Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Always Something

     After only five days, Spartacus and I have just about gotten settled into our new East Atlanta digs. We're renting loft space in the library of an old elementary school in Kirkwood--it's the largest unit in the complex, and unfortunately, it's still on the market for sale. The owner of this place got her theology degree and moved to Indiana last month to open a church. She lived here for about 7 1/2 years, and to be honest, didn't do a lot with the place: the kitchen is in sore need of updating, the floors are bare concrete, the bathtub and kitchen sink are in desperate need of new caulk, and there are some issues with lighting which necessitate the presence of exposed electrical cords. Depending on how you look at it, it's either quaint or a victim of neglect. Nevertheless, she really wants to sell this place, and as per our rental agreement, if she finds a buyer, we'll have 60 days to relocate. Spartacus and I both own homes, which we choose to rent, because in today's market, selling is largely a losing proposition. We're both making our monthly mortgages with the rental income. We've retained the service of an excellent rental management company, and so far, it's been an acceptable alternative to selling. Neither of us really wants to own a home again; it's been nice not to feel "tied down."
     As a homeowner for the last 20+ years, I've learned how to do many handyman chores myself, such as the correct way to recaulk a tub. You have to remove all of the old caulk, and before recaulking, you have to dry the seams out with denatured alcohol to eliminate any accumulated moisture between the tub and backwall. Then, you run a smooth, continuous bead of caulk between the tub and the tile. You have to do it properly the first time; otherwise, you'll end up with raggedy, peeling caulk after a few showers, as well as a potential mildew problem. It amazes me that people routinely seem to overlook this kind of problem. I've replaced leaking toilets, sanded and refinished hardwood floors, installed concealed under-cabinet lighting and ceiling fans, changed out sink faucets, and troubleshooted and repaired an ice maker. I know how to find studs in the walls and how to change a circuit breaker. Most of this stuff, I learned from helping my ex-husband with various projects, but nowadays, you can learn how to do just about any household task online. There are amazing tutorial videos on youtube that walk you through nearly any project you can imagine, step by step.
     Before we moved in, we had the walls of this place painted white. The owner had it painted brick-red, sort of tomb-like, and the master bedroom was painted a poopy-brown color...ugh! I cannot imagine sleeping in a bedroom, surrounded by 4 dingy, brown walls. I can understand having a brown accent wall, but not an entirely brown bedroom! The white paint has really made a difference, freshening and opening up the space, making it look light and airy against the concrete floors. There are two skylights, which let in a lot of natural light during the day. One of these, she had covered up with a bed sheet, suspended by shower rings between two metal beams. Spartacus said it reminded him of a shabby Cirque du Soleil, so we immediately took that down. I've already gotten the owner's permission to install some track lighting to improve the ambient light situation. The ceiling lights here are rather hideous, consisting of a cluster of three adjustable lamps, several sockets of which are dead on a couple of the fixtures. With lighting (as with anything else), you pretty much get what you pay for. I happen to have lots of interesting, nice lamps which compensate for the poor overhead lighting, but last night, when we were assembling our pain-in-the-ass Design Within Reach bookshelves, it would have been nice to have some decent light as we completed that task.
     On Sunday, Spartacus and I were in Rome, moving our second truckload of stuff. I got a call from Ackerman, our Atlanta security company, that there had been a "loss of supervision." We have someone from Ackerman scheduled to come tomorrow to troubleshoot the front door sensors, and suspected that was what accounted for the interruption in monitoring. The only way someone could break into this place would be to smash a window, and since Ackerman didn't report a glass break alarm, we weren't worried about it. We resumed packing our truck, and didn't get back to Atlanta until 8 p.m that evening. On Monday, the realtor with whom this place is listed, who also happens to be our landlord, called to apologize for any confusion, informing me that an agent had shown our place on Sunday. Neither of us had received an advance phone call, which I believe is the usual protocol for showing property when someone is living there. Thank goodness the dogs weren't home yet, because that could have been a real fiasco! He told me that another potential buyer wanted to come and see the place on Wednesday or Thursday, and that, after this guy had seen it, there would probably be no action again for months. It's a little unsettling to have people looking at your place as you are moving in. This is probably the biggest downside to renting; this place really isn't ours. To make matters worse, we've made the place look great! Who wouldn't want to buy it, after seeing our cool furniture and the way we've arranged the kitchen and living space?
     Yesterday, our landlord came by at 4 p.m. with a female realtor and a prospective buyer to peruse the property. The entire time they were here, I thought the woman was the man's wife, and that our landlord was the one showing the place. It wasn't until Spartacus alerted me to the fact that she was his realtor, and not his wife, that it all began to make sense. The realtor, who apparently knows nothing about plumbing went on excitedly about how the buyer, a 30-something unkempt-looking dude who was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and didn't appear too homeowner savvy, could install a second bathroom. I guess she doesn't realize that this place is not plumbed for a second bathroom. If it were approved by the homeowner's association and the building inspector, a project like that would easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. She described the kitchen as "not updated, but with a 1950s vintage feel." One can only assume she didn't see the peeling laminate counter tops, the cheap cabinetry, the old white appliances, or the IKEA pendant lamps, dangling precariously above the stove. (I have since installed under cabinet lighting, as well as LED lighting over the stove).
     Before they left, the realtor remarked to me about what "good taste" I have in furniture and decorating, especially for having just moved into a place like this. For some reason, it came across as condescending. Having the property shown five days after we moved in had already been disruptive and intrusive enough, and although I'm sure she was probably being genuine in her compliment, it annoyed me. Her client seemed to like this loft a lot, but we couldn't really tell how serious he was. He may have just been humoring her.  Most buyers want two bathrooms, covered parking, and an updated kitchen. This place has none of those things. It would also take a person with a lot of artistic vision to deal with open space like this...the only real rooms here are the bedrooms and the bathroom. I didn't get the impression that this cat possessed such vision. However, this place IS perfect for me and Spartacus, and we dread the thought of moving again. The owner has this property listed for $238K, which I doubt she could ever get. She paid $289K for this place, back in 2004; other lofts in this same complex are going for considerably less, and they've all been updated with new kitchens and hardwood floors. Our contract says we have the right to first refusal, and at this point, we're both so exhausted from moving twice in ten months, that we're tempted to buy it, in the event that someone makes an offer. That being said, I suppose it's possible we could find an even cooler place to rent in this area. It's always something, isn't it? As Spartacus said yesterday, "You get rid of one worry, and another one takes its place." I guess I need to stop worrying, until I have something to worry about. For now, the unpacking, rearranging, and meeting of neighbors will continue. I will alert the landlord about the need for recaulking. Letting him worry about the recaulking will definitely result in a little less worry for me, but still, in the back of my mind, I'll be wondering if that's a job I could have done better myself.

1 comment: