Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Getting Comfortable

This week started my solo experiences with our new building. I tend to be a bit sensitive to the residual energies in places and I was wondering how it would be working alone in ours. During past visits I hadn't experienced any creepy or weird feelings but then I'd been with Tom or others. I was a bit nervous that first trip, more so as I had trouble unlocking the door and even getting inside LOL The first stop was brief, just long enough to measure the front windows and check for any usable supplies. Things were quiet, very cold and seemed . . . well . . . kind of peacefully happy.

Some of the prep work might seem a bit strange to you. We're all used to working in our own homes and it's amazing the things you take for granted and can just grab when you want. Safety items like fire extinguishers and smoke/CO alarms were important purchases but so were things like tissues, hand lotion and even a humble emery board. And yeah, there's the jar of pretzels which is ever present with Tom and I LOL Between the supplies I bought and things that could be furnished from home - a huge pile of towels and rags - I filled up the back of the station wagon. Along the lines of dark clouds and silver linings the delay for heat has worked in my favor a bit. We need lots of supplies immediately but others, like bottled water, can't be purchased for fear of freezing. I'll be making several trips for supplies rather than one huge one which is a bit easier on the back and budget =)

Today the gas company was due to arrive and I decided it would also be a good day to take the new supplies over and get us settled in a bit and comfortable. The first order of business was to get all the bits and pieces out of the shop area to make the beginnings of a base of operations. That space is now relatively cleaned out. Relative meaning I can't move the heavy counters out or clear up the spot where Tom has the floor torn up working on the water LOL The area is trash free though and we have flat spaces on which to work along with a few creature comforts: music, the earlier mentioned pretzels, a scented candle and even a box to store empty beer cans. The time working there passed in a snap too! The building has an empty feeling, not a negative feel but just a matter of fact thing. I wandered all around the place and poked into cupboards and closets and even stuck my nose in the scary basement entry. No jitters, no uneasy feelings or areas, just a nice peaceful feeling and one that was also warm and happy. I'm not sure if buildings have essences or a sort of consciousness but I like to hope they do. And if that's the case it seems our new place has set long enough to be cleansed of any past energies by the passing of the seasons. It seems glad of the company and even looking forward to the journey ahead of us. Regardless, it has a nice feeling even empty, cold and dirty = )

It was no time at all it seemed before I saw the traffic truck park in front and Tom stop in on his way home for lunch. He checked out all the supplies briefly and got a laugh out of my tale of having a customer before heading off again. I did, btw, have a customer. A man and his son stopped in looking for the old stereo store and chatted for a bit. If what they needed would have been lying around I'd gladly have sold it and recovered some of the cost of the safety supplies LOL

By the time Tom left I was realizing how cold I was along with an urgent desire to find a working bathroom. I finished up the last few chores and drove home shivering and chilled to the bone but pleased with the bit of work accomplished. With luck Tom will call sometime today to say we have heat and the cold will leave followed shortly by things being a little less dirty. But then much could still stand in the way of that longed for heat LOL

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Utilities 101

This post will finally catch the blog up to present time and after this I'll likely be making a new post every week or so.

I think I mentioned in my previous post that Tom had been working hard in the days after our closing to get the utilities turned on in the building. He had quick success getting the power restored and the water service is ready to go as soon as we're ready but the gas company is being not so cooperative. As Brandie said after overhearing Tom rant on the phone . . . "Man, do they have him PISSED!" LOL No big surprise considering the state of utility service today. I'll likely upset a lot of meter readers and service repairmen out there upset but the whole 'window' appointment idea needs to be scrapped. Or at least the utilities need to play by the rules.

