We continue to slowly work on another property also located in Bloomington, but we are absolutely running out of steam. With having demanding, day-time jobs during the mist of an ongoing pandemic, we are BURNED OUT. Our drive is dying down and momentum is coming to a grinding halt. Honestly, it’s taking everything we have just to write up a short post with an update of our properties and what we’re up to. Bear with us as we get through this stall out and we appreciate your support.
So our next renovation is another duplex that will need a new kitchen, new bathrooms, paint, new outlets and switches and a new banister. When we first got in, we pulled the old cabinets out of the kitchen in order to prep for new ones. We painted the walls in the kitchen and got everything ready to put the new cabinets up.
We spent the first couple weeks pulling out cabinets, a countertop bar, an old banister, and fixing or patching holes in the walls to prep for the painter. Luckily we found someone to paint the unit for us (for a small fee)! Once paint was done we started switching out all of the “ivory” outlets and switches with new white ones. We did TRY to hire a handy man to help with this task, but as it goes, it never works out well. He was there 45 minutes, installed 1 out of 3 outlets wrong, and never came back…
After the walls were taken care of, Danny installed the new cabinets in the kitchen along with new countertop. We have appliances on order that we will install once they arrive. Boy, have prices gone up while availability has gone down! We’ve put in tile backsplash, installed the sink, and faucet too! It is REALLY looking good and we are excited to show you the results once we get things completed!
We are still pushing and working whenever we have the energy but our reserves are about tapped out and our motivation is waning. We’ll get this one done too, but it may take us a little longer! Thanks for being patient with us and again, for supporting us along our journey.
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Apologies for being so behind on providing any updates! We really have been in a daily grind to finish these units, as well as, beginning a new unit that recently became vacant. We are beyond exhausted, but have no choice but to keep going! As a quick update, you can see the units are completed the 2nd time! We’ve put things back into the position they were in prior to the flooding.
The mud and silt has been cleaned up. The unit has been completely dried out. Damaged material has been cut out and replaced. Everything has been put back together and it looks like a home again! It was a huge push and a lot of work, but we have recovered and restored these flooded units. Lots of late nights and long weekends but seeing the smile on our new tenants face when we handed her the keys to her new home makes it all worth while!
We really moved as fast as we could the last two weekends. Danny even spent the night and slept on an air mattress so he could work late and get an early start to get all of the flooring installed. The last big push was to get the flooring in and the baseboards replaced. For the two bedrooms, we had to purchase new vinyl plank flooring, as the original vinyl flooring wasn’t completely salvageable after the flooding. Once that project was complete we had to do a thorough clean to get the unit in order to get it move in ready!
We finished cleaning the unit at 5:00 Sunday and the tenant signed her lease at 6:00! With this unit we can breathe a little better, but we are on to our next unit with NO BREAK! We have one more unit to turn in Bloomington before we are done. This one will need a new kitchen, a new half bath, and a new full bath. We will also have to fix all of the normal wear and tear and upgrade a banister at the top of the stairs, paint, change out all outlets, and old lighting! We’ll update you all as we continue working!
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This work is not for the faint-of-heart! This is back breaking, grueling, never ending work. It’s hard enough to have finished two units and have them rented out. Then to experience flooding, causing you to renovate them fully-AGAIN is deflating!! In addition, nothing was covered under insurance and no assistance was offered to small business owners like us. We also have another unit that is now vacant that also needs renovated – IN BLOOMINGTON!! Before we can begin that one, we have to finish out the neighboring unit within the next week or two. We are tired and weary, but we will continue and complete these tasks as soon as we can. We pray we have enough funds to cover all that needs taken care of. Starting any business is not easy, but being four years into this and not experiencing any real, passive profit hurts. We took a large financial hit on this but we were lucky to have enough reserves to cover renovations (we think!) Everything we are doing is coming out of the business funds! I guess this is what they mean by the term bootstrapping.
When we started this journey over four years ago, we had so much time to work on one house that we thought, “we can continually do this and obtain possibly twenty properties!” As it stands, we have less than ten and cannot catch a break or get caught up. We have had to pass on spending time with friends, hanging out at their pools, parties, family reunions, and RELAXING!!
We have tried to finished this property as fast as possible so we can start the next one. Once we complete that one, we have ANOTHER one behind it!! We are currently working on the second unit and hitting it with the same resolve and tenacity we have used for each of our renovations. We strive to have the sharpest looking properties in our area and we want our tenants to feel like they are home every time they walk in the door. Yes, we are feeling a little winded and yes, we are a bit tired. We will get this work done and get back to normal! For those that are patiently waiting for one of our units to open up, know that we are pushing to get you in as soon as we can! For those that have invited us over for dinner or to get together on a weekend know that we miss spending time with you and we will see you soon!!
A list of what we had to do:
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It feels like we’ve been here before…we had just finished this same property and same units a few months ago. We renovated both sides and had tenants placed. We were FINALLY onto our own house and working on our OWN bathroom! All that came to a grinding halt when the flooding occurred!
This time around, we had to add in the replaced drywall on 2ft sections, around the entire parameter of both units. We also had to add 4 yards of stone to both driveways. With those items finished, we’ve moved to our painting, caulking, and flooring.
For small business real estate owners, who manage and repair their properties yourselves, you have to have GRIT!! This “part time gig” will wear you out and push you to your limits. Once you’re at your limits, you’ll be pushed some more. Properties are not forgiving and things will break. Since this major disaster has occurred we’ve been contacted 2 more times over water issues at other properties. Luckily, they were both minor, but you never know. It could have been a busted pipe or main. You just don’t know what you’re up against and have to expect the worst.
Our original plan was to put down vinyl wood plank floors. Once the drywall was installed and we had a chance to clean up the floors we decided to do a very thorough cleaning and seal with four coats of polyurethane. Just like before it was an arduous process. We would drive up to the unit after work and put a coat of poly on then drive home (120 miles round trip). These floors aren’t in pristine condition but they serve their purpose and still look pretty good once the poly is on!
After the floors were dry, we painted and installed all of the baseboards. We were careful to number every board as we pulled them all up, so putting everything back was fairly easy! The only real issue we had was that we originally marked the baseboards and the walls, but the problem here is that we painted the walls so the coinciding number was gone!! A few of the baseboards cracked when we pulled them up and most of the quarter round broke when we tried to free them from the walls. Danny just cut new baseboards where they were needed and replaced any missing quarter round. With expensive as wood has become, we grateful that we were able to salvage whatever we could from the units and reuse it! The replacement baseboards cost us $16 each!! Amazingly we only needed two of them.
This has been a difficult renovation to tackle. Not only dealing with the damage from the flood but also because we finished these units back in April and May. We’ve been able to keep good spirits and positive attitudes but it has been mentally, physically and emotionally draining. At this point we are about 95% of the way done with one unit and we still have a LOT of work to do in the other one! We are trying to move as quick as we can because we have another unit that needs a kitchen and bathroom renovation at the end of July!!
We try to make sure to enjoy our time together, even if we are sitting in a vacant rental on the floor taking pictures of caulk!!
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This week’s post will be a short update on how our renovation is going to repair the flood damage that took place 2 weeks ago.
We were lucky enough to be able to schedule for drywall install while we were gone on vacation. They moved fast and were finished by Tuesday!! That makes the place feel like we have made a lot of progress and gives us a huge motivational boost!
With the drywall being in, we were able to start painting. At this point, we only have to cut in, touch up, and paint the trim!
After we returned from vacation, Danny found out the condensate lines for the air conditioning coming from the furnace were not draining outside, but instead they have been draining straight under the house into the crawl space!! We had a HVAC company come out to give us a quote of what it would cost to run the line as it should have been. It was going to cost $200! Instead, Danny worked a few hours on it, spent a few dollars worth of PVC pipe and everything is now draining out of the crawl space like it should.
When the HVAC Company was called out to look at the condensate line running under one unit, we also had to have them look at the other unit as the air conditioner wasn’t running. After the flood, the unit was almost unbearably hot to work in with temps as high as 99 degrees! The technician found it to be caused by a bent fan blade. It was keeping the unit from functioning properly and replacing that was going to run $350! When I told Danny what the cost would be, he just went out to the AC unit, opened it up, and bent the fan blade back up! Wah-lah! Now we have working air in that unit. We’ll order a new fan blade and change that out once it comes in! Anywhere we are able to save money, especially in circumstances like this, we WILL!!
If you remember a couple weeks ago when we mentioned having 4-yards of gravel being delivered, we were able to have our landscaper help us out by renting equipment and spreading the new gravel out for us! He’s been a huge help to us through this time and we’ve really appreciated the extra support from a couple friends and our family! If you missed our original post talking about the flood, you can visit that post here: https://ourunbelievablejourney.org/2021/06/27/facing-an-unexpected-natural-disaster/
At the rate we are moving on repairing the units, we hope to have our tenants moved back in by August!
