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.

Not as tough as it looks

Road-rash from some seriously aggressive sandpaper!

Road-rash from some seriously aggressive sandpaper!


PrePreScript: This was going to be an entirely different post, which you’ll be able to find at later this week, but I figured this is more real estate related.

PreScript: My entire philosophy on life is simple but I’m not a good enough to contain it in 500 words.  Maybe one day I will spend the 10k words to flesh out my philosophy.

I’ve been pondering my future: what to do with my MBA?  Today, I listened to a podcast where the host interviewed Ben Hewitt, a Vermont homesteader and philosopher/thinker (the podcast is long, but worth the 1.5 hours, IMO).  I was struck by the choice Ben made to live a deliberate life, on his terms, which has allowed him to thoroughly enjoy life.  While Ben has enjoyed his life, he admits there are difficult times.

Yet he enjoys life.

This brings me to real estate.  Many people actively avoid hard work but there is enjoyment in physical work as mentioned on Invisible Office Hour’s first podcast.  On Invisible Office Hour’s cast, one of the hosts discusses building a wall at his house and how pleasurable the project was.


Flooring edger

I find similar satisfaction in the physical labor I conduct on my rental properties.  Today was no different.  Eighteen hours of work punctuated by one hour for breakfast and an hour and a half for dinner/hanging with my daughter.  Yes, some of the time was spent writing, but at least ten of those hours were spent doing physical labor.

Looks like a droid to me.

Looks like a droid to me.


Flooring sander

Flooring sander

There is comfort knowing who will be putting money into your IRA/401k, etc, but there is real satisfaction watching progress – the transformation of an ugly caterpillar into the monarch.

Before and After (from right to left)

Before and After (from right to left)

I don’t know where I will end up, where I will be working or who I will become.  I want to continue being satisfied.  Do I have to sacrifice comfort?  I don’t know.

It may be difficult, but it’s not as tough as it looks.


More pictures from today (the power was off…)

Another quick update – sort of unrelated to REI

I’m still working on my B-school application.  GMAT books no longer decorate my kitchen table.  I’m no longer pondering “if X = y*sin(xy)+tan(z), What is the value of C?”**  It took my brain about two days to fully recover from the GMAT exam that I took on Saturday.  PSU’s average is 645, I scored a 660 (I’m slightly better than average mom!)  I’m now recovered and pounding the keyboard, writing my essays.

Everything is due Friday.  I’m trying to wrap everything up by tomorrow (Thursday), just so that in case I miss something, I’ve got 24 hours to correct any oversight.

The flip is SLOWLY moving forward.  The carpeting is ordered (measurements on June 2), basement is mostly clean, yard has been trimmed back (Thanks Rick!), and I should be able to start painting trim on Friday night (I’ll have a 6-pack of a really good IPA if anyone wants to join me).

Other than that, I fixed a sink drain and hose bib this past weekend.  The home owner had ‘repaired’ the drain with packing tape (!).  The hose bib was a crazy amalgamation of CPVC, galvanized, copper and one black iron coupling.  Yes, it was a mess.  All those various types of pipe were found in a 1′ run of pipe.  I cut that mess out and took the wuss’s way out: I used Shark Bites for my ball valve and female FTP connector.  So much for my nice MAP gas torch.

But it was quick.

In about ten minutes, I had shut off the water, removed the bad pipe, installed the new pipe and turned the water back on.  The expense for the Shark Bite connections are totally worth it.  Had I used typical solder connections, I would have been there for at least thirty minutes.

Back to writing essays…


**Not a real question on the GMAT


Granite Counter top installation

The house that I’m flipping is located about 20 miles from Penn State.  The town is a former timber baron town and when the timber boom ended in the early 1900’s, the town started a slow ‘drift’ downward.  Homes were purchased as investments but the owners never improved the homes (or even kept up with the maintenance).  As a result, many properties have been run into the ground.

As the housing recovery has picked up steam, the homes in the town of State College (home of Penn State) have continued on a steep upward trajectory.  For example, my wife and I looked to purchase a townhouse in 2005.  Most townhouses then listed for between $100k and $110k.  Townhouses now won’t list for less than $150k; if they do, they need significant amounts of work.  Single family homes don’t list for less than $200k.  The $200k will buy a 2/1 in a busy area of town.

