Monday, December 20, 2010

TCP: Gas Fail

Well, at least that was educational. I had the gas company out today to reconnect. Progress, but not yet success. I have a spiffy new meter, and a nice seal on the gas company side. Turns out my gas plumbing leaks unacceptably, and I fail a pressure test. The two-step becomes a four-step -- the gas company hangs a new (shut-off) meter and hands me a truly glorious shut-off valve that my plumber will need to install on my side of the meter while he's repairing or replacing the gas lines to the boiler and water heater. Then I can have the gas company in to (mere formality) repeat the pressure test and turn on the gas. Then, finally, I can get the plumber back in to turn on the water and gas and fire the boiler and water heater.

It is a good thing to be informed that your gas piping is leaky before you fill it with gas. At the same time, we discovered that the flue for the water heater had been crammed in on top of the flue for the boiler, and that the connection is improper. At worst, we replace the hot water heater (ancient) with a new electric model and keep moving. At best, we install a reducing tee while replacing the boiler flue. In toto, it means I'll be lucky to get plumbers and gas people back in twice before the end of the year.

Temporary heaters will be installed as required. On to roofing contractors while also scheduling plumbing/heating contractors. So far, gas company seems to be next-business-day or thereabouts. Also, apparently, time to schedule the chimney guy, as there seems to be both serious cleaning and minor (at least) repair required.

The journey begins. Goal is heat on by end of month.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Cumberland Project (Update)

I finally have a closing date, December 17. Somewhat of a letdown after hoping for "before Thanksgiving" but at least it's "before Christmas." So no pictures yet.

Here's what we're talking about. It's a two-story brick town house in Cumberland, MD. 10+ rooms, just under 3000 sq ft. Ten foot ceilings on both floors. Hardwood floors throughout -- condition unknown, though being hidden under aging shag carpet is a poor omen. House was listed as being built in 1900, I'm thinking more like 1898 but I haven't found a cornerstone yet. It includes a partial garage.

About half of the rooms have one major plaster repair required. The pattern of water damage (around the perimeter and under the main roof valley) suggests replacing the roof and gutters is likely required. It does look like we'll get to visit the "worst case" of "let's install metal roofing in January" but hopefully the weather will be warmer and that won't be the expected nightmare. Once the roof is resealed and the gutters work, it's time to try out the heating system and fix a lot of plaster.

Hopefully, with a set date a week away, I can get the roofers scheduled for an inspect and estimate before Christmas. I'm hoping I can have the utilities restored before settlement.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Cumberland Project

So, here's the deal. Way back on October 20, I signed an offer on a property in Cumberland, MD. Eight days later, they acknowledged receipt of the offer. I subsequently received a third-hand representation of the seller's desire to accept the offer, eventually followed (only upon insistence) by a signed contract on 11/5. Settlement was set for 12/1, and we were (optimistically) hoping to settle before Thanksgiving. I still don't have a firm settlement date -- presumably sometime next week -- but I have a contract. Apparently, the big deal is that it's a low-value, bank-owned property under foreclosure, which means that not only is there a lot more paperwork, but a lot more hands in the pot, as the settlement attorney puts it. And many of those hands are busy, or at least preoccupied. So, while I'd hoped to have a roofing contractor in before December, I'm now hoping for before January. 10 days after wiring the funds for closing, I've received confirmation. Things move slowly out here. Another week, and I hope to have achieved settlement, and have a first reel of photos.

As soon I as I have possession, I need to get a roofing contractor in. Beyond that, I have recommendations for gutters and chimneys. What we're talking about is a 3000 sq ft property for $40K, which probably is going to require up to another $20K in immediate repairs. Current assessment is $80K, and comps for the neighborhood put it closer to $150K or up. My current estimate for "ready to rehab" is $20/sf for 3000 sf. Which puts acquisition at under $15/sf, and "ready to refinish" at under $20/sf. If I'm lucky, I can make up the difference between my $60K investment and $120K equity with just sweat.

If I hadn't been dealing with the (temporary) loss of my (only) vehicle, this week would have been easier. Truck should be picked up before Wednesday, and settlement should be same or next day. Everything on this deal seems to come with a one-week penalty, or more. Is there a home improvement project more problematic than getting a new metal roof installed in January?