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We had planned a Summer trip months in advance and were really excited about going…and then the flood happened at one of our properties two weeks ago! Here’s our post on it here: https://ourunbelievablejourney.org/2021/06/27/facing-an-unexpected-natural-disaster/. We wondered and thought, “should we cancel?” Eventually, coming to the conclusion that, “we’ve already planned our trip and paid for it.” So we decided to go. Our trips typically consist of going to stay in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, hiking, and decompressing. This was going to be a longer trip of 8 days and we were EXCITED for it!!
We decided to see if the Airbnb would let us shorten our stay from 8 days to 5, eliminating the weekends. Part of our compromise to keep the vacation plans was that we would do as much as we could before leaving. When requesting a change in itinerary with our host, I sent photos of our flood damage and explained that we needed the extra days to handle a recent natural disaster. We were lucky that our request was granted and they refunded the 3 nights at 100%!
The goal was to get all of the drywall cut out in both units, 24 inches above the floor, remove all of the necessary corner bead, and put in 2X4’s so the drywaller could mount the drywall easily. As Danny was finishing up on Sunday afternoon and packing up his tools, he remembered the insulation had to be replaced before drywall could be installed! Thank God he remembered that one!
As we were leaving for vacation, we felt better about the trip, knowing our drywall was being installed while we were gone! We were able to fully enjoy our trip away!
We talk in a previous post about the typical, types of trips we take and how we save money. You can see that post here if you missed it: https://ourunbelievablejourney.org/2021/03/28/5-tips-and-tricks-on-saving-money-when-traveling/
Much of the same items shared in the post above, we implemented again. We bring all of our own food and cook almost every meal at the Airbnb. We hike at the state and national parks, which are typically free. We hang out at the cabin, enjoying camp fires, the hot tub, watching movies, and sitting out on the porch. In these small towns there isn’t much for shopping, so you’re not spending a lot of money or time doing that. We do like going into the towns and looking around. We found a cute, little candy shop with delicious, homemade candy! Their white chocolate coconut balls are amazing!
Our highlight from the trip was going to see wild-horses in the Appalachian Mountains!
This trip allowed us to get away and enjoy spending quality time together. We were able to rest, relax and recharge. We know we have a big project to tackle this month, but we are ready to handle it and get things back to normal. There is a lot of work to be done, but we make a great team and we know we can tackle this little hump in the road!!
Be sure to subscribe and follow along on our blog! We appreciate your support!! Stay tuned for an update on how our Bloomington property is coming along and for the completion of our bathroom in our home!!
We’ve hit a FULL STOP from working on our bathroom remodel and had to attend to an emergency that happened last Saturday due to flooding. We saw the text messages from our tenant around 7am and I immediately began making phone calls for assistance removing water from the home. Keep in mind, Danny and I just recently finished renovating both units and getting them rented out in February and March. See a couple of our previous post on that here https://ourunbelievablejourney.org/2021/02/07/5-easy-ways-to-renovate-when-youre-on-a-tight-budget-and-up-against-time/ OR here https://ourunbelievablejourney.org/2021/03/14/5-week-turnaround-to-freshen-up-a-tired-and-worn-out-property/
For anyone who has not been through a natural disaster such as flooding or a tornado, it is a surreal experience to be in. You have this overwhelming feeling of not sure where to start or what to do. When I was able to meet Danny out at the property, I was holding a small box of Swiffer dry pads. Like somehow this will “solve” the problem. I told Danny, “Here I brought these with me,” as if that was going to do something. I had made 80 calls the first day trying to seek help and response to our situation (one carpet cleaning service said they couldn’t get to us until Monday). There’s a strong sense of being alone in this process.
We knew we didn’t have flood insurance and our claim would be denied. We knew we would be out of pocket for all repairs and expenses. We knew we would have to return deposits and a portion of June’s rent. We knew we would have to end our tenant’s leases and that more than likely they wouldn’t have protection either. We knew 99% of everyone who experienced the flash flooding would not have coverage.
Danny and I knew we would have to work hard and fast to mitigate damage and further loss. We spent all day Saturday pumping water out of the crawl space, running to get dehumidifiers and fans and sucking up whatever water we could. On Sunday we pulled up the flooring, took out baseboards, quarter round, cut out drywall, and pulled insulation. We were blessed enough to have our parents, my brother-in-law, our lawn care guy, and a couple others come out to help and support in anyway they could! We have greatly appreciated any and all help we have gotten, including the Red Cross bringing us cleaning supplies, shovels, and trash bags.
Monday was spent trying to find a storage unit and a U-haul in order to remove the tenant’s personal belongings inside one of the units. We were getting really concerned that there would be some mold growth, but on top of that the house was really beginning to smell. We really didn’t want our tenants to incur more loss than they already had experienced.
