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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I'm in a Tilta-Whirl State of Mind

There is soooo much going on!!!  

I’m in the middle of moving out of my house (that I’ve only been in for 4 months) due to excessive noise from 4 dogs, 5 cars with very active alarms, and one 3 year old kid who’s screams are akin to an ice pick being shoved through my ear drums…well, the one that still functions anyway.

I’m in the middle of moving to a ‘new’ house in a semi-rural area just a few minutes outside the city.  By ‘new’, I mean it was built 3 years ago but never finished.  The owners finally decided to dust if off, finish the job, and rent it out.   It needed all new paint inside, light fixtures, switches/plug-ins, closets built, holes patched, water heater, handrailings on the stairs, plumbing fixtures, and appliances.   The dirt road in front of the place had been built up long after the driveway portal and gate were done, which put them about 20 inches too low.   So, the owners also needed to tear down the portal, raise the gate track, and rebuild the portal.

Oh, and that leak in the ceiling from the upstairs toilet because they installed it without a wax ring.   Which also means they probably need to rip up the downstairs toilet, too for the same reason.   They also need to have new cabinetry built to accommodate the refrigerator, oven, and microwave.  I designed it and gave them the specs. 

When I first viewed the place over a month ago, they said ‘no problemo’ to having it ready by the 15th of December.   HA!!  A week before the 15th, I checked the list of things to do and only a couple got marked ‘complete’.  

A lot of things did get done last week.   I had the entire interior painted by my team I’ve used many times before.   Looks great.  Electrical fixtures are in and functioning, though the owner picked some really UGLY fixtures for the kitchen and bedrooms.  I mean….c’mon…..they look like those glass canning jars for preserves!!!   Guess I’m going to buying some nicer ones myself and swap them out.

I was lucky my timing was perfect in that the kitchen cabinets weren’t quite done and there was this space to the left of the sink that called out to me….DIIIISSSSSSHHHHHWAAAAASSSSSHHHHERRRRRRR!!!   I asked them if they would cut the cabinet out and tweak this and that so a dishwasher could fit in there.  Plus, add electrical and plumbing (minor detail) and I would buy the dishwasher.  OK!!!  YEAAAAA!!!!

Like many rentals here (and sales, too) the renter must provide their own appliances.  ICK.   The owners are providing the cooktop, extractor fan, and will pay me back (by reduced rent) for the horno…errrr…oven.  So, I went to my friend Jimmy, who I purchased appliances from before at a nice discount, and announced ‘I need some more’!!   He winced and told me ‘oh Dano, if only you had come last weekend…we just had a 30% off sale’!!!   But, for me (wink, wink) he would extend the offer.  So, I purchased a washer, dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven from him….at 30% off!!!!

One man was doing most of this fix-up work which meant for slow progress.  He rebuilt the entire driveway portal by himself.  One day, I saw him cutting rebar with a hacksaw.  He had to cut at least 50 pieces about 8” long to create a grate over the driveway drain.   I’m used to seeing Ecuadorians doing things very manual and labor intensive without any complaint, especially when there are faster methods out there.  Examples:  using a machete to clear weeds along the highways versus a weedwhacker, using a weedwhacker to maintain ALL the greenspace in the city then HAND raking up the cuttings versus using a mower and blowers, using a hacksaw versus using a power tool with a metal cutting blade.   I went to the hardware store and bought a Black & Decker saw and blades and gave it to him to use.  If anything, it was a selfish move on my part to just speed up the process of getting the long list of to-do’s done quicker.  Am I an Ugly American for doing that?  (don’t answer).

All the while this was going on, I finally closed the sale on my 2nd short-term rental apartment on Nov 13th.  This was a process that started back in July!  I needed to get it ready for renting.   It’s a modern apartment in a 3 year-old building.  So, it’s not like I had to do a bunch of remodeling.  Even though the sale included everything in it (furniture, appliances, artwork, etc) it didn’t include any of the kitchen stuff, bed linens, or towels.   I had an Excel Spreadsheet (naturally) of almost 150 items to buy from spoons, to pots/pans, to toilet paper, to sheets/blankets/pillows, to foil, to salt and pepper, to those clips that keep open bags of chips closed (as IF I ever leave some for a 2nd munchfest!!)….you get the idea.

BUT, I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have keys to the apartment!   Yes, when we were at the Notary office for the signing, I said to the group consisting of the seller, seller’s agent, my agent “do I dare ask if anyone thought to bring the keys?”  Answer:  “No”.   I was fuming mad primarily because leading up to this had been a failed attempt to do a walk-through.   I hadn’t seen the apartment since JULY and wanted to inspect the interior BEFORE closing.   But, as usual, real estate agents here (even the reported best ones) fail miserably when it comes to LEADING their clients through the process.  Only because I’ve had quite a lot of experience in real estate over the years, was I savvy enough to bring up things that the agent should have already had on their check list of standard to-do’s.   Things like:  are the property taxes paid current and provide proof, proof water/electric are paid current, pro-rated rent, transfer of security deposit, scheduling a walk-through, gathering all copies of the keys/remotes, etc, orientation/handoff of the property (ie; where’s the water shutoff valve, how does the security intercom work, which one is my bodega (storage unit) etc etc. 

