Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rentals and Retirement

No doubt about it, owning rentals is a key part of our retirement plan. Not only do they generate a little income now, they can also provide free housing for us when we "outgrow" our ability to manage comfortably in our remote paradise. So owning rentals is a good investment for us in both the short and long term.

We choose to manage all aspects of our rental property, including maintenance. Translated into common terms, this means my husband and I just spent a full month painting and doing a variety of other improvements. And did we finish all five cottages? NO! But two are done and they look really cute.

Here's what happened -

First we set out on our painting adventure with a high level of optimism and slightly rose-colored glasses. We've been down this road before so we know everything takes at least twice as long as you think it will, so we doubled our time estimate. So far, so good.

Then we estimated paint quantity. At a coverage rate of 400 square feet/gallon, I calculated that we'd need about 15 gallons to paint all five cottages (they're small - only 24x28 each). We'd already decided on a very pale yellow (the same color we painted my big house before I sold it) and bought three 5-gallon buckets of paint. Again, so far, so good.

Then we started spraying on the paint. Well, this is where we had a reality check of sorts. You see, the gray siding has grooves and the grooves have edges that were not sealed up when the buildings were sprayed gray several years ago. So when the first wall was finished, we had yellow with gray stripes. Hmm. Not pretty - in fact, awful.

The only thing to do was grab brushes and prime all the grooves to seal them up. So we primed the grooves and repainted the first wall. Then we primed the grooves on the other three sides and sprayed on the paint. Much better! Except one small problem . . . We managed to put about 12 gallons of paint on the first house.

Now for plan B . . .

By this time I was less enamored with all the houses being yellow. I figured if we've got to buy more paint anyway, we should do them all different colors but with white trim and brown porches - kind of like a neighborhood rather than a complex. My next house color choice was sage green and guess what? We happened to have a bunch of leftover exterior green paint that was about the right color but too dark, so we just bought 10 gallons of white and mixed in enough green to get the color we wanted. Sure beat having to choose a color from those little paint chips!

The second house was easier because we already knew we had to prime the grooves. But we decided to prime the whole thing instead. And we used some different left over dark green so got our base coat for free and got rid of unwanted paint at the same time. How clever are we?

So now two of the five are done. When will we get to the others? Good question. It's much easier to paint when they're vacant and the others are not. One we keep unrented for our own use, however, so we could paint that one without disturbing any tenants. But it's not the one I want to see painted next. At this point, we're all painted out anyway so I guess we can decide which house to paint next when we actually have the time and inclination.

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