It’s been a week since the my last two tenants finally moved out, but it feels like it was ages ago!  Time has flown since they left, and the renovations are finally happening, and fast!  Also, my bank account is draining quickly, but let’s not think about that right now.


On Monday, the flooring contractors started working in the first two units, the ones that had vacated earlier.  (I hadn’t had a chance to check out the other two units to see what flooring needed to be done.)  The owner of the flooring company called me Monday morning to let me know that the stair nose for the flooring we chose wasn’t available.  Fortunately, there was another, similar flooring that had available stair nose.  I really didn’t want to delay the project, so I asked him to send a photo of it next to the one we chose.

vinyl plank flooring

The new floor is the top one in the photo.  To be honest, I like the new floor better anyway, since it has a little more grey in it, which will look better with the new interior paint color.

The flooring guys were going to be busy both Monday and Tuesday putting flooring in the first two units.  Since they were already there, and since we hadn’t yet had a chance to walk the two newly vacated units, I popped out of work on Monday afternoon to meet with them and walk the two newly available units.  We mapped out the areas that needed replacement, and fortunately, they were able to just extend their installation days to get it all done at once, instead of making me reschedule it for a later date.  Sweet!  And the floors came out great, too.  I’ll post photos of them later.

Wednesday: My Circus of Contractors

On Wednesday morning, I had to take the morning off work to meet some contractors at the property.  Over the course of the morning, there were so many people there that we had to shuffle all the trucks to get everyone where they need to be.

I arrived at 7 am to meet the garage door installer.  When I got there, there was a little dog running around the property.  I recognized the dog as being the one from Apt. A.  Those assholes actually left their dog behind, like trash.  I couldn’t believe it.  I called Animal Control, which is a function of the police department in the city where my fourplex is.  A police officer came out to try to catch the dog, but the dog, who is ordinarily friendly, apparently becomes possessed by the devil if anyone tries to pick him up or put a leash over his head.  The officer stopped trying for the moment, because he didn’t want the dog to bite and break skin, which would perhaps force him to euthanize the dog.

I told him that I had the name and phone number of the dog’s owners.  I was hoping that he would blacklist them from adopting another animal, given that they had cold-heartedly abandoned this one.  Instead, he said he was going to call them and put the fear of God into them.  I assume that means he was going to threaten them with criminal action (even if it’s mild) if they didn’t come get the dog.  I pre-warned him that both owners pretend not to speak English when it’s convenient.  He had a spanish-speaking officer call them, and I guess the fear of God worked, because the jerk husband (the bully from this post) came to get the dog in about 30 minutes.

The Garage Doors

Anyway, back to the garage doors.  The garage door openings are all standard widths, but the height of each of them was just a little different.  Having the doors custom-made for the unusual height would cost more.  Also, the headroom clearance inside the garage was low, which meant I would need to pay extra for the low-clearance track.  The garage door installer had a good idea, though.  He suggested adding a little wood to the header to standardize the height of the opening (i.e., no more custom-height doors), which would have the added benefit of giving more clearance room for the header (no more expensive track).  Great solution.  It cost just $30 per door extra for the labor to install the extra wood, and once it’s painted, you probably won’t even notice it much.

The Artificial Turf

That same morning, I also met the artificial turf installer.  There’s a greenbelt that runs parallel to the building, and a couple of flowerbeds, one of which was filled with cacti, of all things.  That’s an accident waiting to happen.  And grass is a pain in the butt.  At my own house, I’ve struggled quite a bit with the sprinkler system.  I’ve replaced every sprinkler head in my front and back yard, some of them twice, and just when it seems like I’ve finally got them all working, a sprinkler pipe springs a leak and starts bubbling up in the dirt.  I finally gave up and had artificial turf installed in the front and back yards, and I love it.  It always looks perfect, uses no water, and I never have to mow it.

I decided to go the same route with the fourplex.  I’m not going to be living there, so if something went wrong with the sprinklers, I probably wouldn’t even catch it for a few weeks or more.  That means a lot of potentially wasted water, which is flat-out irresponsible in this drought that California is suffering through right now.  And the idea of saving on landscaping costs sounds good to me, too.  If you figure just the savings on water usage and mowing costs, I should recoup the cost of the turf in just barely over 4 years.

preparing for the artificial turffinished artificial turf greenbelt


Exterior Paint and Windows

That same Wednesday morning, I also met the exterior paint guy to choose the colors for the building.  I’m going to go with a light gray on the building itself, and a charcoal for the trim and front doors.  The new windows (bright white) and garage doors (same) will really pop against the charcoal.  I was initially planning to do a grey building with white trim, but since the current trim is dark brown, it would take a lot of oil-based primer and several coats of white paint to get it to cover the brown.  And then each of the paint guys warned me that after a couple of years of normal weather, the brown may start peeking through again.  This painter that I’m using suggested charcoal, and sent me a couple of photos showing that color scheme.  I really liked it.  I think it’s all going to look great when it’s done.

Right after the painter left, the window installers arrived to take final measurements of all of the windows, so they could order them and finalize the price.  At the initial bid stage, I just picked one unit and had three window companies provide pricing for just that one unit.  I estimated that it was going to be that multiplied by four.  I forgot that one of the units doesn’t have a sliding glass door, though, so the final number came out to be less than I was expecting.  Yay!  It may not be a super huge savings, in the grand scheme of things, but I’m already going to be going over budget on this project, so every little bit helps.

The Contractor: Miscellaneous Renovations

That same morning, my contractor was also at the property.  We walked through the newly vacated two units and pointed out things that would need to be repaired or replaced.  The kitchen countertops in one unit will need to be replaced, and the entire kitchen in the other unit will need to be ripped out and replaced.  Both of these tenants were soooooo filthy.  Their units reeked the moment we walked in the door.  Fortunately, each of them had at least one window that the tenants had broken, so they were getting good ventilation.  😉  But I was really creeped out seeing the occasional mouse darting across the wall, or a cockroach running away from us.  I had to open the kitchen cabinets in the one unit to see if the shelving inside was okay, and I was chanting “pleasenomicepleasenomice” every time I opened a door.  I had this image of a mouse waiting for just the right time to strike, and then as soon as I opened a cabinet door, he’d leap out flying-squirrel style onto my face.  Luckily that didn’t happen.

I would have been upset about the tenants breaking their windows, but since I am replacing them all anyway, I really don’t care.  One appeared to have been broken in the last few days before they moved out.  Guess which unit that was?  If you guessed the bully tenant’s unit, you’re right!  Man, I’m glad to be rid of those guys.

The Renovations are Finally Happening!

So, end of the week progress report: the artificial turf is done.  The ceilings are scraped in all the units.  The garage doors are all installed.  The kitchen is ripped out in the one unit where I have to replace it.  And all of the new stainless steel ranges have been delivered and are ready to be installed.  My contractor is busting his butt to try to keep on top of schedule, since a lot of this final work is falling onto his shoulders.  He was at the property both Saturday and Sunday, which I really appreciate, because the faster we finish, the less money I will lose in rent.

This next week, the termite tenting will be done in the first half of the week, and the decking people are supposed to be starting the day after the tent is off.  The week after that, the windows should be starting installation.  The schedule worked out perfectly.  In the meantime, I have to figure out how to get kitchen cabinets for the one unit, get vanity cabinets for five more bathrooms (I bought two already), and get a granite company to give me a bid on two kitchens (maybe three, if it’s cheap enough) and six vanity tops (I bought one already).  Progress!