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The Ramblings of a Seamstress, Gardener, Chicken Keeper, and Housewife

Proof of My Adventures (and Misadventures!)

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My Epic Indiana Saga Has Ended!

I think I mentioned here that I'm finally trying to sell my house in Indiana, and that I'd be making a trip back there to get said house in a show-worthy condition.  I'm happy to say that I'm now back home and decompressed enough to give you all a highlights reel!  I'll warn you that it's not particularly exciting, but if you're interested in some of the gorier details of cleaning up after 4 years worth of not-so-responsible renters then this is for you.

Sunday, 11/18: After frantically downloading some audiobooks for driving entertainment and packing the car with cleaning supplies, dog stuff, and a small suitcase of clothes I rolled out at 2pm.  The audiobook (The Gathering Storm, a Wheel of Time novel I'd never gotten around to reading) was perfect for the long drive.  Wendy did great with the drive and spendt the vast majority of it stretched out across the back seat sleeping.  I made it to my mom's house in Indianapolis around 5am local time.  Total travel time was right at 14 hours.  After bringing in only the stuff I really needed, I crashed out for a while.

Monday, 11/19: I woke up around 11am and got caffeine.  I was still pretty tired but decided I could at least go check out the condition of the house and maybe get some easier cleaning tasks done.  No cars are there and that was a good sign - the tenants' move out date was Sunday.  So I was completely shocked and overwhelmed when I walked in the door and saw the house still full of half packed boxes, furniture, partially filled bags of trash, and a fridge still full of food. 

Two of the three bedrooms were 90% empty but obviously hadn't been cleaned up - not even a courtesy vaccuuming.  The living room looked like it'd been partially emptied of furniture but that's where the majority of the half packed boxes were.  The basement and two other rooms (which are very large) were truly full to bursting with all manner of stuff.  The garage was...well, it was a disaster area.  Tools, layers of camping equipment, old bottles of half consumed soda and alcohol bottles, trash, and a hefty coating of ash (both cigarette and probably other types) made it a very unpleasant prospect indeed.  I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry, or start yelling.  Instead I emailed the 3 most recent tenants and ask if/when they'll be back for the rest of their things and then called Ben to update him on the situation.  I was just about to leave when I got a reply from one of the tenants. 

Their plan was to come back tomorrow for the things they'd left, they were sorry it's not done yet but they had the moving truck for only one day and ended up having to help someone else move as well which threw off their schedule.  While that sounded like a weak excuse to me, I let it go because I was dangerously close to losing my temper.  One of the other tenants (Rob) actually showed up with some friends while was there and they started packing more stuff.  He seemed genuinely sorry and somehow didn't realize that I'd be coming to town so soon after their scheduled move out date.  He promised to help with getting out all the leftover furniture and stuff (Goodwill) and trash (the dump.)  With things more or less under control again, I decided to take the afternoon and evening off and recuperate from the long drive and lack of sleep.

Tuesday, 11/20 and Wednesday, 11/21: I got started on the bedrooms.  The walls got wiped down, the windows and window casings got washed, the floor got vacuumed, and the light fixtures got cleaned.  Any random items left in the closet were moved to another part of the house and set aside for their owners.  When the living room got packed and moved, it got the same cleaning treatment.  I also took down the valances and started patching holes in the drywall.

Thanksgiving Thursday, 11/22: It was a day off for me, though Rob was supposed to be at the house all day continuing to pack and move stuff.  I got a Thanksgiving breakfast with my mom's side of the family, and a Thanksgiving dinner with my dad's side.  It was great to see my family!

Friday, 11/23 - Monday, 12/3: I continued to clean things.  The kitchen was probably the worst...everything was covered with a sticky layer of oil, as though they did lots of deep-frying and not so much dusting.  Cleaning the outsides and insides of the cabinets took about 6 hours.  The fridge smelled foul and looked disgusting, so I removed each shelf and door cubby and washed them in hot soapy water.  While they dried, I gave the inside and outside of the fridge the same treatment.  After 5 hours it looked much better but still smelled funky, so a fridge odor absorber went on my list of stuff to buy.  I found mouse droppings inside cabinets, the pantry, and even on the countertop.  When I was through everything was thoroughly disinfected with Lysol cleaner (and in some of the grosser cases bleached) and all bits of random food that might attract mice had been banished to the trash.

