Saturday, January 16, 2021

New Year Update

Hello to my friends in internet-land!

I want to check-in to let you know that I am alive and well.  I hope you are all too. It's been almost a year since I posted last. The world sort of imploded since then. Here are some highlights and lowlights of the past year:

A LOT of puzzles have been done.  My neighbor and I work on them every night. 

Let's rewind. I was living out at my tiny house and my Canadian friends were renting my house back in March 2020. When everything started shutting down because of the pandemic, they decided to go home.  Too bad.  The weather was lovely and golf courses never closed but they would lose their health coverage if they stayed once the borders shut. I moved back to my house.

The animal shelter thrift store that I was volunteering at closed until June.  I brainstormed how to help without being so hands-on (I was previously collecting the donated goods) and asked if I could help list items on eBay.  I didn't even know they had an active eBay site.  They had one person listing a few things as she had time.  She was happy for the help and we started bringing in over $1,000 net a month for the animals.  My house also started filling with eBay stuff and shipping supplies. This was a cat collection from one lady. Most of it has sold.

My big dog Baloo left us in June.  I tried to keep him mobile and happy for as long as I could. He was 14 (I think) and in the end he had dementia. It was very sad and we miss him.  Well, I miss him.  My little dogs probably don't.

I got a new dog in July. It wasn't planned but I saw her on our county animal shelter's website and recognized her as belonging to my previous tenant.  You might remember the homeless man who stayed in my 2 bedroom rental house for a few months while I was having a fence and driveway added. I made an appointment to meet her and she was a mess.  They told me that her owner had a stroke and was hospitalized and she was left alone.  A neighbor broke in and caught her.  She bit him as well as the other shelter workers. She had been in the shelter for a month on hold, to see if her owner could come and get her and also for her bite-hold. I was willing to take her on so they put her directly into a crate after she was spayed and had her teeth cleaned. I took her home and let her relax. I waited 3 months before arranging a haircut. She survived it and so did the groomer. She lost some weight and we are taking short walks now.  They told me she was around 9 years old. She fits right in with my old crew. That's her on the right.

Work has been very busy. Although some business dropped off because of the pandemic, my job wasn't affected much. I've reworked my early retirement calendar and 2-3 years is still looking do-able. I added in paying my sister for her half of the house based on the current real estate prices.  That way I am aiming high.  Health insurance for early retirement is still a question mark. I haven't researched it lately because policies change too quickly.

My nephew who is living in my mobile home next to my tiny house lost his dish-washing job.  He did eventually qualify for pandemic relief so he has money but he misses his job and his friends there. Hopefully he will get hired back this summer.

I haven't done anything to my tiny house. I was just arranging to hire someone to insulate and put in drywall last March but I put all that on hold.  I did clean off the porch a bit more than this and store things in the shed so that they wouldn't get ruined.

This snowbird season I rented out my house for 4 months, December to end of March. Here is a picture of the shower stall improvements I tried to do until I have enough money for tile.  I spray painted the chrome handles and door and added the stick-on tiles. My neighbor offered to let me stay in her guest room and move all of my eBay stuff to her garage. I couldn't pass up a generous offer like that (plus hot showers, running water, sidewalks) so that is where I am now with my 3 dogs, her 1 dog, and my 5 quail outside in their cage.

Oh, I didn't mention my quail. My elderly quail eventually died and I wasn't going to replace them but then the pandemic hit and the egg shortage and I got more quail. 5 that get along and 1 who is a different color and gets picked on so it is in a separate cage.

That's all for now. I need a nap.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

I'm Still Around

A lot of things have changed and not just in my head this time.  The biggest thing is that my office closed ahead of schedule.  We had to be out by November.  I now work at home and my position has changed from engineering to purchasing.  It is interesting getting to know new people in the company and finding out what the other plants do. 