I understand they can't predict how long a given job may take and so can't give a set time but it also doesn't seem right to spend a huge chunk of the day waiting on them. Tom had an appointment set for last Wednesday between 12:30pm and 4:00pm. He took half a day off work to be there with them and also provided his cell phone number in case they arrived early. Instead he arrived promptly at 12:30 to find a note on the door stating the utility company had been there at 12:40 and found no one there and no one answered the phone number given so they left. A call to the gas company confirmed all this and they refused to send the service man back out even though Tom pointed out that he was there on time and had received no phone call since they'd called the wrong number. Requests to speak with a supervisor were refused and the implied threat was that he either accept a return appointment the next week or he could do without gas service. Now Tom's not loud or pushy and doesn't often get upset. It's not like he called them to yell and scream, only to straighten out a problem in which they were not only early but hadn't done as arranged. Instead they got snarky and threatening with him. And as further punishment they won't set a 'window' for the appointment but have him on call all day for when it's convenient for them to show up. Hmmm . . . ya know, I swear the gas company works for us, not the other way around. I mean, isn't that what we pay them for? And given the economy it doesn't seem wise for any company to irritate a potential customer.

So, we're still sitting there freezing. Tom can't turn on the water because it would just freeze, of course, and even hauling trash is difficult in the cold, not to mention no potty LOL We spent the weekend muttering about switching to all electric or at least a different gas supplier which made us feel better but is pretty impotent realistically. I also got a basic education in water service and we're looking at a few projects there. The incoming water line appears to be much too small for the building in general let alone a building with several apartments. Think about flushing while showering times three and you'll get the idea LOL Me being naive about it all, I thought it was just a matter of replacing the pipe but noooooooo . . . it involves digging and heavy machinery and a whole lot of fees. The water meter, main valve and line will have to be moved, wholes knocked in the foundation for piping and the sidewalk broken up for trenching. Technically we could leave it as it is. It's not against the building code or anything and it's not a hazard. I can't see though as it would be very nice to live in a place with little water pressure although many landlords provide little better. I'm thinking this is where the pagan attitude comes in though. It might not be 'necessary' but it's 'needed' and the right way of doing things. I don't expect to be piddled on by my shower and don't want my future tenants living that way LOL Seems like come spring, between the roof, the well and the water, we'll have a lot of adventures to share!

Hopefully by the next post things will be getting toasty warm inside, or at least above freezing, and we'll move on to the next ripple LOL

Almost an Owner Panic

Our closing was set for Yule, December 21, 2010, a date I'd picked for its symbolism. For a pagan Yule is all about rebirth, transformation and new beginnings and that seemed a wonderful tone for the start of our new venture. The wait between the auction and the closing was both too long and too short. Tom and I were dying to dig into the building and see what we'd actually bought and at the same time there was the lengthy process of financing to arrange. We also spent a lot of the time dreaming and planning even though we realized those dreams had no basis in fact. At one time I even threatened to make a big sign reading 'IF' as a tribute to this time LOL

IF we don't have any leaks, IF we can move this wall, if, if, if. It seemed as if the days revolved more around what we didn't know than what we did LOL In between dreams we had the necessary realities of arranging for insurance and telling our families about our project. The family situation was far more fun than insurance and a lot less costly. For my family it was pretty straight forward. I'd already mentioned to my brother that we'd intended to go to the auction. Being a property owner himself he's been supportive from the beginning. With Tom's family it was a bit more interesting and fun. During the family Christmas dinner Tom made the announcement that we were 'complicating' our lives and they should keep an eye on the local newspaper for an announcement. Then he pretty much left it at that for them to draw their own conclusions LOL By now they know we're not: pregnant, being arrested, or getting married and hopefully we've been forgiven for our joke LOL

Even with the weeks in-between, all too soon it was closing day. For all the drama leading up to it the actual closing was pretty boring and short. A few papers slid across the desk and signed, checks slid the other way and quick as that we had keys in our hands. Well, Tom did. I was off on a round of errands while he spent a day off exploring our purchase. That started what's likely to be a year of hilly terrain, or 'ripples' as I call them. It's winter in Ohio and cold. The unexplored gas well is frozen which means it no longer leaks but then again, we can't find out about it or get it fixed. The roof is still leaking even with the cold and our first surprise as virgin building owners was finding fresh damage to several ceilings. Of course with the weather we can't fix the roof either LOL Tom's first order of business was to get the utilities on and after an afternoon of poking he presented me with the news of utility company appointments and a frozen water main. Nothing unexpected and only a slight delay, or so we thought. By day two of ownership the electricity was on, kind of. Tom discovered some suspect wiring to part of the building and so that remains powerless for now. Again, until spring. It's just wonderful for now though to have lights in the place. Well, we'll have lights once I head to the home supply store and buy a case or two of light bulbs LOL

