Monday, December 10, 2012

The Pool at Garfield - Part 1

After a month of meeting with pool companies and working through designs and costs we finally selected Coast to Coast Pools of Sarasota to build our pool at Garfield Dr. in Sarasota.  The deciding factor was the experience of Jeremy West, the pool sales contact and designer and the track record of Coast to Coast in building pools locally.  Jeremy has over 10 years in the local pool business and has a very hands on approach with his customers.  He was always available, flexible and patient as we worked through the design.  Along the way he provided some very cool 3D clip to help use visualize the pool design.   He also has a lot of local contacts and communicated well with the city in order to avoid surprises. 

I never thought we'd build a pool in the front yard of any home but we are at Garfield.   The lot is on a corner and is 60' x 120' with the house right in the middle.  There is no backyard and we are only about 8 ft from the back property line.  All the  room is on the ends of the house and front yard.

I know this sounds funny but one of the key things we wanted was to duplicate the size and depth of our current pool - for pool volleyball!  (Jeremy laughed about this requirement),  Two other critical needs were a spa and a sun-shelf.  For those of you that don't know a sun-shelf is a 6" deep area of water that you can place your chair in.  We added on that's 8 ft deep and 12 ft wide at the shallow end of the pool along with a hole from an umbrella.  This will be a great spot to chill with some cocktails in the future.

The spa should be big enough for 6 people and with the propane heater we might be able to par boil people if we decide to.  The wireless Easy Touch wireless controller will make it easy for Jan to turn the spa on automatically from her lounge chair.  It also controls the pool lights.  1200 sq ft or so of travertine pavers and landscaping will create some serious outdoor space for those parties we love to have.

We are excited about the pool design and looking forward to the house warming pool party in April and yes Jeremy is invited.  He may come up with a Volleyball pool package in the future!  Stay tuned for Part 2 - I'm told the hole is dug in 3 hours.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cable to Nowhere

There's always a few surprises when you buy a house "as is" even if you have it inspected.  Today we found a surprise with the cable in the master bedroom.

Both Jan and I like to watch TV in bed at night (probably like most of the population) however the Garfield house did not have an extra TV. So we purchased a 39" HDTV and wall mount during black friday and had it shipped.  In the meantime she picked up a DTA converter box from the cable company in the event we needed it.

The TV showed up last Friday and I proceeded to hook it up after dinner.  There was a cable outlet and power plug behind the dresser so I it was fairly easy to hook up.  Problem was there was no signal so I called Comcast to work through the issue.  30 minutes later I hung up in fruistration and decided to test the TV out on the cable in the living room.  It worked great!

That's when I realized the cable guy mentioned that he disconnected a splitter when he hooked up the TVin the living room.  Saturday after finsihing up some trim work I decided to hunt down the splitter and reconnect it. After trying three different wires running to who knows where on the side of the hosue I decided to check the cable outlets.  That's where I found the problem.

The previous owner pulled a fast one. There was a nice cable box and even cable connected to the box but when I pulled on the cable this came right out of the box.  Same thing in the other room.   Both outlets had about a foot of cable jammed into the wall to give the appearance there was acutal cable!  The wire was just cut off and attached to nothing in the wall.

Guess I'll need to add to the list of things to do now and run some cable through the attic and to the outlet.  Works never done and at least this will be an easy fix.  (hopefully)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Great Paver Adventure

I'm always looking for a deal.   After seeing the first round of quotes for the pool deck I decided to check out craigslist for some pavers in hopes that I'd find something cheaper than what the pool builder quoted which varied from $5 sq.ft. for brick pavers and $9 sq. ft. for travertine.  I'll be adding a post about the pool very soon (we are still picking out a pool company).

Pavers in the driveway at Tampa
As luck had it I found an ad on craigslist for 1500 sq. ft. of travertine for $2 sq. ft.  There was one catch however; the pavers were installed on a driveway in Tampa some 60 miles away and we had to remove them ourselves.  Being the skeptic I was we contacted the seller and then drove to Tampa to see this great deal.  As it turned out the house was located in south Tampa (a pretty nice area).  The pavers had been installed about 5 months earlier and because they had been installed wrong were separating and cracking.  They were a little dirty from being driven on and some were cracked; but most were in good shape and just needed to be pressured washed since they had been sealed.  We quickly met with the seller and provided a 10% deposit with the agreement that we'd pick them up the following Saturday.  The driveway however was huge!  There were actually over 1700 sq. ft. of pavers. 

The following day I texted my lawn guy to see if he could help.  He's not real good with english and his daughter called me directly to figure out that I needed a crew and more importantly a truck with a fork lift.  We'd need to stack the pavers on pallets and then transport them the 60 miles to the Sarasota house.  After some negotiation and with her acting as the translator we reached an agreement that he'd help the following Saturday and more importantly had access to a truck and forklift.  Another Craigslist ad and I found some free pallets.

