How It Started
In mid-October, I wrote about a really bad week. I had come home from pet sitting at 5:30am and our bed was soaked from water that came in through our ceiling fan. A day later, a crack opened up in the ceiling of our living room. A day after that, our oven’s top heating element literally exploded in a burst of fireworks and flames. A couple of days after that, my husband received a red light camera citation. It was simply a crappy week.
A few days after I told you about all of those problems, I wrote an update for you.
- We paid the $79 ticket without any problems. You can read that update post to see why I was laughing hysterically as I electronically sent them money.
- Our roof was inspected by the builder’s chosen roofing company, and they blamed wind-driven rain. So I was scheduling a guy to fix everything.
- An AWFUL oven technician came out on behalf of GE Appliances and ticked me off badly. GE decided to send me the part for free and schedule an appointment for a different technician to come out and install it for me after a couple of sincere and polite, though not perky, phone calls.
Handling the Issues
I ended up scheduling an all-in-one handyman for the roof and ceiling issues that I knew about thanks to a friend. He came over, took a quick look around, and quoted $400 to elongate the vent hood to decrease the risk of wind-driven rain in the future and to patch the crack in the ceiling.
A few days later, he arrived as planned…and found a crack in the vent base on the roof in less than 5 minutes.
It wasn’t wind-driven rain damage! It was a crack caused by scoring the vent base when they cut a shingle to fit! The crack must have opened up during the storm and that’s where all of the water came from. Mystery solved.
It did mean that he spent longer on the roof since he sealed the crack and the shingle very well. He also elongated the vent hood just in case. While he was handling that, I was sending videos and pictures to my home builder and requesting them to reimburse me for every dime…
That is what a shingle looks like that was cut down the middle to fit in front of the vent hood…
And that is the crack in the vent base that let all the water into my ceiling…
Once he was done outside, he also finished patching up my ceiling inside.
This is what the ceiling crack had turned into within 3 days.
His final bill came to $490 on Monday, October 20, 2014. I paid it, of course. Then I texted a picture of that invoice to my home builder and crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t fight me too hard on the claim.
With the oven, they forgot to send me the element. But I expected that, and called the Tuesday it was supposed to arrive to check on it since my service appointment was set for Thursday. They overnighted me the part. The technician arrived Thursday as planned. He had it fixed in less than 15 minutes. He also showed me how to do it if it ever happened again, showed me how to replace the burnt out light bulb without unscrewing anything, and walked me through taking off the front oven door to be able to reach into it easier. Woot!
This was our broken oven…
Now our oven works again!
Life is Good Again
I’m happy to report that home feels like home again. The oven was fixed for free. The roof and ceiling damage was reimbursed completely by my home builder on Halloween. The stray dog was officially adopted. And the red-light citation was handled. My house feels less broken. Now to just finish cleaning up all of the Halloween decorations and random party stuff.
How are you doing right now? Get some stuff off of your to-do list?
I haven’t mentioned my home owner’s association (HOA) for a while. Nothing much has happened on that front for about a year, but it’s time for our annual meeting again.
My HOA Experiences
For anybody just joining BFS, my husband and I built our home in a neighborhood with an HOA. Let’s just say that the relationship didn’t get off on the right foot…or ever even find the right foot.
We started receiving violation letters about 4 months after moving in. Some letters were about parking in the street, which we stopped doing. A few were about maintenance stuff like our yard or small oil stains, which we also handled. One set was about having our friends living with us, which we all agreed to ignore. A couple weren’t actually for us at all.
One was for the wrong home (we weren’t building the patio in question). Another was in reference to having large groups of people over that park in the street too often. I explained that we generally only have 1 potluck a month, but other people on our street use the utility easement curb to park too. So we were being reported even on the days we had no visitors at all (like when our neighbors had graduation parties or crawfish boils, which were awesome, but not our get togethers, lol).
