Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Valuable Lesson

I have learned a valuable lesson, that if you aspire to be a slum lord of rental housing, your dreams can come true. More importantly, it takes more than a weekend to turn around a five-bedroom (six if you count the "office" - it's got no closet) house that has been studiously grungified. Pooteewheet and I don't claim to be the cleanest folk in the world - we're not conscientious dusters, we don't vaccum daily, even though we have a dog and a cat, and there's a bit of clutter, but we don't leave bodily fluids on the wall, dump our trash in our air ducts/vents, or leave an actual layer of dirt mixed with food and toothpicks on every surface, both horizontal and vertical. But don't take my word for it - go read Pooteewheet's two posts on the subject.

As a matter of fact, after my 30+ hours cleaning, taping, buying supplies, and painting, painting, painting with a brush and roller until my arms ache and my hands have swelling that feels like a sunburn (I can reach the ceiling/wall corner without a step stool, though I have to stretch and lift off my heels, so I get the enviable job of doing the hard-push edging), Pooteewheet has taken pity on me and gone over there herself to steam the rugs, the rugs that had/have so much grime in them that when you go from the basement, which has already been steamed, to the upstairs, which hasn't, there's a noticeable difference in the smell six feet off the floor.

You may wonder, "but didn't you do inspections?" Yes, cursory ones - we'd fix what wasn't working the renter told us about. You can look back in my posts and see me complaining about this and that and how it broke because the cable guy moved it, etc. But we assumed a renter would tell us if there were drips or problems. What I have now come to realize, after a few renters, is that they will only tell you about things that are directly impacting them - i.e. the washer and dryer don't work or there's a lake in the basement. Simple things, like "we've noticed a leak" or "I smell a little gas" are ignored until they escalate into category one concerns, which may be just short of the house actually falling down or exploding. The problem I'm having probably stems from my own personal experiences. I never left an apartment anything other than spotless, even when I had bad landlords who let upstairs toilet water run through my ceiling into my own bathroom, and I always liked it best when they left me alone rather than doing constant inspections. I've always assumed anyone else would have the same attitude, and they do, just minus the leave it clean part.

Ah well, live and learn. We're already applying what we've learned toward the next duplex side we're turning over. It'll have a full month of down time while we busy ourselves with a full overhaul of the carpets, walls, and anything that's been hidden from view that we should have known about. In the meanwhile, if I'm quiet for the next day or two, it's because there's no wireless at the empty house where I'm undoubtedly rolling a bit more paint.


She says said...

It's amazing, isn't it, what people will and won't do when they don't own the property they live in...

I always left places cleaner than they ever were when I lived there, but when I rented my own apartment to someone else, the ostensibly responsible renters (e.g., I never had any problems with them) still left the place less than clean, despite assertions to the contrary. One renter never cleaned the bathtub. She actually let the soap scum build up so much that the whole bottom of the tub was dark gray but for the two spots where she stood to take a shower. It took a noxious mixture of bleach and ammonia to finally break it down.

Gross, man.

So I definitely feel your pain, but admittedly on a much lower scale.

Hang in there!

PTW said...

Okay, I wasn't there for the overnight PaintFest, but, seriously, I should get a mention not just for the steam cleaning, but also the cleaning of that basement bathroom. You didn't see the base of that toilet - or the shower stall - up close and personal. I was only dreaming about the Focus' brake pedal last night because my unconscious was studiously avoiding going anywhere near that bathroom.

PTW said...

Did I mention I'm glad we're finished? Damn, I'd rather teach middle school math!