Newest UFUO – Duplex

The past two months have been the first time that I’ve had two large projects running concurrently.  One is a single family home.  The other project is a duplex that I bought for $6,000.  The duplex has a few issues: the two second floor bathrooms were pulling away from the house because there was no beam to support the load; there are two sizable leaks into the house – one in the kitchen, one in the entry; most of the pipes were broken; many of the radiators froze and burst; a new roof and new gutters are needed; the damaged carpeting and flooring needs to be replaced; one rotten exterior wall needed to be replaced.  The ugly web of wires, fuses, and circuit breakers would have scared the spiders of Mirkwood.  Oh, and there’s a boat to be disposed of.

In other words, a perfect project for me.

This is the first time that I’ve used subcontractors to handle a large portion of the labor.  The roofing, structural replacements, electrical work, rough plumbing, and HVAC work are all subcontracted.  The structural and roofing crew are Amish, so they do not appear in any of the pictures of the work being completed.  The two bathrooms had sunk nearly 4″.

(Hover your mouse over the photos for captions)


The first day I stopped by the job site, the entire wall, from the bump out on the left third of the first photo to the lower roof in the second third of the first photo was gone.  People were walking in and out of the house via this wide opening.  I was unable to get a photo of the entire wall removed, but a section of wall approximately 12′ long was removed, repaired, and rebuilt.  Gutters will protect this section of wall in the future.

Both the interior and exterior electrical service entrances were improved.  One of the old meters hung off the wall – as in – dangling free of the wall, held in place by the service wire!

New service entrance.

New service entrance.

We’ll see how this all plays out – part of me feels really good about this project…and part of me is a little nervous.  It’s super easy to handle most of the work yourself – especially when you don’t pay yourself.  Having other crews on site means the burn rate of cash is drastically increased.

Thank you to all involved in this project – from the sellers and financier to the contractors and (probably most importantly) my wife (for putting up with this madness).  Thank you all.

It all adds up

I chatted with a friend of mine earlier today.  He remarked “It seems you’re really starting to find your feet with [the rentals]”.  It hit me that yes, I am starting to find my stride.

A lot to clean up.

A lot to clean up.

Today I really dug into a new project.  I’ve been picking around the edges for the past week or so – removing bits here and pieces there; moving materials to the job site; shoveling snow; purchasing unique items to make the house pop.  The plan is to flip the house.  I still own my last attempt to flip a house.  This project is less ambitious and I have better systems in place than I did two years ago.


The kitchen before I started….

The kitchen after five minutes, a saw zall, and a wrecking bar.

The kitchen after five minutes, a saw zall, and a wrecking bar.

As I tore into the kitchen, I realized: I’ve been here before.

The AirBnB

The AirBnB

Rather than that Ground Hog Day queasy feeling of “I’ve been here before and I’m repeating myself again and again and again and again,” I realized that the isolated motions of horse hair lath-and-plaster removal was old hat, but my ability to remove this lath and plaster in this particular 2,500 sf house is due to the accretion of skills and knowledge over a period of ten years.

If my 35-year old self traveled back to tell my 25-year old self what I would be doing ten years hence, the 25-year old would not believe the 35-year old.  But the 25-year old had a dream (not even to the point of being a goal).  The 25-year old also picked up a book on real estate investing and began adding knowledge and skills.  3652 days later I’m here, finding my stride.

The right stuff

Not The Right Stuff (for this job, usually)

Not The Right Stuff (for this job, usually)

Real estate investing is all about The Right Stuff, as defined by you, the investor.  For some, The Right Stuff is a mobile home park, for others, a Unique-Fixer-Upper-Opportunity.  The Right Stuff goes deeper than the purchase though – it goes all the way to the rock bottom of your business.

Flooring sander

Flooring sander

The right tools, materials, clothing and software are all part of The Right Stuff.  The suited picture (who some have accused of being my identical twin) is Not The Right Stuff for working in a basement, but is The Right Stuff for asking for a sizable loan.

