• dcandelora

The latest on my Nova Scotia income property journey!

So it’s been a couple of months since I bought and started renovating my first rental property. When I wrote the first installment detailing this journey, I was pretty nervous. Excited, yes, but definitely nervous about how construction would go, whether I was prepared to make the right decisions, and what unexpected things would pop up.


So 15 weeks into one of the biggest projects I’ve taken on on my own, I am happy to report that at this point (knock on wood), things have gone surprisingly smoothly. To work around the weather, we’ve been concentrating on indoor work on my daughter, Jocelyn’s, side, and have so far torn out and repaired the drywall; installed new flooring throughout; installed new interior doors and trim; gutted and redone the bathroom; upgraded the lighting fixtures and switch/socket covers; and, started framing up the new room in the basement. I replaced and upgraded the electrical panel, installed a new natural gas water heater and moved the furnace to improve the usable floor space in the basement. I also added a new firewall in the attic; in the event of a house fire in one of the units, this safety feature would prevent the flames from spreading across the attic to the other unit.


Even though that sounds like (and has been!) a lot of work, there’s still a lot to go. I’ll be replacing the siding and windows on the entire house. Those supplies have arrived and are waiting until the weather is a bit more cooperative and until I find a new installer (I fired my last one because I didn’t feel I could trust him). In the meantime, we’re replacing the kitchen cabinets and countertops while we wait for the new appliances to arrive. Given the global backlog for new appliances, I’m trying to stay optimistic but am also aware that this might be a longer wait than I’d hoped for.


I have no doubts that progress to date could not have gone as smoothly if it hadn’t been for my friend, Shane, who has been my main contractor. His involvement has allowed me to trust his judgement and make decisions quickly, knowing he has my best interests in mind. I’ve also been comfortable asking lots of questions and learning as I go. I especially appreciate Shane’s help since he’s doing this outside his regular work, but recognize it’s not a sustainable solution in the long term.


I also have to give credit to the contractor desk staff at the Kent Building Supplies in Russell Lake West. They really have been great to deal with for those last minute items we’ve needed to keep things moving. And my tenant has also been fantastic during all of this. If only every landlady was as lucky!


The trickiest part of this project has been material supply. There has been a lot of “hurry up and wait” and I’ve definitely learned for next time to order earlier to ensure everything is onsite before the next project phase begins. There have also been a few nasty surprises like the putrid 4-foot nest infested with fleas in the attic (raccoons maybe?) and the wasp’s nest in the walls. Or the time I accidentally asked for the bathroom floor to be ripped down to the plywood, not realizing the new flooring had already been installed (sorry, Shane!).


I’m also substantially over my budget from small items I hadn’t thought about or in my case, upgrading to the next quality level since “it’s not that much more.” But those small amounts add up to a big amount pretty quickly, sort of a death of thousand cuts situation.


Jocelyn’s expected move date has been pushed to mid-April. She’s waiting until the renos are complete before she selects her roommates since it’ll be easier for them to commit when they can see the finished product. That gives us a few more weeks to finalize a lease document for them.


All that said, I’m definitely on the back nine with this project and as the first of many similar projects I have planned, I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. I’ve learned a lot and know that next time, I’ll be more prepared and confident that I can and will succeed.


This sounds like the perfect time to start building a cottage in Cape Breton…;)