Ben Lobaugh Online

I think, therefore I am. I am, therefore I sail

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Naughty power outlet that runs the whole house!

Don’t be this outlet! Use sane electrical wiring practices

Wiring on a house from the 1950s should never be expected to be top notch, however this outlet really blew my mind…

There have been several electrical revolutions since the 1950s. This house is a testament to each era in wiring style, and overall safety. I have been tracing wires through the unfinished basement and think I may have a permanent bruise from slapping my forehead in amazement and disgust. Being able to see and trace all the wires is a blessing and curse. I wish I could be happily ignorant of the fire and safety hazards the wiring this house has, but now that I know I have to fix it. Electrical loads in the 1950s were much less than they are today. The current electrical system cannot pretend to keep up with modern demands.

Take this outlet for example, everything seems ok from the outside. It is a two prong outlet. I wanted to see if there was a ground wire, since a few other outlets have them. As I pulled it open a sinking feeling spread over me. Something in here did not look right. A power outlet should not have a bundle of wires twisted together in its box.

When I disconnected the wires to see what else was on the circuit I almost fell over. Not from electrical shock, but dumbfounded shock! That outlet was powering:

  • entry light
  • hall light
  • bathroom light ( 2 bulbs )
  • bathroom outlet
  • bathroom fan
  • kitchen light ( 2 bulbs )
  • two kitchen outlets
  • dining room light ( 4 bulbs )
  • two back room lights
  • stairway light ( 2 bulbs )

That is quite the list on one circuit! Literally covers the entire house. The breaker may as well be a secondary main.

Don’t be this outlet…

Burien house from the street 2018

How I bought a house without a penny out of my own pocket

There are a lot of so-called “real estate gurus” out there that promote buying a house without using any of your own money, regardless of your credit. Is it a scam? A quick search of the internet will have you thinking it is, quite frankly though, those naysayers have no idea what they are talking about. They have never done it, or maybe they tried once and were not successful. Why would you listen to them? I am here to tell you that not only are those real estate gurus telling the truth, but you also do not have to be a guru to do it!

I can say this because I purchased my latest real estate investment property without a dollar coming out of my own pocket. You can do it too!

I can imagine it now, many of you are thinking, “Ok mister big shot, just _how do you buy a house with no money_?” The answer is creative financing. Creative financing is a method of purchasing property that does not involve a bank. I used a method called _seller financing_. Seller financing is 100% legal; It is a person to person transaction. You can think of the seller as the bank. You receive the title through a deed of trust on the condition you pay an amount agreed to through a promissory note.

It is important to know your numbers before going into any deal, seller financing is no different. It is an incredibly powerful tool and has some great advantages for both the seller and the buyer.

Here is what I looked for:
– Older house, needing some TLC (discount!)
– 0% down payment
– No money out of pocket to close
– Max payment $2,000 per month
– No agents to pay
– The only money changing hands starts with the first mortgage payment
– Prefer houses that can be split into multiple units for streams of income

With that in mind, I went forth and found myself a property that was uninhabited and called up the owner. The house was not on the market however, it was costing the owner quite a bit each month to hold on to. They were happy to discuss a sale. I brought up owner financing, we discussed how it works, and they agreed.

After inspections, and final negotiations, they agreed to all my terms, with the addition of a 5-year balloon payment. The property is on the edge of an aggressively expanding population zone. Within the 5 years, the equity in the property is going to shoot upward. Additionally, the house is two stories. The upper story is at the street level. The backyard is lower, at the level of the backyard. The lower level is the full size of the upper and has never been finished, providing a great opportunity for renovation into its own unit. If property values do not go up as I expect, finishing the lower story alone will add significant value to the property.

It may take longer to find an owner willing to do seller financing, but it is not uncommon. Be patient, they are out there. Look for properties, submit offers, ask the right questions. I am confident that you too can buy a house without a penny from your pocket!

