Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reaching the limit

Do you see this extraordinary thing behind me....

Its my sheet metal, and it's the last piece of the crazy puzzle of siding for this building.  And of course it was the heaviest to put up........I have finally reached the limits of what I can do as a girl who weighs 118 lbs.  All the little pieces around the door and the corners were manageable (still heavy don't get me wrong) but I had to finally bite the bullet making the call for help from my framers to come and help install the (8) four by eight sheets.  (it took 3 strong men and 1 shrimp girl to still lift those suckers and screw 18 screws into place)

The process went as followed for installing metal siding:
Waterproof the wall with black roofing paper  
Create a rain screen on the wall using furring strips (this allows the metal to sit off the wall 1/2 inch for air circulation) 
Place furring strips 16 inches on center so panels attach to framing studs for structural support
Accurately measure out pattern for 12 gauge sheet metal
Pre drill each sheet per furring layout on wall
Hang each panel using 2" metal screws

After a year or so the raw metal will slowly start to transform into a copper orange rust.  The marine air and the rain will speed up the process.  Maybe in 50 years the screws will start to rust though, but this siding is going to be the most maintenance free material used so far.  I'm really in love with it and cant wait to try using it again and watching it change from the cool blue colors to the more vibrate rusts. Just some little trim pieces on corners and such and the exterior siding is done!!! Hooray.... thank god......I need a break!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whiteness all around

It's a wonderful feeling to see the physical change of a space, and I didn't have anything to do with it.  Drywall is in full swing and in just 2 days the walls are up and we are moving along!! All the skilled professionals that I have hired have been so darn amazing to work with.  I will admit I was extremely nervous about possibly having to scream and yell to get people to show up on time, clean up after themselves, not stick their cigarette butts in hidden nooks for me to find. But every single sub contractor from start to finish has been very conscious of being on time or early, and not a single piece of trash not even a cigarette butt has yet to be found.

Small note to people out there in the universe:

Take your time to hire someone and don't think that the lowest bid is going to be the worst or less professional job done.  I have from the beginning hired the lowest bid BUT it was a fair bid......... and that's the difference.  When I don't jive with the person bidding the job, I keep looking.  Yes it takes more time, but you are trusting this company to take care of you and give you something fair, don't you think you should wait for that?

Anywho, I have a nailing inspection tomorrow and then the "art" of drywall smooth finish will begin.  I hope I can learn a couple tricks of the trade while watching.....more to come......oh and we finally got the final exterior siding material today................can you guess what it is? Do you remember?

Monday, June 20, 2011

A change was in order

I cant handle things staying the same for 2 long, just a little revamp and we are good 2 go.

Future..... future project

This was one of the first weekends that we didn't actually work on the project, and on Saturday we stumbled on a historic house tour that got our feathers rustled.  We have a huge dream to live in a barn.......someday.

Dream one was to own a brick historic bungalow house........... (check that off the list)
Dream two was to restore an apartment building........................(also check that off the list)
Dream three is to live in a downtown, urban walk everywhere, live local, etc..........(working on that)
Dream four, buy some land, restore a huge ass barn to live, create art, own chickens, read books, listen to records and grow all our veggies.

(hummmmm in like 5-10 years)

So in the mean time we will curb that dream with ahhhhhhh inspiring tours of old school houses, first settler's homesteads and barns...... yes barns.  Most of the time we drive by barns declaring to ourselves that we love this size or that size, but you never really get to determine how big is to big.  You just can't walk up to someones barn and sneak around, well sometimes........ Some barns we toured had been converted into homes, some were in the process and others were just as they were built back in the 1800's.  We quickly determined what we will and will not be doing........ it was incredible and definitely has the wheels in my head a turning.

The next checklist

Good Monday Morning!!!

My morning was spent receiving Sheetrock and writing down what the next checklist of events will be for the construction, we are near the end and all but Sheetrock is on MY personal list of things my sidekick and I will be tackling.  Most we have done, so no fear panic feelings this round and I'm a little excited to see the inside come together!

As we work I will be updating the checklists to keep us motivated and if your curiosity strikes just click on the checklist on the upper right of the blog to view.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shhhhhhhhh..... be quiet

Insulation went in today, and it is dead quiet in the treehouse now.  So fun to see transformation happen right before your eyes.  I love this job!!!! Its already feeling much cozier in here and soon, very soon drywall will begin and then folks its really going to change.

