Bugs, Thugs, and Hugs

Y'all, this has been one stressful period in my life.

I never knew I could enjoy life so much and have so much going on!

It seems for every high there is an equal and opposite low that occurs. Is that a universal law somewhere? If not, I want to coin it. “Gwen's Law” has a nice ring to it!

This house side hustle is probably the hardest thing I've ever done to myself on purpose. Yes…… that includes basic training.

The happiest dead bug you've ever seen

I'll set the scene for you: Me, lying in bed after a long day at work, relaxing and reading a book. I roll over to check my phone and notice……… a cockroach. Just chillin' on the side of my bed like I was chillin' on top of it.

Two thoughts ran through my head:
2. That is it! My tenant has to go.

I know that even if I'm not the best housekeeper on the face of the planet, I keep my place neat enough that cockroaches should starve. So if I'm not the gross person inviting them into the house……. who is?

I didn't have to look far. My tenant across the hall is gross. He is a bachelor in his mid-30's and his unit reflects that. (I also know guys that live alone and are neater than me but my tenant definitely reflects the bachelor stereotype). He lives alone, but I should've started to charge him rent for his roommate: The Stank. His unit REEKS. Now I know why my parents always bugged me growing up about changing my sheets and doing my dirty laundry on a regular basis. It is this thick, cloying, sour stench that hits you in the face when anywhere near his side of the house- inside and outside. It's not quite as bad now as it was this winter when his windows were closed and he wasn't indirectly airing it out.

That's not the only odor that drifts over to my side of the house. He smokes. And not just cigarettes, no. I know he also smokes marijuana, and I'm also fairly sure he smokes other illicit substances.

I'm also fairly sure he deals from the house in addition to said usage. This attracts a certain kind of people around my house that I would prefer go elsewhere. Yesterday a man was arrested right outside my house for slapping a woman walking down the sidewalk. I have no idea the background of the situation, but it's never a great thing when there are cop cars directly outside your house.

At least this time I didn't call them!

I was informed on all these happenings by the contractor working on the exterior of the house. That is going……. ok. It looks tons better than before (and I will share pictures when it's all done!) but I am pretty sure the work isn't being done correctly.

Actually, for some of it, I know it's not being done correctly. I have cedar shake siding on the top of the house and clapboard siding on the bottom. Before putting on the new paint, the contractors didn't scrape or spray the siding. Nope. They just swiped at it with a broom and then rolled the new paint on it. Tell me everything wrong with that statement.

I had to paint my parent's house when I was a teen so I'm somewhat familiar with what you're supposed to do. There was no scraping at all. The result is that the nice new paint they rolled on, not painted with a brush to push it down into the cracks, is now starting to peel off. Because the old paint is peeling.

I had to confront the contractor about that “little” issue so hopefully that will get addressed. If not, I'm either going to have to scrape the damn thing myself or hire someone else to do it at additional cost.

My neighbors have been keeping an eye done on the work being done and have informed me of all the issues with the work so far. They were the ones to bid on it at the beginning, and have offered to redo the work when this set is done. Based on everything they've told me about what's going wrong, I know it will get done correctly but it will take additional time and money. 

On the other hand, I won't have to redo it in a few short years.

Or months, in the case of the porches.

The front porch was “redone” as part of this project. I used quote marks because she did not do it right, even though she went through 20 gallons of gas and endless amounts of water trying to spray the paint off the wood. Having to use that much water made the wood fuzzy and she didn't sand it down before sanding it. She also did not replace the ends of the porch like I asked, so I will now need to include all the wood porches in a project this spring instead of just the back stairs and deck.


So, as you can imagine, I am more than a little stressed out right now about spending all this money and not getting what I clearly stated needed to happen.

I just need someone to give me a hug and tell me I'm doing the right thing and that everything will be ok.

Fortunately, I have someone to do so now! I've started dating someone and he's pretty amazing.

We met online through mutual friends. Since we're not too far away, he invited me over for a party he was having. I went to have a good time and meet new people…… but somewhere along the line it turned into a date as we just clicked.

I am thrilled we did! We have a lot of fun together and really balance each other out. Not only that, we inspire each other to be better without even really trying. I live my best life and he lives his, and we both just so happen to be spurred into action by the other. I know from my point of view that I am encouraged to let my bad habits go in favor of other better habits (reading books to improve my life and keep learning instead of napping after work, for example).

I'm looking forward to getting to know him better and seeing where this goes for us!

If you see my food/entertainment/gas budget go up the next few months, this would be why! However he is more frugal than I am, so I doubt they'll go up too much 🙂

How has your life been going lately? Got any advice for us?

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46 thoughts on “Bugs, Thugs, and Hugs

  1. Thanks for the update! I’m happy to hear you’ve found someone! Keeping my fingers crossed that this is a keeper. 🙂 And holy moly, sorry about the house woes. That is so messy and awful. I guess it comes down to the location; you mentioned it wasn’t the best part of town. :/ Hopefully fixing up the house will help justify raising rents and getting better tenants maybe? Good luck!!!
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Why Bottled Water Pisses Me OffMy Profile

  2. I’m so sorry that you’ve had the setbacks with the tenant and the contractor! I know how excited you were to get this started, and now it’s not being done they way it should have been :-(. Hopefully all will be resolved on both ends soon!