The week went by and  the Friday before I texted my guy to confirm that everything was ready to go for Saturday.  I immediately got a phone call from his cousin looking for clarification on my text.  Needless to say he had no truck and was not ready.  Needless to say I was not real happy.  A quick call to the seller looking for another week on my end did not go well.  They were installing the new driveway on Wednesday and needed the pavers up.   I frantically started searching the Internet for companies that rented trucks with forklifts to no avail (for a reasonable price).    We had a party to go to and I needed some time to think through the problem so we headed out passing through Elwood Park a semi-rural area with horses and lots of blue collar type dwelling.  That's when we saw the sod guys place that we had driven by a 1000 times.  He had a fairly large truck parked nearby so we stopped and I called the number on the sod-by-the-piece sign.  To make a long story short he had a buddy that had a large truck with a forklift and we worked out a deal.  $375 to pick up the pavers on Saturday and deliver to Sarasota.  Another quick call and my yard guy said he'd have 2 guys at my house at 7 AM.

We started picking the pavers up at 8:15 AM and finished at noon - 11 pallets worth.  Along the way I had to find a few more pallets at the local Home Depot.  By 3:30 PM they were delivered to Sarasota and we had a happy ending to the story.  Jan and I had a sore back the next few days - but we had found a deal - remember I like a good deal!  Next deal is to get them installed... and that's another story I'm sure.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Unexpected Problems at Garfield Delay Homeowner and Title Insurance

Problem #1 Live wires at the wall heater
As with every real estate transaction there's always a surprise or two along the way. With the Garfield house we had some electrical issues and a survey issue that had to be cleared up before the insurance company would issue a policy and before the closing attorney would issue title insurance. We had the house inspected before closing but apparently the insurance company looks for a few more things than the home inspector did. Luckily we have a good electrician that we've been working with for several years because as expected I had to had travel out of town for work that week.

The first electrical issue was in the retro bathroom where there was an original wall heater than was not working. We had to either fix the heater or ensure that the electrical connections to the heater were capped off.
Being that the house was 60+ years old we opted to remove the wires all the way to the power source ensuring that it would not be an issue. We could have just added some wire nuts but decided to just pull the wire.

Problem # 3 Exposed wire in closet

I actually like the retro bathroom - it's the original bathroom and looks like something from 1950, because it is!  So far Jan has it last on the list to rehab so it'll be safe for a while.  Gotta like that yellow tile!

Electrical issue #2 was an unterminated wire under the eave of the house on the west side.   This is another one that a couple of wire nuts could have fixed but we had the wire on this one pulled also.  I believe the previous owners were planning on putting a security light on this side but never got around to it.   It's actually a good spot for one now that decided to put a shed on this side of the house since we will not have a garage.

The last electrical issue was in the outside closet where someone had run wire from an electrical outlet in the attic down the inside wall and through a hole in the outside wall and connecting to an outside receptacle.  The receptacle was used to power the sprinkler system control box.  To fix this issue conduit was added between the attic receptacle and the outside one and the wire run inside it.  Another easy fix.

Moral of this story is that even if you have an inspection don't expect it to find all the problems that the insurance inspector would have concerns with.  I'd expect they would but this is not the first time we had a problem like this.  In a previous blog We Need Rehab: Home Inspections Lower Risk I discussed how inspections can lower risk.

The title insurance issue problem cost a bit more to fix and started at the seller closing table when the closing attorney was casually discussing the survey and questioning the improvements that the sellers had made to the property.  If you look closely at the survey you can see a wood deck on the front of the house and a fence line on the west side of the house.  The sellers removed both of them.  However, in spite of the fact the lot lines had not changed nor the footprint of the house he would not issue title insurance to us until the survey was updated!  Generally the survey is the responsibility of the buyer and we were going to need to get an updated one anyway - just don't need this problems at the closing table.

Lot Survey showing wood deck that
That's it for this post and have a great day and be thinking about my back.  I'm working on the rock pit over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

We have another rehab coming up - Lido Key

We finally found a house on Lido Key that we'll actually keep and live in after we rehab it.  Jan's been looking on a daily basis ever since we sold the condo at Lido Shores which she is now managing for Rick and Candy (the new owners).  The new house is a bit small but should be about the same size (1500 sq. ft) as our house now after we get done with it.  We plan to keep the Bradenton house and rent it out -we'll see if that actually happens when we get done with the Lido house.

When all was said and done it came down to lifestyle at Lido. After we moved out of the condo we really missed the beach, parks, and restaurants at St. Armands which were only a short walk away.  The new house is also about a block from the kayak launch on Lido so I expect we'll eventually get a couple.   There's a boat in the future and we should be able to either trailer it on the side yard or dry store it at Marine Max on Ben Thompson park just a bike ride away.

I'll be blogging on our progress as we work through the challenges that any 60+ year old florida house brings with it.  This house has some good bones though so I expect when we are done you won't recognize it from where we are starting and it won't blow away if we have a hurricane.  First order of business is to add a master bedroom suite where the carport / porch are.  Jan also wants to open the kitchen and remove that tile in the living room. Here's a link to the zillow map and the virtual tour.

We will be naming the house when it's done so give me your thoughts on some names!