This is what $4500 looks like


This is what $4500 looks like

Yesterday, the blog got a nice feature in Brownstoner. I’ll be cross blogging once a week to the Brownstoner audience. I’m super excited about this and I want to thank everyone for their nice emails and comments. In fact, one of the comments encouraging me to keep going and not give up almost brought tears to my eyes- especially, after the horrid day in court with the tenant from hell. And for the record the NYC landlord tenant court is unfair and leaves small landlords vulnerable to professional freeloaders.

Since, we last left off I got a violation from National Grid.  When they came a few weeks ago to turn on the heat they found several gas leaks. Well, come to find out I needed a new gas line for the entire building- which set me back $4500! Anyway, keep the words of encouragement coming, I need them right about now.


Shower is almost done…with the correct tile


The shower is almost done which is the good news. But I’m starting to feel that no one listens to me. I told the guys to use black grout on all the rental kitchen back-splashes,  hell, I even went to Home Depot and purchased the grout myself. I went to the house today and guess what color the grout is? White of course! I asked Carlo why did he use white grout when I explicitly told him to use black grout. His answer: “What?! You wanted black grout with white tiles? That makes no sense” Well, it seems that Carlo is also an interior designer. Anyway, I told him to make sure they use the black grout in the one bedroom kitchen. I also think it looks weird that they extended the backsplash to the side wall but at this point I’m willing to pick my battles.


Always check the tile box…ALWAYS

The correct tile

A few weeks ago, my contractor changed the configuration of the studio bathroom.  The new configuration actually works better than the original plan.  When he changed the plan  I asked him to let me know how much more tile he needed.  In all honesty, I didn’t push the issue and looking back I should have been more proactive and had the measurements taken on the spot. Well, I didn’t do that and last week I got a frantic call from the project manager that they needed more tile ASAP.  I went to the tile store to reorder the tile.  The tile arrives the next day and my project manager goes and picks up the tile. I come by the house later the following day and to my horror the guys are putting up the wrong tile. Seems that the tile store filled the order with the wrong tile and the contractor nor the project manager checked the box before leaving the store or even before bringing it to the house.

All this was made worse because the previous day I had conversations with the project manger and the contractor about being proactive and being able to order things like tile correctly without me being involved.  Anyway, I made the guys take down the incorrect tile but the tile store is orthodox and therefor not open on Friday and Saturday.  I waited until Sunday to make the changes and asked them to check the boxes twice.  The guys are going to put up the correct tile tomorrow, I’ll keep you posted.

Removing vines, painting and neighbors….


One of the first things that needed to be done was removing the vines from the exterior of the house. The vines pulls moisture out and can cause cracking.

The weekend before we started on the exterior work, I tried to contact my neighbor that owns the lot next door. He wasn’t home and I left a note introducing myself and telling him about the work. Monday morning the guys start work and at around 5:30PM I get a call from the neighbor. He was upset that that guys left vines on his property ( a lot of vines), I apologized and told him first thing in the morning they will clean it up and it won’t happen again. He then used some profanity and said he wasn’t accepting my apology. I then asked him how could I make it right, and offered to meet him to discuss. He then accused me of his climbing his fence and trespassing.  I told him that no one climbed the fence but rather we scaled down the building to do the work- which since it’s my house I’m allowed to do. I think asserting my new found homeownership set him off because then he said” Well, I’ll have something for you in the morning” and hung up.

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How did this all happen?

After almost nine months of being in contract I finally closed on my house. Why did it take so long? Well first there was a tenant or more accurately there still is a tenant but more on that later. And I had to change banks half way through the process. But for now let’s focus on the positive there will be plenty of time for war stories. I now own a Brooklyn brownstone!

The details of the purchase: I financed my home with  a FHA 203K loan.  The 203K loan is great because you can finance construction costs, especially since in Brooklyn most brownstones need some renovating. Now for the bad news, I’m pretty sure that the 203K has a similar max amount to regular FHA loans (I’m still trying to get confirmation on that).  Currently with the crazy Brooklyn real estate market most of us that could only buy with a 203K loan are now priced out of the market. But for the record, Wells Fargo pretty much “owns” the 203K market in Brooklyn.

Who Helped:  I started posting on Brownstoner . Plenty of people gave me tons on advice and it was great exchanging stories. Those conversations resulted in a small meet up group.

My real estate agent was invaluable.  There were a million times when this deal seemed dead but he was patient when needed and aggressive when that was called for as well. I know for a fact that with another agent this deal would have never happened.

The full list of my recommendations can be found here.

And finally, as I go through this process I post the good and bad. And I welcome all your questions and comments.