I attempted to run the oven's self cleaning cycle, but it only got vaguely warm.  I thought maybe the oven's thermostat had gone bad until I realized that there was also no hot water.  That pointed to the gas being off...which I confirmed when I couldn't get a burner to light.  Definitely not the kind of thing you want to find out when it's getting into the 20's that night.  I should mention that I had tried for 5 days to get through to the gas company to get everything transferred into my name, but their call center was so busy I kept getting a message to call back later.  And yet somehow one of the tenants was able to call and get a disconnect order through.  Talk about frustrating and infuriating!  After war dialing the gas people for a bit, I finally got through and got a reconnect order for that day, though it cost me over $200 after a deposit and paying the rest of the unpaid bill for the property.  Apparently the techs are required to inspect your furnace and any visible gas lines before they turn your gas on now.  So naturally, there'd be a problem with part of the furnace flue!  Some of the ducting there was rotting out and needed to be replaced before I could turn the furnace on.  Luckily I have a gas stove too, and because of that the gas guy was allowed to turn on the gas to the property at least.  That just meant I had an even longer evening that also included replacing some ductwork so I could safely turn the furnace on and keep my pipes from freezing.  Lowes had the supplies I needed and I've got experience with ductwork...so it was annoying, but not that big of a deal really.

At that point I was waiting on Rob to sort through one of the packed rooms and get everything he still wanted from there, which would allow me to either trash or otherwise get rid of the rest of the stuff.  I absolutely dreaded dealing with the bathroom, and as such I put it off...and off...and off...until I had literally done everything else I could do.  One of the towel bars had been knocked off the wall at some point and I couldn't find its pieces to reattach.  I did find the missing robe hook for the back of the door and a few other bits, so I cobbled together a single towel bar (instead of the two that were there originally) and called it good.  At some point in time both the tub cleanout cover and the drain plug were removed (no clue why) but I managed to find those and get them reinstalled too. 

Indiana has extremely hard water, so there were some pretty wicked calcium deposits to deal with.  I filled a spray bottle with CLR, covered my hair, mouth, and nose with two bandannas, and sprayed the crap out of the sink, faucet and handles, shower doors, shower head, and tub controls.  This was a massive time sink and the fumes were very unpleasant on my throat.  Don't get me wrong, it worked great - you can literally watch the deposits fizz away - but I don't recommend that anybody else try it.  Keeping up on cleaning would be much, much easier.  After that I used a normal tub cleaner on everything (CLR doesn't help with soap scum, sadly) and recaulked some questionable areas of the tub surround and around the base of the toilet.  I attacked the grout on the floor with a grout brush, which really works great for ground in dirt.  Then there was drywall patching...both side of the tub had small areas of water damage (hence the recaulking of the surround earlier) and there was a small section behind the toilet that Ben and I had left unfinished due to its awkward position and our laziness at the time.  I hate doing drywall with a passion, but fixing those problem areas really made the bathroom look great.  Well, that and the deep cleaning I gave it.

It wasn't just the inside of the house that needed work!  The lawn was covered with leaves, the gutters were overflowing with tree debris, the fenceline had a small (but thankfully leafless) jungle growing in it, and the side deck was sagging and missing a step.  I got the tenants to hire somebody to clean out the fenceline as that was specifically listed in the lease as their responsiblity.  Really all of it was, but honestly I just finally hit a point where it didn't matter whose fault it was, it just needed to get done.  So I dealt with the leaves in the yard and called in reinforcements for the gutters.  My bestie's husband came over with a leafblower and cleared everything out for me.  I shored up the saggy part of the deck and installed new stringers and stair treads after the kind people at Lowe's cut some boards down to size for me.  An older gentleman struck up a conversation with me while I was shopping for brackets to attach the stringers.  I think he was shocked that I'd be able to do something so handy all on my own.  LOL

Everything else kind of blurs together.  Generally I'd get to the house in the morning and work until I was too tired to do more, then go back to my mom's.  Rob would come by after work (sometime between 9 and 11 pm) and get as much done as he could.  Doing shifts like that probably worked in my favor, since we weren't stepping on each other's toes all the time and I got to listen to my audiobook and not worry that it was boring anyone else.  I did come across some interesting things to give away to Goodwill and people on Craigslist:

-2 gallons of sulfuric acid (wtf???  No one knew where it came from or what its intended purpose was.)
-Several sets of bath hardware (towel and tp holders, robe hooks, etc), a bathroom sink faucet, a showerhead, and a laundry sink faucet from when I was a plumbing supply vendor rep.  That stuff went to my stepbrother who just bought a house in dire need of renovations.
-Ben's toys from the 80's, and some of my stuffed animals and Barbies.  Nostalgic.  :)
-Lots of cat furniture - scratching posts, carpeted towers, etc.  No one claimed it, so it went to a cat lover's home.
-A leafblower and a trimmer!  These came home with me, but I really thought they'd be pawned or stolen.
-Lots and lots of camping stuff.  I know I mentioned it earlier, but holy crap there was a ton of it!  When we got to the garage, Rob and his friends just set up all the chairs they found in the yard.  There must have been 2 dozen of them.  It was really bizarre to drive up and see them there the next day.  There were also several tents.  Rob's friend figured people would go camping and not bother to air out their wet tents when they got home.  Then the next time they went camping, they would just buy another tent.  I think that's a plausible explanation for the sheer amount of it I found.
-Scrap metal.  Some of this came from the camp chairs and tent poles, but there was also just...stuff.  Computer tower cases, steel magazine racks, cooking pots and pans, steel garage door parts...just a plethora of things.  And on a related note, when you put out a call for scrap metal for free on Craigslist, you'll have a dozen emails within a half hour.  Delete your add asap or suffer an inbox full of people wanting your scrap metal.

I learned you can give away just about anything on Craigslist.  If it's free, someone wants it.  Unfortunately, those people can also be total flakes.  Thank goodness for the 'repost ad' feature.  I learned that when you have a bunch of scrap metal sitting in your yard for a few days, the scavengers become brazen.  One guy backed his truck up to the fence, got out and started to open the gate.  That's about the time I stepped outside and asked if he needed directions and gave him the stink eye.  He left, but gave me a calculating stare as he went.  The next morning, most of the camp chairs, magazine racks and computer stuff was gone.  I learned that taking stuff to the dump in Indianapolis is expensive...$45 a load up to 1400 pounds.  That makes a mere pickup truck load not very cost effective, but I had to work with it anyway.  Rob made 2 trips to the dump, and even so I probably set out 50 total bags of trash over the 3 trash days I was there.  I learned that Salvation Army will send a truck and guys to load the truck if you have furniture and household goods, but you have to call and schedule it 2 weeks in advance.  Also, they don't take toys but they will take any appliance whether it works or not.  Goodwill will take anything you want to give them.  I learned that latex paint is still usable after several years, even when you store it in places where the temperature fluctuates dramatically.  Home Depot will shake it up for you for free if you bought it there.  My walls are beautifully touched up now.  I learned that my neighbors still remember me even though I haven't lived there in 4 years and I wasn't that sociable when I did.  They went out of their way to tell me how much better the place was looking and wished me well.  That was really nice.

My last night there, I winterized the house.  That meant draining the water heater, turning down the furnace, closing all the sink and tub drains, shrink wrapping the toilet (sound bizarre, right?), and turning the furnace down to 55.  I really wish I could have just turned it off totally, but it gets too cold for that.  I also packed my car with all the goodies I wanted to bring home.  Wendy still got to have her backseat space, but everything other bit of usable space was full.  I played lots of Tetris as a kid, and that skill has stuck with me.  I went back to my mom's for a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, 12/4: I left at 7am.  It rained all the way from Indianapolis to Texarkana.  I got a speeding ticket in Illinois right before the Missouri border, where the speed limit goes up.  I made it home around 9:30pm, which is not too shabby for daytime driving.  The house is offically on the market now.  I am so glad to be home!!!

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Holy cow that sounds hard! But I bet it feels great to have it over with.

It was really like a weight lifted off my shoulders when I was done! I've only experienced that sensation a few times in my adult life. LOL My first day back home, I was still in 'clean all the things!' mode and it was very hard to just sit down and relax. Yes, I am VERY glad it's done now!

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