All in all, I wasn’t happy, I wrote about it, that just pissed off the angry people more, and it turned vicious for a few months. It all eventually led to at least one guy going door-to-door while I was out of town to ensure that I wasn’t elected to the HOA board last year. That same guy started questioning me personally at the actual election meeting, which I held up to well in the meeting itself, but I had a small emotional breakdown for a couple of days afterwards. A few of my neighbors came by later to show their support, and that helped. By the end of October 2013, I just decided to drop the whole subject and that has seemed to work.
HOA Meeting Today
I had been skipping the bimonthly HOA meetings, but our annual, large HOA meeting is this evening. They are discussing the new homes being added onto the back of our neighborhood, the annual finances, and hopefully we won’t be seeing a dues increase. Despite my general unwelcomed feelings around the HOA board, I’m probably attending since an update on any of those subjects sounds interesting to me. I also think at least 2-3 of the board members are generally ambivalent towards me, which is nearly as good as being liked.
I just wonder if I’ll see many others there. Even though we pay about $720 a year in dues, most families who live here don’t have the time or energy to get involved, and they leave the big decisions to the board and those of us who vote. I completely understand since life is crazy off and on for everybody. I’m just hoping a bunch of my neighbors can make it. The board makes money decisions all of the time for us, and this is one of the few chances for us to be truly involved.
That said, do you attend your big, annual HOA meeting?
Okay, so I will admit it. I was feeling amazing until last week and all hell broke loose. I was pet sitting overnight 6 out of 7 days and started getting exhausted. Then our area of town started getting rain storms from incoming cool fronts. Then my bed got soaked…it pretty much went downhill from there.
I came to bed at 5:30am last Thursday morning after a particularly rough pet sitting night. I slid into the sheets, and then my feet were cold and wet. What?! I got up, moved my cover, and found out pretty quickly that the entire bottom corner of my side of the bed was SOAKED.
I woke up Mr. BFS and all we could conclude was that water had come through the fan at one point. The next day, we saw the warped fan blade to confirm. Mr. BFS went onto the roof, but he couldn’t see anything obvious. I called our home builder and set up an appointment with a roofing company.
Then a crack appeared in the living room, and grew into a wound on my ceiling. We still have to wait out the rest of the 5 days for the roofing company since the erratic rain keeps them off roofs. I’m expecting them later today.
This gash is what popped up on Friday. Now it’s just wider but doesn’t seem to be getting worse…
If they find a problem with a seal or the roof or anything like that, then our home builder will pay them and others to fix everything. If they decide the water came in some freak way because of the weird storms, our home builder won’t pay for anything. Great. You know how fun it has been to wait from Thursday morning through today to find out if I’m going to be out ALOT of money? Yeah, not fun at all.
But, as if that weren’t enough for right now, our oven decided to burn out in a spectacular, almost fireworks kind of way on Saturday night. The heating element literally burned itself out and caused the inside of the oven to belch and burst into flame. Luckily, everyone in the house knows to turn crap off quickly and breaker flipped. But the heating element is missing a section now.
My home builder helped me make an appointment with GE for Wednesday. Yet again, if it’s the product’s fault, they’ll fix it. But if it’s caused by “something else”, they won’t. What else could be at fault for a heating element exploding?!
See that missing section of metal? That shouldn’t look like that…
Mr. BFS is waiting for the 3rd thing to pop up. I think our third thing is handling Toby, the stray Shih Tsu that I’m fostering, and getting him adopted. That actually may also happen late this week since he does have interested families waiting to meet him. Woot! Fingers crossed!
So yeah, rain can suck. But at least we handle problems better now than we did 5 years ago. Heck, we handle them better now than we did 1-2 years ago. Yay for maturity!
How has your home been feeling lately? I think mine is sick…
I’m taking advantage of some great advice from Joe Taxpayer at Fincon14. My husband and I are interested in buying another rental property. Joe pointed out that financing would probably work better for us than trying to pay in cash in a couple of years. He also suggested using the fact that we aren’t in a rush to our advantage.
