These are the main benefits of the property:
* Fully renovated condo including new kitchen with all stainless steel appliances, granite tops and maple cabinets, all rooms recently painted with nice colors, new back deck, new hot water heater, plumbing, electric and high-efficiency HVAC with central AC.
* Common areas have a new roof with advanced ice dam prevention features, new gutters, new driveway, new garage door, new brick patio and lovely landscaping in the front, back and side yard. You shouldn’t have to put any real money into the common areas for over fifteen years.
* Lots of intangibles including excellent floor plan and flow, beautiful over-sized living room and great amounts of privacy due to being on the 2nd floor, being set back from the street on one side, and having a tree covered back yard on the other side.
* Incredible number of windows including 11 in the living room and at least 2 in every room. The sun rises on the kitchen, crosses the three bedrooms and sets on the lovely trees viewable from the living room
* 2 parking spots that are both unblocked. You’ll never need to move your car to let others get in or out, or ask others to move their car so you can get in or out. 1 garage spot so your car is snow-free and ice-free all winter long.
* Excellent location a half mile from Coolidge Square, 3/4 mile from Watertown Sq., under a mile from two malls and six parks, seven minutes from Harvard Square and 12 minutes from downtown Boston.
* Quiet, safe, tree-lined neighborhood on a hill in the sought after East End with professionals and families. Downstairs condo owned by an administrator at Harvard. She oversees snow removal and lawn service which will save you time.
* 600 square feet of space that can be easily made into two rooms of living space in the basement with a family room, exercise/yoga room and/or office. Or an in-law suite with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette. See details below.
* Beautiful newly restored hardwood floors in all rooms (except bathroom), built-in original wood china cabinet and original wood details and doors in all rooms.
* Exquisite attention to detail including stained glass window between living room and hall, moveable granite island in the kitchen, new two-way cloth blinds in the living room and office, and lots of other details you’ll come to discover and enjoy.
Here are lots of photos of the place. You don’t need to view them all. I simply included more for those who want to view more. If it’s showing as a slideshow, you usually can click a photo, and it should bring up a page where you can click on them one at a time:
More details follow. You of course don’t need to view all of them, but I’ll provide them so you can see them if you wish. Besides the cost it takes to do many of the things, a lot of time is involved in searching for good tradespeople, getting bids and managing them – time and hassle that you won’t have to spend because everything is already taken care of. It costs more to have some of these things, yet for example when your friends are complaining about ice dams damaging their homes and belongings and costing time, hassle and money, you’ll be pleased that it’s not happening to you.
* It has seven rooms in all: kitchen, dining room, bathroom, living room and three bedrooms. 95% of the windows are new so they side open and shut easily. They are also flip-down windows so you can easily clean both sides of the windows from the inside without having to move a ladder around the outside of the house.
* The garage door opens with a remote or with a password box on the outside. I also installed a lock-box on the side of the house where you can keep an extra key for use by handymen/cleaners or in case you lock yourself out.
* The opening in the third bedroom can easily be filled in for about $600. A contractor will simply put about four 2 x 4s in it, attach drywall to them and paint both sides. I have about a gallon of the two paint colors that go on each side, which is more than enough, and will give them to you. Another idea is to keep a decorative room divider in the closest like this, this, or this.
… and if you ever need to use the room as a guest bedroom, place it over the opening. You can fit a twin mattress in the long closet there, or an inflatable full mattress, and push the desk to the wall to have an instant bedroom.
* I also have extra of the paint colors for all the rooms and stairwells except for the dining room, yet you can get more of that at Coolidge Hardware down the street. I will give you all the other paints. I also have extra of the stains that were used to stain the floors, the stain to stain used for the posts and beam in the living room and the stain used on the window sills and woodwork, and will give them to you along with the places where you can get more.
I also have extras of the original door knobs, maple wood floor, decorative trim and other things and will give you those too.
* The condo is on the 2nd floor of a 2-family house so there is nobody above you, and you won’t have to listen to footsteps walking around above you. You also can’t hear the people downstairs. There is no noise from TV or voices or radio. The 2nd floor also gives you more privacy and security than a 1st floor condo. You don’t need to close and lock all your windows each time you leave the house.
* The back porch is very private because the house is longer than the neighbors’ houses, so they can’t see your porch at all from their porches. You’re also mostly shielded from their back yards by bushes and trees. And you’re shielded from the neighbors on the back side by several trees and tall bushes. It’s one of the most private back decks in Watertown.
* There is a laundry room in the condo with water and natural gas hook-ups, so you don’t have to walk up and down stairs to do your laundry.
* $1,400 was spent to put in: a large dogwood tree in the backyard that has beautiful blooms for in the spring, a tree in the side yard that is close to being tall enough to provide privacy to the dining room, and several bushes in the front and back yards.
* $1,200 was spent to have a granite-top maple cabinet island built for the center of the kitchen. The granite and wood match the rest of the kitchen exactly.
* Had many nice shelves and numerous hooks put in the master bedroom closet and door that give you a lot of space for your clothing and accessories. Also added 4 levels of shelves to the hallway closet.
* The thermostat is digital and programmable to four different phases each day of the week, so you can program it to go off when you’re gone during the day and be back on before you are back. Or set it lower at night and come back on before you get up.
* Cable and phone hook-ups are in the living room and all bedrooms.
* New plumbing in most of the unit should last for 50 years. If you look in the rafters of the basement, you’ll see that my plumbing has the new Pex plumbing while my neighbor has old pipes. I installed separate shutoff levers for the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room lines so that even if for some reason there is a leak in one room, you can simply shut that line off and still have water in the rest of the home.
