Friday, June 02, 2006


Today, my family decided to go to Ruby Tuesday's for a cheeseburger when we were going to pick out Matthew (age 10) some new shoes. So, we proceed to look at the menu and Matthew decided he wanted to order an appetizer of chili cheese fries. We ordered cheeseburgers, and I told the waitress well I don't want a platter with fries or onion rings for myself because of this big appetizer. And Matthew, said he didn't want fries either. I opted for the salad bar. When our order came, we all had fries! There must have been 7 pounds of potatoes in all! Ha! We got the bill and it cost us nearly $44 for a simple cheeseburger lunch for three people, as iced tea is now $2! I felt like I had ate a cheeseburger in New York City! We had gone out to eat after visiting Home Depot and Lowe's for about the fifth time this week, which is the joy of keeping up rental property.

I was so frustrated with our remodeling job of our rental house. We had hired some guys to paint the outside windows, and they were supposed to start last Saturday. My husband, Marty, had already purchased their required supplies that they ask for. The materials requested were three gallons of Behr outside paint, a case of glazing material, window cleaner and paper towels. The painters would supply the labor and finish the job in two weekends. Well, as things go they did not follow through and show up! I am trying to get a contractor that I know to do the job, but he did not want to use the type of paint, etc... that we already had because he uses glaze from a can not the kind in tubes, and the paint was not the type he likes either. So we returned all of the supplies. I am sure the price to paint twenty windows on the outside will be close to a couple of grand, and this is the inflation that I am talking about.

I am trying to remodel without spending a fortune, so I decided to buy a pedastal sink for the bathroom to update it. The bathroom is so small that the door would not close if I installed the sink. The plumbers took the old sink off the wall before telling me the new one would not work. So, I spent all day Tuesday shopping for a small wall hung sink. Lowes and Home Depot did not have any, so my husband called the plumber to see if we could just put the old one back on and clean it up and live with it. Not to be, as they had already broke the old sink because they threw it in their truck. Then I stayed up all night searching online for a sink, and found one at a company in Kentucky. I ordered it online early Wednesday morning, and got it today by UPS! Well, as my luck goes the sink was too small to cover the holes from the older sink that we took off the wall and the right hand side mount faucet would hit the ceramic soap dish bolted to the wall. So, now I have called the company in Kentucky and ordered a third sink! I now have to send the second sink back to Kentucky, and we returned the pedastal sink today.

Now, we are going to probably go with Re-bath and modernize the bathroom because I called the Tub Doctor to refurbish the bathtub. The guy met me from the Tub Doctor at about 9:30 this morning and said the tub was in pretty good condition for being over 50 years old with no places to repair and I signed the paperwork for him to blast the tub and repaint it! This seemingly nice guy said the job would be $345 and he would be done in about 3 1/2 hours. I did not want to hang around while he painted the tub, so I gave him my cell number and told him to call me when he was nearly done. No sooner than I got half way home, the cell phone rang and it was this guy at the Tub Doctor's boss telling me that he was going to have to pull his guy off the job because when he started blasting the tub a tile came off the wall! Well, I was in rare form (I had it this week with all of the bs and I have got behind at my office anyway from posting wasted words about property taxes in a wasted town and this rental house that is so in need of repairs has of course been appraised at $94,500 from $49,500 a year ago). I still have to write up my appeals! I hollered into the phone, well glue the darn tile back on and finish the job! Oh no, can't do that Ms. Poole. I said well this is typical, I suppose, for you all to give a come on price, and then sock it to the consumer with someone saying well just go on and redo all the tile. Then a $345 tub job becomes a $6,000 bath remodel. My husband said, well give Re-bath a call and get them to just remodel the bath and put the new tub liner on (so that should cost about $4,000 I suppose by the time I put in the new sink).