Seeing that we will need another mortgage, we figured that we should get preapproved for a loan before we start the hunt. We didn’t know about options like the Homestart low deposit home loans, so we approached a brick and mortar bank in our area. I applied for a $125,000 or less loan, gave all of the info they asked for, and we were preapproved within 24 hours for a $100,000 mortgage or less at 5.375% interest for 30 years. That’s about a $500 a month mortgage.
Property taxes and home insurance will bring that up to about $850 a month in the areas we are looking at. We can afford to cover that $850 whether or not the home is immediately occupied, but it is a good market to find a renter right now.
Saw this over at http://www.empowereddollar.com/paid-off-my-federal-student-loans/
Type of Property
I mentioned it before, but we are looking at newer (built in 2005-2014), single family homes with 3 bedroom and 2.5 baths that are around 2000 square feet. The two areas I am favoring run about $90,000-$110,000 for homes like that and rent out for $1200-$1300 a month. That means with the $850 cost per month for the home itself, we can put $350-$450 aside each month to fund its own long-term emergency fund and to hopefully invest into yet another property. If we can build up to 5 properties, we’d be set in retirement after we are about 55 years old. If we can get 10 properties, we should be able to retire whenever that happens…maybe by age 45 or so?
Offer Low, Offer Often
Following Joe’s advice, we can look at all of the homes that fit our criteria and make offers that are 20-30% lower than the asking price. Even if only 1 in 10 accept, we have a good rental property for even less than we were expecting. That could lead to even more rental properties sooner than expected.
We have a plan now. We’re following our own advice and waiting until January 2015 to see where we stand before we truly start the search. I want us to have $30,000 in the bank aimed at just this rental home since it will cost somewhere between $18,000-$22,000 for the 20% down payment. Then we have closing costs and minor renovations. We’ll have an emergency fund to use if anything major pops up, but there is a reason that we are only looking at young properties.
How has your income diversification been rolling along? Are you interested in rental properties too?
Everybody wants something. I get that. Mr. BFS and I are no different. We’ve had an ongoing want list that we add to and subtract from for years. The problem is that we keep prioritizing other stuff, investments, and trips before some of the things that have been on the want list for as many years as we’ve had it.
Our Want List
Here are the things that we were specifically, consciously spending on this year…or so we planned:
- Lasik – Mr. BFS has had glasses since elementary school and would like to move along now. He’s been putting it off for years only because of the small risk to his eyes, but he wants to pull it off this time.
- Media room furniture – We have a specific plan for 6-7 media room seats/recliners. But we keep putting off this purchase in favor of everything else.
- College Referee Training Camp – It’s about $2000 for a one week camp, but if they like you, you get hired to be a college sports official for football. Mr. BFS would love to move up to college level reffing (which pays more too), but paying for the $2000 camp doesn’t guarantee anything at all. So he has procrastinated for 2 years…
- Yet another cruise – I always want to book our next cruise…that’s just the way it is…
None of those things is an actual need, although I would place the training camp and Lasik above the other two myself simply since one could lead to more money and the other is health-related in my opinion. But we were going to knock-out all 4 in the next 4 months…
Another Rental Property?
Despite us knowing exactly what we want, life has happened and we aren’t sure we can pass up a good opportunity to build our rental property income streams. Exxon has built an administration complex near our home. That complex will employ 10,000+ people, but they only built enough housing for about 2500 of them. That means all of the property in our area is increasing in value.
Sadly, that means our property taxes will be increasing every year for a while. We may actually have to move in 5-10 years if our property tax gets as high as our mortgage.
BUT, it also means that buying a rental property may make sense. A 1700-2100 sq. ft. home right now with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths can be purchased for around $100,000-$150,000. That would be $25,000-$35,000 since you need to put 20% down plus 3% for closing costs. But it could be loaned for 4-5% over 30 years for about $500 a month. Those sorts of homes are renting out for $1300+ a month. Even when taking into account property taxes, home insurance, and home owner’s association dues, we’d be bringing in at least $300-$400 extra per month. We would use that to build a maintenance fund and to pay off the home in less than 10 years.
The only kicker is that $25,000-$35,000 up front just to buy a place and get it into rentable condition. That would once again eat a huge chunk of our padding and all of our extra money for the want list. But we’d still have 3-4 months of expenses on hand.