    Congrats on the relationship! Blog love is sweeter than WordPress updates 😀

  3. I’m glad to hear about the hugs, Gwen. Finding someone steady after dating for a while can feel so great. How awesome that he’s frugal? Maybe the new guy will be more on board with FIRE than the last few dudes!

    Staying on top of those contractors is almost a full time job itself. As you build up your portfolio, I’m sure you’ll get to know the various folks in your area better and find out which ones provide the best work for the best price. Good luck!

    • He’s already whole-heartedly on the path to FIRE! Being with someone who understands this lifestyle and the obstacles it presents is priceless!

  4. Sounds like a winner to me 🙂

    I heard a fantastic quote on the subject: “It’s not so much trying to find the one, but more being in the mindset where you are open to welcoming someone wonderful into your life.” From reading your blog, it seems like you are in that mindset and things are working out well!

    I recently invited someone into my life who makes me want to be a better person day in and day out, too. It’s awesome.
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted…Erik’s Income Statement and Balance Sheet – 1st Half 2017My Profile

    • That’s an awesome quote! I love it. Being with a supportive partner on the same wavelength as you makes life so much easier. Hope everything goes well for you and the lucky lady!

  5. Wow, sounds like quite an eventful past few months for you! Sorry to hear about all of the house issues, I can only imagine how stressful having to deal with all of those things at once must be. What a blessing to look back on your past experiences growing up, and be able to use what may have been “boring” or seemed “useless” then, to your advantage, now.
    Congrats on the hugs, there is nothing quite like finding a partner in life who can be there to support and walk through life’s best (and worst) moments with you 🙂

  6. Yuck. Roaches are just YUK. I have nothing against creepy crawlies in general. I will touch and move worms with my bare hands, I think lizards are cute, spiders don’t bug me at all – but roaches, roaches are disgusting. I loathe them with a fiery passion of a thousand dying suns. Have you asked the stinky tenant to leave yet?

    I’m sorry to hear about the contractor being awful and the cops having to come by your place again. Just take deep breaths and keep telling yourself: this too shall pass – one day when you have a dozen rentals, all of this drama will make for good stories.

    And I’m so happy to hear that you may have found a keeper. Has he heard of FIRE? Is he super impressed by you (because if he _is_ a keeper, he really should be)?
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…On the path to financial independence: June 2017My Profile

    • I agree. Roaches are the WORST. I did ask him to leave and he’s devastated. I felt so bad, but then remember how gross he is and don’t feel bad anymore.

      He has heard of FIRE, is on the same path and is very impressed with my work so far! He’s definitely a keeper 🙂

  7. Confronting contractors about poorly done work sounds horrible. What did they say when you brought it up?

    Congrats on the relationship! Is he aware of your blog?

    • She wasn’t aware of what her sub contractors had been doing (HOW??) so she looked at it and agreed it needed to be done correctly. Whether or not that will actually happen is another story.

      Thanks! He does know about the blog and is very supportive of my endeavors!

  8. Ah the joys of homeownership. 🙂 I’m just glad I’m FIRE with a fat surplus so when this crazy stuff pops up I can use money to fix the problem. Dealing with contractors is tricky, even though I used to do that professionally for work (on billion dollar projects 🙂 ). Nailing down the scope in writing is critical at the outset. Which is tough to do if you don’t know the ins and outs of the construction project you’re hiring out (and I sadly am an amateur at most home construction projects).

    On a different note, thank you for reinforcing my dislike of rental real estate for now. I’m always itching to get back into the rental biz and then I read an article like this and realize I don’t really want to maintain any more houses than the one I currently own and live in most of the year. 🙂
    Justin recently posted…May 2017 Financial UpdateMy Profile

    • Anytime I want to insult someone passive aggressively to their face, I’ll just say I wish them the joy of owning their own home. Not so joyful, for me. I’m glad I could reinforce your dislike? It’s not all just sitting back and collecting rent checks, unfortunately….

  9. Ugh I’m so sorry the painter didn’t turn out as good as expected. That’s really stressful on top of the gross tenant saga. I hope things work out on that end quickly.

    Excited that you met someone, congratulations!!! No more weirdos who can’t accept or support your lifestyle wee~

  10. “Gwen’s Law”. I’d buy that on a coffee mug! Your side-hustle description is exactly the reason I have not been able to pull the trigger on rental property. I just don’t have the zen personality required to keep my cool. I think REITs are as close as I’ll get to real estate (other than the house I live in, of course). I will be interested in seeing how this resolves though. Good luck and keep posting.

    • *new side hustle idea emerges*

      Seriously though… it’s tough. Way tougher than I though. Thank goodness I have mentors in this crazy thing or I’d have given up a long time ago.

  11. Like Justin said. In the future get your bids in writing. The more itemized the better. That way you can check you are on the same page with regard to scope and method. If a contractor won’t send you a written estimate, then pass. Not worth the headache.

