More Apartment Expenses – Planned and Unexpected

The Planned Expense

Our new tenants moved in back in August and we want to make sure they stay happy in hopes that they will stay for a couple of years. As our duplex was built in the 1890’s there is very little storage space, in any room.  The bathroom in particular has zero storage.  When we transitioned the apartment back in July we had wanted to add a medicine cabinet in the bathroom to add at least some storage but ran out of time.  We asked our tenants if they wanted one and they said it would be great and we just finally got around to installing one this past week.

Being frugal minded about many things in life, we decided to try to find a used medicine cabinet instead of shelling out over a $100 for a new one.  It took a few weeks but I found a wall mountable one (we didn’t want to cut holes in the wall as you never know what you may find) at a local home building resale establishment.  The cost was only $15 so it was a great price.

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It’s upside down but you get the idea…

I was not wild about the oak finish but knew that a fresh coat of paint would make a world of difference.  We had some primer and plain old white paint already around the house so I got to work.  It took a few coats of paint over multiple days but it really wasn’t all that bad.

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I finished it off with some Minwax Polycrylic protective finish as I had read that regular polyurethane can sometimes turn yellow. I am not sure if this is true and I am curious to see how this will hold up.

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Mr. SFF installed it one day without much hassle and although it is not perfect (its a little smaller than the existing mirror) our tenants are happy to have a little bit of storage above their sink.

The Unexpected Expense

Last week our tenants sent us an email about the dishwasher.  They said it was on the fritz and then “it started to spark and some smelly smoke came out”.  Now I am not an electrician but that just doesn’t sound good.  They were smart enough to turn off the breaker in the meantime so at least the house didn’t burn down.  Mr. SFF went over the following day, turned the breaker back on, and it was pretty evident that the dishwasher was done.  He couldn’t even get it to turn off.

We told our tenants we would work on getting them a new one but that it would take us a couple of days.  They said they were perfectly fine hand washing their dishes for a few days while we figured things out.  We called around to a local appliance shop, stopped by the same home building resale shop to see if they had anything used, as well as stopping by Lowe’s.  There was nothing used available so we have to buy new.  Thankfully dishwashers are not all that expensive compared to other appliances.

We are going with white to match the other appliances and this is thankfully one of the less expensive colors.  We also chose one that had a self cleaning filter.  I know I never think of cleaning the filter so expecting a tenant to do this would not be reasonable.  We also wanted the delay feature as we love being able to have it turn on at night while we are sleeping.  As this is a rental unit that feature was probably not necessary but it did not cost all that much more.  Although I usually like to support local businesses when possible we ended up buying it from Lowe’s.  They had a model that fit our requirements, was reasonably priced, and they offer free delivery and free removal of the old one as long as it has been disconnected.

Mr. SFF was told that they would be able to deliver it on Monday. As this was Friday he assumed that this would be the following Monday, as it two days ago.  Apparently there was a little miscommunication and it will actually be delivered next Monday.  Our tenants are still OK with this so we have a few more days.  Assuming no additional parts are needed here is a summary of both projects.

Total Cost Breakdown of the Expected and Unexpected:

Used medicine cabinet: $15
Minwax Polycrylic Spray: $13.89

New dishwasher: $319.93
Removal of old dishwasher: free
Installation: free (Mr. SFF)

Total for both projects: $348.82

We have dropped more into the rental unit this year than we have since we bought the property back in 2011 but that is part of the deal when you own properties.  Hopefully this will be last of the expenses for a while.


The dishwasher finally arrived today and Mr. SFF completed the installation.  He had to buy a few additional parts for another $22.44 but if Lowe’s had completed the installation the cost would have been $150 so we had a savings of $127.56 for that piece of things.

2 thoughts on “More Apartment Expenses – Planned and Unexpected

    1. Kalie,
      Expenses are certainly one of the big unknowns, especially with rental properties in our area as many buildings are older. We are searching for our next duplex and we always put in an estimate of at least $2,000 annually for expenses regardless of the property as you never know what can happen. Some things you can plan for but it is the unexpected that can bite you if you are not careful. If you are thinking of investing in real estate check out Bigger Pockets as they have a great forum and a ton of great resources. Good luck!

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