There was approximately 3-4 feet of water that ran through our neighborhood, which carried away our trash cans, railroad ties, and washed out our gravel. The water also got into the tenant’s vehicles, totaling them. Logs were stuck underneath their vehicles and floating through the water. Emergency vehicles had to rescue multiple residents from the neighborhood. We feel like we are one of the lucky ones in this. No one in the neighborhood was injured, and our house only had about 3 inches inside the house (some had almost 5 feet!)
A message from Danny: We have to mention how demoralizing this can be. We push hard on a daily basis to make sure our properties are nice, clean and a step above other rentals. We have had to make sure that we maintain a positive outlook through this. It is hard to work a full time job during the week, make time for renovations after work and hit it as hard as we can on the weekends. Let me tell you, we both felt exhausted all week long! It’s tough when you feel like you are constantly taking one step forward and two steps back. I guess these are the times they say “you are building character.” It’s tough to swallow, but it’s life. We aren’t going to be handed anything. We keep pushing, fighting and scratching to keep what we have and to get ahead. We know that we are taking some risks and that most people wouldn’t want to work as hard as we do, but we like doing this (in most instances). We enjoy each other’s company even when we’re working on a property in a highly stressful environment. We like to have fun with it when we can. We chose this and we aren’t going to let anything like this break us!
We are definitely not the only ones affected by this. There were 16 duplexes in our neighborhood, downtown Bloomington (B-Square), which affected at least a dozen businesses, one fire house, multiple apartment buildings, a nursing home, rehabilitation center, and many other locations suffered from loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all that are dealing with this. Our only message is to keep your head up, keep pushing, rebuild and refocus!
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We’re currently living in deja vu. We’ve been here before just a few years ago during our last live in flip. See that post here: https://ourunbelievablejourney.org/2020/06/23/our-first-project-the-bathroom-remodel/
We knew this bathroom renovation wouldn’t be “as bad” as the last time, but we still have a 1 bathroom home so it’s quite an inconvenience to live in a construction zone when our only option is sink baths and no door for privacy! With our house on Sunset, we went months with no shower (or bath) and would go to our neighbor’s home or out to my grandpa’s pole barn. We did a lot of tile work at our last home, complete shower surround and entire bathroom floor. This was a BIG job! In this case, we are going simple with a replaced tub and tile surround, vinyl plank flooring, new vanity, wainscotting, chair railing, new lighting, baseboards, window frames, caulk and paint!
Danny started by taking the tub surround and tub out. The tub really fought him and was a struggle! We are trying to maintain a “working” and “functioning” bathroom; therefore, we’ve decided we are not pulling the vanity and the toilet out of the bathroom which would allow more space for demolition. That meant we had to finagle the bathtub out of the alcove and get it to a point where we could tip it up and slide a dolly under it. After an hour and a half of wrestling this thing out of place we were able to remove it.
I helped him to get this 300lb cast iron tub on a dolly and take it down our carpeted stairs and out the front door! Talk about nerve-wracking when the tub is coming at you while “you guide it” down a flight of stairs. Danny then loaded it up into our truck alone! Talk about stress on my side!
Once the tub was removed we focused on one thing and one thing alone. Installing the new tub and re-plumbing the shower diverter so we would be able to take a bath! We were able to get the tub installed after making some adjustments to the floor (in order to make it level). Danny sprayed some insulating foam to give the tub a little more support and to quiet any unnecessary noise.
After he had the tub in, it was time to tackle the plumbing. We were lucky enough to have most of what we needed on hand to convert everything over to PEX. After Danny cut the lines to length and attached the fittings were were set and ready to rough in the shower diverter. Thankfully, by day 3 we were able to take an actual bath! What a blessing!
Next on the list is tile. Danny lays as many tiles as he can after work and we just keep plugging away! We always refer to the saying, “steady plodding brings prosperity!” Everyday we strive to achieve more than what we did the day before.
Be sure to go to our Facebook page and follow the steps to enter to win a $25 gift card for Lowe’s! We will draw a winner and announce on June 20th!! Deadline to enter is June 19th at 5pm! Click below!
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In preparation for a new tenant, some times you have to HIT it hard and GRIND IT OUT! After redoing the hard wood floors and writing a post a couple weeks ago called “Surprise, hardwood floors“, we still had quite a bit to do before getting our tenant in!
