We are lucky enough to own a home with a garage apartment in Huntsville, Texas. The house is in a good location near Sam Houston State University and Huntsville’s cute downtown Our home is on a pretty corner lot. The one bedroom garage apartment door faces the backyard and has a sidewalk and deck off the doorway that provides privacy and a feeling of living more in the country than the city. My daughter in law says it feels like a treehouse and I agree!

The first of August we got notice that our awesome tenants in the garage apartment would be moving out due to graduating and getting a job in downtown Houston. We were bummed and a little nervous because ideally we like to switch tenants over the summer before August 1 for college students. Our tenants went above and beyond to move out by August 15th and to find us another tenant that we totally approve of and are thrilled to welcome. They move in September 1st.

Since our last tenants were there almost 3 years we knew we had some sprucing up and maintenance before the next move in. The guest house we have been working on recently is on a short hold while we get things taken care of at the garage apartment. Bummer.

I am a worry wart so I made a list about 5:30 one morning when I couldn’t sleep.

We had some leveling to do because a center beam in the garage settled, a little rot around the stairs that needs to be addressed, and some stabilization of the steps by connecting the steps to the garage wall. It is an ongoing struggle with exterior upkeep. Huntsville is pretty hot and humid along with being amazingly rainy, the back yard is in the shade almost all the time, the trees drop leaves everywhere, and well, the building is 71 years old. The original garage floor was dirt which wasn’t uncommon in 1950. At some point concrete without any reinforcement was poured and it made the garage doors so low that only a sports car would fit in there.

Leveling the center joist involves two bottle jacks, wood, and metal shims. You literally jack the post on the right up until you can add shims into the permanent post on the left. We had it professionally done five years ago and this is just maintenance. The exterior walls need to be leveled the next time but we weren’t ready to disconnect all the support beams and lift them this time. It would have taken us several days we don’t have.
Mr. Math wants everyone to know he added strapping to the post to attach it to the joist and keep the metal shims in place. I just didn’t get that picture.

We also touched up paint on the exterior. I am so grossed out every time we switch tenants with the front door that I was positive it wouldn’t be white again. I decided on red- Behr dark crimson to be specific.

This is a picture of the apartment from five years ago when I was mad the painters didn’t paint the trim. I didn’t take a close up picture of the door so imagine a grimy smudged door.

The change is dramatic. I like dramatic.

We also switched from the exterior wall paint on the deck outside apartment to porch paint. I am actually shocked we got five years out of the porch being sprayed with exterior wall paint. We are going with Behr Slate Gray on the wood decked porch. It will provide a nice contrast to the blue paint. Mr. Math spent half a day power washing, nailing in popped nails, and scraping 6 by 6 the deck and stairs to get us ready.

During the hard freeze we got in Texas last winter a pipe burst in the bathroom and thanks to the Texas power grid issue, we went way more than 24 hours in the very low teens with no electricity. All the pipes are exposed in the garage below. Of course we fixed the burst pipe but knew we had damage to fix on the inside this summer. The water from the burst pipe seeped into a crack in the grout then froze under the tiles. The concrete backer board under the tile absorbed enough water that it swelled and burst in places causing four tiles to need to be replaced. We expected hardwood floor damage but weren’t aware of the bathroom issues. Four of the avocado green tiles in the bathroom had to come out. Surprise, surprise, we couldn’t find new green tiles. So, this quick reno involves four new beige tiles. I don’t love it but the bathroom is part of our long term plan and will be totally renovated down the road to allow for stackable washer and dryer and for the bathtub ceiling area to be raised.

The original to 1950 pine flooring is one of my favorite things about the garage apartment along with a super cute phone niche and the original trim and doors complete with crystal door knobs. The floor took a hit during the freeze with water covering the entire floor. There are also some pretty deep scratches from a tenant who lived there when we purchased the property’s two huge dogs that have to be addressed. This time around we will be patch staining and re-polyurethaning the floors. I really wanted to sand and strip but it will involve sanding, stripping, using wood filler, and probably replacing a couple of boards. The exterior walls of the house needs to be leveled before we tackle that. Since we have a two week turnaround, the poly needs to have time to harden before moving in furniture, it will have to wait.

We also cleaned the walls, windows, appliances, did interior touch up paint, cleaned inside the cabinets and will be having all the plumbing redone next week to the kitchen and bathroom. Hopefully the Pex piping will not be as prone to freezing.

We are almost there. The list is nearly complete.

Beside the plumber coming Thursday we need to add new solar lights along the gate sidewalk, exterior cleaning and new silicone to the tub, replacing 2 mini blinds, and a smoke detector, we will be done.

Owning and maintaining our own rental is hard work. It isn’t for someone who doesn’t mind getting theirs hands dirty and backs sore but it is a great investment opportunity.

We love hearing from you,

Karen