.

We have named this house Cottage East and renamed the other one (our first project) Cottage West.

On the short list for repairs needed:

  • New roof
  • New windows
  • New siding
  • Minor foundation repair

We also plan on:

  • Rebuilding the front porch
  • Tearing out the old porch and doubling it in depth
  • HVAC
  • New wiring and plumbing
  • Drywall and repairs to plaster throughout house
  • Removing linoleum and restoring the hardwood floors
  • Finishing a second full bathroom/utility room on the main floor
  • Upgrading the upstairs bathroom
  • Creating an English cottage courtyard in the backyard with the bricks we remove from the sides of the house

In other words? It’s a lot of work and a lot of money.

It will take time. It also slows us down exponentially for completing work on Cottage West since this is a dire issue that needs addressing NOW and we are limited in what we have up front and what we can get in financing.

Nothing worth doing comes easy, and this is never more evident than in the task in front of us. But I know we can do it. Each week we have measurable progress. I can’t wait to share it all with you!