Another Shortcut

As you know, I’m always looking for ways to save time and money at my rentals and my own home.  My friend Carrie was helping me at one of my rentals and came up with the shortcut you’ll see in this video.  As you watch, take note of the kitchen counter!  My last blog post dealt with countertops, and the kitchen in this rental needed a little face lift.  We painted the oak cabinets with white semi-gloss paint, and replaced the countertop with laminate — a dark fleck that resembles a granite look.  Durable, fresh, crisp look, but inexpensive.

Here’s the video:

I had to shorten the video a bit, but you get the point!  I don’t like doing baseboards, and if you use a lightweight mop, this job goes quickly.  Carrie had all the baseboards and window sills in this 1200 sq. ft. home done in about 10 minutes.  Gotta love it, right?

When applicants walk into a home that’s clean and well-maintained, they’re more likely to keep it that way.

And as I come across more tips, tricks and techniques, I’ll continue to pass them on …




So, I’ve come across another time-saving product that cleans just about everything, and I took some video of it in action today.  It’s called “Awesome!”  Yes, that’s really the name.

I had a cleaning problem at a beautiful home — I’m taking over the property management there — and the previous tenant was a total slob.  The grout between the ceramic tiles on the kitchen floor had a variety of stains and dirt ground into it.  Nothing was getting it out, and someone told me to try Awesome.  I’d never heard of it.

Check this video … it was too long, so I had to post a smaller clip of it, but you’ll get the gist of it.  This stuff is amazing!

And, Awesome contains no bleach, ammonia, or acid.  Totally safe to use on most anything:  blood stains, wine, oil, grease, upholstery, cabinets, carpet, fiberglass, tile, vinyl, chrome, whitewall tires, road tar … I’m definitely adding this to my bag of tricks.

And at $1.47/bottle, what a bargain, right?  So, get on over to Walmart and buy yourself a container … it’s “Awesome!”

The Back Saver…

I spend a lot of time working at my Indianapolis rental properties … not just the ones I own personally, but also those I manage for other people, in and out of state.  I’m always on the look out for products, tools and techniques that save my time prevent wear and tear on my body.  Here’s my latest cool little gadget:

Scooter BoardIt’s made by Champion and it’s called a scooter board.  Schools and other sports programs create fun games for kids using this piece of equipment, with or without a ball in play.

Scrubbing floors, painting baseboards, or doing repairs that require constant bending can really “do a number” on my back after a while, so I decided to try this scooter.

It’s lightweight plastic but it’s very sturdy, has carrying handles and four casters that rotate.  The casters don’t put scuff marks on any type of floor, and I can sit on this thing and roll along quickly as I do whatever floor work needed.  It’s fantastic!  I found it on Amazon for about $20.  Well worth it, I must say.

So, for those of you who do work that takes you down to floor level — whatever it is — think about adding this item to your equipment list.  You (and your body) will be glad you did!

Before and After …

I run into some pretty nasty cleaning issues but over the years, I’ve stumbled across some fantastic solutions for the worst of the worst!  Here’s a recent example:  prior to evicting my tenant, Kenneth, I reminded him to make sure he left the apartment clean and empty.

Hmmm … evidently, he has a hearing problem!  Haha!  When I come across these situations, I don’t get angry, I get busy.

BeforeIt doesn’t show up well in the picture, but there was a thick layer of food and grease on the stove top.  And this stove was NEW when he moved in eight months ago.  (Sigh)

I attacked it with my trusty bottle of Krud Kutter spray.  I’ve mentioned it here before but it deserves more accolades … I use it on counter tops, floors, sinks, toilets and appliances.  Spray it on, let it sit for a couple minutes, then scrub it off with a Scotch Brite (dark green) scrub pad or a wet cloth.

Here’s the after picture:

Brand new again, right?

photoWith minimal work on my part, too.  Before my next tenant moves in, I’ll put some foil under the burners to protect the stove top.  It helps.