Also, I bought my mother's house with one of my sisters and I am trying to do the "rent it out to snowbirds" plan.  A couple from Canada is scheduled to move in next week and I am running around trying to get the house ready.  My tiny house has electricity, one interior wall framed, and a porch as of this week.  Hopefully it will get steps next week.  I have a new handyman and I have learned that his time estimates should be multiplied by two, at least.  My sister and her family stopped by last weekend and helped me move a truck load of stuff from the house to the tiny house.  I will go out this weekend and try to arrange it in a convenient way for me and 3 dogs.  Baloo is going to be the most challenging since he is 15 and has hip dysplasia,  I need a ramp asap.  I just bought an 8'x10' carpet for the inside.  I was planning to use vinyl flooring left over from the mobile home project but it will be too slippery for him.  I also need insulation, at least for the bedroom, and to completely enclose the dog area with fence panels and a wire roof.  I will be there most of the time since I work from home but I don't want to worry about them every time I need to run an errand.

Ok, time just sped up and I have moved to my unfinished tiny house for 6 weeks, at least, and a couple more weeks if my tenants find a golf course to sell them a two month membership.  I just want to show you pictures of my patio furniture though.  One of the things people asked about when they looked at my house was if there was patio furniture available.  I saw this patio set, minus the cushions and umbrella, for $60.  I asked the lady if she could wait for me to pick it up on the weekend when I had the U-haul truck and she said yes.  That was a great deal.  I had the umbrella and I bought the cushions for $20 for 6 at the thrift store that I volunteer at on Saturdays.

Then I had this 4 seat patio set out at the tiny house for years.  The cushions were falling apart and the metal was a greenish grey.  I was able to bring it to the house with the help of my sister's family when I had the Uhaul truck and they were helping me bring some things out to the tiny house.  Then I spent way too much time spray painting it and searching for the perfect cushions.  First ones from Walmart were too big, second ones too small.  Finally, I found the right size at Home Depot.

So, here is a picture of the tiny house with the new deck before I dragged everything out from inside and put it on the deck so that I could move my stuff in.  Mostly wood boards, trim, metal gutters, things for future projects.

Inside the front door is the fridge that I got for free when our office closed.  I also got a sink, microwave, and toaster oven.  This is not where I want the fridge to stay but it works for now.

Here is a picture of the flooring.  I had one day to throw this together so I used scrap vinyl  from the mobile home and rugs that I bought from the thrift store.  The rugs were a great idea because Baloo can get up easily and doesn't slip.  My office area is to the right.  I brought a folding table and my office chair.

This is the kitchen area.  Again, a temporary set-up.  My handyman build the wall that separates the kitchen from the bedroom and added two outlets.  I have two induction cooktops but I haven't done much cooking yet besides microwaving.

The weather turned cold with a low of 25F last night.  Last weekend I put some foam board in the bedroom walls.  It is warm enough for me but I worry about my big dog on the floor since it is much colder on the floor. 

My chiweenie just buries his face in the blanket.  I have ordered another heater which should get here tomorrow.  It will be back in the 60's this weekend but I am sure the cold weather will come back again,  The insulation is only 1".  I plan to put another 1" board in the gap before paneling.  I don't know if I will get to the project while I am here.  It makes such a mess everywhere.  It will be much easier to do after I have moved back to my house.

My handyman built one set of stairs but ran out of time to build stairs on the side that the dogs use.  I quickly put together some stairs made of blocks and covered them with blankets for padding.  My little dogs like to lounge on them.  My big dog doesn't like them but he is getting better at using them with my help and not falling.

Just a picture of my big dog in the little dog bed after the little dogs took all of the big dog beds.  Poor boy.

So, that's what I am doing.  The endless list of projects have shifted from the house to the tiny house.  Lots to do.  I don't have water or drains yet.  My nephew is still in the mobile home and his bathroom is available.  On sunny days, I put the camping shower in the sun to heat up.  I have an aquarium pump for hand and dish washing which goes to a bucket and I dump it outside.  It's really quite nice on warm sunny days.  I'm glad that I am finally living out here after so much planning.  So much to do but I'm having fun.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Making Hybrid Plans

Hello again.  Everything has changed and nothing has changed.  That's because most of the changes have been in my head, as in, my ever-changing plans for the future.  Since my last post, I was really struggling with wanting to quit my job immediately.  I felt like if I agreed to go visit our company headquarters at the end of June, I would be committing myself to stay with this job for many more years.  Well, I decided that it wasn't time to quit just yet.  With our office closing in a year and changes continuing to happen with the company, I could at least hang on until next August.  Summer in Arizona is just a really hard time with high electric bills and day after day of exhausting heat.  I get discouraged because it doesn't seem like I am making any progress.  But, I told myself that I only had to get through June, July, and August and then the rest of the year would fly by.  It always does.  Once temperatures start to go down I can get back to checking things off my own to-do list and the next thing I know it will be January again.  

