Uncategorized06 Jan 2007 05:14 pm

Usually in January, it’s a matter of thermal underwear, tshirts, sweaters, and jackets. A couple days ago I got a call complaining that the heat hasn’t turned on. I called my super who replied “Yeah man, the heat doesn’t come on when it’s 60 degrees outside.” That makes sense, i thought. Today, at 70 degrees outside, my tshirt and uninsulated leather jacket got mighty toasty, and I was sweating even after I took it off.

One concern I had while i was sipping down a breve at a local coffee shop is now that our weather lacks the harshness that forges the strength of a New York character, will we all become a bunch of wussy California folk who pass around the frisbee and don’t smoke, drinking expensive coffee and don’t get mugged. Oh and we drive too. What a bunch of douchebags.

Uncategorized21 Dec 2006 09:00 pm

I love hardwood, I have to say. I’ve given up carpeting since moving out of the suburbs and I’m never going back (to either suburbs or carpeting). Well, the question of what kind of an environmental impact our hardwood has is addressed at treehugger today.

I personally advocate Smith & Fong’s Plyboo as a great way to have bamboo and eat it too (I actually do eat bamboo shoots). They are low VOC and (correct me if I’m wrong) they are harvested in an environmentally sound and socially responsible manner.

Uncategorized19 Dec 2006 02:48 am

Every once in a while it still amazes me that people are arguing against the existence of climate change. Besides today’s article about global warming causing a lack of snow in ski towns the proof is in my keyspan energy bill. My energy use for the boiler is down from 556 therms for last year to 329 therms this year. That combined with the cheaper cost of natural gas this year has dropped my from $1097 to $379 for the same period. That’s also combined with the fact that quite a bit of that was just overhead for switching the thing on. I bet the amount of energy used would have been less if I had a more efficient heating system.

Speaking of a more efficient heating system, there are a couple of things that I intend to do once I get some permits. No bitterness, honestly ;) Once I’m living in the building, I can start spending my free time insulating pipes, which would save a lot of money and heat leakage. Another option I’m thinking about doing is for the 4th floor (my apartment) putting in a tankless heater in the 4th floor, but I have to consider that I already have 2 tanks in the basement and will it actually be economically feasible? Especially since I have to provide hot water to the building, does a tankless heater in every apartment count? Will that be worth it, or would it be a double expenditure for heat that’s already leaking from the 2 tanks down there?

Uncategorized02 Aug 2006 12:36 am

Ok well, about a week ago, i got a call saying there was a problem with a toilet and i should fix it. I come over and find that one of the metal bolts holding the basin to the base was rusted out or the rubber holding it in was decayed so the water was pouring out of the hole it left if (or would be if they hadn’t shut off the water to the toilet). So we replace the bolt. And then a couple days later another call another tenant has the same problem. Fix it the same way. This morning… the exact same emergencia. I think the (insane record breaking) heatwave is causing this.

So here’s my deal. I figure, I might as well pre emptively replace all these suckers. I then decide I might as well replace them with water conserving ones (why not? I pay for the water it’s good for me too, right?) So now I need some place in Brooklyn/Manhattan (or… dare I say even Queens?) that has dual flush toilets (I would like them for less than, say $400 a toilet either). If used correctly, this can save 67% of the water used for flushing…

Which brings me to another water saving idea that I just don’t understand why they don’t use… How about some kind of basin so that all the water that we shower in gets saved and then used for flushing? Do I need pristine water to urinate in? As much as I like the idea of deflowering the water like that, I really like the idea of cutting down the water usage 50% between the toilet and the shower combined (or rather 100% of the toilet water). And then you can stop feeling guilty about peeing in the damn shower.

Building Maintenance& Red Tape and the City24 Dec 2005 02:42 am

I got a call this morning from HPD (housing and preservation department, I think). Now, I think I confused the caller by being so happy to hear from the HPD(I had made friends with this lady named Reva last time I was at the HPD office and overall have a pretty positive expectation of them). But they told me they had received a complaint from an apartment that there was no heat and hot water in the building.

Normally, no heat and hot water in a building in the middle of winter is my worst nightmare, but I was more confused than anything. First of all, the apartment they claimed made the call was the apartment of my superintendent, who calls me directly for all problems that she and my other super (who lives two doors down) can’t handle. Second of all, there was a backed up sewer pipe the night before and I had my plumber/boiler expert there for a couple hours to fix that. I figure if the boiler and the heater were out, he would at least let me know. Third of all, after calling my super and seeing if the heat and hot water had somehow fixed themselves, she told me there was never any problem and the water was “caliente.”

This makes me wonder, does the HPD do any kind of checking to see if prank calls are coming in or if the caller really is a tenant? I have been getting crank calls on my business line (i assume from someone that i evicted 3 months ago, who flushed enough diapers down the drain to cause the sewage problem I was just talking about.)

BTW, if anyone needs a plumber, let me know. I have great faith in Andy, a Polish immigrant who is also taking computer science right now (though frankly, I think you get paid a lot more as a plumber).