What would you do? Buy the house and put off the want list? Finally take care of the want list and put off rental properties for a couple of years?
I mentioned that my friend, Dee at Losing Stuff, Gaining Freedom, was looking to buy a used travel trailer to live in for at least a year starting this summer. She ended up buying a 20 foot long 2008 Malibu in April, but then she needed a place to live in it starting in August when her apartment lease runs out. Today we went hunting for a decent trailer park/mobile home park/RV park that was closer to her job (and as a bonus, me!).
This is the 20 foot Malibu that Dee will be living in until August 2015. It takes advantage of its limited space…
As with any other housing choice, finding a place to rent out a trailer slip involves choosing something between disgusting and ranges up to amazing luxury. Dee called the four options that seemed to fit her basic needs that were also closer to her job than she is now. Two of the places were completely filled up and didn’t seem interested in worrying about backups. One place rents out mobile homes that they already park there, so it doesn’t have slips for other people’s travel trailers. Lastly, there were two places that we checked out in person.
The Basic Choice
The first place looked nice but extremely basic. It had the land and a low price. In short, it was an open area to park at, but it also only costs $275 per month. That includes free water, but Dee would have still had to cover electricity and find somewhere to do her laundry or take a nicer shower once in a while other than in her tiny bathroom. It also was in an area that would get muddy and marshy when it rains.
The first mobile home park was nice and green, but it didn’t have anything extra at all.
The Luxurious Choice
The second option was just awesome! It is an RV Resort, which is a very nice way to live in a mobile home. The slips for the travel trailers are paved, there is a huge lake that makes for a great view and lends to good drainage, and the amenities kicked butt!
- Water included
- Basic Dish television included
- All hookups for the travel trailer are easy to use and readily available
- On-site laundry facility that is open 24/7
- Bathrooms with full showers that are open 24/7
- Computer room with a printer
- Two enclosed dog park areas
- A swimming pool and hot tub
- A recreation room with treadmills, a shuffle board table, a pool table, a coffee maker, and a popcorn machine
- A huge lake that can be used for fishing
- Free air pump for tires
- Dog wash station with an actual dog washing platform and sink
- Outdoor kitchen with bar stools
- Fire pits with comfy outdoor seating
- Friendly staff
The only downside is that the monthly rate is $475-$540 a month. BUT, they offered Dee a deal that she couldn’t pass up – rent for one month and get the second month free! That will make it $270 a month at worst for two months, and then she can decide to stay or move on! How cool is that?!
Obviously, she chose the RV resort. She’ll be moving there in early August and I am so excited for her!!! I think it’s a perfect fit and still costs her $400 less per month than her apartment complex wants now.
This is proof that housing treasures and great deals can be found with any type of home – even travel trailers.
Any cool housing deals for you lately? What do you think of this RV resort?
The air conditioner in our rental property died Sunday afternoon. Our friend and Mr. BFS figured out it was the capacitor. I thought of a couple of options – finding the part ourselves online or hiring our normal a/c guy. I didn’t want our tenant to suffer any longer than necessary, but I also didn’t want to pay an a/c guy for something that we can actually do. Oh well.
Our normal a/c guy wasn’t working Sunday evening, but I tried again Monday morning. He made it to the rental house by 12:30pm and the air conditioner was working yet again by 1pm. It ended up costing $40 for the capacitor and $75 for the trip and labor fees. We’re okay with $115 total but now know that we can replace it ourselves quickly if it happens again.
Third and Future Option
I thought of a third option for the future. If we ever need to replace the capacitor again, I’ve decided that I’ll call around and find someone who sells the part here in Houston, TX. That won’t take 2 days to get thanks to shipping, and Mr. BFS says he can have it installed in less than 20 minutes. So we’d save $70-$80 overall. Not too shabby.
Overall, this is a happy ending. Our tenant isn’t melting anymore and one thing is off of my errands list. Yep, that’s a win even at $115.
Any happy financial endings for you lately? Let’s share good news!