So, I bought the ticket to Connecticut and went to visit our company headquarters.  It was quite interesting.  I've worked for the company 12 years and I had visited our old headquarters when I was first hired but it was nothing like this place.  We have a manufacturing plant there and it was fascinating to finally see how they make things and to meet people who's names I have only seen on emails.  I'm glad I went.

In the meantime, I got a terrible sore throat which turned into an earache and kidney pain through most of July.  It was one of those things where one day I felt better and then the next day I felt worse.  The antibiotics didn't seem to do much and then my intestines revolted.  The doctor switched the antibiotic but I am just now starting to feel normal again.  That's over 2 months of feeling cruddy.  When I feel sick I always get scared about retiring early.  What would I do if I was relying on a part time job and then couldn't work?  I need more safety nets.

And also, I made some decisions about my mother's house that I am living in.  I decided to ask one sister if she wanted to buy the house with me and the other 2 sisters if they wanted to be bought out.  They agreed and we are working on getting the title switched.  My original plan was to rent the house out full time but during Jan., Feb., and Mar., we can get almost triple the year-round rent.  Then I thought I would rent it out as a furnished rental for those months and then have an estate sale and rent it out unfurnished as a year-round rental.  But I still didn't like that idea.  So my current idea is that I will move out December-March or April depending on if it is rented, and then I will move back in.  I'm going to use the extra room off of the closet to store my things that I don't need and live in my unfinished barn-shed tiny house.  My main priority is getting the electricity done.  I contacted the electrician again and we are aiming for the end of September when it gets cooler.  I haven't been out there all summer because of the heat and also the paper wasps that have made nests on the barn-shed.  They die off when the weather gets cool.  When the electrical wiring is done, I only need some insulation and I can glamp for 4 months or so.  I'll use the shower and washing machine in the mobile home and have a camping toilet, mini-fridge, induction cooktop, and microwave (I'll have to buy one because I sold my extra one at the last garage sale, oops).  I'll probably hook up a sink with just gravity fed water and a drain that goes outside.

When the house is vacant again, I'll move back in and pay my sister half of the going rate for yearly rent which I estimated at $650.  I will pay my own utilities and she will pay half of the property tax, insurance, HOA fees, and maintenance.  I will move out every year Dec-Mar. until I decide that I can't afford it or want to live in my tiny house full time.  Then we will sell the furnishings and rent it out on a yearly basis.

So that's the current plan.  While we are waiting for the paperwork to get worked out, I have been getting some things fixed around the house starting with the main sewer backflow valve which stuck closed for the second time since we moved here.  It is quite inconvenient when the sewer backs up.  I was doing laundry and taking a shower and I heard the toilet making funny sounds.  That was the sewage coming up.  Ugh.  Then the laundry drained and the toilet over-flowed while I was outside trying to remember where the main sewer clean-out was.  And I didn't realize that the sewage backed up into the washing machine until I was wearing the clothes from that load and wondered why I could still smell sewage.  Icky.  Everything got bleached.  It cost $800 for the valve to be replaced and I went ahead with the other plumbing problems, cracked garbage disposal, filter for water spout in kitchen, tighten kitchen faucet, fix bathroom faucets handles so that they stop instead of going all the way around, replace bathtub spout because the diverter wouldn't close to make the water pressure go to the shower.  Whew, done.  Now I just need the leak at the skylight fixed and a gate added at the side yard.  And I bought flowers for the front yard and need to get them in the ground before they die, I've just been waiting for it to rain which they said it would do today but nothing yet.