In the meantime, while waiting on utilities, we starting showing off our prize and Brandie got her first look at the place. I'd talked her ears off about it in the weeks since the auction so she knew it wasn't in pristine condition. I'm a bit excited about the project though and not a first time renovator so much of the condition of the building was 'normal' and not worthy of mention. You know, the moldy falling ceilings, doors hanging from one hinge, bone chilling cold only an empty building can have and the general amount of trash in the place. True friend that she is there were nothing but supportive comments but the look on her face at times was priceless! LOL

In the week or so since we took possession we've learned a great deal already and found all kinds of surprises and future adventures. Our water line is too small yet replacing it involves the city, lots of digging and even more money. And it's also another project that can't be done until the ground thaws in the spring LOL The furnace and water heater situation, while not drastic, isn't really good and the mechanics likely should be separated so each apartment has it's own systems. Give the age of the building and the problems running duct work and wiring that could be an interesting puzzle to occupy us this winter. Unfortunately, at this point we're restricted to mostly demolition work and trash hauling but there's no shortage of that to be done. The first sunny day we get - that could be awhile given Ohio's weather - I'll take some new pictures to show you the good, the bad and the really, really ugly.

Btw, if you're wondering about the state of the other utilities - heat and water - the news isn't so great. What we've learned about that is covered in my next post . . . Utilities 101 ROFL

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In the beginning . . .

What a strange journey the past month was! LOL The whole thing seems surreal but also strangely normal. For those of you who already know Tom and I that will make complete sense. You're used to us jumping head first into the unknown. If you're just meeting us now we tend to . . . hmm . . . follow the road less taken fearlessly and preferably on our own. Neither of us sees obstacles as necessarily being bad things nor are we A-Type personalities or even in a rush at all. Tom's naturally laid back and relaxed and being pagan I've learned things happen when they will and that's not necessarily when I'd prefer them to occur LOL We're pretty realistic too and that should serve us well during this project.

I think it's been fated since I first saw the auction ad in the newspaper. For unknown reasons I've always liked that particular building and I've often thought about owning a business property with apartments above. The chain of events was kind of funny; I'm mentioned to Tom a few months ago that real estate in Florida had been pretty hard hit by the economy and maybe we should but a vacation condo and rent it out. I'm thinking 'nice start on vacations and future retirement base', right? Not Tom LOL His reply is that he's been thinking of getting a rental property in Findlay, a small house or something. The timing of it all was just perfect and it was pretty much love at first sight when we toured the property. OK, not love, more along the lines of 'eww' and 'oh my' but there was a lot of potential, much good and a great deal of excitement. While the thought was scary we were more determined than ever to pursue the matter.

The auction was a complete panic! LOL I really thought Tom would pull out or I'd loose my nerve but then there we were, standing in a freezing cold building on a gloomy afternoon, checkbook in hand, and to our dismay surrounded by lots of people. We're novices at property auctions and given the state of the building and it's long emptiness I'd naively thought no one else would show up. I didn't know which was the more frightening and disappointing outcome; that we'd get the building or that we'd be outbid! The bidding process was truly agony. We'd delegated it to Tom since he's larger and louder so my job was to remain poker faced and breathe. As it turned out only three of the many people attending actually bid and it was soon down to one serious and experienced buyer and us. Our upper most limit approached and I was ready to grab Tom's arm and tell him to stop but I really wanted to tell him to bid higher and then the other man dropped out. Of course the auctioneer had to get the best sales price for his client so we waited the eternity of five minutes just in case the other bidder changed his mind. Thank the Lord and Lady that he didn't and with a thump of his stick the auctioneer declared us the winners!

Papers were signed in the quickly fading light, the last of them by flashlight as our new purchase has no electricity at the moment. With nervous giggles we headed home to arrange for title searches, closings and financing. Are we crazy and in over our heads? Most probably. Will it be a great adventure and loads of fun? Definitely! I can't wait to see what this new venture has in store for both of us!