* A one-minute walk to the top of the hill gives you a nice view of the Boston skyline, which you’ll also see when you drive down the road.
* The kitchen has lovely beadboard woodwork on the walls, recessed lighting, a chandelier, all stainless steel appliances including dishwasher, microwave, gas stove and a garbage disposal. The fridge has a water filter, ice and crushed ice.
LIVABLE BASEMENT SPACE:
* The basement was tested for radon in 2010 and found to be free of it.
* It was certified mold-free in 2011. I can give you a copy of the certification.
* The wood in the basement (rafters etc.) was painted with mold-resistant paint to prevent mold and mildew. Exposed wood is far more prone to mold and mildew than painted wood, as mold feeds on wood and doesn’t feed on paint. Also, special paints exist with anti-microbial qualities that prevent mold from penetrating the paint. Finally, if mold does land on a painted surface, it’s very easy to remove: simply spray and wipe. If mold is on exposed wood, it’s very expensive to remove it.
* Dehumidifier in the basement to prevent humidity that leads to mold.
* The ceiling is high and is easily high enough for livable space and the windows meet the code needed for basement living space. You could put 2 to 3 rooms in such as a family room, a bedroom, an exercise/yoga room, a library, a dark room, a meditation/prayer room or an office. If you do work that has clients such as psychotherapy or massage, a downstairs office would give you a separate entrance so clients don’t need to go through your private living area. There is enough space to do both an in-law suite (bedroom, closet, kitchenette and bath) and another room for an office or other use.
Livable basement space with a bathroom is valued at about 2/3rds of the PSF price of main unit living space, so 550 SF is worth between $75,000 to $110,000 depending on what you put there.
Bids from contractors show it would cost about $35,000 to put two regular rooms in the basement, and about $7,000 more to add a bath, and about $12,000 for a basic kitchenette and $18,000 for a nicer, somewhat bigger kitchenette. Whether you include a bath or kitchenette or not, the re-sale value of finishing the basement will approximately double your money, plus you’ll get to enjoy the extra space in the meantime. In other words, if you don’t do a bath or kitchenette, the re-sale value will be about double your cost. If you include extra things, their re-sale value will also be about double.
You could also rent it out, and probably get about $1,700 a month because it basically would be a 1 BR apartment. It could also be rented as a studio apartment with an office (there are many people who need a home office such as therapists, massage therapists, etc.). Note that you can’t make the space into a separate condo unit, but you can rent portions of your condo out. Just go on AirBnB.com or other sites to see tens of thousands of people doing that.
$1,700 a month is $20,700 a year, so you could make back the cost of doing it with a bathroom and nice kitchenette in less than 3 years, and have all profit on rentals from then on. And the large added re-sale value would be all gain.
ITEMS THE CONDO ASSOCIATION OWNS:
The condo association (my unit and the condo below) owns the following items purchased new between 2011 and 2014:
* a rechargeable lawn mower with automated wheels to make mowing easy and a weed-whacker. Means we can pay someone $15 for one hour to do lawn or can do it ourselves.
* a high quality, extendable metal ladder that reaches all walls and windows of the house, and the roof
* hoses and a hose roller
* two dehumidifiers and high power fan (on a timer) in the basement to prevent mold
* two trash cans (in addition to the cans the city provides for trash and recycling) which condos can use for home improvement or association can use for yard waste
* a shop vac which can be used by either condo for home improvement projects, or to clean the basement or garage
* a 30-foot pruning pole for easy pruning of trees (usable by people we hire so we don’t have to pay to have a tree-removal truck come)
OTHER THINGS THE CONDO ASSOCIATION HAS DONE
* put a chimney cap on the chimney and re-mortared the chimney to prevent rainwater from entering the house
* fixed the mortar around the foundation in spots it was wearing out
* put rocks on the sides of the garage to prevent weeds
* re-graded the side yard to slope away from the house so rainwater drains away from house
* put wood across about 90% of the attic floor to prevent people from accidentally stepping through your ceiling, so you and your work people (including HVAC people) can easily walk around the attic. Reduces liability and chances of damage.
ENERGY SAVINGS AND ICE DAM PREVENTION
Numerous steps were taken to in 2012 and 2013 to reduce energy costs and prevent ice dams including:
* Extra insulation added to the attic
* HVAC unit in the attic wrapped in thermal insulated blanket to keep heat from escaping from it
* All vent openings in ceiling sealed tightly
* Soffits around the house replaced with covers that allow more air flow that keeps roof snow from melting and creating ice dams
* High power fan in the attic that turns on automatically if the temperature in the attic rises above 30 degrees to prevent roof snow from melting and creating ice dams. Ice dams form when two things occur the same day: the air temperature is below freezing, and the attic temperature is above freezing which causes the snow on the roof to melt into water, which then freezes when it reaches the part of the roof that overhangs the house, forming an ice dam. Once the dam forms, future melted snow doesn’t run off the roof and instead forms a large puddle behind the dam that inevitably finds its way into your walls and ceilings.
Thus, you want the snow to melt on days when the outside temperature is over 33 degrees so that the water runs off the roof. On days when the temp is below 32 degrees, the snow won’t melt unless the attic temperature is over 32 degrees, so the solution to preventing ice dams is keeping your attic temp below 32 degrees when there is snow on the roof. We’ve set it up to automatically do that, by reducing the amount of heat that escapes to the attic, and by installing the automatic high-power fan that blows the warm air out and installing soffits that allow the fan to pull sizable amounts of cool air into the attic.
Approximate cost for the energy savings and ice dam prevention steps above is $5,000.