Even leading up to this part, we had some bumps with the sellers who, seemingly, forgot what they agreed to back in July.   We agreed on XX price, $3,000 less than asking, which was to include YY things in the apartment but not ZZ, and they were inventoried in (you guessed it) an Excel Spreadsheet.   After a few months, the seller decided he wanted to sell the ZZ items for, gee what a coinky-dink, $3,000.   Looking at the inventory of the ZZ items, I didn’t think they were worth it.  I could fill the gap by purchasing my own stuff for less.   Well, the seller didn’t like my counter offer.   He was thinking he was selling the items that were actually already included in the original accepted offer of XX price (such as the refrigerator, washer/dryer, cook stove, etc) for the additional $3,000.   Noooooooo!!!.    Of course, did we have signed agreements backing this up?  Noooooo.   It was verbal.   At least, however, everyone else (but the seller) remembered this and told him so.

Here comes the clincher.   We closed on Nov 13th, right?   No keys, right?   No walk-through even AFTER the closing, right?  I handed the sellers a check for XX dollars, right?   Me gettie NADA.

The tenant in the unit, and the seller, had previously agreed that the renter would move out on the 30th of November.   December 1st came along and, I still didn't have keys handed over to me.  I appeared at the security desk to see if maybe the tenant left the keys behind when he moved out.  Nope.  In fact, the security guard informed me the tenant asked the seller if he could stay 4 more days and the seller said ‘yes’!!!   EXCUSE ME!!!!????  Senor Seller…you DON’T OWN THE PROPERTY ANYMORE!!!

By this time, my blood pressure was setting off alarms.   warning....WARNING....PULL UP, PULL UP!!!!!

Oh, it gets better.   Wait for it.  WAAAAIT FOR IT.  

The seller collected the November rent from the tenant which paid him up to December 1st.   The seller sold the property on Nov 13th.   So, the rent collected from the 13th to the 1st should be mine, right?  He shouldn’t keep rent for a period of time he no longer owns the property, right?   Will he transfer that pro-rated amount to me?  "NO".

The seller was holding a security deposit on the unit.  Once the unit was sold to me on Nov 13th, I became the new owner and therefore the decider of whether the tenant gets the security deposit back based on the condition of the unit when he vacates it.   Will the seller transfer the security deposit over to me?  "NO".

This meant if there was anything wrong with the unit that I had to fix, it would come out of my pocket because the seller would return the security deposit directly to the former renter.

I didn’t get the keys to MY property until the 4th of December.  

Since then, I’ve bought all the items on my 150-list, fixed some plumbing issues, cleaned everything inside and out, top to bottom, did some accent painting on blah walls, got internet set up, mounted a TV and DVR on the wall downstairs and she’s ready for booking!

Dano

The house I'm moving into.

Need some handrailings.

Driveway portal being rebuilt.

Closets to go here.

Need some paint, light fixtures, and switches.

Across the street (dirt road)

Handrailing (check)
Paint (check)

Bedroom closets (check).

New driveway gate portal (check).

Neighbor up the hill behind me.  Not bad, eh?

The rental apartment loft landing (before)

Loft landing after a splash of new color.

Apartment loft bedroom.

Before

After a mini-makeover.

Front door to apartment after I added a little highlight.


8 comments:

  1. Glad to see you are keeping busy! And this country house is perfect for you! Quiet, open fields and peace!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice article, but you seem to be an Angry Americano Dano!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not at all. Just tellin' it like it is.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm surprised the guy actually used the tool you lent him. He probably had an angle grinder or something better than a hacksaw to cut rebar i.e. bolt cutters but did not bother to bring them. This guy was probably getting paid by the day and was happy as a clam until you shoved that power tool in his face. Just think, he got to get away from it all and spend a few days relaxing in the country, no stress just peacefully twiddling away making $25 dollars a day. Then you showed up thinking you were helping. Now the guy's out of work and looking for a job again and is annoyed that some Gringo made him look like he did not know what he was doing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I should clarify. The guy was very thankful I brought the machine and he used it regularly…he didn’t HAVE to...it was his choice. He brought his own blades and had been asking the overseer to bring him a machine which she kept promising but never did, day after day. That's when I stepped in to help him out. He worked very hard, and is still working hard to get the place finished since they are past their deadline. As a result of getting the driveway ironwork done faster, he's been able to move on to all the other things waiting for him to complete so I can move in.

      Delete
    2. That is good to know. After writing the previous comment I realized that I still would have done the same thing you did :)

      Delete
  5. I see you are the guy to talk to when I get there :) By the way, I did see your flat listed on airbnb but you don´t accept pets and I have a cat. I´ll keep reading!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dano, where is this area in Cuenca? is there any transportation to town there? Buses, taxis? We would like a place on the outskirts as well. Moving there probably mid-August. Please let me know about your short term rental. Thanks, Michael Gossman, mgossman530@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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