My dad is a scientist at heart (geology) and I spent a good portion of my childhood competing in science fairs (ice crystals are anisotropic crystalline solids…for those who may remember).  This love for experimentation extends to my adult life.  Never put in a hardwood floor?  A few YouTube videos and some trial and error and I’m off to the races.  Rewiring an entire house?  No problem (zapped a few times, but I’m still typing).

The right stuff for drywall on a Friday night.

The right stuff for drywall on a Friday night.

My love for experimentation previously allowed me to believe that if anyone could do it, I could do it.  Hence the floors, wiring, plumbing, drywall, plaster, etc.  This belief has probably held me back, but not necessarily in a bad way, as I have been forced to build systems to manage both a day job as well as the rental business.

The past two years studying for my MBA have taught me many things but one of the best is: the ‘rules’ of life are there for a reason, play by the ethical rules and you’ll probably get to where you want to go much faster and with less angst than by trying to create new rules.  For me, this has meant the abandonment of the ‘I’ for the development of a team.

My company has worked with five contractors with mixed results (remember this one?).  Through all of the previous contractors, I’ve fallen back to “if anyone can do it, I can do it”, which has really stifled my business’s growth, but I am still convinced has probably helped me more than it has hurt.

But I’ve continued to try.

Which gets me to the most recent contractor I have used.

The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff (finally)

Last February, I needed a contractor to help with a downed electrical service wire (the wire going from the pole to your house).  An ice storm had pulled the wire off one of my units and I needed someone THAT DAY to assess the situation and come up with a solution.  I called around and received a recommendation to hire Chris.

On that icy day in February, Chris finished his normal day’s work, then went to my apartment, secured the wire and made arrangements to fix the service wire the next day.  Since that day, Chris has been my go-to guy for plumbing and electrical work.  When the original contractor walked off my most recent project (again, should have followed my gut), I called Chris.

A sailor would blush at Chris’s command of the artsy words in the English language and his diet may be sub-par, but his work ethic and skills are far superior to all other contractors I’ve found (and his prices are exceedingly low for the quality of his work).  Chris is The Right Stuff for my business.

I am trying to purchase a duplex in need of significant rehab (if any friends have a spare $44k, I can put it to good use and give you a good return).  I decided to ask Chris if he wanted the work, and asked him to do some of the work I had intended to do.  Chris’s conservative proposal (ie: assumed high costs, actual costs should go lower), came in at a lower cost and faster turn around than if I did the work myself.

Definitely The Right Stuff for my team.


Project updates

An angel investor gave me a sizable chunk of change to take to the upcoming tax sale; I decided to celebrate by stopping in to Starbucks for a grande chai.  My angel investor not only gave me money to invest, but he also offered to help in any way in the future.

I misunderstood the definition of ‘busy as a bee’, until this past month.  Because a family unexpectedly moved out, my time has been spent either working on HBS (usually during daylight hours), 2-hrs of family life daily (usually dinner and after dinner story time – Wilson Podpie the Pileated Woodpecker anyone?), and 3+ hours of school work between the hours of 8.30pm and 11pm and again from 5am until 8am.  The beautiful weekends have helped keep everything perspective.

In addition to the kitchen renovation, our recent purchase is being reconstructed.  The demolition is mostly complete and new parts are being added.

Kitchen pictures:

IMG_20150919_171839697 IMG_20150920_140129032 IMG_20150920_174520155_HDR IMG_20150920_140143718_HDR IMG_20150912_160113023

Contractor Rehab (footer for the new wall):


Waxing Philosophic about Leadership


The above picture is not me.  The guy in the picture is long dead.  His views influenced Thomas Jefferson, according to the “Top 10 Greatest Philosophers in History”, was a great liberal (he just doesn’t have the beard to prove it).

This is John Locke.

So, you ask “why am I going to read about a dead philosopher today?”  Good question.  You’re not.  I’m simply going to touch on some philosophy that’s been rattling around in my head for a few years.

