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No good deed goes unpunished OR let’s reno a condo!

No good deed goes unpunished OR let’s reno a condo!

I’ll be quite honest with you: I never wanted to be a landlord. I had no dreams of a real estate empire or building equity in owning buildings. It’s risky, a lot of work and it’s not my thing at all. Now with the increasing interest rates bearing down on people it’s terrifying to think of how leveraged some people are*.

But when we moved into our current house, I jointly-owned a condo downtown with a relative. Mr. Tucker & I began our life in there with our dog Dixie so it holds some nostalgia for us. This relative also owed me a lot of money for making capital repairs to their home while we rented the house from them (it is quite confusing but originally the plan was that we were supposed to switch homes and we would pay a certain amount. It didn’t work out.). At the same time ANOTHER relative was breaking up with a partner and struggling. So it made sense to just let the second relative move in at cost and figure things out from there because…

We had moved in December two weeks before Christmas, then a series of misfortunate events happened:
– We discovered that the condo had been basically destroyed by water & smoke damage and we suddenly had to do a lot of renovations
– The kids started in their new school and it was a challenging time
– I was diagnosed and we found ourselves suddenly without one income

I thought things couldn’t get worse from there but over the course of the next year we discovered that the relative we had rented to was unreliable. It was nothing too onerous: partial payments here, asking to borrow money there but there were definitely signs. Two weeks before the following Christmas we got a call that they were struggling a lot with their mental health and so they moved into our house for a few weeks as I helped them chase down emergency therapy supports around the city. It was then that we discovered that they were deeply in debt and struggling, so (stupidly) Mr. Tucker and I offered to help consolidate their debts onto my line of credit** and help them get back on their feet again. Previously they had been a pretty responsible adult with a great job so we figured they only needed a bit of a boost. I smartly had a lawyer friend witness a contract agreement between us both that had this relative paying us a certain amount every two weeks with the goal of paying it all off and building back their credit.

I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of it but as it turns out this person hasn’t been going to work. They got by in various ways, I guess, but in May of this year they basically just stopped paying and didn’t return calls, texts or emails. In August Mr. Tucker had to go down to the condo and ask them to leave in person. They still haven’t spoken to me and have now holed up in YET ANOTHER relative’s basement.

So for the SECOND time in 5 years we found ourselves doing a complete renovation of a trashed condo. The floors are damaged, there is smoke damage, and all of the appliances need to be replaced. So once again we find ourselves paying a mortgage and condo fees on a place that is unrentable and unsaleable. It is compounded by the fact that I have a broken foot still, school starts on Tuesday and I have a major abdominal surgery on Wednesday so Mr. Tucker will need to stay with me for that first week.

Originally Mr. Tucker and I wanted to hire a contractor and just get it done as soon as possible. We thought we had found someone but then he basically bait-and-switched us for more money and asked for more time. Even though his prices were astronomical the timeline was such that he said he’d be able to complete the work quicker than anyone else, which is why we agreed to his terms. So him coming back and changing the terms was so weird that Mr. Tucker and I told him that we would discuss and get back to him. The next morning at 6am we received an email from his “son” saying that he had been injured (between the hours of 10pm and 6am – what rotten luck!) and that he would be out of commission for a few weeks…and then he posted a video on social media a few hours later of him doing some tree and hedge work. I just absolutely had to laugh at the ridiculousness. Just bow out gracefully, my dude, no need to make up stories.

Note saying to not use the microwave

At that point though Mr. Tucker had had enough. So we hit up the IKEA website, he borrowed tools from his dad and he just made the decision to DIY it. So far he’s gotten rid of the appliances, over this weekend he has replaced the countertops and taps in the bathroom and kitchen, will replace the showerhead, do some grouting & sealing and then hopefully paint it all so that we can stage it and get it on the market. What makes me laugh is that we will basically save $8500 by DIYing this project despite losing so much time with the back-and-forth with this “#OurCity’s Handman.” Mr. Tucker is essentially learning new skills out of spite and fueled by rage.

So I guess not all is lost: Mr. Tucker is impressed with how easy it is to install things from IKEA (which #OurCity’s Handman also said he uses), he’s enjoying the process of learning these new skills and a friend has offered to help us repair the floors where they have come up. Sure, it’s not an ideal situation but knowing what we know now I wish we had started two weeks ago instead of messing around and going back-and-forth with this numpty (we also have a local contractor who is lovely but he does amazing work, is reliable and so, is already busy).

Hopefully we can get it all cleaned up and looking great sooner rather than later and then our realtor friend will put it on the market for us. While we are both nostalgic for the great times we have had there, the future has us moving forward towards Mr. Tucker’s retirement. Keeping the condo isn’t an option unless he works full time and while we are sad to to let it go, we are happy that someone else can make great memories there.

Mr. Tucker is already talking about what projects he could also tackle around the house. So I guess if there is a sunny side to this story it is that it is fun to learn new skills & it is empowering to know you can DIY things…and of course, a special thanks to YouTube and IKEA.

*I am not, I could afford to keep the condo and rent it but again, I have no interest in being a landlord. We will try and sell it first and then if it doesn’t sell, we’ll consider it.
** Yes, yes…only lend money you can afford to give away. It won’t sink us but it is truly maddening.

Make your own veggie boullion (aka Souper Mix)

Make your own veggie boullion (aka Souper Mix)

Mr. Tucker whipped up a bunch of this veggie bouillon for the freezer last weekend and it reminded me to share it here. It’s pretty versatile and while the original recipe is below, you could add any savoury vegetables or herbs and it’s pretty forgiving. I feel like dry mushrooms would be a fantastic addition.

Souper Mix

Makes about four cups:
9oz (250 g) leek
7oz (200 g) fennel
7oz (200g) carrot
9oz (250g) celery root
2oz (50g) sun-dried tomatoes
2 or 3 garlic cloves
3 ½ (50g) parsley
3 ½ (50g) cilantro
¾ c fine sea salt

Put all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until you have a fairly thick paste. To use: combine 1 tsp of souper mix to 1 cup of water.

This recipe is from the River Cottage: Preserves book. I highly recommend both the series & the cookbooks!