Happy Homes: 100+ Days into Our 6th Investment Property

It’s been 100 plus days since we purchased our 6th investment property, Dudley Court, in Arvada Colorado and we are very close to putting this beautiful home on the market. As a small business owner of a real estate investment company (Happy Homes), it’s easy to get caught up in the grind of the project, not reflect on the progress, as you’re dealing with just getting it done. Hence not writing an update in a few weeks (I wrote a post one week in, then three weeks into the project, then 40 days working on Dudley Court…..and here we are!)

In the past few weeks, as the progress has moved swiftly, I’ve thought about the rolls Mike and I play in our company. I’m the ‘front office’ of the business, dealing with the costs, budget, receipts, bills in as organized fashion as possible. It’s seemingly easier than Mike’s gig, but can be overwhelming if I don’t keep up with it. Mike on the other had deals with the physical act of building (he typically does all the framing and support or structural things needed) putting in the windows, doors, trim, custom cabinetry or craftsmanship, on top of having to manage all of the logistics presented when you’re dealing with sub-contractors. I try to look at what we both bring to the table objectively, not become to attached to how much I do or don’t do, vs. what he brings to the table, as we are both vitally important to making this work. That being said, realistically it can be hard not to feel overwhelmed by your own bubble of responsibilities. Here’s how I think both Mike and I can think….

Me: “I not only have to work a 40+ a week, high stress job, but do most of the grocery shopping, cleaning, all of the cooking, dishes, folding of the laundry and walking the dogs, plus manage our household bills and inventory (aka do we have toothpaste)….then use my after work hours to help at the investment property with demo, mixing cement, cleaning the job site, tile and floor shopping, helping to carry heavy material onto the job, and managing all of Happy Homes finances.”

Mike: “I’m on my feet 8+ hours a day, problem solving the entire project, including not only how to build the best home for someone, but having to solve and decide on things my subs are bringing to me on an hourly basis. I don’t have any helpers we employee, so all skilled carpentry, framing, structural issues are mine to solve and execute. On top of that, I manage the problems that come with sub-contractors moving their timelines, which shift multiple elements when you’re on projects the size of ours, in turn pushing the on market date. Then come home and tend to all of our gardens, whether that’s planting or feeding the food we grow the nutrients needed, on top of mowing the grass and taking care of the yard.”

Sheesh, we are both BOSSES! And after a few shouting matches about stresses both of us were feeling, I had to map it out in my head. In stopping to truly consider what each of us are bringing to the table it allows for appreciation and conversation. Again, when you’re SO in the thick of the items on your to-do, it’s really hard to have perspective.

So, in the past several weeks, we’ve accomplished a lot…..

Old brick patio had to be taken out

We tore up the backyard to replace the sewer main going into the house, then had our amazing landscaper sod & put in sprinklers. He even tore up the cracked cement walkway.

Sewer main replaced, now time for sod
New Brick walkway & sod

Our kitchen layout and cabinets got selected, then we went to select our quartz counter tops. The island counter would be used on the master bathroom sink counter tops as well – super sharp.

The windows got ordered and were supposed to be delivered, but our Breckenridge vacation took place, so we had the company we use hold them while we enjoyed a week up in the mountains with Mike’s family.

When we got back from the mountains, Mike got to work installing them, all 17 of them, and trimming the interior windows out. Up and down the ladder, lots of scraped knuckles and long days. I even helped put in the huge front window, as it was an expansive three-tiered window. It was HEAVY!

We have walls!

After the windows went in, drywall went up, making the space look like an actual house!

Drywall in the garden level!

We selected tile for all of the bathroom floors and shower surrounds. Choosing different floors for each bathroom, but going with a simple and clean subway tile for all of the showers, each space would be unique but have a common element.

Weekend Warriors

Before we headed out for vacation, we needed to lay the hardibacker for the tile that would happen in the bathrooms, so a weekend was spent laying floor and cleaning out buckets.