We had to put vinyl plank flooring in the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom. Plus, install three new ceiling fans (keep in mind the ceilings are 12-13 ft so standing on a ladder and balancing with your hands up in the air is tough!). Quarter round had to be added throughout the house. Four transition strips put in place in the doorways, which wasn’t an easy feat. Painted where it was needed, put hardware on all of the cabinets, applied fresh caulk on all of the baseboards and quarter round. Last thing on the list was cleaning! This is what we mean by grinding it out. Keep in mind the previous posts of power washing, landscaping, mulching, and redoing the hardwoods. All of this was done in four weeks!
Danny started with laying the underlay before installing the vinyl plank flooring in the kitchen. He had to pull the appliances out, lay the flooring, and move them back. We had some help again, from our friend/previous tenant/”intern”. We’re teaching him new skills and he’s been eager to help! Plus, it’s been nice having a second set of hands.
You can see some before and after photos below of what the kitchen floor used to look like old, dated, worn linoleum. We usually use Soft Core underlay from Lowes, but this time around we opted to use Sound Step from Menards. Danny did not particularly like this underlay. It was more difficult to lay, harder to cut, and not fun to work with in general. This flooring project moved pretty quickly and really only took two evenings to complete the kitchen.
Moving onto the bathroom, Danny had to remove the vanity and toilet to put down the underlay and vinyl flooring. While we were in the bathroom, we put a coat of poly on the medicine cabinet and added new hardware. Also, just as a side note, we always put in a new curtain rod, curtain, and liner. This is to help mitigate any additional water damage by having it already up, and it gives a clean and bright look to the bathroom!
For the laundry room, Danny had to take out the baseboards, and washer and dryer. I went ahead and painted the baseboards before he put back in. Once he finished the floor, put the baseboards back in and moved the appliances back, I finished up with caulk and touch up paint.
Be sure to subscribe to our blog to review the latest updates! Thanks to everyone who is following along. We appreciate your support! Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing us redoing our one and only bathroom in our home!
Not every married couple that has been together nearly 20 years is able to live and work together in harmony. If some couples did this, they would probably want to pull their hair out or head for the hills solo! We’re lucky in the fact, that we met while we were both working at a John Deere warehouse and have been together ever since. We’re also fortunate that we make an excellent team and allow each other to work independently. We want to share some tips on how we make things work for us, our properties, tenants, and provide insight to see if this is something you could do with your partner as well!
Know what needs to be done and who will tackle which projects. Having a vision to the end goal is a very important step in the process! You need to make sure that the day to day activities are planned out and executed within the process. You have to be on the same page and working in sync to make this happen! Danny always tries to communicate what project he is working on and and where we are in the process. His hearing isn’t great, but he still knows exactly where these projects are headed and how we plan to get there so we can complete them!
2. Plan in out.
We plan out what needs to be done and provide a timeline on when it needs to happen. We have a running list of both big and small, that we tend to do over and over. By doing these projects multiple times we have a good understanding of what needs to happen before the next. This is another example of working in sync! When we first get into a property, we assess what needs done, make a list, and start tearing out everything.
3. Stay in your lane! (Pick what your skill is and stick to it)
Danny is talented at rebuilding things and putting things back together. For example, he installs baseboards, quarter round, lays new flooring, and installs new kitchens and bathrooms.
Whereas, I’m detailed oriented naturally, so painting, caulking, landscape, power washing, and cleaning are my focal points (and bringing hot food to a hungry husband!). Not to mention managing all of the tenant screenings, rental agreements, PLUS, hiring contractors and following up with them! I also list and sell ANYTHING within the house that is salvageable! Danny tears it out and I post to make some extra funds!
4. Come together when you need to.
If there is something I need Danny to help me with, he’ll stop working on his project and help me; and vice versa if he needs my help. I go and help him and then get back to my previous job. Being flexible with your time is essential to making this work and in moving forward!
5. Know your limits.
There are certain projects that we tend to hire a contractor for, e.g. roofing, plumbing, window installers, electricians, or just some extra hands to help us finish a project quickly!
We used to try to do EVERYTHING ourselves, but some projects take way too long when that’s not your skill set. It could take the professional a day or two (or even a couple hours), but for us to try to tackle the same project it would take a week or two. This HAS happened!
6. Do what works.
Once you get a good routine down, do it every-time. When we’re finishing up a home, Danny will start taking everything out of the house as I clean one room at a time. I touch up paint, sweep and mop the floors, and lastly, take photos!
We back ourselves out of the house and finish with the living room, then exit the house!
If you’ve found some of these tips helpful, then maybe you could work together with your partner to do the same! Just stay in your own lane and everything will be just fine!
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