Now you are caught up again. Here are some pictures of my other summer projects:

This cart was a Christmas present to myself.  I finally put it together.
The carpet in the storage room got peed on by the chihuahuas I was fostering last year.  I took it outside and hosed it off then poured lysol and soap on it and rinsed.  I let is stay in the sun for days.  The padding was disgusting and went in the trash.  I thought about buying new carpet but it doesn't smell anymore and is already cut to shape.  Since I am going to be using the room to store my own stuff, I decided to put the carpet back in without padding.  If we ever rent the house year-round, I'll buy new carpet.

I bleached and painted the floor of the storage room before I put the carpet back.  It doesn't smell now.

A very long gopher snake visited my yard for a week.  He always startled me but I was glad to have him visit.

I repurposed the fiddle-muff that I had bought for my mom when she was in the assisted living home.  My dog appreciates it.

In my search for the water leak, I made a hole in the ceiling.  I think I know where the leak is coming in now.  The repairman will be here in a couple of weeks.

I have been having fun buying southwestern decor from the thrift stores around here.  I need a few more things.

I decided on "Italian chicken" as my theme for the kitchen.  Haha.  I don't think that is a "thing". Maybe I will be a trend-setter.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Budgets and Plans

I started this post back in March.  I need to update it again.
Let's take a look at my financial freedom/semi-retire early plan again.  I admit it, I am a total scaredy-cat when it comes to quitting my stable, good-paying job.  I'm going to be updating my spreadsheets into my 60's if I don't get up some courage to just jump.  Or die at my desk.  That alone should make me want to quit.  What am I afraid of?  Running out of money and being too old or ill do make any more.  So, with that in mind.  Here is my current plan.

I have re-adjusted my minimum budget and removed health insurance.  My previous plan was to get insurance through Medicaid because that is what the ACA site told me I would qualified for.  Now, in Arizona, they have changed the requirements and any able-bodied person will need to work or volunteer 20 hours a week in order to qualify.  That is fine but if I am working part time, then I am just going to use that money to buy my own insurance.  When I looked up available plans, the cost was between $300 and $600/m.  I did not look up plans through the ACA exchange because the site won't let me see plans without putting in a lot of personal information and I don't need to do that now.  Maybe I will qualify for a subsidy but I am going to assume that I won't and just go with the highest price of $600 as my goal.  I can pay for that with a part time job, or selling on Ebay, or maybe some sort of small home business.

Back to the budget.  This is the minimum that I would need to survive. I know people will have comments.  Gas prices I can't control, only how much I drive.  I was spending a little over $400/m on food but I was buying a lot of junk food and eating a lot too.  I changed my diet, reduced my portions, and my bill has been closer to $50/week so I know it is attainable.  Maintenance is too low.  Car and home maintenance could be expensive.  Also, dog costs.  One vet bill will blow the whole budget.

So, what will I do about that?  Here is my income plan:

Rental 1- $1,050
Rental 2- $700

Subtract property management, taxes, insurance, maintenance.  Let's call my net profit $1,100 for both.  Since my rental income is not stable, as you know from previous posts, I am saving an additional amount, I call it the freedom fund.  I figured out how much I would need starting back in July of last year until I am 59 1/2 and can take money from my 401K.  That is 161 months or 13 years and 5 months.  I am adding $2K each month to my fund and subtracting $700 each month from the total needed since I'm getting older.  Where the two columns meet is where my freedom point is.  May 2020.  48 years old.  You might notice that my freedom fund did not start at $0.  I put $52,000 from the sale of my home into the fund to start, then I came up with this plan later.

Rentals: $1,100/m
Freedom Fund: $700/m
Total= $1,800/m

Budget: (-$700)
Health insurance: (-$600) part time job or business

Hooray for wiggle room and hopefully enough to get me through a rental income drought. 
Now it is almost June.  12 more months until I've saved up enough for this plan.  A few expenses have gone up.  My cell phone plan went from $15 to $20.  I put my mother's car in my name.  The registration is $60 and the insurance is more although I plan to go back to liability coverage only once I move out to my property.  My portion of the inheritance will go to savings for rental house maintenance and making my tiny house and property livable.  But the house has to be sold first.