Laying HardiBacker

While we were in Maine, the tile got installed, so when we got back we didn’t feel as bad for leaving in the middle of a project, as progress on the house was still happening.

Garden Level Floor!

The floor in the garden level also went in, a really beautiful water resistant style that makes the room feel warm, yet modern.

Front door on point

Mike got to work hanging doors, trimming out base boards and building the cabinet unit down in the garden level.

Hanging the doors

There is a brick wall that used to have an old wood-burning stove, which we pulled out of there. Mike used a custom wood top he had from another project to outfit the cabinets and it turned out gorgeous – and functional!

Cabinet Craftsmanship

Landscaping continues, with sprinkler systems and full on sod – the yard is beautiful! The mulch around the edge, along with a new brick patio, along with a new stone border in the front of the house gives it massive curb appeal. Our landscaper isn’t finished yet, but hopefully within the next few days.

The Beautiful Backyard

Our kitchen counters went in last week and the kitchen is looking amazing! We selected a darker quartz for the counter tops and a light marble looking piece for the island and master bathroom vanity. I love it and hopefully someone else will as well!

Kitchen counter tops in!

Mike headed to Wisconsin at the end of last week (horrible timing, but the trip was already booked!) but before he went, he oversaw the exterior paint (of which I had to go get more of while he was away!) and put in a really cool barn door slider in the guest room.

Barn Door Slider
Exterior paint on the brick

The house looks amazing and will be ready to list in the next week! It’s been a ride so far, with a ton of lessons learned both as a business owner, a hustler, and the wife of a contractor. Will definitely be writing a post about the lessons learned for future flips.

Happy House Flipping!

Adventures in Maine: The way life should be, continued

Our Maine adventure continues…

Day 5 on Lower Goose Island 

Today, Luke was on his way to spend the Labor Day weekend with us – Yay, more of the Lawrence crew! Since he lives in Boston, he left super early and made great time.

While Robin and Scott headed out to grab him from the main land, Mike and I kayaked around Lower Goose, heading counter-clockwise, towards the Goslings. The tide was going out, and the back side of the island had a number of boats docked, supposedly a party spot. We pulled up to a small beach to check the shore out, but it was a protected area for birds, so we headed out, passing the Dugas’s, our neighbors to the east.

We would take a property path hike to his compound later that afternoon and what he had created was nothing short of incredible. Paths that were covered in wood chips, there were no piles of fallen trees, as they had been put in the wood chipper. His home had solar power, built only several years ago, not several decades. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love our rustic cabins. But when we strolled past his cabins and peaked in the window at the gorgeous wood, bright and cheery kitchen with what looked like butcher block counters, it was hard not to get cabin envy.

The afternoon was spent continuing camp closing, taking down and scrubbing our gutters, storing pots and pans up in the crawl space in the kitchen, and cleaning. We were going to get lobsters and steamers that evening, so most of the crew headed out on the boat to grab lobsters.

Robin stayed back to enjoy the quiet, something that was truly unique to our precious island. We zipped around to the backside of the island, to a very bare bones, but awesome lobster joint where we got lots of good lobster and some steamers.

The guys decided to tackle the brush situation that was trickling down the side of the hill onto the beach. As trees and branches fall, or chopped down due to rot, they’re just thrown onto the pile, awaiting a good old fashion bon fire. Which is exactly what happened!

Beers were cracked and the flames flew! My Uncle Scott ended up getting attacked by a bee hive that the guys had been trying to pull into the fire, and he fell down the hill, thankfully not getting injured.

That evening we feasted inside, as the winds had changed suddenly, so it was a bit gusty and had even cooled off quite a bit. After the feast we shot some of the firecracker mortars my dad had left. A great day, filled with everything glorious Maine has to offer!

