Using the space in an apartment at our house - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 11-20-2010, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all,

I wasn't quite sure where to put this, or what to call the thread even!  But I am facing a dilemma.  We have an apartment that is very close to our house (like maybe 15 feet from our back door) but is not attached to our house.  It is a very small building with low ceilings.  We have a friend who has been renting it from us for years, a single guy.  As my kids are getting older, I have been really feeling like I want more space.  Just more elbow room for my kids to spread out, when they have friends over, etc.  We spend so much time in our house.  We homeschool, I work a lot from home, we host an activity here that my kids participate in, and it is just an old house (100 years) with small rooms and no closets.

 

We don't have any storage space, no attic, basement, or garage, so we kind of live with everything.  Now, I have been complaining about the space issue for a long time, and lately I have been wondering about the apartment.  I don't know what his long-term plans are, but if he were to move out, we could really use that space.  We only get $250 a month for the rent, and while the extra money is nice, we don't need it at this point anymore.  We always said that if he moved out, we would not rent it again.  I am just trying to think of how we would use the space though.  Because it isn't attached to the house, what would you do?  It could be a homeschooling room, but that stuff seems better in the house.  We don't sit down and do schoolwork for a set period, so it's not like we would go to the building and do schoolwork.  I would want to be able to start a meal, wash dishes, deal with the dog, etc., if the kids are working on something.  It literally is right out of our back door, but it's still a separate building, so you can't hear.

 

It could be storage, garden storage, a workshop (my oldest is a tinkerer and has a bazillion electricity parts and pieces all over the house), a home office, I realize it could be anything.  But, the place is really in bad shape.  The person smokes and had a cat and the floors and walls are really, really bad.  The walls are literally brown.  I have wiped a cloth over one area when I had to go in there to move something around, and it was just brown.  It would really have to be almost gutted to be usable at all.  New floors and new paint on the walls at the minimum.  There's lots of peeling paint too.

 

So, I am just trying to balance out this decision.  Part of me thinks, this is working, he is paying rent, we are getting a little bit of extra money each month, we would have to do a lot of work on the space to fix it up, so why mess with it.  Then part of me thinks, I would really love to have that space back if he might be ready to move on.  I imagine having that extra refrigerator for garden produce, etc.  I just want to make my house a place where we can enjoy being here, have the space to have people over, etc.  I love to have friends over and cook for people but right now, things just aren't set up for that.  I haven't talked to him about it yet because I want to know in my mind that we could make good use of the space first.

 

Any thoughts?  Thanks for reading! 

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#2 of 14 Old 11-20-2010, 02:35 PM
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well, i would take his $250 and put it in a 'fix up' fund for the room until the decision is made, that way there is money available when you do know what you want to do with it.

 

from there, it seems to me that creating a storage space, creating an office-y space, a workshop space, and a gardening-what not space would be really helpful for your family so that some things can be 'out' of the house. 

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#3 of 14 Old 11-20-2010, 11:07 PM
 
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For me it would all depend on your location. That leads to the weather where you are.  Ya know if it snows 6 months out of the year that kinda nixes the idea of a kids play room or something where you can be going back and forth all day long.  But if you are in an area where its decent most of the year then you can do something where you go back and forth most of the time.

 

How old are your kids... how independent are they/will they be in the coming years? Do you want to make it into a 'game room'/teen room, something the family can grow into in the coming years?

 

Since I live in an area where its warm (AZ) I would set it up as part storage and part either workshop/garden area etc.

 

I agree wtih the PP of putting the $250/month in a 'fix up' account since the area will need significant work before anything goes on.

 

Is your renter there w. a lease?  If so you always have the option of not offering a renewal of the lease and getting your space back!


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#4 of 14 Old 11-21-2010, 06:19 AM
 
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My thought would be to give the renter 6 months notice to find a new place.  With the money you make from him for the 6 months time ($1500), I would put that money into a separate account and leave it until he moves out.  When he does, you will have $1500 to put towards cleaning, painting, etc. in the apartment.  Depending on the size of the space, I would use some of it for storage, some of it as a workshop, and some of it for a kids hang out space. 

