Buying an Investment Property

It is probably no surprise that we are always going in a million directions at once. Things have stalled indefinitely with the roof renovation because it is going to be a LOT more expensive than we initially anticipated, and we will likely need to obtain a home equity loan to git ‘er done. Since we are pretty both very averse to MORE debt, as we are desperately clawing away at our mountain of student loan debt, we just …. can’t. We can’t pull that trigger right now.

Which makes the fact that we bought an investment property – by of course putting money down but also taking out a MORTGAGE – hilarious. I have a few saved searches on Zillow just out of curiosity, and get emails with new listings (I never claimed to be normal) so when a fully furnished condo popped up that looked interesting, I went to look at it. A few things fells squarely into place, and they are as follows: 1. our area has been getting a decent amount of good attention lately, and as a result tourism is booming; 2. the condo is a block from the beach; 3. the association dues were prepaid for all of this year, and the sellers weren’t looking to be reimbursed; 4. the association’s rules (called the declarations and restrictions) do not set minimum rental requirements (most associations in this area have at least a one month minimum, some are three months, and we want to target vacation renters); 5. the unit was owned by the current association president, whose shoes would need to be filled (pick me! pick me!); 6. the entire building only has 12 units, so a limited number of bored retirees monitoring our every move; 7. the condo was already rented for the entire first month we owned it. It was just too good to be true, so I made an offer (the realtor’s expression when I told her my hubby okayed this by text message was priceless – he doesn’t even … want to see it first??).

This is what the condo looked like when I saw it:

Condo Before Condo Before Condo Before Condo Before Condo Before Condo Before Condo Before

I knew once we packed grandma up and moved her on out, it would look nice. So I took two days off of work (I had TWO WHOLE DAYS between renters to get this done), scheduled Salvation Army to come pick up a ton of stuff, and got busy. The only “major” change was removing the old, disgusting, rickety doors on the shower, and filling in the holes the screws left and scraping off all the silicone and caulking. We do want to gut this bathroom, but need a big enough break in renters to accomplish this. Here is how the condo is looking now:

Condo After Condo After Condo After Condo After DSC_0083 Condo After Condo After

Does that dresser look familiar? The great news is that the condo is pretty busy with renters, and so far it seems like buying it was a good decision. It is a little bit sad that the condo is much nicer than our own house, but I try not to think about it as I stare at the carpet pad in the corner where we cut the carpet out after removing the orange fireplace, and the tree stump we still have in the living room. We will get there eventually, and now we have a place to stay if we ever make a move on that roof project. Here’s to debt that pays itself!

Knock Knock

Who’s there?


Knock knock.

Who’s there?


Knock knock.

Who’s there?


Orange you glad I’m finding a new home?


Our retro conical dust-gathering “conversation piece” (once visitors got over the live tree) has been put out to pasture. Actually, it found a new home with The Boy’s mother, who lives in Gainesville, FL (Go Gators!) and was happy to take this orange beauty home. It now has a loving home on a farm, with space to run, and couldn’t be happier. If you don’t believe me, here’s proof:

Fireplace1 Fireplace2

Greener Oranger pastures.



Burnin’ Ring of Fire

We are still in the “house tweaking” phase of the new house, awaiting construction to begin on the new peaked roof. It is delayed for several reasons, but mostly because FEMA is bananas. It is the federal government, so not very surprising. Architectural plans are being redrawn and new trusses designed, and I am sincerely hoping construction begins in a few weeks. Until then, we shall focus on the exterior.

Fire pit

This funny shaped area (picture a wonky egg with corners) between the house and the pool had bushes in it, and as you can see, two sprinkler heads. The bushes obstructed the view from the pool of the TV we bring outside on weekends. An awful problem to have, I know. I took the bushes out one afternoon, and we had the epic idea to turn this area into a fire pit. A FIRE PIT! (<— this is not doing justice to my enthusiasm!)

First, we had to cap off these sprinklers, which was pretty simple.  We dug around to uncover the source pipe, cut it off, and capped it.

Fire Pit Fire Pit Fire Pit Fire Pit

The nail polish remover was used to clean the pipe before applying the glue (which is actually a chemical solvent that melts the two plastics together). Be sure to use nail polish remover containing acetone.

Boom!  Fire pit building time!

Fire Pit

We decided to recess it into the ground a little bit so we didn’t end up removing TV-obstructing bushes and replacing them with a TV-obstructing fire pit. That’s when it happened.

Fire PitThere are two problems in this picture.  First, we discovered ANOTHER pipe, that we didn’t know about, which feeds the circulatory system of the pool (I’m sure that is not the correct term, but I don’t know what the correct term is, and this is why we pay a pool guy). Our brainstorming ideas included (1) off setting the fire pit to one side to avoid contact with the pipe (hideous!); (2) putting down a thermal barrier of some sort (eh); or (3) giving up (nope!). Finally, the Boy had a great idea. Pavers!


The second problem with the picture above is that the stones we bought have these raised lips on them (right side of the picture), so no matter how we stacked them, they didn’t sit flat. We later learned that this is because they are actually made for retaining walls, to be stacked with the lip down catching the back edge of the stone below it, and therefore able to withstand the pressure of earth pushing against it. We remedied this issue by getting a chisel, hammer, and whacking the lip off of every single stone. It was a bit time consuming, but fairly easy, and worked great.



We left a few inches of dirt on top of the pipe, put the pavers down, which helped making leveling easier, as well as providing a barrier, and then built the fire pit on top of it. It is important to note that this was the FOURTH time we laid out the stones, and these suckers are heavy. We placed them once before discovering the pipe, once off to the side in a strange shape, and twice in the location you see now. It was exhausting, but we are loving the fire pit just in time for the weather to get chilly (60ish degrees at night = chilly for a Floridian).

With the addition of rocks around the pit, as well as in it for a little extra distance between the fire and the pipe, we called it a day. Well, a night.


I have no idea whose toe that is.