Day 6 on Lower Goose Island

The next day we woke, had a big pancake breakfast with fresh blueberry jelly my cousin had made. Fuel for the day, which was filled with more closing fun. That afternoon, we headed to Dolphin’s Marina to have a delicious lunch, gorgeous cocktails and a lovely day at sea.

Luke had to head back to Boston afterwards, so they dropped us off and we scooted around the kayak before putting it up for the winter. It was a beautiful afternoon, the grey coast of Maine whooshing by with each paddle. After our spin, we carried the kayak up and put it in the basement for the winter. Robin and Scott came back, so we hung on the porch, as the weather had turned a bit drizzly. That evening, since we had had such a late and big lunch, we munched on cheese, veggies and drank good wine. It was our last evening on the porch, so we savored it!

Day 7 on Lower Goose Island  

The sun rose on our last day in Maine and I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad, although we had had a wonderful time on the island. We spent the last day packing, sweeping our cabin, taking our shutters down, and closing up more of the main cabin. Even though the day was grey, it still held such beauty. Maine has been ingrained in my memory since I was young, and every year I get to spend time on the island, it become a more a part of me. Knowing we had to leave and I’d not set foot on the island’s soil for a full year had me a bit sad, but we had had an amazing trip, full of adventure, history (my Uncle Ted had written a biography that I read during the rainy afternoon), work, and beauty. As the Goosecraft, the boat named after my poppa, carried us back to the mainland, I waved goodbye to camp Lawrence and couldn’t wait to get back next year.

Adventures in Maine: The way life should be

Maine, the way life should be. I’ve been heading north to the land of pine and salty air since I was a baby. My great granddaddy Lawrence purchased 30 acres on Lower Goose Island, 15 miles east of the coast of Freeport Maine in Casco Bay, in 1921. And it’s held a special place in my heart since I can remember and since we’ve moved to Colorado, we’ve realized how even though it’s harder to get to, it’s something we must do every year, as my soul craves it!

This year, we headed to the Island later then years past, Labor Day, so it would just be Mike and I for half of the time, with my Aunt & Uncle joining for the Labor Day weekend. Our journey began at 4:45am the Tuesday before Labor Day, where our Uber scooted us to DIA, where we took an easy flight brought us to Boston. We rented a car, seeing Matt Murray of The Penguins in line (Mike shouted Go Flyers, so kept it classy!) and we jetted off to the Maine Beer co, one of the most delicious places on earth. The drive took a bit over two hours, not bad at all! We had only munched on nuts & plane snacks, so ordered a delicious mushroom pizza to go with our IPAs. They didn’t have any Dinner, so we ordered a Water & Wood and Mo. And oh my lord they were good! After two beers (and lots of carry out bombers!) we headed out to grocery shop for the week. You really have to meal plan when you’re heading to an island, even when you do have a beautiful boat to zip around on, it’s just not as convenient to shoot out of you forgot something. On the list: lots of veggies, black bean burgers, boat beers. Yup, that pretty much covered it!

When my poppa passed away, his kids bought a boat in his honor, keeping it docked in South Freeport Brewers’ Marina. We’ve kept a boat here for the past 30 plus years, and the convenience of carting your things right down the gang plank is equivalent to a ski in ski out condo. Nothing beats it! With the boat being new, I had to ask the dock boy which slip was ours, even though it raised his eyebrows a bit. “Hey, excuse me, I think this is our boat, so if we find the keys, we’re just gonna take it. Cool?”

Thank goodness it was the right boat and the name was a ringer: Goosecraft. That sea air, after a year away, almost made me tear up as it rushed toward me. Flaps open, boat beers in hand, we had arrived. Lower Goose is about 15 miles north east of Brewers and in the new boat, takes about 20 minutes from slip to dock. Arriving at high tide makes the carting of groceries and luggage a breeze, so a few quick trips and we were officially maniacs.