This week has not been as fun as I had hoped.  Working from home comes with its own set of challenges.  Mostly I don't like being isolated from my coworkers even though I only have one regular coworker in the office.  Maybe I just don't like that she is on vacation and everyone is asking me for answers that I don't know.  I would also need my computer and two large screens for my home office because working on a small laptop is frustrating.  Next week I will be back in the office.  The following week, my coworker will be traveling and I will be working from home again but she will still be working so I shouldn't get the questions that I can't answer.  The week after that, my sister will visit and we will sort through the contents of the house.  Then the week after that I'm traveling to our corporate office for a few days.  That pretty much takes care of June. I hope it is a productive month.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Which Direction to Go

I just returned from my mother's funeral in Washington.  As my aunt put it, "It was a fun time on a sad occasion."  It was good to see the family mostly all together.  My co-worker looked after my dogs.  She only lives 5 minutes away and knows them all because I bring them to work sometimes.  If I move from here, I'll have to find a new dog-sitter.  That brings me to my next subject, when will I be moving?  My optimistic answer is still November.  I don't have a place to move to yet though.  My nephew is still living in my mobile home and my tiny house still does not have electricity.  My job has not laid me off, in fact, they want me to go out to our corporate office in Connecticut at the end of next month to discuss the next project that I will be working on with accounting.  I just can't seem to quit a job with perks like bringing my dog to work, flexible schedule, and being able to work from home all of this week because my co-worker is on vacation and I would be alone in the office.  I'm going to hang on until the office lease is up August 2020 and see what happens.

Here is what has been going on at the house in the past month.  Gutters!  The old gutters were removed and new seamless gutters added.  No leaking anymore.  The black mold which has stained the pavers below will be gone after the landscaper replaces the walkway and fixes the drainage.  I hope that will be completed next month.  I don't have a firm date yet.

New windows!  The new windows are in and look great.  I hope it lowers the electric bill this summer.  I also dug out the old barrel cactus and planted some Lantana flowering shrubs.  The cactus are too heavy for me to move or cut up so I will ask the landscaper to haul them away.

My own tiny garden in the backyard is loving our abnormally cool weather.  This sunflower decided to bloom all at once.  I also have some grapes, Moringa, and alfalfa growing.  Last week was really windy and the grapefruit tree has been dropping the fruit that was out of my reach.  How convenient.  The wind also blew over my mailbox.  It appears the post rusted at ground level.  I still haven't decided how to fix it but it is propped up with rocks and a bungee cord attached to a screwdriver pounded into the ground until I think of something.

My co-workers all chipped in and bought me a tree for my mother.  They bought one for my father three years ago.  That was very nice of them.  This tree needs about an 18 inch deep hole.  I'll probably wait until the fall to plant it on my property when it is cooler and I won't have to worry about watering it.

My dove couple is back sitting on their third batch of eggs.  I wonder how long they will keep laying them.  It is fun to see the babies hatch and grow.

So, that's what is happening.  I'm also continuing to sort through boxes and plan a trip to New Mexico and Texas, probably in the fall since traveling with dogs during the summer seems too complicated. I'm leaning toward renting a minivan and turning it into a stealth camper with a 12V cooler, porta-potty, fan, and bed.  I'll have to actually look at minivans to see if my plan will work. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Journey's End

I had a post written for last week but my mother took a turn for the worse and my priorities changed.  She hadn't opened her eyes when I visited for two weeks prior.  She was sliding down in her wheelchair despite our attempts to keep her supported.  Her 79th birthday was last Tuesday and the hospice nurse called me to say that my mother wasn't eating but was still drinking protein shakes.  I visited her after work and she ate some birthday cake.  On Thursday, the nurse called again to say that she wasn't able to eat or keep liquids down and was in a lot of pain.  She said the end was near and she recommended liquid morphine which I approved.  When I arrived a few hours later she was still in a lot of pain and they said that the order for morphine had to be called in, filled, and delivered.  It wasn't there yet.  I waited for two hours stroking her hair until the drug finally arrived and she could sleep.  You would think that hospice would be able to keep a small amount on hand for such occasions.  For the next few days, I watched mom slide closer and closer to death.  Finally, I got a call at 4:30am on Tuesday that she was gone.

