you may have heard the term florida jungle before. it’s a bit of a metaphor – no, there really isn’t a jungle in florida, however with our tropical climate and nearly year-round growing season, it is definitely a good place for an active gardener. that said, i am now truly a believer in the phrase florida jungle, because i have officially experienced one first-hand. for blog purposes, let’s call it: our newest rental home. 🙂
it all started back in march, when our realtor took us to a property that he felt was a “great deal”. of course, in this housing market it seems that really anything is a great deal from a buyers perspective, but this one came with a disclaimer – keep an open mind, and look beyond what your eyes first see. awesome, can’t wait.
i looked up the home online to get an idea of where we were going. there was only one pictures on the mls listing.
ok, right off the bat, let’s just call it what it’s not; it’s definitely not an executive studio apartment, and it’s not going to have granite counter tops and new appliances, but whatever, i’m an adventurous girl and i like to explore old homes (it was built in the 1930’s). besides, we were looking for a bit of a project, something to really challenge our creativity (and frankly, we wanted something cheap).
here are the details:
multi-family duplex, each apartment has approx. 1,200 square feet – 2 bedrooms, 1 bath.
brick exterior with some wood siding
only appliances are a fridge, stove, and window heating/cooling units
we start with the upstairs, which is currently home to a woman and her adult son, who have somehow managed to cram about 4,000 square feet of stuff into a 1,200 square foot apartment. we had to walk in a single-file line through the place, trying to determine how big the rooms really were since it wasn’t immediately clear how far back the walls went. no, i am not exaggerating. this was unfortunately before i bought my wide angle lens, so the pictures don’t really do it justice, but here is a taste:
dining room looking into kitchen
we leave the upstairs apartment, and i’m not sure what i’m thinking. while they did have a lot of stuff, overall the apartment was pretty clean and didn’t seem to have many issues. there were however random thoughts of calling one of those tv shows that help organize people’s homes for them…
then we head downstairs. same floorplan, same amount of space. i’m expecting a similar experience. this apartment however was much dirtier; definitely in need of some serious disinfecting and cleaning. oh, and the tenant informed us that he’s pretty sure the house has termites. terrific. here are a few pictures:
wow. yup, that was definitely a pile of dead leaves on top of the water heater, which is in the kitchen.
we head outside, and i’m feeling like i definitely deserve some fresh air. ok, i’m adventurous, but that was a little rough. we get into the front yard and i turn to my husband and realtor who practically in unison begin with their high-energy comments “wow, what a fantastic house!” “did you see those floors…gorgeous!?!” “such a diamond in the rough!!” i’m looking at their faces, waiting for an hysterical laughter follow up, but after a few seconds of silence i realize the truth: they are dead serious. i can already see how this story is going to end.
we take a quick spin around the exterior to check it out, and this is when i first came into contact with it: the florida jungle. from my estimation, the lot is about 200 feet deep. that’s a lot of land in the urban core. it’s also a lot of land to leave neglected for years. what in the heck are we going to do with that??
...and way more growth
i’ll save the details of the following months for our next stop at the local pub. you probably already guessed that we bought the house. we immediately embarked on operation facelift, and let’s just say it involved lots of sweat, scrapes, bruises and cursing. however, with our trusty team in tow, we deployed frank johnson and his home improvement team, along with doug floyd and his fearless landscapers to help us turn this place around. we finally managed to get everything done including a full tent fumigation to kill the many species of insects that were actively chewing on the home.
here are some of the updated pics (click to enlarge):
so it’s been about 9 months that we’ve been waiting for the right tenant to come along, and finally today they are moving in. i’m quite unsure how i will spend all of my free time.
oh, wait, whatever happened with the jungle?? well, it took a few weeks with a team of professionals, but it is now a clear lot, full of all kinds of hidden treasures – a parking block, an old clothesline tree…you know, treasures.
in summary, we completed the following:
– backyard – removed all plants and weeds, kept most trees. trimmed trees that we over the house or growing into the house
– frontyard – added grasses, azaleas, palms, laid mulch on whole yard
– inside – renovated upstairs unit including new shower/tub surround, cleaned up/ repaired sink & toilet, repaired many wall issues, installed new fixtures, added washer/dryer hookups, built hot water heater cover, repaired roof, and most importantly, CLEANED
– bugs – full tent fumigation