Also, the apartment checks help too … Kenneth had done well for several months, but then his life seemed to start unraveling.  He got laid off, found another job — less money — got laid off from that one after a couple months, etc.  He was depressed, of course.  And his apartment reflected the havoc that was occuring in his work life.  That’s why, as a landlord, I can’t take things for granted … situations change, people change …

Anyway, my new tenant is excited about this place; we’ll see how it goes.

Krud Kutter to the Rescue

As a landlord, I come across some nasty cleaning challenges, and I’m always on the lookout for excellent products to use at my rentals and in my own home as well. I’ve talked about Krud Kutter before but I continue to be amazed by this product.

Another case in point:

I was at one of my rentals last week and was faced with a filthy kitchen floor, covered with a few layers of dirt, grease, and a couple of bright green splatters of unknown origin.  When I reached for my bottle of Krud Kutter Original Cleaner/Degreaser, I realized — much to my dismay — it was nearly empty.

I use that formula on almost everything in my rentals and my personal home … floors, appliances, counter tops, bathroom sinks, tubs, toilets … everything!  I was NOT happy to be without it in this situation, but then I realized I had a container of Krud Kutter Power Wash Concentrate in my car.

I’d just washed the exterior of one of my homes and still had the cleaner with me.  So I decided to use it on this kitchen floor.  Why not?  I filled the kitchen sink with hot water and mixed in about 1/2 cup of the cleaner, spread a section of the vinyl floor with it, allowed it to sit for a few minutes and wiped it up.  NO scrubbing needed!

Amazing.  Even the mystery bright green splatter came up … no problem.  If you don’t have Krud Kutter in your cabinet, it’s time to add it to your shopping list.  You can find it at Walmart and all of the home improvement stores.

It’s one of the best cleaning products out there … I’m all about making my cleaning projects as short as possible … I buy it by the gallon and just refill my spray bottle as needed.

So, do youself a favor and get yourslf some Krud Kutter.  It’ll make your life easeir!


The Works!

I come across some hefty cleaning challenges in my work.  I just evicted some people for being dirty, and went in a few days ago for the clean-up.

Here’s a photo of the bath tub.  I had just begun to clean it.  As you can see, there’s a small section on the left side of the tub wall that looks like new.

It doesn’t show very well in the picture, but the difference is amazing.  I usually use a combination of Krud Kutter spray and Barkeepers Friend for these jobs, but I was out of Krud Kutter.  What I used this time is a product called The Works.  There are a couple different types … I bought the one that’s used for toilets … porcelain is porcelain, right?

I squirted it straight from the bottle onto the tub surface, spread it around to get full coverage, waited a couple minutes and went to work with my dark green Scotch Brite scrubber.  And voila!  The dirt and soap scum came off easily.  Here’s the tub when I was finished.  Fantastic!

A small warning though … this stuff is really strong.  I wore rubber gloves, opened the window for ventilation, and worked fast!  Fortunately, the job didn’t take long at all.

Just thought I’d pass this along.  The bathroom is sparkling.  And tomorrow, I’ll tackle the carpets.

Onward and upward!

Before and After …

You gotta love Craig’s List … this little kitchen at my rental property needed a major facelift and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money at Lowe’s or Menards on new cabinets.  Here’s the before picture:

The cabinets had been in there forever so it was time to update.  After I got everything out it looked like this … there was old wallpaper behind everything!

So I found used replacements on Craig’s List.  For $450, I got cabinets, a counter top, sink and faucet, three ceiling fans and two light fixtures.  Very cool.  Here’s what it looked like when it was done.  A total transformation:

I was so thrilled with the outcome I decided to look for a small gas stove on Craig’s List as well.  They’re uncommon and very expensive to buy new, but I couldn’t fit a full-size one through the door of this apartment.  I found one and went to check it out.  The seller had it sitting out in his yard and it was rather dirty, but he said it worked very well.  And dirt has never scared me.  He also said he’d deliver it, so he brought it later that day and I paid him.  My handyman came over later and hooked it up, and it was then that we discovered it was a piece of junk that really just didn’t work well at all.  When I called the guy to suggest we return it and get my money back, he said we probably damaged it when we installed it and that’s why it didn’t work.  Ha!  What a joke — a bad joke, I might add.  I was forced to buy a new one, for $450.  Ugh.  Lesson learned: use Craig’s List, but make sure your product works before you pay for it!