There are three sleeping cabins on the island (technically four if you count the main cabin that does have a futon and single bed in the corner): Sunrise, Sunset and the Merriman. Mike and I had never slept in the Sunrise together, although Mike had slept there about twenty two years ago when he first came up with my family for he first time. Wild!! A new bathing porch had been put on. Few years ago when a tree had fallen on it and it was the best shower I’d ever had! We picked the Sunrise to set up shop in.

We unpacked and headed down to our dock to moor the boat, just in case the seas got rough, the new boat wouldn’t slam against the dock all night. I rowed out to the mooring in the dingy and Mike scooted out in the boat. It was going to be an amazing sunset, so we moored the dingy and took the boat for a quick sunset lap. And it did not disappoint! I was so looking forward to the days that stretched ahead, full of the beauty and calmness that Lower Goose Island brings.

Sunset on Casco Bay

Day 2 on Lower Goose Island

Our first morning in Maine and Mike was up with the sun. I myself slept in until 7:30, which was so delightful seeing as I’m normally up by 6. Having set up the percolator the night before, coffee brewed within 10 minutes and can I say there’s not a better cup of coffee I’ve found in the world then one brewed on Lower Goose Island. The views from the main porch are spectacular and there’s no better way to start the day. Some fresh Maine blueberries, a broiled bagel in the new stove and we were ready to go! 

Our plan that day was to kayak to Bustins Island, one of the busiest and most populated island in Casco Bay. Having read most of my Great Granddaddy Lawrence’s diaries, I learned he had rowed to Bustin’s every morning during the summers he lived on the island to pick up milks, eggs and his mail. The bay was beautiful and the current remedy to assist our paddling, although Mike kept telling me to keep my oats down lower as the wind would blow the drip back on him. It was just shy of 2 miles and took about 45 minutes from our dock to Bustins main dock, not too bad! 

We tied the kayak around the back of the main dock, so as not to block any other boats from docking. Due to the amount of houses on Bustins, the ferry would come once a day from the main land to carry over people and the mail. Last year, we did t make it over to Bustins,  even with the close proximity to Lower Goose Island. It was nice to explore the bay.

Off to the right of the gang plank was a small outbuilding that served as protection from bad weather for those waiting for the ferry. It’s funny I had never noticed it in years past, but Maine weather can be finicky, especially on the water, so makes sense to build some protection. Around the bend was the main building on the island, which used to house a store, restaurant and post office. The post office is still up and running and our family still has a post office box. Flyers about island bike rentals, monarch butterfly preservation clubs and local painters on the mainland. A true community lived here!

We headed out counter clockwise, around the island, getting great views of the cottages on the island, which were as old as 1896! A new build full of wood got us curious, so we peaked through the windows and ended up talking to the builder. He was constructing it for someone and had worked on several others on the island. Mike let him know we’d be heading up to live on Lower Goose the summer of 1921, so if he, MAC, needed any help he’d love to work with him. He gave us a card, Cody Cottages, so we could be in touch.

The trail around Bustins passed the coolest cabins with the best views. Many had veggie gardens, which planted a seed that we’ll need a large garden for when we live on the island! It was a beautiful day, so lots of the Bustin-ers were out and about – it was the most people I had ever seen on the island ever! Our island walk took us past a new house on the island, so we peaked through the windows  and heard someone calling out. Turns out the man was the owner of a custom cottage building company. The home was gorgeous, wood every where you looked, and he had apparently done multiple cabins on Bustin’s as well as around Casco Bay…Mike got his card!

We completed the mile plus walk and got back in our kayaks to jet over to our Lower Goose. The rest of the afternoon was spent in true Maine fashion…relaxing by the dock, cooking by lantern light, and eating on the porch. A beautiful first day!  

Day 3 on Lower Goose Island
There’s something about sleeping in a cabin in Maine, in the crisp quiet air, that makes you want to never leave. Our second morning in Maine, Thursday, was just as beautiful as the first, and we both slept well and were fully rested to explore Casco Bay.