I am here to tell you, remodeling a house is just like that movie, "Money Pit." If you have never seen it, then rent it as it is hillarious. This is my life always, and Marty just goes along with me most of the time. I suppose our relationship is about like Lucy and Dezi, if any of you ever watched "I Love Lucy." Our house on Foster Place had a kitchen that had been fluffed when we bought it (no kidding the realtor actually said at the closing that she had her guy she uses for remodeling to fluff up the kitchen, and I said "well I got another "f" word but it is not fluff)." I thought Calder Pinkston was going to fall out of his chair. Well, I decided to call an unknown contractor that had the biggest remodeling ad in the phone book to actually fix up the kitchen slightly. I told my husband that we needed a dishwasher and a new counter top and that would help rent it out. Well, I got talked into new cabinets, walling in one of the windows in the kitchen, to create more room for cabinets, a new sink, a new faucet, new doors for the house and painted walls. I will not mention the cost of all of this because after three years it is still a contentious subject in our home. Oh, I also got new carpet! Well, the lady that loved the house so much that I rented it to had no kids and was so in love with this cute little doll house and had no pets (my request). Well after living in the house for a litlle over two years, this wonderful example of Macon's finest left my home with pet stained carpet, with walls so filthy they had to be repainted and I had to get new carpet. I think she used metal in the new over the stove microwave because when we tried it, it snapped, crackled and popped and sounded like it was going to blow up. Had to replace that sucker, too! After living in the house about two weeks, this lady called me and said her daughter and granddaughter were moving in for just a short while (not so, it lasted the whole time and they trashed the house!) You know it takes an act of congress to get someone evicted!

So, these Macon property assessors are out of their minds to go up on my taxes on these properties that I have to keep pouring money into. You may say, well duh Linda, why did you rent to such a slob? Well, this lady was as nice as pie, and she seemed so sweet and she was a registered nurse. I bought into her joy over the house, and how she would take so good care of it. Now back to high taxes and inflation, we now have people running around Macon with clip boards and a magnetic sign on their $45,000 diesel trucks that hire workers to "Get R Done." The object of the "Get R Done construction companies is to bill out the work of others and make a decent living without ever touching a hammer or a paint brush. This creates inflation, when painters now charge at least $85 per hour. Shoot, my lawn man probably makes $45 per hour. I am telling you that we have hyper inflation going on, but I heard that lawyers are now charging $345 per hour. If I were younger, I would go to law school, but only to be a prosecutor. But that would not pay as much as a defense lawyer. I guess I am just getting old and crabby, and not understanding that these high prices are just a fact of life. The moral of this story (assuming anyone is reading this but me), is that in order to appeal taxes, you must not procrastinate "GET R DONE!"


KAT said...

I'm surprised you're going to this expense in fixing the rental property. I don't blame you for wanting painters to do the work but ordering a sink from Kentucky is gilding the lily a bit.

Of course I'm the believer in using white paint and sinks from an old motel for vacation homes.

I would have gone to a discount builder's outlet for the bulk of the cabinetry/sinks/countertops. I loved the outlet on Broadway; sadly they quit featuring paint and their lumber inventory is pitiful.

I thought most contractors had dilapidated trucks with a ladder rack, all the tools a credit card would get them, and some potheads to do framing work. The 45K truck may be masking some of that talent.

A builder told me the Macon Contractor's Association was a firm to consult in the event a contractor mistreated you. The BBB is another option for finding a good contractor. Then again I don't trust a certain person in the BBB hierarchy.

Anyone have any ideas on whom to contact for a good contractor?


BEEBEE said...

Dear Kat,

You see the home on Engle Drive was the house I lived in since 1981 before marrying Marty. I am a perfectionist, and fix up houses like they are my own. You see, I have a theory of having a really nice place to attract the best tenant possible. In order to charge enough rent to cover property taxes and insurance, one needs a nice place to compete with nice apartments. You see taxes on my rental house have gone from about $400 to $850 in the last seven years. My rule of thumb that I use is that property taxes should be equal to or less than one month's rent, but property taxes are completely out of whack in Macon. There is no way that I can charge $850 per month in Northeast Macon. I now advertise for 2 year minimum lease arrangements to avoid the high cost of repairs when people move out. There is no way you can make money by renting on one year lease terms or heaven forbid six month terms.

When I first began renting my home, Engle Drive was probably 85% owner occupied homes. I wanted to keep the integrity of the home with the neighborhood so much that no one could even tell my house was a rental. That theory is deteriorating now that Engle Drive is becoming majority rental property. I suppose I have to face reality that my home is now going to go down in value, and not appreciate. I had some really good tenants in Engle Drive that rented for three years, and before that some tenants rented for two years. I try to put much of the income back into the house, but for sure a home is a "money pit." The sink that I ordered from KY was sent with free shipping, but it will cost me to send it back. But I know that shipping is built into the price. "There is no such thing as a free lunch."