It's been a long, terrible journey with vascular dementia, a type of dementia I didn't know had a name a year ago.  I am glad she is finally free of pain.  I took the week off to get things organized and just take a break.  The funeral won't be until next month when everyone is available.  I'm trying to decide how long I want to stay in this house.  My sister will transfer the title into both of our names in order for me to stay if I want to since she is over 55, as this community requires one person to be over 55.  I have some time to decide. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spring Projects

Spring is here and there are a million things to do.  I have a list of things that I would like to get done before it gets hot and I hide inside for 4 months (June through September).  The top two are replacement windows and gutters.  There are only 7 windows since the back of the house is covered with an enclosed porch and the west side doesn't have any windows.  I am hoping new windows will help with the electric bill this summer and I know they will help sell the house when the time comes.  The stucco around the old 70's aluminum windows is also in need of repair and that can be done after the new windows are put in.  The leaky gutters run along the back of the house and will be replaced with seamless ones.  Unfortunately, the fascia board along the back is also rotted and needs to be replaced.  I'm talking with a handyman on Wednesday to see if he can replace the fascia and do something to help drain the water away from the house near the down spout.

On the other side of the house, I am having the gutters re-routed towards the front of the house so that the water will go to the street.  Too bad I can't save it all and magically transport it to my property where my mobile home is.  LoL.  One house has too much water, the other not enough.

I'm also sorting stuff for another community garage sale this weekend.  A co-worker brought some items over too so I have lots of stuff to sell.  He brought Pyrex bakeware, I have cheap Anchor Hocking.  I think I'll swap them and sell mine.  He also brought some nice pans.  I might swap those out too.  No fair keeping stuff if I don't get rid of something else though.  I'm not a hoarder...well, ok, a little bit.

Besides that, I've been spending a lot of time chopping up branches to fit in trash bags.  I miss the giant dumpsters from my old house.  My trash service here only picks up what is in bags.  That means thorny bushes have to be chopped up into small sticks.  I finished the small Palo Verde tree last weekend and will continue with the thorny lemon tree branches until they are gone.  I also tried some ground clear weed killer yesterday.  I hate weed killer but the weeds in the river rock were getting out of hand and I had a bottle of this stuff from my last tenant.  I had bought it for him to use on thBermuda grass around the mailbox but he never used it.  It's one of those bottles that hook to the hose.  I think it was working, hard to tell.  I suppose I will know when the weeds die or look healthier.  Hopefully, I didn't get the stuff too close to my cactus.  The homeowner's association is coming around to check on weeds at the end of the month and issue violation notices.

Still green. Guess it didn't work.
I met with another handyman out at my property to show him the next projects.  I want a deck next to the shed-house and a carport and another carport/rain roof where the garage used to be.  I emailed the county permitting department about my plans and they said that there was a 1500 sqft. limit to the amount of accessory structures I can have.  So, I scaled back my plans and I will go with a small carport for now.  Perhaps when I move out there and get gutters on everything I will find that I have enough roofs for water collection.

And in other news:  My mother is doing ok.  Not good, just ok.  She is a tiny skeleton of her former self but she still eats enthusiastically.  Some days she seems to recognize me and other days not.

The dogs are doing well.  The new old guy, Baloo, fits in nicely.  The little dogs still bark at him when he comes near but not as much as they did when he first got here. When we go for a walk he only walks two houses away before he wants to go back home.  His back legs are weak and sometimes he trips and just lays on the ground for a while. But he enjoys his many dog beds, the plethora of squeaky toys, and treat time. It is cute the way he enthusiastically greets me when I get home along with the other two.

And there are two baby doves growing up on my front patio.  Momma dove built her nest on a shelf near the front door.  I hope the babies never fall out of the nest because the dogs walk by them unaware everyday. I wonder if Momma bird is regretting her choice of nesting site.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Learning the Hard Way

Trench dug, conduit in, trench filled.  Progress!  Sounds easy and simple. 

What actually happened was:
Day 1- bought pvc pipe, rented mini-excavator, trench was dug in under 15 minutes by the guy who rents the machines, ends of trench were hand dug by me and my nephew, pipe was glued, picture was sent to electrician, electrician said "wrong pipe".