I’ve held a philosophy about people for some time now.  I was unable to articulate my views, but I had these very closely held beliefs about how people operate, the environments in which people thrive and 99% of humanity’s desires.  I can not point to one specific book I read, one pivotal moment in my life or anything like that.  I simply attribute my views to a keen observation of people, self-awareness (still working on this one), my formative years and my non-formative years (eg: work years).  Finally, in one of my classes, we discussed and expanded on my views; not because I decided to talk about my philosophy, but rather because the professor teaches leadership and this is his philosophy, and mostly, because it appears to work in most situations.

I’ve felt the following:
– People need honest feedback and feedforward, both good and bad as long as it’s honest
– People respond positively in environments in which they are able to make their own choices
– Honest listening is not simply nodding and agreeing while formulating my rebuttal (or addition) to the conversation, but rather is clearing your mind of all other distractions while learning from the other person (and everyone has something to teach, however small)
– People need a framework from which to work, but near full autonomy within that framework (don’t micromanage)
– Rewards work (punishments work as well, just not as intended)
– People need to know that they are not just a number or a cog to be replaced at ease.  Each person is an individual and that person adds to humanity’s greater good

In class, my professor listed a bunch of points for Leadership.  These points are:
– Develop a vision
– Simplify the message
– Trust your subordinates
– Be an expert (and know when to ask questions)
– Encourage risk (Go easy on failure)
– Invite dissent (have the ability to listen to different points of view)
– Keep your cool

In addition, my professor hammered into us that true leaders are “Servant Leaders” and what he termed “SuperLeaders”.  Servant Leaders include some of the best leaders we can remember: Gandhi, Lincoln, MLK Jr, the list goes on.  The first (roughly) two minutes of this clip from Gandhi (1982) sort-of demonstrates what I’m talking about:  This isn’t the best example, but it’s along the lines of what a Servant/SuperLeader does.  A SuperLeader is a leader that leads others to lead themselves.  Think Demi Moore’s character in A Few Good Men (an exceedingly good movie about leadership).

While I was unable to articulate what a leader is or does, I knew what it meant to be a leader.  This class was finally able to explain it to me in a way that I can attempt to explain to others.  This class taught me why some people are ‘leaders’ but they have trouble leading without ‘authority’.  Think Kim Jong Un, Col Jessup (Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men), the Mob Boss, maybe your personal boss.  They say “Do this because I say so”.

There is a middle category of leaders who allow processes and procedures to guide their interactions.  Think Lt. Kaffee (Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men), many many many bosses.  They may say “I got here by following these rules, so everyone will follow these rules.”  Or, “If I develop these policies and procedures, the company will function better.”

The third category of leaders establishes a value system and leads simply by living the his/her value system.  Lt. Cmd Galloway (Demi Moore in A Few Good Men), Lincoln, Gandhi, MLK, maybe you even add religious leaders to the bunch: Jesus, Muhammad, Gautama Buddha, etc.  Some of these leaders were extremely vocal, others not so much, but look at what they all accomplished: freedom from tyranny in the US, non-violent resistance to oppression in India and the US, any of the major religions.  While these leaders have died, their ability to lead continues to this day.  They are able to lead today through their value system.

This class allowed me to elevate my thinking regarding the definition of true Leadership.  I learned that when someone messes up, even if it costs your company $30k, you don’t demote the guy and reduce his pay.  If you’re a true leader, you would pull the guy aside, review what went wrong, determine a path forward, and simply say “I know you’ll do better in the future.”

I was there when we demoted the individual for causing a mistake which cost our company $30k.  The boss knew that I didn’t have the guts/cajones/?? to do the demotion myself, so he sent our business consultant to do the dirty work.  I couldn’t look the demotee in the eyes for a while.  I felt that it was a sign of my weakness as a leader.  I have since learned that it was a sign of weakness on my part – that I didn’t stand up for the demotee and say “there is a better way to do this, one which will build this guy as an employee.  We don’t need to tear him down.”

