Thursday, October 4, 2012

Autumn much has been done...

First the Colorado farm news....

I am delighted to have found such wonderful tenants.  They are really working to make the place look great - updating fences, using the barn to its capacity, looking after the WOW!  What a change from the past attempts.  Makes me happy.

But wait....the silver lining has a cloud.  It's the neighbors!  Seems that my tenants had had battles for neighbors about a number of issues...its so sad.   We have a boundary line dispute need to move water pipes and fences and overall a huge amount of stress.   Makes me very sad.

One day I hope we can get through all this and that the black clouds of this farm in Colorado will have a silver lining.    More details will come through once we are on solid ground with a few isues...for now all I can say is STRESS and its costing us a pile of money that we wanted to sink into Maine projects.  

Then the Murramarang news.....

The Farm in Maine give me a huge amount of joy.  Its a long slow process to get anything done as we share the responsibility to look after kids while one of us works on projects.  Since the last blog entry we have been working on a few issues:

Working on the has been out with the old and in with part of the new :)   Demolishing the old kicthn was a much bigger task than we thought.  It was built to withstand a bomb bast - and took a lot of strong arming to get out.

After a few days we managed to have it all taken out and the remains taken to the dump.  We then decided that the existing rotting window should be removed and a larger one installed.  This has brought so much extra light into the house - it is amazing!

Jen stripped off all the horrible wallpaper and we reclad some walls then painted the ceiling white and the walls a pale yellow - again to brighten up the place.

The next step was installing a new floor over the evil old tiles.  We picked up a load of flooring from a discount store that looks like old barn timbers - a little aussie gum-like in look.  After doing all the floors in Colorado, this was an easy task to get in.

We then went and ordered all new cupboards from Home Depot and started to install them to give us more bench space and functionality.  We found that we needed a new fridge in the the old second hand one just kept leaking water!

The new cabinets were easy to install - even when the walls were just horrible.  The new bench tops were more difficult, but seemed to work out ok for us.

Now the big task is to paint all the cabinets and doors - a work still in progress but we hope to have completed by the end of October!

While all this was happening we decided that I really needed a better dedicated office space instead of spilling into a corner of the lounge room and garage.  The only place to do this is the basement - in which we have water issues.   So the first step was to work on the water.  We bought a dehumidifier and let it run n the basement fro around a month.  This was an amazing breakthrough - the basement lost its dusty musty smell and really dried out.   We now run the machine a few days a week - and it seems to keep the place dry.  The next phase is to install a good sump and sump pump - and we hope to do that through winter and before the major thaw (and basement flooding) season starts in spring.

We started the office space in one of the basement corners and decided to be safe, we would build up off the floor so any water that gets into the basement can flow under the floor and be captured by a sump pump in the future.  We build the stud walls and lined them with plastic, so the office is almost a plastic box.  We installed a new basement window (upside down I might add - dumb arse Gary!) in a hole that had just been boarded up with planks.

It is still a work in progress, but we hope to have it functional by the end of October - even it not really finished off completely.

We also made headway on getting the hay loft in the barn back to a working place - the doorway had be boarded over in the past.  A new door way has been made - and just needs a door and a clean up inside to have a space ready to use for storage (hay or otherwise).

So lots happening on many fronts....lets hope winter is not too harsh and we can continue to get the inside of the farm buildings finished and working!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A colorado farm update - late May 2012

A Colorado farm update!

After a failed attempt to rent over the winter and a few months being empty and on the market, we have been forced to get more renters into our farm in the end of the day we just diod not have the money to keep the place empty!

So we advertised on CraigsList and had a flurry of folks come and look.  One set of folks had seen the place before when the first set of renters moved in...and got back in touch.  They went out and looked and fell in love with the place.   Like all renters it seems, they have a sob story of not being able to finance a purchase, but these folks seem very determined.  They want to lay down $10K as a deposit if we will rent it to them till July next year...and then they will buy.

So, starting in the first week of June, we will have renters back into the farm.   I will breath easier that we have some income coming in....but wait for each and every call that they have had some sort of 'issue'........i hate being a landlord!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Some major steps forward.....and its May!

So May rolls forward (it fact its almost over) and we have made some major steps forward on Murramarang! On the house front, we now have a high efficiently propane furnace installed which we hope will save us heating costs in the future. It looks WONDERFUL - instead of a box that looks like it came off a WWI battle ship, we now have a set up that looks more like its from the Star Ship Enterprise (take us up to warp speed Scotty!) Of course, we will not really know how good this all is until next winter...but we hope that it will make some difference! It also means that we can scrap/sell the old furnace and tank and get rid of the fuel oil smell in the basement.

Another step in the house has been the installation of a new septic system. After some slow starts due to rain up here in Maine, the system is finally in. New tank, new leach we hope that the backing up of water in the pipes is now just part of history. How strange it has been to wash the dishes and then find spaghetti strands coming up into the bath! And how nice it will be to have a shower again!

The Septic Digger arrives! 

