Total Spent So Far: $42,709
Yes, it’s true, our first St. Croix AirBnB is now complete, and our first booking happened within 12 hours of the listing!
I’m falling behind in keeping up with the writing though… We’ve just had so much going on in the last couple of months… To start, WE GOT MARRIED! Around 85 people came through, most from the states, to visit us for one of the most magical weeks of my life. Our wedding guests (family and friends) enjoyed much of the island’s offerings, but left much to do for their next visit as well. The wedding day was one of the best days of my life (and Shaleece agrees luckily!)
Together our entire group of guests went snorkeling and diving off Cane Bay Beach, drank beer with the pigs in the rain forest at the Domino Club, had a pig roast on the beach, sailed to Buck Island on the Terroro II Trimaran with Captain Carl, toured the Captain Morgan Rum Distillery, partied at Rainbow Beach, scuba dived the Butler Bay Wrecks, and so much more. It was a really beautiful time spent with friends and family… but boy was it a lot of work!
After everyone left, Shaleece and I took 10 days which we spent in Punta Cana at one of the most relaxing and beautiful resorts I’ve ever been to for our honeymoon. Needless to say this kept us from working on the house for a bit.
However, we’re back at it in full swing now as we approach the end of the first 90 days, and since the last writing a lot has happened. A major milestone occurred this week as we finished the smallest apartment and launched our first AirBnB! It’s listed on both AirBnB and the Homeaway family of sites including VRBO if you’re interested in coming to see the rest of our progress. I’ve still got a few minor things I want to do to Windsor’s Rest, including an upgraded custom drop ceiling in the front entry way to replace the standard tiles, but nothing that would prevent us from renting it out. I’m sure there will always be things we want to do here.
We’ve come across a leak which has alluded us from upstairs in our master bathroom. I’ve had two plumbers out to the house and both have scratched their heads as to where to start. Neither want to give me a quote, and they come up with suggestions from “Add a little caulking there” to “Let’s tear out this entire wall.” It’s frustrating to say the least, and it’s incredibly hard to get them to even show up. It’s a common theme here actually that you can’t get anyone to do anything unless their right in front of you, and most of them don’t want to give you a price until they’re almost done with the job. It’s one of the reason’s we’ve done most of this work ourselves. We think it’s coming from the upstairs shower.
The sinks and granite counters were put in, in all three downstairs apartments. I did have some help here as I wasn’t about to risk breaking or miss-cutting $4,500 worth of granite counter tops. The company, Italia Marble and Tile on St. Croix has been great to work with. I’m working on our design for the upstairs kitchen remodel now.
A word of advice if you’re in Home Depot, get an XPro account to track all your purchases so you don’t have to save receipts, and always send your orders ($1,500 or more) at a time to The Bid Room. I saved $3,000 on my windows by sending it to the Bid Room. I’ve saved $500 here and there several other times as well. Basically they will take your order, send it to corporate who analyzes it and discounts anything with big margins for you to try to win the business… just because your order is over $1,500. Anyone can do it too, but most people don’t know about the program! Ask at the Service Desk.
My skill sets have increased greatly in the home improvement category. I’ve been doing a lot of electrical work myself, including swapping outlets, switches, light fixtures, fans, and more, both re-wiring and breaker replacement at times. I’ve plumbed a few sinks, and replaced about 5 faucets with new water lines so far. Replaced a toilet too. I’ve done a ton of backsplash tile work (a skillset I’ve had from a previous home) and of course I’m getting better at painting (now with a professional sprayer at times.) The truth is, none of this is that hard, it just takes some patience and know-how which you can learn easily online or with a few conversations with someone who knows a bit more than you do. Really it’s about having the time, but if you consider how much you’re saving when you do work like this yourself, many times the hourly rates are worth venturing on your own rather than bringing in a plumber, electrician, painter, etc.
Obviously it doesn’t go as fast as when you have a team, but if you’re trying to stretch your budget, or make money on the remodel – doing a lot of it yourself is definitely the way to go. One day’s worth of plumbing projects I just did saved me about $1,200 I calculated. I really have no idea to tally up all I will save in the end in labor, but I know it’s going to be a lot.
The View (our largest apartment) is almost complete, and looks like it’s on target for August 1st. Our friend KC is moving into that apartment on a longer term rental for now while he’s here still working recovery efforts from last year’s storms. It’s really beautiful. If we weren’t renting it out immediately, Shaleece and I would have definitely moved down there while we completed the upstairs remodel. I completed the bathroom remodel there (minus new tile which will come down the road), and the only thing left in the apartment is some painting trim, a bit more backsplash in the kitchen, some outlets and switches to replace, and a new fan to be hung in the Master Bedroom. That’s such a small list from when I started in there! I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Not much progress has been made on the middle apartment as of late, the wedding and honeymoon took up much of our time, and I realize my target dates in the last article to have all three apartments done was way off. So goes it with construction projects though, right? I did rebuild the top cabinets with a friend Vaughn on the island since the previous ones were destroyed by termites. We’ve also put in the new granite counter tops, sink, faucet, and I’ve started on the backsplash here. More photos of that to come when it’s complete.
We ordered our windows, but not from my Uncle Bob after-all. The main reason behind this was because PGT doesn’t offer any windows that “breath” like jalousie style louvers, which are critical in our open air breezy home with natural air conditioning. This house was designed to stay cool throughout the summer months with no AC due to the way it breathes. Replacing our windows with side-sliders would kill the natural ability to get constant breezes without having to have the windows all the way open, all the time, which isn’t feasible when it rains. We plan to add AC to the bedrooms since we won’t need to cool the entire house in the near future. Although it’s not completely necessary with the breezes up here, I think from a an online AirBnB marketing prospective, people stateside will be “looking” for AC.
We found a company in Puerto Rico, called Airmaster, which our Home Depot down here carries and sells due to their geographic area. I measured them all out, and put the order together over the course of two weeks. Every one is custom made. The order includes over 46 windows, three sets of french doors, and three regular entry doors. This house is massive. It’s going to take 12 weeks before they get here, and I have no idea where I’m going to store them all while I await them getting installed, but my friend Dave from the mainland who helped with my Lakehouse’s kitchen said he would come down a few weekends to help me install them and show me the ropes of putting them in a concrete house. That was the big addition to the expenditures this time around and has put us over $40k now.
My cousin Kira also came down and helped us paint our master bedroom and start on The View right before the wedding. She is definitely a weekend warrior! She is the reason we were able to move into the house so quickly! THANK YOU KIRA SO MUCH! <3
Hopefully I will get to updating this blog a bit more often. Some other big news to announce soon, stay tuned.