Our plan was to head to Eagle Island that morning to check out Admiral Peary’s summer home. Peary was the first to Treck to the North Pole without any aide of mechanics or technology, just a ship he had made for the icy waters and the help of the Inuits and a dog sled. His gorgeous cottage had beautiful views to the north east, water on all sides, no obstruction out any of the Windows. A really spectacular piece of property. I had been out to the island many times over the years, and not much changes. You could almost see Peary’s family sitting around the huge dinning table with the taxidermy lobster hanging in the dinning room. The original portion of the house didn’t include a kitchen and we learned that when he first built the main house and cottage, he planned to have all meals cooked and eaten in the cottage, which he learned after a few years wasn’t very practical, so built a kitchen onto the main house.
In the great room, there was a giant triad of a fireplace, with three hearths and three different types of rocks, all gathered on the island. Peary was a taxidermist, so there were all types of water birds and birds of prey, a polar bear in the replica study. The narwhal tooth hung above the window adjacent to the piano that he apparently took with him on his expedition. Upstairs rooms were cozy and quaint, almost identical to how I remember them when I was a young girl.
After getting our fill inside, we headed around the nature trails outside that weaved through beautiful gardens Mrs. Peary had planted. One trail took you along the sea coast, dipping down onto a rocky beach. It was a gorgeous Maine afternoon and we were so glad we made the trip over.


Our afternoon was wide open, so once we got dropped off by the intern park ranger, who had actually spent the previous summer in Rocky Mountain national park, we headed out towards Halfway Rock, where a lighthouse and small carriage house were the only two buildings. It was the furthest I’ve ever gone out into the wide open ocean, due to our previous boats’ capacity. Well, this boat could handle the trip and we whizzed by, rolling waves and blue skies. Nothing beats sea wind in your face!

Pauls Marina was next on the docket, for lunch and lobster. The rain was expected later that afternoon, so we thought picking out and purchasing our dinner early was the move.

My cousin Michael texted on the way back about popping over after work, so we told him to grab a lobster and head on over! The icy waters were calling our names and we put bathing suits and and swam in the icy waters in front of camp lawrence, a tradition you have to do! Thank goodness it was a warm day, the sea felt awesome and made our porch shower that much more delicious!

As we were finishing showers, we saw Michael zip up in his boat, just in time for happy hour on the porch. The evening was awesome, full of catching up, hypnotizing lobster and a beautiful sunset to close out the day. We went to bed with sunsets on our eyelids and lobsters in our bellies.

Day 4 on Lower Goose Island
Friday morning on the island and we were excited to have newcomers! Aunt Robin & Uncle Scott were headed up to close camp, so we had set an alarm to get up early and head to LLBean in the morning. After porch coffee, some trash collection to take over to the mainland, we took an early morning boat ride to dock and head to Freeport. Robin & Scott would scoop us up in the boat later, as they’d be at the marina before 10. Puttering around the huge LLBean store, we found great sales on summer stuff, boat shoes, flip flops for Mike. I even got some Christmas presents while there.

Maine Beer Company was releasing their Dinner, a delicious double IPA, so after almost 2 hours, we headed out, not without popping into the bike shop, where argot the lowdown of local mountain biking trails, along with maps of the hut system at sugar loaf, where you can bike from hut to hut. Put it on the bucket list for sure!
It was definitely beer thirty, so we headed to Maine Beer co for some delicious wood burning pizza and scrumptious beer. The place was our Mecca! We wrapped up and headed to the marina, where Robin & Scott scooted us over to LGI.

That afternoon we started closing up the Merriman, sweeping out the cabin and taking down gutters, putting on shutters and covering mattresses. We then took a property path, did some more closing in the main cabin, taking down pictures, putting away pots and pans we weren’t going to use and generally packing up a bit. It was the first time I had closed camp so it was good to see the procedures around what gets done. That evening, we had wine and a homemade vegan lasagna Robin had made, with a gorgeous sunset to wash it down.