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The New Home Base and a break from Van Travel

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

For the past few years we have been landlords.

Nothing fancy just a couple of small homes on a lot in Port Orchard Washington. For the most part, it was smooth sailing with a ripple here and there. The grand plan has been to eventually move up and renovate the property for retirement and a home base outside of California in a climate we prefer. We have this one tenant that has been awesome to do business with and become friends with. The other tenant was given ample notice of three months to vacate. That three months turned into four months and a giant hassle. But he finally vacated the premises and we took this video to show our starting point...

What a mess. I didn't have my phone ready for when I discovered the freezer in the garage that was left unplugged and full of what may have been food, Completely disgusting. There was trash everywhere along with filth that rates a biohazard suit.

Off to the store I went for some good old fashion Clorox, latex gloves, heavy duty gloves, scrub brushes, broom, mop and a large bundle of rags.

The original plan was to renovate the other house but as you can see, this house was not in any shape to rent to anyone, especially someone I like. Now to be clear, I have visited this home a few times since I've owned it and it was never in this condition. That is the primary reason for our plan to keep this as a rental and do a full makeover on the other for our home. The thing about plans... well, be prepared for them to change. As we worked our way through this house I started regretting our plan.

The first thing we wanted to tackle was an obvious leak into the basement from the tub.

That took some doing as this house was built in 1945. After a trip or two to Lowe's and Ace Hardware we managed to stop that leak. Once that was handled we ripped out the bathroom vanity and began the search for something to replace it with. Since this house has never really been updated we wanted to maintain the vintage charm and not go all modern with upgrades. I think the local Thrift stores know us very well now. We stumbled across a sink that would work for $20 and eventually found an old desk for $20 that was sturdy enough to hold a sink and makes it easy to access the plumbing in case of future issues. Clorox and elbow grease brought the shower surround back to an acceptable condition. We placed some tongue and groove board in the vanity area, installed the freshly painted and modified desk, installed the sink, hooked up the plumbing and turned on the water.

All worked great once we got the right fittings for the old iron drain pipe except the fact that the water didn't drain from the sink. I have no idea what was in the drain pipes but after a chemical or two we finally cleared the clog. Bathroom done. Now at least we can shower!

Now the trash is really building up. All the crap the tenant left behind and the garbage we are creating while fixing things needs to go to the dump. Lo and behold the dump station near us broke down! Gross! Well, my dear friend and one remaining tenant has loaded up his truck and is helping us in every way he can. But we are at a stand still regarding a dump run.

Time to focus on the kitchen. The refrigerator is jammed with old moldy food and the cabinets are some sort of science project. GROSS! Thank GOD for gloves! And CLOROX! The kitchen sink also leaks! The kitchen cabinets and drawers are broken and most light bulbs are missing. Time to go back to Lowe's, again. The walls and ceiling need at least two coats of paint due to grime and nicotine stains. Once we decided on a color for the interior we grabbed some supplies and geared up for some long days.

My whole body can fit into a 42 Gallon contractor bag, I filled six from the kitchen alone. Two from each of the two bedrooms and two from the Living room and I lost count on how many we filled from the bathroom.

The Living room has a nice brick fireplace with a chute to the basement for ashes. I collected over 42 GALLONS of ash out of that chute!

Once the kitchen sink leak was fixed and the faucet was replaced the next task was the stove and oven. The burners were functioning but the aluminum trays underneath were rusted out and the oven looks like it has never been cleaned... Back to Lowe's.

Drawers and cabinets went back together with a bit of liquid nails extreme and some clamps. Each drawer, cabinet and shelf was scrubbed with Clorox and the refrigerator was also bleached out. Now we have a kitchen to cook in.

Once all the trash was removed and the surfaces were sanitized we started painting.

We picked a color that was suitable for all the walls which I picked after Darin told me what he wanted to do with the tattered side entry door. The door itself is solid-core but the veneer was shredding. His idea was inspired by his love of the NFL team, Seattle Seahawks. The wall color is Grassy field by Valspar, the side exterior door is Black Evergreen and the door window trim is Awakening.

I love the new colors and that we were able to save some of the old fixtures. We were able to fix all the outlets and repair cabinets. Here's a video of our progress after bleaching, painting and replacing a few things.

As gross as this was, it was also entertaining and quite the distraction from being on the road and living in a van. It also confirmed that we made the right decision on which tenant to keep.

We have NW Tree Service coming over to inspect a couple of gigantic trees and a Chimney Sweeper coming to inspect the fireplace for safety.

Remember I mentioned an idea of Darin's for the side entry door? He is a serious Seahawks fan, here's his idea... We ended up using the same Black Evergreen color on the bathroom vanity and the bright green Awakening color on the knob of the bathroom medicine cabinet. We like these colors so much he painted the address number bright green and the trim of one of the windows Black Evergreen. Now we have a plan for the exterior as well.

Our next step is getting our storage pod here to unload our stuff and to get the tenant moved over so we can start the project that we are actually looking forward to. In the meantime we have been putting together plans for a drive to Alaska.

Since we've been here we have taken the time to explore the area. Cushman Lake in the Olympic National Forest, Staircase and Hurricane Ridge are all places we will revisit. We got in a couple of hikes and boondocked on Jimmy Come Lately Rd.

There are tons of places to explore around here including Cape Flattery, Forks and the Washington Coast.

We are also very conveniently located to Seattle if we want big city action (which we usually don't) and to family in Bellingham for great food cooked on a spit.

We are feeling more and more at home. Here is a photo dump for your viewing entertainment.


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