Renovating a house is challenging at best. But, how difficult is it to renovate a house in Australia during COVID-19? Stay with me to find out the background in Part 1…
Setting the scene
Back in September 2019, we booked flights from Italy to Australia, accommodation, and buses – everything. Also at the same time, giving my tenants of 14 years, 5 months’ notice that I would not be renewing their lease, in February 2020.
As it’s mid-February, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions haven’t kicked in just yet, in Australia. Although, March brings with it, much stricter regulations across the country – and world.
After a couple of days in an Airbnb just around the corner from the house we’re renovating, it’s time for the Exit Inspection with my tenants.
Knowingly, I prepare myself for the worse during the inspection of the house.
It’s been 4 years since I saw the house on only a brief visit, to organise roof repairs. Back then, the ceiling was in a tragic state as the roof leak became worse. The fix in 2015, didn’t work. Employing a handyman to repair the ceiling a couple of years’ later, I’m yet to see the ceiling work.
The exit inspection
The hurried exit inspection is carried out late in the afternoon during winter. It’s getting dark and difficult to see too much, especially, while tip-toeing around the house. The tiles and carpets are still soaked from the pest control, completed only a couple of hours ago.
Picking up several issues that need rectifying during the inspection, the tenant agrees to fix the problems.
The following day, we move from the Airbnb apartment, into the house.
Condition of the house
Staying at the house is when it really becomes apparent, just how bad the state of the house is in – each day uncovers more problems.
Numerous emails to the tenant see some of the issues rectified by way of payment for materials, although we actually fix everything. This all takes time – our time away from renovating. There are too many issues that I should have picked up during the Exit Inspection. Live and learn.
I even call the professional Bond Cleaners back to the house to re-clean several things. Advised that the oven needs a ‘deep clean’, which isn’t in the company’s job description. Also advised that the condition the cleaners found the house in when first arriving, is one of the worse they’ve seen in their 10 years as a (husband and wife) bond cleaning team.
Wonder if they’re covering their reputation or whether this is true. Although, after seeing the current condition of the house, I tend to believe the cleaners.
Of course, before we can begin renovating, everything needs cleaning and walls washing down with a Sugar Soap solution. Didn’t expect to be cleaning this much, so this extra time isn’t on the project schedule.
Each day, more and more filth reveals itself – 14 years of hidden grime to be exact.
Chunks of solidified dust, dirt with hair, cobwebs, mice poo, cockroaches and eggs (dead and alive), mouldy tiles, and many other grubby surprises. There’s no end to what needs cleaning – everything.
Cockroaches still roam the house as if we’re an intrusion in their long-term residence.
These are only a few of the photos of the gross filth and should have taken more…
After the oven’s ‘professional clean’ organised by the tenants, I take another 8 hours and 4 cans of oven cleaner, to finally get the oven clean. I’m not exaggerating.
It’s as though the oven I bought for the tenants 7 years’ ago – the previous one died – was never cleaned. The oven’s fan barely turned. Removing the greasy screws and backing plate, everything is dripping with grease and caked in black-hardened grease, baked-on like cement. It’s surprising the oven worked at all.
Surrounded by all this filth, it’s no surprise that the inevitable happens.
Although the tenants arranged a carpet clean, the carpet isn’t clean. I book another clean. The cleaner can’t make the scheduled day because his machine breaks down and needs another part. Almost a week later the mattress is still on a sheet of plastic on the grungy carpet. Compliments of the tenants, this proved painful.
It started with a couple of what looked like bites on my wrist. This then became a plague, which spread down my hand and not stopping.
An adamant pharmacist advises that it’s Shingles. I’m adamant it’s not. I experienced shingles in my early 20s and the pain is excruciating. This ugly mess is not painful or itchy.
Finally, after 10 days of my hand not healing and getting worse, I see the doctor. Excited, he dons his magnifying specs, eagerly takes a closer look, then confirms that this mess is some sort of spider’s bite.
Welcome back to Australia!
The doctor sticks a needle in the blisters to drain the fluid, mops up everything and wraps up my hand – giving me a script of Cortisone cream to apply twice per day.
When I was a child, I collected highly venomous Red Back Spiders and eggs in a jar to observe but never bitten. Ironic that it only takes sleeping with my hand outside of the sheets, laid on the dirty carpet to be bitten – ending up with the plague.
Wrap-up of Part 1 renovating
The annoying hand doesn’t stop me from renovating as there isn’t time to waste – so much to do and organise on this 6-week deadline.
Next week’s post is when we really start getting our teeth into serious renovating during COVID-19, after a lot of the cleaning is finished.
The plan is to start renovating 1 room at a time as it’s a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom large house, in a sorry state.
I’m determined to return this house to its former comfortable and clean state once more. This is going to take a lot of hard work and money.