 

I would leave homeschooling in the house just for your own sake unless you want to change up your schedule so that school is certain times and you are all out there for that specific time.  I would get sick of running back and forth if you have to do things in the house and keep an eye on school work.

 

You will just have to weigh the benefits of the rent money each month with the need for extra space.  I would personally take the extra space if money wasn't an issue and I really didn't need the extra money every month.


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#5 of 14 Old 11-21-2010, 06:31 AM
 
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Why is the rent so low?  I would raise the rent for sure, you are pretty much giving away a free place to live!  For only $250, I would want the storage and play space.  I would want more money to make it worthwhile to have a renter.

 

We have a workshop/garage out back, and it is amazing!  It was man-town, and now it is toddler town.  When the kids go stir-crazy in the winter it is just wonderful to have an easy change of scenery.  DH will take them out there to play and get some energy out, while I recharge in the house.

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#6 of 14 Old 11-21-2010, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts.  I am feeling more and more like this is the right thing to do.  I think I was feeling a little guilty, because I know lots of people live in much less space than we have, and I was feeling like maybe we should just make do.  But really, our family has grown, and it would improve our quality of life to have the space.  I think I was feeling ambivalent because DH is kind of like, "well you tell him then", meaning: he's my friend, and I don't want to ask him to move.  So then it's all on my shoulders.  DH also said that if we aren't renting it out then it will just turn into a "junk closet".  So that's why I want to have a specific need in mind, a specific purpose so that I can show DH that it can be a usable, helpful space for our family to have.  And I think that we both have a tendency to put others ahead of ourselves, and in this case, there really is not a reason to do that.  He does not have a lease, but we would of course give him whatever time he needed to find a new place to live.

 

The rent is so low because a few years ago he lost his job.  He was paying $325, and we reduced his rent to $250.  But then when he started working again, we never raised the rent back.  He also pays his own utilities, and the heat is on the higher side because it is not very well insulated.  Like I said, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.

 

Really, ultimately, I think it is the best thing to do, and the best time to do it.  And I feel like we really need to do something about the building now, before it gets in too bad repair.  I sort of feel like DH is just leaving it up to me, because it feels like a hard decision to make, and so then it will be all up to me to renovate the place.  That scares me a bit because DH is the handy one.  He used to  work for a contractor, and he can build shelves, do drywall, lay flooring, all that stuff.  Me, I literally can't hang a picture by myself.  I feel we could just do the work ourselves to fix it up, because we could do it slowly.   But he doesn't think he has the time.  So I think I am going to have to step up and learn some DIY myself if I want it to be fixed up.

 

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#7 of 14 Old 11-22-2010, 01:24 AM
 
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DIY isnt that difficult. Really, the guys at Home Depot or the like are VERY nice and helpful. The internet (duh) is quite useful too LOL...  Once the renter moves out take a couple days and remove everything from the space, clean it out, and see what you have - the guy will probably leave stuff behind. Then start with repairs, cleaning, fixing etc.  If DH doesnt want to help then hire help, claim that space as YOURS and make it happen....  Sounds like a great 2011 project!
 

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Originally Posted by momofmine View Post

Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts.  I am feeling more and more like this is the right thing to do.  I think I was feeling a little guilty, because I know lots of people live in much less space than we have, and I was feeling like maybe we should just make do.  But really, our family has grown, and it would improve our quality of life to have the space.  I think I was feeling ambivalent because DH is kind of like, "well you tell him then", meaning: he's my friend, and I don't want to ask him to move.  So then it's all on my shoulders.  DH also said that if we aren't renting it out then it will just turn into a "junk closet".  So that's why I want to have a specific need in mind, a specific purpose so that I can show DH that it can be a usable, helpful space for our family to have.  And I think that we both have a tendency to put others ahead of ourselves, and in this case, there really is not a reason to do that.  He does not have a lease, but we would of course give him whatever time he needed to find a new place to live.

 

The rent is so low because a few years ago he lost his job.  He was paying $325, and we reduced his rent to $250.  But then when he started working again, we never raised the rent back.  He also pays his own utilities, and the heat is on the higher side because it is not very well insulated.  Like I said, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.