I purchased the house to flip in one of the surrounding towns, Philipsburg.  Philipsburg is becoming a bedroom community for State College.  Homes can still be purchased for sub-$100k, meaning you can own a home and pay $500-$600/month for PITI.  As State College becomes more expensive, many people are looking for less expensive housing options, so they are considering Philipsburg.  At my day job, I am receiving many more phone calls from Philipsburg for construction estimates.  Many of the people calling are Penn State faculty or staff.

There has been a marketplace shift to solid counter tops (granite, quartz, etc).  As such, while Philipsburg doesn’t necessarily lend itself to granite counters, I want to attract a buyer that doesn’t want to spend much each month on housing, but has a nice house.

Solid counters can be expensive, sometimes as much as $40 – $60/sf.  I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on counter tops but wanted the quality so my business partner and I decided to handle the granite fabrication ourselves.  My partner has worked with soapstone in the past, but never granite which is significantly harder.  We figured good technique will yield good results.

I located slabs of granite for about $14/sf.  These slabs were edged on three sides (one side is against the wall) and had a polished top.  Granite is not a light weight material and each slab is about 225lbs or so and measure 26″ x 78″ x 1.25″.



To get familiar with granite, we decided the easiest cuts would be straight cuts for the counter top material around the stove/range:



We built a temporary work space on two wooden pallets.  There was a space between the pallets for our straight edge guide for the cuts.

After getting the pallets set and the slab on the pallets, I taped the bottom of my circular saw so the metal plate wouldn’t scratch the granite.  We simply used masking tape for this.

My partner then set the a piece of tape on the slab, running approximately where the cut would occur.  We did this to reduce tear out from the granite.  I’m not sure how much this actually helped, but it probably helped a little.



Once the tape was in place, my partner marked the location of the cut.  We then set the guide fence off of the cut line.


We set the cut depth on the saw almost as shallow as it would go for the first few cuts.  We wanted to reduce tear out or chipping of the granite itself.  The saw we used is a standard Rigid worm drive saw, which, as my partner pointed out, isn’t grounded.  To keep stone cool and reduce dust, we add a little water.  Water and electricity don’t mix too well.  We didn’t have any problems, but it was something for us to be aware of while we cut.

The slab is 1.25″ thick.  To cut through this, we took about 10 progressively deeper cuts through the stone.

We cut from the finished face of the stone.  We did this to reduce any potential blow out on the face side.  As we finished the second cut of the day, we did experience some blow out of the back side of the stone, which doesn’t matter because no one will ever see that.  The cut edge is a little rough and isn’t rounded over like a factory edge, but all in all, our plan worked.

Here is a shot of the partially finished product:

Drive to 5 Update: April 2014

Keep Calm

Yes, this is when I discuss my recent purchases and changes to my Drive to 5.  I’m working (slowly) to my 5 for the year.  The impetus for my Drive originally came from Jason at Dividend Mantra.  Just like anything, it took me a few months to understand his philosophy on dividend growth stocks.  Originally, I assumed dividend growth stocks were a combination of growth and dividend stocks.  As I learned, dividend growth stocks are stocks which reliably grow their dividends.

As I have learned, pay raises are not guaranteed.  Even though growing dividends are not guaranteed, a company that is growing its dividends generally tries to continue to grow the dividends.  Stopping the growing dividends and/or reducing the dividends generally signals a potential weakness in the underlying business.

Since I last wrote, I have added a few shares of Intel (INTC) and SeaDrill (SDRL).  In addition, a few of my positions have increased their dividends (YES! dividend growth investing is actually working for me).  Specifically, KMI and O increased their dividends.

I am now earning $129.85 per year in forward dividends, or an increase of 57% from the start of the year.  I am still $370.85 away from my goal however.

In order to help push along my dividends for the year, to try to hit my 5, I am working more in the field (at my day job) in a position that pays a ‘hazard’ pay of $5/hr.  I realize this isn’t much, but it’s something.  I plan to use all of that money as ‘bonus’ investments.

Disclosure: Long INTC, SDRL, KMI, O

TV Time and FI

Somewhere on the internet, Einstein is quoted “Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.”  Now typically, when we think of compound interest, we think of money.  If we invest $1 today and wait (and wait and wait and wait), we will have many multiples of $1 at some point in the future.  The longer we don’t touch that $1, the more money we will have in the future.

In the business world, a common refrain we hear is “Time is money”.  Usually there is a boss standing over an underling demanding the underling(s) stop goofing off and start working, because someone is losing money because time is being spent/wasted.

Just like 1+1=2 is the same as 2=1+1, we can say that “Money is Time”.  We can then take “Money is Time” and insert this into Einstein’s equation, we see that just like money, time also compounds.  If we spend time now, we will reap the benefits in the future.

I know you’re probably wondering how Einstein and “Time is Money” are in any way related to TV time, I say: damn the torpedoes and read on.  

Sometimes, on a late Friday night, when I’m tired, my hands are covered in paint and all I want is to crawl into bed, I wonder why I put all this time into my real estate business.  Some Saturday mornings, when I’m up at 6am so I can make coffee, go for a run and head to a rental to smash some radiators, I remind myself that I believe that time compounds.  My actions today directly affect my abilities to do things in the future.

Recently, I came across a horrifying statistic: American adults watch almost 1,100 hours of TV per year.  I wanted to verify the statistic, so I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (fascinating website if you’re into stats).  Well, on the BLS website, I found 2012’s numbers and I was again horrified.  According to the BLS:


Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time
    (2.8 hours per day), accounting for about half of leisure time, on
    average, for those age 15 and over. Socializing, such as visiting 
    with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most
    common leisure activity, accounting for nearly three-quarters of an
    hour per day. (See table 1.)

 “; accessed 4/22/14

Those 2.8 hours per day are not per work day or per weekend day, that’s per day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year (366 every four years).  So in 2012, the average adult watched 1,022 hours of TV.  That’s a part time job that someone spent in front of the TV, every year.  That’s the average American adult.  If we assume an average life span of 76 years and an American ‘adult’ constitutes anyone 16 and older, the average ‘adult’ will watch 7 years of TV in their lifetime.  That’s 7 years watching TV 24 hours per day.

Let’s assume a more reasonable TV marathon in which the adult in question watches 16 hours of TV and sleeps 8 hours.  That person will sit in front of a TV for 10.5 years.

That. is. insane.

Think about the opportunity cost lost because of some flashing lights on a box in your house.  Think about the great books that aren’t read because of the TV.  How about the great artists who we lose because they can’t devote their time to their art because of their TV addiction.

TV was never an important part of my life (luckily I had parents that only allowed us to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy, Marty Stouffer’s Wild America, and The Wonder Years…sometimes the X-Files).  My wife and I had cable for a few years when we were married, but during one of our financial diets, we decided to get rid of cable.

I admit, it took a while (like two or three years) for my desire to watch TV to totally subside.  Every Fall, as the leaves get crackly under foot and the air gets crisp, I still think of the college football I’m missing, but that’s really it.  I don’t miss anything else on TV.  Even then, watching college ball with others is infinitely better than watching by myself (plus I can knock off the #1 and #2 leisure activity at once).

We do still have a TV in the house and subscribe to Netflix, but that’s it.  At this point, we don’t even know how we would have time to watch any TV.  My wife is constantly chasing a toddler around the house, I’m working my day job (~2,100 hrs per year) with an additional 750 to 1,000 hours spent on my real estate investment business.  We literally don’t have any time to sit and watch TV.

I’m going to sound like an old fart here, but I think America is losing it’s edge not because we are lazy, but because we are glued to the boob-tube.  Think of how many new jobs would be created if the average American didn’t sit around watching TV.  I think about my own business.  As I work to get closer to FI, I will be buying more rental properties or flips.  Sure, I will spent my 1,022 hours working on the rehabs, but those 1,022 hours will get me so much closer to FI than sitting in front of TV will.

So tell me, am I an old fart?

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.

Drive to 5 Update

Keep Calm

I’ve got a goal this year that I am calling my Drive to Five.  Essentially, I’ve got a goal to be in a position to receive $500/year in dividends (qualified and/or ordinary).  This $500/year is ‘forward looking’ meaning that on Dec 31, 2014, I need to own stocks which would pay a minimum of $500/year in dividends from Dec 31 2014 to Dec 31 2015.

Just like you’re not supposed to put all your eggs in one basket (stock), one of my unstated goals for FI is to have a few diverse streams of income, the anchor being the rentals.  In an ideal world, when I hit FI, I would like my stock portfolio to pay out a minimum of $5,000 annually.

This year, I started with about $82/year in dividends.  With my most recent purchases of KMI and SDRL, my annual total is up to about $116, a 40% gain.  The $116/year isn’t a huge sum of money, but I’d bet that if I came to you once a year and asked for $116, there would be a pause before you answered!


Disclosure: Long KMI and SDRL