Oh boy.  I've spent hours in the plumbing aisle and no time in the electrical aisle.  I won't forget this lesson, ever.

Day 2- bought correct pipe.  Grey pipe = good.  Found out 10' pipe does fit in my mother's car.

 Replaced pipe in trench.  Spent the rest of the day moving the stuff in the barn-shed to the center so the electrician has room to work but I really need to move most of it to the mobile home.

Whew, done for now.  Waiting for the electrician to run the wires.

Came home to this dove nesting by my front door.  I hope she doesn't mind a gaggle of dogs going in and out of the door everyday.

Next thing:  Work on taxes and sort through stuff for the community garage sale at the end of the month.  I'm running out of March already.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Progress on the Tiny House, Sort Of

Things are finally starting to move forward out at my property again.  Some of you may recall that I put around $10k into the old mobile home in 2015 so that my nephew and I could live within the school bus boundaries for our preferred school district. 

This is how it looked before:

This is after (before the other furniture and cabinets.

This was my mom making curtains.

Then, I let a guy rent the place at the recommendation of the dog rescue.  He had 2 dogs and 2 cats and needed a place asap.  That was ok but he smoked and cleaning was not high on his priority list.  He moved into the 2 bedroom rental house that I bought and then moved to Brazil last year.  In the meantime, my nephew decided that he wasn't ready for college and returned to Arizona.  I felt he needed to learn some responsibility so he is currently renting the mobile home from me for a small sum plus electricity monthly and buying his own food.  I had hoped this would encourage him to get a job.  He did have a seasonal job for the past few months but that's over now.  He is learning how to budget his money, conserve food and water and live minimally, so at least he is learning something. 

Yesterday I took the afternoon off and met the electrician out at the property, finally, since he had to reschedule 3 times.  He was fantastic.  He changed the RV outlet into a dryer outlet, moved the dryer into the back room, listened to my plans for the barn-shed tiny house, looked over all of the electrical power available, figured out how we won't have to dig under the mobile home (yay!) and told me what I need to do and what to buy before he can come out again and bring power to the barn-shed.  I am so happy and now I have a lot to do if I want to get it done before summer.  The plan is to steal the power from the greenhouse/hot tub pump.  That's 70 amps.  I need to rent a trencher and dig an 18" deep trench from the greenhouse to the barn-shed, about 45'.  I hope it is easier than it sounds.  I can also pay someone to do it but I don't know how much that would be.  My nephew and I will attempt it first.  Then I will buy PVC to use as conduit and exchange my indoor power box for an outdoor box.  I bought the wrong one but I still have the receipt.  He also said he would wire the inside which is awesome because although I could learn how to do it myself from a book and Youtube, it is even better to learn from a professional, especially when electricity is concerned.

This is my preliminary sketch of the electricity needed:

And here is the picture of what I am talking about.  #2 is the mobile home where the dryer was installed.  #3 is the barn-shed tiny house which I am trying to get electricity to.  #1 is a storage shed.  #4 is the 3,000 gallon water tank.

And, my nephew mentioned that he is almost out of water.  He started out with a little less than 3,500 gallons last April and has been stretching it by not showering, doing laundry, or doing dishes.  Hmmm... that's not good.  He buys drinking water from the store so that isn't included.  I told him he would have to pay for the water delivery when he ran out.  That's $150.  But, there are a ton of chores he can help me with out there so he can work it off starting with helping me pick up another water tank with his pickup truck (which used to be mine).  My main water tank is 3,000 gallons and the water truck delivers 3,500 gallons which I have to pay for whether I have room for it or not so I am going to buy another 500 gallon tank so that I can get all of the water.  That is a chore for a Saturday but not this Saturday since it will be rainy and cold.  The next Saturday will be back up in the 70's so I will plan for that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Typical Week

My goal each week is to go straight home after work as much as I can.  This week is already filling up.  Typically, I visit my mother on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I feel bad when errands get in the way.  One rental house was having trouble with the stove so I arranged for the repairman to come by between 12 and 3.  I work nearby so I drove over to pay the repairman, twice actually, once for the estimate and once again to pay because he had to go pick up the part. It would be nice if he took credit cards over the phone but I guess they aren't that advanced.  $388 for the ignition switch replacement.  That was right on the border of replace rather than repair but the tenant likes the stove, she actually hugged it when I mentioned replacing it, and I didn't see the same style online.  It isn't that special, it just has a place in the middle to rest pots, kind of like the ones with a 5th burner except it doesn't have a burner in the middle.  The repairman said that the ignition switch was the main thing that goes out so it should last for a long time with a new switch.   

