Moving In Events And Those First Renovation Steps
Moving In With A Surprise
For a contractor, or any tradesman, to move out of one residence to another is a daunting task. You have the home furnishings, tools, equipment, trailers, you name it. Add a few nightmare scenarios, and there you have it. Something always goes wrong.
My first pre-move trip was designed to kill 2 birds with one stone. I brought my utility trailer to haul furniture to the new house and also to haul off demolition debris while there. Some surprises were in store.
While there with my daughter and her husband, the plan was to let them stay at the house. But a problem surfaced. No water! It turned out that the power to the well pump was on another meter separate from the one that monitored the house. And it was not turned on.
So I had to pull the meter and make it functional. I knew this would make the electric company unhappy, but I had previously requested power to be turned on in my name for the property, and it was their responsibility to do so. Doesn’t matter how many meters you have. That problem would resurface later on.
This is Part 8 in the BUDGETHOUSE RENOVATOR series that involves the search for, location of, and unique auction-style purchase of my home in the country. The series includes dealing with a foreign based auction house and escrow to help facilitate this transaction. Also, I show how I worked with a mortgage company programmed to process the “specialized” FHA 203k Program rehabilitation loans. My loan included funds to buy “and” repair my house. Part 7 is about dealing with escrow problems after it is started. My next article in Part 9 is entitled “Moving In _More Adventures“. It will further expand on moving and initial renovation steps with some unexpected events.
First Renovation Steps
One of the first things I want to do in any new purchase is check everything in the house. Our roof was missing roof panels, and had 4 leaks. The breaker panel was a mess of wires. The loose floor tiles were peeling up. The kitchen was the worst example of do-it-yourself cabinetry I had ever seen. The guest bath was U-G-L-Y and the master bedroom walls were covered by 1/4 plywood panels which were falling off. Whew!
My first task was to check for plumbing leaks. The house had been winterized 4 years earlier, so I knew that the water heater would have to be rebuilt. The sink faucets were clogged and the guest bath toilet was non functional as was the shower in the tub.
The water well pump was now working and I later learned that it had only 2 possible years of use after being repaired by the former owners. The only outside spigot was out by the fence and it was broken.
I spent most of the first trip fixing necessary plumbing and straightening out the wires in the breaker panel. My daughter (Susan) mowed the lawn (1 acre of grass and weeds) with a walk behind power mower. Her husband repaired outlets and light fixtures.
Those two had their own problems. Driving from Albuquerque, New Mexico, the alternator in their Land Rover decided to quit. We got their vehicle started with a portable battery booster and attempted to use it to keep the vehicle running. We had to go up the main highway through town to make it to a repair shop. On the way, the vehicle quit running and blocked highway traffic. A police officer finally had to push them to the repair facility, breaking their rear bumper in the process.
We did have fun on the side though. To buffer the tasks at hand, we didn’t work all the time. Day trips to the beach, a state park, and a spring fed swimming pond filled out our days. Fireflies, bats, and crickets entertained us at night. Living in the Country was starting to manifest itself.
Follow Up Trips
We survived that first sojourn, and I made another trip by myself. This time I brought ladders, sofas, chairs, tools, and what not. It was the Labor Day weekend and I wanted to start getting the old floor tiles removed.
I was able to locate a local metal roofing fabricator about 12 miles from the house. I had them make the missing roof panels while I worked on demolition.
The whole house was filled with nasty-looking one foot square linoleum floor tiles. There were maybe 1800 pieces to remove and I needed a plan. I had a floor scraper but did not want to continually bend over or get on my knees to do the job. I had no helper, so I got creative.
Purchasing a heavy-duty trash can, I included a bottom roller attachment. Since the chairs I brought were for a dinette set, they also had wheels. Sitting in the chair and placing the trash can within reach, I scraped up 3 or 4 tiles at a time. I would lift them carefully up and into the trash can. I had placed a contractors trash bag in the can so I could bag them up for placement on the utility trailer to be taken to the local landfill.
I got all of the tiles up and was ready for new flooring to be installed on the next trip. My wife and I had arranged for a Lowe’s in Ft. Lauderdale to order the Pergo Flooring to be delivered to the Lowe’s at Defuniak Springs, 4 miles from the new house. We brought the utility trailer again with more furniture and tools a few weeks later. After unloading, we went to the local Lowe’s and picked up the new flooring.
Power Company Feud and Digging For Water
The next trip brought us face to face with the water meter problem. Since electric meters are digital they can be read by computer from a centralized station. This capability caused the power company to zero in on our unregistered meter.
They had it taken off-line one more time before we arrived. In confronting them, they wanted to penalize me up to $3,000 for when I had activated it. I told them I had asked for the power to be turned on legitimately. It seems they had never updated their records to reflect the fact that two formerly separate properties were now listed as one by the tax appraiser.
They finally backed down from the penalty situation, but they wanted $350 to reactivate the rusted out and barely usable add-on power meter. I told them to pull it off of my property. I told them I would run my own power line underground from the house to the water pump.
So my wife and I spent the whole visit digging a trench and running #6 heavy-duty wiring through conduit from the house breaker panel, under the house, and out into and down the trench to the pump shed.
In planning and thinking ahead, I installed an outdoor electric sub-panel breaker box at the hook-up point. One Breaker was for the pump. Another was for a GFI outlet at the well house. A third one was for a future 30 amp outlet for an RV hookup and power to the outbuilding where the RV would be parked.
We now had eliminated a second and unnecessary meter expense. And now we could control the pump from the house when doing plumbing repairs. It was a lot of work but was well worth it. The wire used would validate the actual requirements needed later on.
Installing Flooring and Then A Catastrophe
Another trip with more tools and furniture and we were ready to install the flooring. The Pergo system was nice. We first laid down the approved foil-covered pads that the flooring would “float” on top of. It unfolds and lays down flat. No adhesive or nails needed. It also rides over small imperfections in the sub-flooring.
Then I started laying down and assembling the 6″ x 60″ flooring boards. They clipped together. You set them by using a rubber mallet and special tapping block we bought at Lowe’s. A chop saw and wall tool was all the rest of equipment we needed. And they went down fast. We covered a 400 square foot living room and a 240 square foot bedroom. We started to do the hallway. All this within in a couple of days. No adhesive, no nails, no creaking, and no movement. Perfect.
But then disaster struck. Near the end of this escapade, we began to realize that all contact with my wife’s 90-year-old mother back home was zilch. After dinner, we contacted the Ft. Lauderdale police department and a locksmith. They went out to her apartment and informed us they were not finding her.
Finally, one officer looked in the bathtub and found her lying there. She had been in that tub for a full day and could not get up. It turns out that after using the toilet, she passed out and fell over into the tub which was next to her. They called the paramedics and she was taken to the hospital.
We were 575 miles away, but we decided to sleep in the house that night and head back very early the next day. We were tired from working and needed some rest. It cut our floor installation time down, but that is the way it goes.
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