The goal of demoting the employee was to make our company stronger by removing ‘weak links’.  Perversely, this action actually had the exact opposite effect.  By demoting the employee, we weakened our company while if we had worked with the employee, we would have strengthened our company.  Remember: rewards and punishments work, just not always as intended.

Through this class, I have learned that true Leadership (SuperLeadership / Servant Leadership) takes tremendous guts, more than any other style of leadership.  Put yourself in Lincoln/MLK/Gandhi/[Name your religious leader’s shoes] and imagine the crystal clear vision they must have had in order to stand up to session/dogs, fire hoses/the British Army/[Name your oppressor].

I know that I am principled, I just need to be brave enough to stand up for my convictions.


(Photo Credit:

Reappearing Act

My very first foray into house flipping was a little tough.  My original contractor decided to remove the entire bathroom before asking me.  Needless to say, I was horrified.  Not-too-soon afterward, the original contractor was fired and a new contractor was hired.

Sometimes I wonder how I manage to get myself into the situations in which I end up.  It helps to have a sense of humor to laugh off these ‘small’ speed bumps.

When I met with my new contractor, I basically shrugged off the missing bathroom, trying to put on an air of control about the entire project.  I did let my new contractor know that I fired the other contractor for not discussing the removal of the bathroom prior to the demolition.  My new contractor has called me to discuss every decision on the project (quite a relief).

I visited the site on Sunday, approximately 3 weeks after the original bathroom disappeared and found the following:

The walls are back in place, the drywall is up, the shower is installed and the plumbing is roughed in for the vanity and toilet.  (The toilet is sitting in my driveway)  The bathroom should be painted in a few days with the vanity and toilet installed, hopefully before April 5, when the investors come to inspect the site.

It’s nice to be working with an entirely competent contractor on this flip.  It has really settled my nerves.

How to Dismantle a Radiator

Today is brought to you by the words “Cast Iron” as in Cast Iron Radiators are HEAVY.  Yes.  Cast iron radiators are incredibly heavy (that’s why cast iron is used to make a variety of body-building weights).  We’re flipping a house and I was “smart” enough to purchase the house in February, right after the polar vortex descended on central Pennsylvania.  I knew the house was frozen, I just didn’t know how much damage ice can cause to a piping system.

Well, after everything thawed, I learned that six of the eleven radiators in the house had burst and needed to be replaced.  We were able to find replacement radiators, I just needed to remove the broken radiators (my contractor didn’t want to do that…)

I decided I was up to the task of removing the radiators.  Last weekend, my business partner and I hauled out two of the radiators (fully intact).  When I got the radiators weighed at the metal scrapper’s yard, each radiator weighed 350lbs!

They weren’t the big radiators.

I decided I needed a better plan to dismantle the broken radiators so each section was manageable by one person.  My plan was to dismantle each radiator and load it onto the day-job’s truck for removal to the scrap metal yard.

Radiators are rather simple contraptions.  They are a series of columns or tubes held together by tension rods:


If you look closely, you’ll notice two different types of radiators in the picture above: Column and tubes.  Here are detailed pictures of the tube and column type radiators:

Tube type radiators have more, but smaller ‘tubes’ in the radiators (photo on the left; generally 5 or 6 tubes).  The column type radiators have fewer, but larger ‘tubes’ for the hot water (photo on right; generally 3 or 4 columns).  From a demolition perspective, it doesn’t matter if they’re tube type or column type, they’re heavy!  From a physics perspective, the more surface area of the radiator, the higher the heat transfer.  This higher heat transfer lowers the return water temperature to the boiler, allowing your boiler to fire for a longer period of time, increasing the energy efficiency of the boiler.

Sorry for the science lesson, we’re here to discuss dismantling radiators.