I cancelled another after-work vet appointment for my new dog.  His digestive system has finally acclimated to the new food and even though he still licks at his leg where he had a lump removed, I am going to make him wear the soft collar and give it more time to heal because the vet doesn't have any sure-fire solutions, just more antibiotics (he has had 2 different kinds) and expensive blood tests ($330) to compare to the blood tests he had last month. 

I also need to go out to my property and take some photos for the electrician.  My nephew is still living in the mobile home on the property and he has finally started doing his laundry.  This might seem like a simple thing but the washer has no water hookups so first he puts the drain hose out the window, then puts his clothes and soap in, then brings the water hose, which is hooked to the water tank, inside and fills the washer (top-loader).  Then repeats filling the tub with water for the rinse and voila!  Clean clothes.  That is the way I used to do it when I lived out there back in 2010 when I still had a washer and dryer in the old garage, before I had is taken down.  The electrician is coming out a week from Saturday to install a dryer outlet. 
Dryer will go in this room which is at the end of the mobile home in the picture below.

Normally, I would say, just hang your clothes to dry but I want a dryer outlet for myself when I eventually move out there and the electrician is also going to advise me on bringing power to the barn-shed.  After a crazy year, I finally have a little bit of time and money to think about improvements on my property.  I wish I could snap my fingers and have everything done like fences, the interior of the barn-shed finished, porches and rainwater collection set up, etc....  It's a big wish list.     

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Rental Update

I forgot to mention the status of my 2 rental houses.  Let's review:

House 1:  4 bedrooms/2 bathrooms.  Under property management at a cost of $100/m.  The tenant moved out at the end of October.  The maintenance group sent me a list of needed repairs/cleaning.  Subtracting the tenant's deposit, they still wanted around $2K!  $1500 just for "touch-up paint".  Since I had re-painted the year before, I looked at the walls and they only needed a little bit of paint.  I did it myself for $20.  The new tenant moved in at the beginning of December.  I hope they stay longer than a year.

This was the worst wall needing touch-up paint.  It took 5 minutes to fix.

House 2:  2 bedrooms/1 bathroom.  This is the small house I bought with home equity for the tenant who was living in my mobile home.  He moved to Brazil in January of 2018.  I was overwhelmed with getting my home ready to sell and decided to try an experiment.  I contacted the local homeless tent camp and ask if I could house a Veteran.  They recommended two people, one was a Veteran and the other a civilian with a car.  At first they seemed agreeable to being roommates but then decided not to move in together.  The guy with the car wanted to try renting the house by himself and had just got a dishwashing job so I said we would try it for 3 months. 

Well, with everything going on with my mother during the summer, 3 months stretched into 6 months but he wasn't able to keep a job to pay the rent.  Once I had completed the driveway install and fencing replacement, I told him he would have to leave so he did but left so much junk behind.  Now, when he moved in there was junk from the previous tenant and cleaning it up was part of the agreement but it didn't happen.  I took a day off, hired a housecleaner, bagged up everything and shoved it outside.  

Driveway added, metal fencing replaced chainlink.
I donated everything that was still usable.  Clothes went to the collection bin and the other items went to the thrift shop.

My handyman took it away to the dump.  A few repairs were made, sink unclogged, gates added to the side yards, and I listed the house again, this time looking for a Section 8 voucher tenant. I had 3 people interested but then the housecleaner told me she was interested.  I chose her.  She has a job and knows how to clean - Bonus!  I hope she stays a long time.

The cash flow is finally coming in instead of going out for the rentals.  I certainly lost a lot of money last year but I am back on track now.