I was way too trusting.  So I made money on the cabinets, counter top, etc. and lost money on the gas stove … sigh … onward and upward, right?

Bar Keepers Friend is My Friend

Comet, Ajax, Zud … these products have been around for a while.  Soft Scrub appeared much later.  But Bar Keepers Friend has been around since 1882!  It was invented by a chemist here in Indianapolis and has been going strong ever since.

I encounter some very nasty cleaning challenges in my rental properties, and I found this product was superior to all the other similar cleansers on the market.  I buy two or three containers at a time so my tool caddy will never be without it.

You can’t use it with a paper towel or wash cloth . . . you need to use one of those dark green scrubbers . . . I think they’re made by Scotch Brite.  For tub and shower floors, I use a scrub brush with this product.  But it does the work.  It removes hard water stains, soap scum and rust stains as well.  Sometimes I combine it with Krud Kutter, another one of my favorite cleaning products, which comes in a spray bottle.

Here’s the bottom line: when you own rental properties and do a lot of your own work, you want to accomplish things quickly.  So, I’ve done a lot of research and tried many products through the years.   Most of the products I use at my rentals can be found in my own house as well.

This blog is about sharing my wisdom with other investors, and I hope to save my readers time and money!  And Bar Keepers Friend is a little known product that can do just that . . .

Onward and upward!   🙂

The Black Hole

My lease specifically states, “Make no changes without landlord’s permission.”  Freddie must’ve assumed I wouldn’t mind if he painted his living room BLACK.  Here’s the redo in progress:

I’d just been in his side of the duplex last month and these walls were the normal creamy off-white I always use.  I don’t know what possessed him to do this but I discovered it after I evicted him.

The white part on the left is where I’ve used Kilz to prime the walls before repainting.  The horizontal patch is his work . . . a half-assed attempt at repairing a hole in the wall.  (Sigh . . .)  Fortunately, the priming didn’t take long.  He only painted half the room black, so it was a quick fix.

What I’ve learned through the years is that you can have an excellent, airtight lease but that doesn’t necessarily mean people will follow it!  That’s why it’s important to do apartment checks from time to time.  (Although a check would’ve discovered this mess after the fact.)

The bottom line?  Some frustrations are unavoidable.  You do the best you can, take good care of your homes and tenants, have a great lease and hope they adhere to it.  And when they don’t, you threaten them or evict them, and move on.

This apartment will be ready to go in a couple days.  It’s in a nice area, so a “For Rent” sign in the yard may attract a friend or relative of someone who already lives on the street. I’m hopeful . . . onward and upward!   🙂

Sewer 911

Heavy equipment in the front yard is always a bad sign.  I’ve had plenty of drain issues at my rentals, but occasionally they reach the crisis level, as in this case:

The toilets and drains on both sides of my duplex were very slow a couple months ago, so I had my drain people come out and snake the main line.  No problem, right?  (Even though I warn them against it, my tenants sometimes put iinteresting items down the drains.  Toys, hair clips, empty toilet paper rolls, disposable razors, rubber bands, pens and pencils, etc.)  But when the same thing occurs two months later, it’s a definite red flag.

I had my drain people snake the main line, run a camera and — sure enough — there was a break in the clay tile under ground, in a couple places.  The cause?  Age and a big tree in the nieghbor’s yard.  Yes, those big old trees are beautiful, but not so beautiful when they work their way into your sewer lines and clog them up or break them down altogether!

This duplex is about 100 years old — much sturdier than some of the new construction we see today — but the clay tiles are also 100 years old, and they do have a life span.  Thus, the major excavation project that went down today.  Thank God I know Scott, who works for a commercial company but does side work.

There were two breaks in the line.  One was three feet deep, the other ten feet deep.  A full day of work to dig it all up and replace it, but half the cost of using another contractor.

It’ll take a while to make up this expense in rental income, but this event falls under the category of things I can’t control … gotta go with the flow and move through it …

Onward and upward … !