 

Really, ultimately, I think it is the best thing to do, and the best time to do it.  And I feel like we really need to do something about the building now, before it gets in too bad repair.  I sort of feel like DH is just leaving it up to me, because it feels like a hard decision to make, and so then it will be all up to me to renovate the place.  That scares me a bit because DH is the handy one.  He used to  work for a contractor, and he can build shelves, do drywall, lay flooring, all that stuff.  Me, I literally can't hang a picture by myself.  I feel we could just do the work ourselves to fix it up, because we could do it slowly.   But he doesn't think he has the time.  So I think I am going to have to step up and learn some DIY myself if I want it to be fixed up.

 




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#8 of 14 Old 11-22-2010, 06:35 AM
 
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Plus .... if your DH is anything like mine, once you start doing something DIY, he will jump in to help or just do it.  I totally use this to my advantage!  If I want something done, but don't really want to do it, I just start it and then he takes over!  :-)

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#9 of 14 Old 11-22-2010, 07:25 AM
 
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could you connect it to your main house some way?


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#10 of 14 Old 11-22-2010, 09:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you!  Yes, I am feeling inspired now, and the more and more I think about it, the more I just want to make it happen.  We are not getting much rent at all for the space, and it's not like the person isn't capable of paying reasonable rent somewhere else.  Thanks for the vote of confidence on the DIY!  I kind of wish it could happen sooner than later.  Because soon we are going to have snow.

 

I don't see any way we could attach it to our house, it is sort of just like a small detached garage-type building off to the side of the house.  I am looking forward to the idea of having a place to store tents and sleeping bags, coolers, Christmas decorations, all the stuff of life that we actually do use in our lives but don't use every day.  And some type of garden storage/workshop/or even just an extra hangout for the kids.  And an extra bathroom when someone has to pee!

 

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#11 of 14 Old 11-22-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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You can do this.

Like someone else said, give him notice and then put the rent into a "fix it" account. Then you have some cash to get the repairs done.

 

When he moves, rip everything out. You can hire some cheap labour for this. I would rip out walls, the drywall, everything.

Keep the washroom if you want that. If you want it to be two rooms then you can keep a wall. BBut sometimes it is easier to start by ripping it all out and then just framing and building a wall exactly where you want it.

If you hire someone from the neighbourhood to rip stuff out, convince your DH to frame and build a wall where you want it, convince DH to hang drywall in the room you want to use as a workshop/studio/kid space and then leave the storage room bare (without drywall).

Then you just need to paint, put in some storage shelves and voila...a great space for your storage and your kids to spread.

 

Maybe having a secure plan of when, what you want done, how you will use it, etc will convince your DH that he does have time for a few little projects and that the space wouldn't just become a junk room.

If you have a few months rent money to put towards the fix up that may help too. Then it wont be costing you anything to fix it up.

Good luck.


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#12 of 14 Old 11-23-2010, 06:14 PM
 
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I would raise the rent back up now that he is working again it seems fair sesne it was lowered well he was unemployed and then put in into an acount for when he moves out . maybe once the space is avab;e and clean put shelveing on the walls for storage and then a desk in a corner for a home office ?

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#13 of 14 Old 11-24-2010, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all.  Wow, could I really rip out drywall??   That sounds a little bit scary, but actually fun!  I am so not handy, but I totally want to be.  I've just never been very mechanical, so maybe this is the impetus I need to make myself do it!  Power tools!

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#14 of 14 Old 11-24-2010, 10:31 AM
 
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You CAN rip out drywall. Actually ripping out cruddy drywall is very easy. Just hammer a whole into it and use a crow bar and/or gloved hands to just grab at it and pull sheets down. Then just use a drill on reverse to take out the screws from the wood studs. And it isn't even as dusty and dirty as ripping out plaster. Once you rip out the drywall you will be down to wood studs and wires. You can then insulate and either put up new drywall or some cheap wood panelling. It all depends on how you want to use the space. But ripping it all out is the easy part!

 

If you dont want to rip out the drywall or change the configurations of the rooms, you could easily clean it all up and get rid of the smokey walls and stains. Look into a primer sealer product called Kilz. Wash down the walls and ceilings with a mixture of water and TSP. Then paint over with the Kilz. This will seal all stains and smells and then repaint over it with whatever colour you would like.


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