Real Estate Venture V2

Not all stories start where they need to. This is the story of my second rodeo with real estate.

My projects always begin with moments of unrest. What to do? What to do..? Damn it, why the hell can’t you just stay still. I’ve learned to cherish these moments. Those cogs up in that noggin begin to move at a sluggish pace. Slowly but surely. A thought here and a thought there. Sometimes math, sometimes philosophy.

Square footage. My house is a rectangle. 1 master bedroom, a second room used as an office, a living room and a kitchen. 1 and 1/2 baths. I don’t own a couch. I don’t own a TV. I don’t own a dinning table. What a waste of 500 square feet, 38% of my house, unused. I do own a bed and a dresser. 2 bookshelves. Many books but only some literature. I’m wasting space in this office. I have a very large kitchen in comparison to the size of my house.

Finally, all of those gears running at full speed, help output a nicely packaged thought–I could technically live in my garage.

540 square feet. Call it what you want. For me, that name is practicality. It was a mess. An old workbench. A dusty bathroom. Yellowing sheetrook and a rusty garage door that seemed to be from a different time altogether.

I took the garage door off. That sucker was heavy. My neighbor warned me to be careful with the spring but my fingers are ok now. Battle scars can be your friends. That’s what I tell myself as a good excuse since I don’t have many..friends, not scars. But I digress. My brother-in-law helped me close in the wall.

20 cubic yards. Renting dumpsters gives me a weird feeling. They signify a fresh start but they’re dirty and ugly as hell. I took out the shop lights, sheetrock, cabinets and the workbench, not to mention all the shit that I had cheerfully piled into the garage and forgotten about. The previous owner had already installed a bathroom. I tore that out. I’d never picked up a toilet before. They are oddly shaped and unpleasant to carry. If you’re like me and never noticed, toilets have water, which should be drained prior to an attempt at picking it up.


I reused some of the old insulation. The ceiling didn’t have any and a quick trip to the hardware store fixed that in a jiffy. When installing insulation, use a stick next time and maybe some long sleeves, I told myself. Memories work in a weird ways. I clearly remember nearly itching to death but now I can only smile.

Electrical. Interesting–but there are areas even my brain can’t be curious enough to jump into. Maybe it’s misconception. After all, fear is part of the human experience and I am a feline. My contractor ended up rigging that together for me.

People can be wary of contractors. Looking back, it must have been very clear to him that I’d not done this before. He instructed and patiently pointed out all the shit I’d missed. The half finished tile work in the bathroom that had to be torn out. The fact that I only had one window. The canal that had to be ripped through the concrete to get plumbing to the kitchen. The wall that had to be torn to open up the kitchen so that AC or heat could flow through. This example is what I refer to as luck. Some say that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. I say that it’s when the universe conspires to give me a decent contractor because I’m a total idiot.

Sheetrock comes in twos. I’ve always wondered why. Maybe they form a pair. Who gives a fuck? Just nail it and get it over with. Sheetrock can also be misleading. The first piece gets installed so easily until you realize that you’re doing it all wrong. A learning experience I call it, if you’re crazy.


Bathroom and kitchen were installed by my uncle, a true craftsman. I look up to him. He worked hard to deliver a good product. I think of him and miss him.


My contractor painted with a spray gun. A mini-split for heating and air, flooring and appliances came last. It’s going to take me 3 years to fully make back the money I invested at my current rental rate–which is low compared to the market average. In the mean time, I’m making a small monthly return, on top of covering my entire mortgage by renting out the main house. An added bonus is that my nieces say good morning to me every day on my way to work and I get to see my brother often.

Real estate can be a great investment. As with most investments, psychology plays a larger role than initially evident. For me, it has been a strict but good teacher. It’s allowed me to dive in and pick up some useful skills but it always keeps a hefty ruler which has kept me humble (I hope). My tip–don’t stay still.