Rental properties and water damage

I'm taking a couple of weeks of paternity leave, and with family in town to help watch our toddler I decided to try and get some work done on my project house that's in the middle of a renovation on its way to becoming rental property. I enjoy doing much of the work myself because unlike my 9 to 5 job, it allows me to work with my hands and gives me the opportunity to physically see the transformation of a project.

I've found that many people are under the impression that managing rental properties has more to do with depositing rent checks than anything else. While that's certainly the goal, there's a lot of preparation that goes into making a rental property low maintenance. And it starts with doing all of the necessary improvements up front. I take the approach of actually over-improving rental properties, but I'll explain why in a future blog.

On Tuesday I planned to tear down some warped pressed wood siding which had water damage and replace it with Hardiplank cementboard siding. It should have been a one-day job, but as often happens, the project became a lot more involved. As I removed the damaged siding, I realized the Celotex fiberboard sheathing was disintegrating which led me to see that the 2"x4" studs holding up this load-bearing wall had rotted 75% of the way through. Water is the #1 source of deterioration on a house because not only can it cause damage, but it attracts insects like termites & carpenter ants while also creating an environment for mold & mildew to grow.

And I was really hoping to get the exterior of the house ready for painting this week, but that was not to be.

I spent Tuesday removing the siding from the back of the house as well as any fiberboard sheathing that didn't flake off with the siding. I also made a run to Home Depot to pick up new 2"x4"s, sheathing, plastic to be used as a water barrier between the studs and sheathing, felt paper to be applied over the sheathing, and a few other things on my list. How I wish there was a Lowe's in East Cobb to give Home Depot some competition. Making a "run" to Home Depot is as close to hell as I ever want to get. The problem on this trip was their signage--they had two different prices posted for an item on my list. Both signs had the same sku/UPC, and of course the higher price is what came up on the cash register. The difference wasn't much, but given their awful service (I couldn't find a single salesperson on the floor to help) and poor inventory management (two items I needed were either sold out or hadn't been re-stocked) I challenged them on the price. I walked the disbelieving cashier to see the sign, and then she had to call a manager to show him. So a half hour later I was finally out the door, thankful I dumped my HD stock last year.

Wednesday I needed to replace the studs, so I started off by supporting the top plate while each rotted stud was removed one by one, and replaced with new 2"x4"s. For added strength, I also put a 2"x4" brace between each stud. I then reinstalled the window and nailed down the black plastic over the studs. Tomorrow the new sheathing will go up as well as the new siding. Rain is in the forecast, though, so I could be completely screwed.