You’ll need a few tools to dismantle a radiator (associate links):
1) Sawzall – I use the 12-Amp Milwaukee corded version.  It’s not the most heavy duty, but for the price, it will get through just about anything.  If this is your first sawzall, skip the cordless versions for a corded version.  When you’re ready to purchase your fifth sawzall for your mobile demolition unit (aka: Van), you can consider the cordless version.
2) Sledge hammer – I know there are a variety of plastic handle sledges available on the market, but I prefer good ole American Ash.
3) Wrecking Bar – You may ask why it’s a ‘wrecking bar’ rather than a “crow bar” or a “pry bar”.  Well, how often do you see a murder of crows sitting around drinking beer?  If I wanted to demolish a radiator, would I want to only ‘pry’ it apart, or wreck it?  I’d wreck it.

I will stop here for a moment to remind everyone to be safe when they are demolishing radiators.  You should use protective gear including, but not limited to: hearing protection, eye protection, protective clothing, gloves, steel toed boots, a helmet, space suit, etc.  (Do as I say, not as I do) I wore hearing protection and squeezed my eyes shut tight as my sledge hammer connected with the cast iron.

A further note of warning: When I was smashing one of the radiators with the sledge hammer, a ~4oz piece of iron flew off the radiator and ended up embedded in the oak floor.  If we use conservation of momentum (M1iV1i + M2iV2i = M1fV1f + M2fV2f) we could solve for the final velocity of the chunk of radiator: Mass of Sledge*Initial Velocity of sledge + Mass of chunk*Initial Velocity of Chunk = Mass of Sledge*Final Velocity of Sledge + Mass of Chunk*Final Velocity of Chunk ==> 4.535kg(sledge)*1m/s (initial velocity) + 0.1134kg (Chunk)*0m/s = 4.535kg(sledge)*0m/s (Final) + 0.1134kg*X(m/s) ==> 4.535 kg*m/s = 0.1134 kg * X ==> 4.535kg*(m/s)/0.1134kg = X ~~> 40m/s (or 89.5 miles per hour).  That little chunk of metal would do some damage to soft flesh.

The first step: (gear up) take your sawzall and cut each of the tension rods which hold the radiators together.  There will be three to five tie rods holding the radiators together.  This specific radiator had four rods.  I slid the blade of my sawzall between the tubes of this radiator and cut through each of the tension rods (circled in orange).  Depending on the radiator, some of the rods may be under a lot of tension.  The upper most nut/rod part shot out of this radiator, which is why the tension rod is missing in this picture.



Step 2: Break each section.  After the tension rods are cut, only paint and rust hold the radiators together.  However, even though it’s only paint and rust, it’s 100 years of paint and rust, so these sections only come apart reluctantly.  For the second step, you want to take your sledge and hit each radiator section a few times, until you see a small crack in the paint between each section:

Hair line fracture

Once you see the small crack in the paint (do you see it? It’s there…) you can move to the next section.  I found it was easiest to use the sledge to ‘soften’ the whole radiator first, then we’ll go after it with the wrecking bar.  After a lot of smashing:


Depending how brittle the cast iron is, you may mangle the radiators.  This is also how small pieces of the radiators fly off at incredibly high speeds.  After you’ve softened the entire radiator, you can get your wrecking bar.  Now, you have to be smart when you’re working with the radiators: you don’t want them to fall on you while you’re working.  These radiators can easily weigh 500lbs.  If one falls on your leg while you’re smashing them, your leg is toast – plan to walk again in six months.  BE CAREFUL and BE SMART.  Don’t let them tip over.  Don’t push them over.  Don’t be stupid.  If you think “this is a bad idea but…”, IT’S A BAD IDEA, DON’T DO IT.

(Again, do as I say, not as I do)

I learned.  The first radiator I worked on did tip over on.  It didn’t land on my leg, but it was still scary as this 400lb piece of iron fell over.  I actually worried about the integrity of the floor joists after the radiator fell.  After the first radiator, I braced each radiator as I worked on it.



You’ll note the 2×4 under the one leg of the radiator.  This 2×4 holds the radiator up at an angle so I can work on half of the radiator with little worry of the whole beast falling over on me.