Uncategorized16 Dec 2005 03:12 am

I am a big fan of zipcar and am trying to get everyone on the bandwagon. With the possibility of the upcoming MTA strike, zipcar has set up free pick up and drop off points in the city.

Personally, not having a car is one of the better things about living in NY, especially with my mode of transportation of choice available to me. But since i became a landlord, there are a lot of things that need moving and a lot of space, like the new Ikea kitchens I put in. One of the times when people actually need a big SUV. Well, I got zipcar for my property business, and as a business account, any of my tenants can sign up for $25/year instead of $50/month. And you get cars for a big discount of $8/hour for weekday travel. I know i’m going to be getting one just in case for this weekend.

Renovation13 Dec 2005 04:56 am

Sorry, been a long time since I rapped at ya. The tribulations of being a landlord and a more than full time worker (not to mention a tenant) in New York is enough to keep one away from ye olde blog. Actually, I’ve had an empty apartment for almost two months because I’ve been a little hesitant to pull the trigger on a contractor for the floors. I’ve also been waffling between two options:
1. Put in new bamboo flooring .
2. Sand and refinish the current subfloor.

I decided today to use the current subfloor. My main attraction to the bamboo was its renewability, but a friend of mine reminded me “The most renewable thing you can do is use what’s already there.”

The other thing is that bamboo can be soft, and putting in new floor in a rental is a heartbreak waiting to happen.

We have gotten some great goodies from Build it Green recently and I hope to put those in. We found some great stainless steel mirrors and some lights.

I hope to have quite a few before and after pics here for your consumption.

Events17 Oct 2005 02:58 am

There are free electronics recycling events coming up tah all da 5 boroughs. You are free to recycle all your old electronics.

Now I am usually of the mind that, “hey I can use that old mac serial cable in some incredibly unforeseen upcoming project,” but quite frankly, the mac serial is a deader than dead tech and we really should let go. So, for all of our piles and piles of old electronics that we need to let go of, electronics recycling is offering a way out. I know, you paid $300 for that zip drive when it came out, but you know what? It’s time you hit the delete button on it. If it loves you, it will come back to you (maybe in the form of an ipod or a dvd writer or just a brief experience where you hear 100 megabytes of music or something).

Check it out here (from greenlinks).

Red Tape and the City14 Oct 2005 01:33 am

So in a previous post, I mentioned that there has was some ridiculousness involved with registering for water and sewer service. Well, I registered two months ago, and never got a bill. Yesterday, however, i got a letter from the DEP saying that I haven’t paid my september water bill, and that late charges will be assessed. What’s worse, the letter has no invoice associated with it, so I still don’t know what the bill is. When I got around to calling them today, they were closed.

Now I have two upcoming projects with water. I have two 50 gallon water heaters in the basement area. I think I can fit heaters up to 75 gallons in there, and would like to, so the tenants will have more hot water available. The question is how to do this to interrupt service as little as possible. The other one is how to find a natural way to heat this water. I am open to suggestions.

oh yeah, and I should probably pay that bill too, as soon as I know how much it is.

How To& Red Tape and the City12 Oct 2005 11:28 pm

So a lot of stuff has happened since I became a landlord, and I want to give kind of a quick run down of what one has to do to get started (a good real estate lawyer should be able to help a lot with this, but I went through two, and still don’t quite feel like i can trust one. There is the possibility that it’s just because I had Brooklyn lawyers, and the gruff nature of Brooklyn courtroom, and therefore lawyers, has made it hard for me to deal with them, but I honestly don’t think so.)

1. Find a building… umm this was a long and complicated experience which involved a lot of personal heartbreak. I would be down with giving tips to anyone who needs help.
2. Close on building - Make sure you have an assignment of rents.
3. Alert tenants of change of ownership in writing. I would say find out as much as possible ahead of time from the current owner, who should write the letter. Have the tenants acknowledge in writing that they have received the notification.
4. Alert the Department of Environmental Protection and sign up for an account for your water and sewage (not that it really matters… more on this ridiculousness in a bit).
5. Register with HPD. Make sure you bring your checkbook, a registration form, your Employer Identification Number (or Social Security number) and a copy of your deed to 100 Gold St. And unlike other government offices, you have to know ahead of time that it closes at 4pm on weekdays. Also, about a week later, you need to come back and get an officially notified copy of this form so you can prove to the court (because let’s face it you will go to court).
6. Here’s a kicker, you have to register with welfare somehow. Now I don’t know how, because after a while, I was eventually contacted by welfare. When in doubt, however, 311 always works for New York. So once you’ve established contact with welfare, you have to fax them a copy of the sale deed as well.
7. Find yourself a Landlord and Tenant Lawyer that you trust and can ask questions of.
8. Fix any violations (there is bureaucratic absurdity involved here too… I promise I will explain more about this soon).
9. Get to know your tenants.

I will update this post as I have time, maybe make a page out of it. Kind of a poor man’s landlording “how-to”

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