welcome to your investment

I didn’t actually see the cockroach myself, but my mother would have no reason to lie about such a thing. My best hope was that it was a loner cockroach just out for an evening stroll on its own. I really didn’t feel like socializing with its friends that Friday night. We had our first after-work drive from AR to Tulsa, planning on spending the weekend checking tasks off our list and catching up with my parents since they drove down from IA to help. The drive (“It’s only two hours, this won’t be a big deal for a couple of weekends!”) was long and shrouded in early January darkness. The dog and I were packed into the front seat with things piled behind and around us while John drove the truck that towed a U-Haul full of the furniture I’d been accumulating.

I was planning for this home to be a mid-term furnished rental, which meant acquisitions. As mentioned in the first blog, I thought this could easily be done for a few thousand dollars. Keep following along on the Tulsa house adventures and you’ll see (no surprise) that it was much more expensive than I’d anticipated. It was only an 1,100 square foot house, and we each had plenty of things leftover from when we had separate households in Colorado. The truck and rented trailer were packed to the brim with a variety of bins, boxes, Ikea gems, and a hand-me-down washer and dryer.

To be transparent, this isn’t Cockroach #1 – this was one of his friends the following weekend after we’d sprayed.

The cockroach was a real disappointment to find on the first night we would spend in this house (we still had to unload and put together a bed, first). My parents, on their way to Florida, parked their camper in front of the house and had a cozy retreat that was clean and pest-free. Most of that first weekend was spent deep cleaning. The sad thing was that I’d already paid someone to come and clean the place the week prior. After the cleaner spent 8 hours in the house, it was still a grimy mess that was obviously attractive to tiny, unwanted inhabitants. Hyperbole is appropriate when I say I’d never seen so much caked-on grease, oil, curry, and embedded cat fur in one kitchen. Personally, I wanted to put the stove on the curb and buy a new one just to save the time and effort of trying to clean the one that was there. It was disgusting, and we hadn’t been in the house for an hour before I was second-guessing the entire purchase and silently crying in frustration in a bedroom closet. I wasn’t about to prove anyone right who’d questioned my goals when buying this place.

I’m incredibly fortunate to have parents who are skilled and experienced in a variety of home-related tasks. They’re also generally supportive when I decide I’m going to learn something the hard way. They didn’t need to spend a weekend of freedom and exploration hanging out in Oklahoma helping John and I do house projects. My mom entirely painted a board-and-batten space at the rear of the house that had been the cats’ abode during the former owner’s residency. Ceilings, walls, nooks, crevices, and all. She also knocked out the laundry room to take that off my list, too. Everything in the house was a dirty shade of tan, and it wouldn’t have been a bad accent color. But 80% of the house painted in this color was just way too much.

The “office” before

The bathroom was the biggest issue in the home, and we’d known that when we’d first done a walkthrough weeks before. As usual, my newbie thought was, “I’ll just put some of those jazzy little peel-and-stick tiles on top of the gross old cracked tiles, slap up some paint, maybe a tub insert….and we will be all set to rent as a top notch furnished unit for tons of money!” But nothing is that easy in an 83 year old homes that has been neglected for years. After lots of discussions, YouTube videos, alternating bouts of self-doubt and overzealous confidence, and long nights of estimates and calculations, we decided to hire a contractor. With both of us working full time two hours away, and only being able to really work for an uninterrupted 48 hour period on weekends, this just wasn’t logical for the two of us to renovate a bathroom efficiently right now. I was going to be a little sad to see the vintage corner toilet go….it had been a hit with everyone who saw the photos. Apparently corner toilets are quite a rarity! Spoiler: it went to a new home with a couple who only had room to build a miniscule washroom, and this was exactly what they needed!

Such a delightful spa-like atmosphere!

I’ve never worked with a contractor before. As I’ve mentioned, most of my learning was done on the internet, or through podcasts and books. Or phone calls and video chats with my dad or John’s uncle. I started scheduling estimates and meetings with a few contractors after researching them online, and learning all about the process of project management. It was a true “fake it ’til you make it” event for me, trying to talk to contractors and use the right jargon to show that I knew what I was doing here. I also hate making phone calls and get incredibly nervous and jumbly without a script. But this was another growth opportunity, and I did what needed to be done by calling dozens of people for various tasks, such as the gas log installation, HVAC servicing, and (of course) the bathroom project.

The layout was especially unique: you could actually use the toilet while shaving your right leg and alternately brushing your teeth. From the same spot.

We settled on a contractor, got it on the books, paid the deposit, and picked out the color scheme of the tiles and fixtures. I wish all of that had happened as fast as I just typed it, but alas, it took a couple of weeks to get everything organized and started. In the meantime we’d continue to go to Tulsa every weekend and do all the other things. As I’ve mentioned, it didn’t seem like that much work in the beginning. The more time we spent at the house the more I questioned my abilities and decision-making skills. But at this point, all I could do was keep painting. And cleaning. And painting some more…..

My parents were such an amazing team to have helping us that first weekend. Mom took care of so much painting for me, while dad and John joined forces to remove an explosive and leaky garbage disposal and install a new kitchen light fixture. My dad also spent an exhausting amount of time peeling the hot-glued panels off the main entry wall. Inititally I’d thought these were a creative touch and planned to leave them….upon further inspection, they were in rough condition and had to go. They also made the room that was already dark feel even more cave-like.

Living room wall just inside the front door
Post-panel removal – now it was just a damaged wall to repair
Removing the hot glue from the wall became an aerial sport. Nailed the landing!

In my head, I still predicted that even with the bathroom renovation and all the little things that needed done I could have it rented by the end of March. The bathroom would be the biggest time-suck, but since we could only work on weekends at the house, it would give us more time to play with some Instagram/Pinterest ideas in other parts of the house. Up next: What I Learned About Painting Cabinets.

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