    Have you looked into what your rights are as a landlord? It may be time for you to consider evicting your problem tenant or, barring that, at least documenting everything if eventually you do need to make him leave.

    • It’s solid advice! I have all the rights necessary to get him out. I have no lease from the previous owner so he’s month to month. Come August 1st, if he’s not out, I’ll need to start the eviction process. I really don’t want to do that.

  12. Lesson learned is that simple stuff you already know SHOULD be within the wheelhouse of someone you hire. The fact that the contractor didn’t do something as obvious as scraping paint means you should suspect widespread ignorance/need-of-training with a concomitant required increase in the closeness of scrutiny and tightness of management. Better to build a business relationships with folks who may charge a bit more, but need less watching. Cost of watching/headaches is another cost you have to balance.

    As for the roach and the dirty tenant. The roach gives you the perfect excuse to evict the fellow. “Sorry, but we have to get the exterminator to go through the entire house. You’ll have to move out.”

    • I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to have everything redone from this job in the future. Sigh.

      As for the tenant, he is on a month to month and I need no other reason to end the lease. I can just say, time to move, and it’s time to move.

  13. Learning the hard way that the cheapest quote is not usually the best option is a tough one. I’ll admit I’ve gotten bit by this a couple times too, particularly with landscaping work. Use Yelp and AngiesList to weed out the ones that overpromise and underdeliver. You can also refuse to pay for the remainder of the work until it’s done right, so at least you’re not out the full amount. Good luck!

    PS: I just found your blog a few days ago via Reddit. I’m also a 26 year old working towards FI. You have a writing style that’s easy to relate to, keep up the good work!

    • To be fair, I think the cheapest quote would’ve been the best. That came from my neighbor. This was the second cheapest bid.

      Also, thanks for dropping by! Glad you like it!

  14. House renos woes: I hear you loud and clear! I would refuse to pay the contractors to be honest. They have done a dodgy job, hoping you won’t notice and pull a swift one on you. Don’t be the nice guy (I was) and pay them in good faith that they will fix it up. My contractors didn’t. They never picked up my calls ever again.

    Tenant woes: Oh god. I couldn’t live with that – I think your tenant needs to either clean up or get out! Esp if he is dealing drugs from your address…. *shudder*

    But yay on the new person in your life front – happy dance!

    • I don’t think they’re trying to pull one over on me….. I just think they have no idea what they’re doing and they think I don’t know what they’re supposed to do either. I know enough to know enough!

    • I’m going to hold onto it for at least a year. After that I’ll evaluate it when I don’t have to live there and am somewhat more removed from the day to day life of the neighborhood.

  15. Let’s focus on the good stuff – it’s amazing that you’ve found someone! And so naturally, I mean yeah you ‘met’ online, but when hangs turn into dates it’s bloody wonderful!

    And here’s a reassuring pat on the back that yes, you did good with your contractor. From the blog I know you grilled and screened the crap out of everyone. And I trust you have the gumption to stand up to their crappy workmanship, demand better and withhold payments (if that’s legal). Sometimes people suck, but it sounds like you did everything you could to try and pick the best ones. That’s all anyone can ever do.

    Also – sorry for the Australian slang in that comment :p a quick re-read tells me some of it might not cross the culture lines, haha

  16. What a douche-y tenant. I hate people like them. I had the same experience like yours except that the tenant that I’m with is a couple. So you can imagine the mess that they make for every day. They are unruly and I’m glad I’m not with them anymore. Anyways, great read. How are you now?

    • Hanging in there, thanks for asking! My tenant hasn’t been around much since I gave him the bad news. Hopefully he’s off finding a new place to live!

      • I just hope that the new place he’s been with he’ll learn from his previous mistake. Great job Gwen! Have a great day always!

  17. You only pay for correctly done work. If they screw up on something as basic as not scraping off the old paint, they can fix it and get paid or go away empty-handed.

  18. That’s frustrating about the repairs Gwen. I hope you can get those issues resolved with the contractor or at least get some of your money back. It can be super frustrating to see work being done poorly or incorrectly. Maybe I’m just a bit OCD about it but I prefer to do most of my own renovations/repairs simply because I can take my time and do it properly (although it does take much longer).

    Congrats on the new guy! Being a frugal guy is a good sign. Now just start dropping hints about FIRE and this Mustache guy you just heard about 😉
    Owen @ PlanEasy recently posted…Reduce Your Investment Risk (For Little To No Cost)My Profile

    • At this point I’m about ready to rent a ladder and get up there myself!

      No need to drop hints when he’s already well on the FIRE bandwagon! I won the lottery 🙂

  19. You are too nice. Have to put the foot down (politely but firmly) with those contractors, and with the bad tenant.

    Are you sure it’s such a good idea to let a guy you just met know the details of your net worth from this blog? Maybe wait a few months?

  20. Hi Gwen! First, a BIG EEEW to that cockroach! Your life seems to be really interesting with all the frustrating repairs and now the love life. I have known a lot of stories of love and happy endings that all started online. In fact, a close friend of mine married her now husband whom she met just online. Now they are living happily with two kids, travelling places all across the globe. Amazing!

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