If you are interested in learning this, or other, creative financing methods, I recommend The Book on Investing with No (or Low) Money Down https://www.amazon.com/Book-Investing-Real-Estate-Money-ebook/dp/B00OYIFJFK/. The BiggerPockets https://www.biggerpockets.com forum is also a great place to interact with, and learn from, fellow real estate investors.

Bella showing off finished floor

Refinishing the floors

I have been busy with the latest project at the Burien House. The project this time was refinishing the hardwood floors. The house, built in the 1950s, has hardwood floors throughout. Floors that have been neglected during its 60 years of existence. It was in desperate need of refinishing. I refinished the floors myself.

Kemp running a floor sander

Here are some before photos. Notice the heavy, dark wear patterns and the plethora of scratches.

I rented a couple of floor sanders and my buddy Kemp and I tackled the dusty job of sanding. As we sanded, I could not get out of my mind the image of a giant palm sander, my body somehow shrunk, till I could ride atop it like a noisy, snarling, shake-your-joints-loose monster. Hours later, the floors cleaned up quite nicely. Here are a few post-sanding photos.

Then came time to put the new finish on the floor. I would one-thousand times rather sand than do the finishing. It is a slow, time consuming, exacting process. On the recommendation of a few friends in the professional floor finishing world, I went with Daly’s Floorfin. It is a very easy product to work with. The instructions call for three coats. The wood soaked up the first coat like crazy. It used an entire gallon. The next two coats only used half a gallon each.

Pictures from the first coat:

Here is Bella showing off the finished floor! It came out quite well. Doing it myself saved a pretty penny too. All told I spent less than $400. A professional contractor would have been thousands.

Bella showing off finished floor

If you need to refinish your floors I am a proponent of doing it yourself. It is not as difficult as it sounds, and Daly’s Floorfin is an easy product to work with.

Late Minto Sailing

Hard to believe it is October already! What a year it has been.

I thought I had the Minto, Martha, tucked away for the winter, but we had 10 days of great weather. I could not resist getting her out again. At a time when it is common for dreary grey skies and poor weather, Kemp and I were out racing around the lake.

How to be grateful where you are

Joe, one of my mentors, shared a deep insight tonight. As he lay in his hospital bed he taught me how to be grateful where you are.

All his life Joe has been an active person. He has traveled the world over, hiked amazing places, competed in many sports, and engaged in activities that kept his brain and body stimulated. For the last couple decades he has studied the art of sailboat racing. He is a force to be reckoned with on the local racing circuit, typically taking home the gold medal.

I first met Joe in the context of sailing, during an event for disabled people at Footloose Sailing Association. He was sharing the joys of sailing and teaching the disabled sailors. Later I joined his racing team. Joe is eager to share his love and knowledge of sailing with anyone interested, and I was like an eager sponge. Dried out and ready to soak up his knowledge.

Though he has taught me a lot about how to sail fast and sail well, he more importantly taught me how to think. He showed me that problems are only problems if you let them be, or they can be new opportunities. He taught me how to think about the “why” behind something, to understand what it did before it did it. And he taught me how to think quickly on my feet and make the most of changing situations. Sailboat racing is no walk in the park. It is a mental and emotional chess game, just like life.

Joe did not get to cruise in his sailboat this summer due to his health issues. He got in only a couple races, but as he was laying in that bed, voraciously listening to tales of my adventures, he said something profound.

“I may not have had a summer, but I as I reflected I realized I have had a lot of great sailing adventures in my life. In the grand scheme of things one summer does not matter. As I look out this window I can imagine the wonderful places I might be anchored right now. I am grateful for the wonderful memories of those trips.”

Joe said this with a peaceful smile on his face.

Joe was not upset with his current situation. He was happy to be there sharing memories with me. Those memories helped him be grateful where he was.

The next time I am in an undesirable situation I too am going to look backward at my life and find a reason to be grateful right where I am.

What can you look back to in life and be grateful for?

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