The death of sheet vinyl

When I first started in the landlording business I used a decent amount of sheet vinyl. I hired people to do my flooring and that was what they recommended and I said Yes to. They procured the material and it looked good when the install was complete. Later, I saw that sheet vinyl curl at the edges, and sometimes tear in the middle when poorly rolling things like fridges were dragged across it. “Oh Sheet!” It’s only 3 years old, sometimes less, rarely more, and it’s not holding up that well.

My adaptation: buy the best vinyl possible, the nicely cushioned, 10 mil wear layer vinyl that maybe didn’t have the perfect pattern that I wanted but that I couldn’t seem to damage with my truck key while pretending to be a tenant attacking the vinyl floor sample at Lowe’s.

The last couple weeks I’ve been in two units where I had laid that exact, what I thought to be virtually indestructible vinyl myself. Both had tears in the middle of the kitchen, that v-shaped tongue where a little part must have caught on something and kept pulling back, wider and wider.

Now I’m facing trying to find my receipts from a 3 yr ago install and pursue a warranty claim, and having to deal with the labor costs of getting that floor redone. Kitchens are probably the highest trafficked rooms of the house, and both fridges and stoves get dragged around during cleaning/reorganizing/etc. A recipe for needing a good floor!

My lesson: install Allure Trafficmaster. It’s not sheet vinyl but comes in pieces. That’s good and bad. The product is expensive, relative to the best sheet vinyl (about 50% more for the nice colors, similar for colors that are on clearance/less popular at Home Depot) but for irregular rooms, the smaller pieces avoid the large cuts and wasted components when dealing with 12 foot wide sheet vinyl.

Allure is double thickness vinyl flooring with a very good wear layer I have never seen damaged. I have had some problems in wetter locations with Allure curling and the edges catching with foot traffic and that causing the demise of this flooring (in partially addressable smaller areas like bathrooms).

My solution. Glue down Allure with regular flooring glue, I use whatever flooring glue is cheapest, typically the Carpet/VCT glue sold for about $25 for a 3.5 gallon bucket. That keeps the Allure down where it’s been set and minimizes the effects of moisture that would otherwise negatively impact it.

The bad part: it takes some work to install. You have to handle dozens of pieces rather than unrolling a pieces of sheet vinyl and just cutting the edges. You have to do all the edge cuts, align the new piece to the previous piece, and most importantly, get the first row exactly straight, otherwise the rest of the install becomes a mess with little misalignments everywhere.

However, it’s doable by a savvy homeowner (although uncaring handimen can screw this up badly).  However, I have Allure in a basement I installed in 2010, and it’s still there and looking fantastic. I can’t say that for a single piece of carpet, most sheet vinyl, any laminate, or even most wood flooring I’ve had tenants on.

Long term landlording is about cutting through the clutter of crap building materials that are designed to be remodeled every few years. Let’s get some real solutions out there. Allure Trafficmaster in my mind is one of them.

Be cautious about HOAs

I am now considering selling a condo property solely due to the deplorable quality of the HOA.

About 2 years ago, due to lots of deferred maintenance, I heavily lobbied to get the 67% approval vote to double HOA fees from around $200 to $400. Yet, shortly before that vote, the roof leaked, negatively impacting portions of my bathroom ceiling. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, the HOA documents stated that I must cover those repairs myself, even if it is clearly a case of negligence on the part of the HOA that the damage happened.

Next, the HOA settled with a major building maintenance contractor on outstanding $250.0000 ion repair bills. This is a crazy amount to ever have had outstanding, and for the contractor to have continued performing any work at all after the amount outstanding and unpaid topped around $20,000. My suspicion is that the contractor continued performing work but at incredibly inflated bills, knowing that in the end they might have to settle for a portion of the amount owed, and that inflating charges would bae an effective hedge against getting shorted on payments. Of course, the HOA once again went broke paying this outstanding debt, such that the increase in HOA dues didn’t really help the HOA start tackling the mountain of outstanding maintenance items to tackle.

There was an owner in the building who called the city on a code issue that was under the control of the HOA but that the HOA was not addressing. That was 2 years ago.  Lately, that owner tried to re-raise the issue, and the HOA just chose to completely ignore the matter. That owner told me he waited for a few weeks to elapse and then emailed another query, threatening to involve a lawyer if there was a continued non-response.  More crickets. His solution: sell. It’s too easy to spend lots of legal fees without getting better habitability conditions. It’s easier to take the money and move on.  Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) with respect to HOAs.

How to avoid this problem:

Review HOA board minutes for the past 2 years. Look for themes of the same issues coming up again and again.

Contact owners/members of the HOA who seem to be vocal in raising issues for their unvarnished take on the matter. HOA board meeting minutes are frequently written by the HOA management company, which reports to and is paid by the HOA board, thus the minutes may be sanitized somewhat and not reflect the true specifics of the matter.

Call the city/county and ask for a history of unresolved and recent resolved code compliance matters.

Consider if buying a single family property where you get to make the decisions that match your best interests, rather than relying on an elected board of HOA members who may not have your competence around maintenance, decisiveness, smart spending, and prioritization.

Getting into the Game of Real Estate

Getting into the Game of Real Estate is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. I can teach you the mechanics of doing what you need to do that allows you to acquire 1,2, 20, 50, maybe even 500 properties. However, for that to work, you need to believe that you can!

You need to believe that with your current finances (or even lack thereof), your current bills, time commitments, and your current self image, and possibly a peer group that is heavily steeped in victim thinking, that you can transcend all those limiting thoughts, fears and your identity as a person who doesn’t have much because it is very hard to get more.

That is the mental game: you can be a real estate mogul. As part of that journey, you will get to the point where you can tell your boss what you really think. And when his or her insecurities about hearing the truth prompts them to fire you, you can say “F@*% you, I don’t your silly paycheck anymore. My paycheck from you is so small, it can’t even go to the bank by itself.”

I recently attended a talk where Slava Rubin, the former CEO of Indiegogo, a billion dollar company, worked the first 3 years completely unpaid, in fact he “paid to work” by pouring his savings into the business.  His significant other, who worked at a non-profit (not the world’s highest paying industry) was his “sugar momma” during those times. Now he is a multi-millionaire.

How does this happen? Belief? Yes, more than anything else. A certainty in the benefits of the outcome.

You can’t do this just for you. Selfishness creates very temporary motivation. A pickpocket can see an opportunity for a quick ripoff and make a little money. But to be work for years to become a millionaire, you are doing more than serving you. You are serving the people you love most, you are doing something for the greater good.  You need to tune into that. What can you do for the world once you become successful? How can you pour love into the world?  Feel that amazing sensation when know you could save babies in Africa, cure blindness in India and heal cleft palates in Mongolia.  Let that carry you through the tough times.

As Rhonda Byrne says, “Giving is a powerful action to bring more money into your life, because when you are giving you are saying, “I have plenty.”  When you feel poor, give to somebody, even if it’s just having a short stack of one dollar bills in your wallet that you can hand to anyone who asks, regardless of if they fit the persona you normally would donate money to.

One of the biggest components to a mindset change is having an accountability partner.  Contact me, or find someone you click with to do a daily check in. Are you really working 3 things that move you forward every single day. If not, start today.