So, brace your radiators and grab your wrecking bar.  Place the wrecking bar between the first two sections of the radiator and start wiggling the bar.  The radiators are held together with a flange and throat assembly and “only” need to be separated:

Once the radiators are separated, you can haul them to the scrap yard for recycling.  Locally, the scrap is selling for between $0.05 and $0.06/lb.  While this may not seem like much, if a radiator weighs 500lbs, it’s worth $25 as scrap.  I pulled out six radiators plus the boiler (additional 500lbs).  That’s between $150 and $200 for all the scrap metal.

Flip update

Tired on Sunday

Hey everyone.  Sorry I’ve been quite absent this past week, it’s been a LONG week for me.  To start things off, my wife (and daughter) were out of town, assisting my mother-in-law for the week.  Then, my immune system decided to take a vacation.  It got rough enough that I even took a sick day from work (I think I’ve only taken three in 9 years of work).

We were insulating a house at work this week (not a bad week to be sick), but the insulation job was SLOOOOWW.  What should have taken about two days to complete took a little over five days (I say ‘a little over’, because we are going back on Monday).  Rather than be a simple retrofit insulation job where we drill a hole in a wall, insert a 1.25″ tube and fill with insulation, we encountered 1.5″ of stucco over 1.5″ of wood lath.  We had to rent a dry-core drill bit and rent an SD-Max drill.  You may have no clue what I’m talking about, and honestly, neither did I until Monday when we rented the drill and dry-core bit.  The dry-core bit is a drill bit made for going through cement.  The bit is about 18″ long, has about six teeth at the end and a funky spiral pattern on the side.  The bit costs $180 (that’s not a typo).

The drill the bit fits on is a hammer drill.  Picture a mini-jackhammer.  This drill was about 30lbs without the drill bit (another 2lbs or so).  You may say “32lbs??? What, are these construction guys wimps?”  Well, we had to do the drilling while standing on a 16′ extension ladder.  Needless to say, our center of gravity was off to begin with, then to we decided to throw it a further 32lbs out of whack.

No one got hurt, it was just a LONG week at work.

Then I had to manage our house flip.  In an awesome twist of fate, my day job’s insulation job (with the mini-jackhammer) was literally located in the backyard of my house flip.  At lunch, I walked 50′ into the backdoor of my flip to meet with the contractor and answer questions (if any) or simply see what he was up to during the previous day.

On Monday, I saw the following situation:

Yes, a bunch of seemingly random studs, some acrylic shower/tub liners and red/blue PEX pipe.  However, even when I saw this, the contractor kept telling me “April 1, we’ll be finished inside and working on the roof.”  I kept thinking “yeah….right.  You and some special army will finish this work.”

Well, my contractor called in Seal Team 6 to get the work finished.  I’m not sure how he did it, but he did.  These pictures were taken on Sunday:

Somehow the dude pulled out all the stops and got both bathrooms (and the kitchen) to the point of painting by Saturday.

I’m B-L-O-W-N–A-W-A-Y with the effort he put into it.  On Saturday, I again asked him if we were over or under budget.  He conferred with his partner and they both agreed that they are still under budget (not exactly sure how).  We’ll be meeting on Friday to discuss budget and see how over/under we really are.  I’m hoping I’m not swimming naked with the tide going out…

Anyway, last week was long for me…this upcoming week will be long for me.  I’ve got a full week of work and have to get the house painted with my partner (and if there’s time, get the kitchen flooring installed).  Our investors are coming on on Saturday to see the progress, so I need to get a bunch completed by then.