Things I appreciate today:

*Not being responsible for hanging the insulation and getting all scratchy and taking 5 showers a day to get the little fiberglass things off my skin.

*Spotting bald eagles fly over my head while sitting on my dock soaking in the beautiful Northwest.


Monday, June 13, 2011

The Down and Dirty

What do you do when you buy a crack house? 

Main Entry

Basement Unit

Units 1 - 4 layout

You start swinging sledge hammers.........

After everyone had vacated the building, we got straight to work.  The building had (4) one bedroom units that were identical in layout that run the entire length of the building  (two on each side) connected by a central hallway and stairs .  The 5th unit was a 3 bedroom apartment with a laundry area in the basement.  It took us (4) 30 yard dumpsters, two amazing best friends who helped keep our moral high (thank you Janna and Leif) and lots of sledge hammering.  We knew that the kitchens were finished, nothing in there could or needed to be salvage so we went to work gutting everything.  I really wanted to keep as much historical preservation to the building as possible.  So we saved every door and door knob we found anything that could be saved or that had not run off with the previous tenants. 

The biggest educational experience was seeing first hand what drug's can really do to a person.  Most of the former tenants had left most of there belongs behind and being a person who has never experienced that "culture" I was shocked at there thought processes. To walk out with nothing? To live in your own garbage? To hide needles and crack pipes in light fixtures? To disassemble piece by piece 10 stereos and telephone parts? (this I learned was what meth addicts do) Why is there white power all over coffee tables? Why would you want to brake into a basement and sleep on a wet, moldy, dirty mattress that who knows what has been on? The list went on.......

Every day for six months after our regular jobs we would meet at home change into our "dirty" clothes and head to the building. It was a new experience and a new lesson and somewhere inside of us we knew that we couldn't go back and that all we could do was move forward.  It was a pivotal point in our lives and the reason why I'm sharing this experience with you all.  There was no buyers remorse, no thoughts of just walking away or hiring someone to do it (we couldn't have afforded it anyway) we found this incredible strength within us and we were not going to let anything stop us. We worked all weekends, and most nights until 12 or 2 in the morning. Believe me we were exhausted, and had our little emotion melt downs from time to time, but I think we wanted to succeed so bad. Our family and friends support was so motivating, everyone came by to help us paint or do something it was so rewarding.  We worked together and unit by unit they slowly started changing. The only thing we could afford to hire was some electrical work, hardwood floor refinishing, and custom kitchen cabinets.  Everything else we did ourselves.  We didn't have any real experience, but knew enough to stumble through it until we got the hang of it. 

As time came closer to start thinking about renting we had to again pull from within ourselves and block out the self defeating thoughts.  What kind of person was going to rent from us? Can we keep the drugs out? Are we thinking about charging to much? Are they going to destroy all the work that we have put into it? The neighborhood was intimidating, our building and street corners had been the center of most drug dealing. With us not tolerating or allowing that environment anymore what would happen?

Change.............things started getting better, drug dealing was disappearing, people stopped breaking in, word got out that we wouldn't allow anyone to push us around.   I even got into a few screaming matches with a guy who told me I was a capitalist changing the neighborhood.  I told him if he didn't like it that he could move on.  I guess he did..........We were persistent and never backed down. Call after call to the police about drug dealing and gang activity motivated (or they got sick of us calling) more patrol cars to frequent by.  We even witnessed a undercover SWAT team take down a house across the street, it was surreal...and then after it was safe we introduced ourselves as the new owners who absolutely wanted them to know that we were going to have a drug free apartment building.  Word got out, things were changing........

Hallways and Laundry Area

All Units 1-4

The basement unit 5
 (professionally photographed by my great friend Frank from Digiman Studios, thanks bud!)

Its been almost 4 years since,  we have an incredible building, with incredible renters, (little speed bumps from time to time but nothing extreme) a drug free street corner and a huge lifetime of lessons learned in such a short time period.  Being a landlord is hard work, and we strive to keep our units "brand new".  Our secret is that we didn't cheap out, we were creative with our money and designed every detail as if we were going to live there.  People notice......  We don't make millions, but we survive even through this economy.  From here on out any project that I start takes me back 4 years ago to our building. And I remember and pull from that feeling.  When I first starting building this house I had so much stress worrying if I was going to be able to do it, would I make huge costly mistakes, would the subs I hire treat me different being a women boss, those self defeating thoughts. But, then that feeling kicks in, and I say screw it.....I'm going to do it............ somehow!!!