The final house step has been to replace the water pipes. Our low pH well water has been stripping out the lead from the solder points as well as dissolving the copper pipes. These have all been replaced with PEX pipes by our friendly plumber. He is (as I write) hooking all our drains up to the new septic system, moving a toilet and vanity, adding a toilet (wow...we will now have a 1.5 bathroom house). This all has been a long drawn out process - mainly due to the bank stuffing around with paperwork and payments - but after May we will feel that we have really made some big steps forward. We have many more to do (a new kitchen, putting in a back door, moving the basement stairs, building a deck) All we need to do these is money (and time).

Out on the farm we have moved forward as well. We have put up horse fences for about 2 acres. The electric fence is so hot it is took two grounding rods, but worth the effort. This allows our one and only horse (Maggie) to roam and eat without turning the fields into mini dust bowls. We also hope that we have space to start to bring in boarders. We completed one stall in the small barn and added a door so that we have better access to the tack/grain room. We recovered some old fencing from family - some picket fencing and some stockade fences. After a power wash, we hired a commercial spray gun and gave them all a coat of white paint. We put a a first coat of paint on our garage - a change from the red/brown to the blue we like.

We installed a fire pit.....

 We have so much more to do.....but we think we have made a wonderful start and hope with good weather and finding some spare cash will help us to move a few steps forward in June.

Monday, March 5, 2012

February ends and we are in our new farm

After so many false starts, we finally made it into Murramarang! And we are delighted!

On the 17 February we finally closed on our small property. It had been a very rough road with complications on every twist of the road forward...and things did not get clear until two days before closing (this was the second attempt to close). But we finally signed away our lives again and were handed the keys to our sweet place.

With the keys in hand, we spent the next four days cleaning, repainting and getting prepared to move in to our three bedroom one bathroom cottage. The place cleaned up so well and with new painted ceilings and walls on all the bedrooms and carpets put down, most of the house looks fantastic!

The kitchen is in its original state. We took out the old propane 1960's stove and, after a flirt with a second hand stove, now have a spanking new stove in and connected. The kitchen cupboards needed to be cut to fit a fridge and we still have a second hand dishwasher sitting waiting to be installed.

The bathroom - well its will wait for a future renovation.

It is a lot of work, it is expensive - but its home!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

End of January update!

Colorado Farm
After another sad failed attempt to rent it out (the renters decided that they only needed to pay half the rent in we kicked them out) we have been working to have the place put back on the market. We are trying a different agent who seems so far to be great...and we will be listing it on Monday for $257,500. For that price, it is a steal for the right people - 5 acre horse farm just 40 mins north or Denver, Boulder and the Denver Airport and just 5 mins from a new town center with sports centers, shops libraries and new schools (and land taxes of just $845 a year!). Ok ok...i want to sell it :P

Lets hope that with a new agent, a great price and the right time of the year, it will sell this year fr us. We can keep it empty (thanks to Mr Taxman) for a few months....which we hope will make it easy to sell. After a few months we will just have to rent it out again to survive. However i will NOT take it off the market again.

Maine Farm
After two years of renting, we decided we needed to move the kids out of an apartment and into our own place...and so we started looking in summer last year. After a few failed attempts, we finally found a place that is right close to Jen's family (perfect), has 12 beautiful acres (perfect) and a crappy little house (not so perfect). Our logic is that we can fix the house...and the land will always be glorious. So we started the process, went under contract etc. Then we find out that the house needs a new septic system, a new furnace and some plumbing issues fixed. As we did not have the money to do that, we had to change loan types to a FHA loan. Then the whole thing started to become so bloody complicated!

It's way to complex to try and explain - but we are still hoping to buy the place. It means I had to find $16,000 more than we had to pay a larger deposit etc, A second loan and all the associated paperwork with the fear that the sellers will shut the whole sale down. The whole process has cost us $1500 in costs so far - appraisals, inspections, reports etc

If it all comes off we will be happy (but not ecstatic) the whole euphoria of buying the place has been washed away by real estate crap. It it falls through we are all our savings have been gobbled up by the we will be unable to put a bid in on something else until we save for maybe 12 months more or longer. The sale of Colorado will help (but not as much as we would like).

So whats the lesson here? Can't say I have one. Other than this - don't think any real estate deal nowadays will be easy. The whole system is upside down....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A new year - lets hope some steps in a better direction!

2012 rang in for us with very little fanfare. However we know it is going to be a better year as soon as we get over the January hum. This month we have on our plates:

1. Getting rid of a set of bad renters in our farm in Colorado. They are supposed to move out by 10 January.
2. Clean up the farm in Colorado, lay some new carpet, fix some deck boards and get the beast back onto the market.
3. Pack up the apartment in which we live in Maine.
4. Successful close on the contract for the farm in Maine we are buying.
5. Clean, paint and re-carpet the house on the Maine farm.
6. Move from the apartment to the new farm.
7. Clean the apartment (boy we will need that deposit back!)
8. Sell the farm in Colorado (ok...maybe we will need longer that the rest of January).

Lucky I have experience in project management (and a great neighbor in Colorado!).

I hope that your 2012 starts off a little less busy and that it goes with much love, health and happiness!