As tired as I am currently (as in: right at this moment), my investors have told me that they are ready to buy the next house to flip (I keep telling them to sell the first one!).  I may be beat right now, but it certainly feels great to have investors who are willing to take on project #2.  (Deep down, it makes me wonder: could I get paid to work the flips (as a day job) as well as maintain ownership of the project (splitting the profits)…the thoughts are in the back of my head…)

My wife is REALLY awesome



It seems that wherever I go, I leave a trail of houses-under-construction in my wake.  The picture above, was taken in my ‘wood stove room’ (ie: the room that has our heating source).  Because the picture is so well laid out, you probably didn’t notice the bare wood studs on the wall in the background, or the lack of baseboard trim.  If we panned the camera up, you couldn’t help but notice the missing trim around the kitchen window.  Continuing up the wall to the ceiling, the stalactites of foam insulation would convince you you had ended up in a Star Wars movie set on some alien planet.

My house is perpetually under construction.

My wife is awesome because she puts up with a half-finished house, however, my wife is REALLY awesome because of the object in the middle of the picture.  That object sat in our wood stove room for about two weeks.  As you can see, there is some drywall and some 2×4 lumber.  Kind of an odd object.

Well, if you have followed the saga of my flip, you’ll know that my first contractor is/was a magician.  The wall has been replaced, but with the new plan, the wall shifted about 3″ to the left, away from the bathroom.



What you can’t see in the picture above are the two radiators, one in the [former] bathroom (to the right) and one in the master bedroom (to the left).  When we decided on the layout for the entire bathroom, we needed slightly more room, about 3″ to be exact.  The problem was the radiator in the master bedroom, the radiator was tight to the wall.  When the wall shifted, the master bedroom side of the wall ran through the radiator.

We did some head scratching, some measuring, more head scratching, a little more measuring and finally decided to inset the radiator into the wall.  The only problem with doing this was painting the wall behind the radiator with the radiator in place.

Our solution was to build the radiator alcove before we built the wall.  We built the alcove at the flip, tested to make sure the alcove would fit around the radiator.  Once we were sure our plan would work, I took the alcove home and it sat in my wood stove room as I worked to get it finished.  I had to mud the corners and screws, sand the mud, mud again, then finally paint the alcove.

Even though I had this random part of a wall sitting in my living room, my wife never complained. I knew she was awesome before.  She’s proven she’s REALLY awesome.

The flip’s landing on it’s feet

Assuming you’ve been following the progress on my flip, you know that I started off with high hopes, which were quickly squashed by my first contractor, only to be revived by my second contractor.  The second contractor is awesome.  He has totally taken charge of this project; he calls daily with updates, asks questions, provides intelligent feedback and works incredibly quickly.  In less than one week, he had finished gutting what needed to be gutted, removed broken radiators, located new radiators (and had them delivered), rewired all the rooms that needed to be rewired, reframed what needed to be reframed and replumbed most of what needed to be replumbed.  I was blown away (in a good way this time).  He’s actually taking time off this week to finish another job, but I suspect it’s to allow me to catch up to him.

Assuming he comes in around the budget numbers, he’s my go to guy for my next project (yes, there is one on the horizon).

My contractor gave me some budget numbers: $1.50/sf for tile, $150/bath fan & light and approximately $500 for electrical odds and ends.  I was able to locate some tile for $0.50/sf, a bath fan & light for $20 and I had some 12/2 wire and other electrical odds and ends available.  My goal is to shave approximately $1,000 off the budget.

Some other finds:

From Left to right, top to bottom: Some additional tile for $1.00/sf from the local Habitat ReStore; Prefinished hardwood for $0.40/sf from ReStore; Both toilets from ReStore for $1.00 and $53.00 respectively; More tile for $1.00/sf; and a pocket door kit.

The pocket door kit is a story unto itself.  If you notice, there is a sticker on the door kit for $65, but on the rail above it is listed at $74.  When we brought it up to the counter to be purchased, it rang into the register at $74.  I asked the cashier to double check it and she replied (nicely) “I sell what the SKU is”.  I (nicely) replied “I pay what it says to pay, which is $65”.  She (nicely) agreed and took $9 off of our final bill for ‘customer satisfaction’.  I don’t think I’m becoming a cheap skate, but I realize that too many times in life I allow money to be ‘lost’, such as on this door.