Its just my thoughts and experiences, I'm not super women or a know it all, I just wanted to give back, and inspire everyone to dream big. .  It was a huge stepping stone for me and maybe someone will get something out of hearing my journey, that's why I blog.  I want to capture this time in my life to look back at and remember, because this current project has a whole other set of lessons being learned.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A breif history lesson

Hi all, sorry its been so long so many little things have been happening and no energy to post, but I promise things will start picking up around here soon.

So in the mean time I wanted to give a little background about where it all began and why my sidekick (aka husband) and I have challenged ourselves with such large projects. We are a little crazy but there is a method to our madness. 

Like any normal stage in a young couples life we bought a house. A fixer upper of course it was what we could afford and after some renovations we built up our confidence and decided to really jump off the deep end. For some "free" entertainment we used to drive around neighborhoods and look at houses and building dreaming of what they could be etc. There was this wonderful building in particular that was downtown near our house that we actually parked across the street from and just lusted over.  It was very run down and  unloved; for some reason when we drove away I felt connected to it and knew something was going to happen with it.  A year later we found ourselves driving around again and low and behold a "for sale" sign was pitched in the front yard.  We both looked at each other with wide eyes and thought "we could never afford this" We scooted home and got online to check out the price.  With a little creative thinking, a walk thru of one unit and the basement, (a very scary sight) we were in escrow two days later.

Our walk thru of the unit should have scared us off, there was a older couple whose teeth were all but gone that were cooking on a one burner hot plate because the stove hadn't worked in months, there fringe wasn't working either but they didn't seem to care and put there food in there anyhow. A prostitute (or she looked like one) was putting on makeup in the bathroom drinking a beer and talking to a girl who was past out in the bedroom half naked. The basement of the building roughly 1500 sf had 3 to 4 inches of water in most of it because the hot water tank had went out.  They had just installed a new one but decided that cleaning up the water was not a priority and that all the sofas and mattresses used for hourly prostitution were fine. We were very naive.....

From the beginning we told ourselves that if it didn't work out thru escrow we wouldn't push it, and seeing what we had in our walk thru we did know that we had alot of things to figure out.  Our families thought that we were crazy but I knew that the bones of the building were solid and that someone needed to save this building. 

The first hour after we closed escrow we had a 30 yard dumpster delivered.  We knew there was alot of trash so we figured we would start there.  Moments after arriving we were greeted by our "new" tenants.  All of them were over friendly, twitching and itching and asking if we were good landlords because there old landlord was a slum lord.  The dumpster was full to the brim and we were surprised to learn that they had beat us to the punch and cleaned out most of the basement. I guess to get in our good graces.  Three units had people living in them, no one had leases or had paid any rent in months, one unit was open because the bathroom had been gutted and the basement apartment was used by everyone for hourly services.  If your not catching on we figured out really fast that we had just bought a real honest to god crack house.  We knew it was bad, but not this bad.  The power had been turned off and they had broken all the meters and were stealing power and running electrical cords to each unit (fire waiting to happen). They had also cut the gas line which also had been turned off and they were trying to install a propane tank in the basement for heat. (also fire waiting to happen)  Needles and spoons were everywhere, people's trash was just left around because no trash service was in service and random people were breaking into the basement and just sleeping where ever they felt like.  These people needed to go.  Period.  We gathered up everyone and politely told them that we were going to be doing a major renovation and that no one could stay, however we were going to give them a week (legally we could have kicked them out  in 3 days) but we were afraid that they would burn down the building or something.  We felt horrible questioning where they would live and would they be ok, and on moving out day we grew some thick skin.  These were drug addicts, not people who you can reason with.  They only care about one thing and will tell you anything to get what they want.  And they wanted to stay living in our building for free forever.  After a  couple of screaming matches and personally moving one person's furniture to the curb (with their permission of course) we took back our building and fortified it from the scary people not willing to listen to "Trespassing do not enter" signs.

Part Two Monday............