Category Archives: Couples Jobs

This Old Villa

24 November 2014

Silk Cotton Villa was rebuilt after Hurricane Hugo pretty much destroyed it in 1989. Hurricane Hugo was a powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane that caused widespread damage and loss of life in the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Southeast United States.

The Villa was then a two bedroom house. Since the storm damaged it almost to the ground, the owners decided to enlarge it when they rebuilt and turn it into a large rental villa. They added two upstairs bedrooms and raised one bedroom so they could get another under it. In addition, they did some modifications to the “owner’s” apartment including enclosing an attached outdoor porch and making it part of the enclosed living room adding a very nice amount of floor space as well as a whole wall of windows.

That porch and its drainage holes is the subject of this post.

Being that it was an outside porch at one time, it had four (4) drainage holes at the bottom of the exterior wall to allow water to drain off of it during storms. For some reason, during renovations, no one thought to close these drainage holes that went through 12″-16″ of concrete wall. When we arrived this past summer, the owners indicated that a lot of critters, especially iguanas and lizards, have a tendancy to come into the villa through these openings. In due time, closing these drainage holes made it to the villa project list.

And the project made it’s way to the top of the list last week. Dumb me forgot to take “before” images so you will have to use your imagination looking at the photos below to envision what I am explaining.

With a little “MacGyverism” to make a hole plug, some fiberglass tape, and some concrete vinyl patch, I think it came out pretty good. I also think I could do a better job the next time around. I haven’t used concrete patch in the past so it was a learning experience. Not bad for a rookie, IMHO. Now the critters have four less places to get inside – LOL.

One more project checked off the project list!

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The Case of the Squeaky Bed

10 November 2014

Behind on posting … again.

Guests are here this week. Arrived last Wednesday and depart this Wednesday. So, week before last was finishing up a big project and generally making sure everything was in “Show Ready” condition for the guests.

BR 3 new support -01

One down, one to go

One of the guest bedrooms has a homemade platform for its King size mattress. I suspect the platform was constructed many years ago, maybe when they opened in 1994 or so.

The platform is in two sections – made entirely of plywood, 2x4s, and 2×2 legs. Over the years of use, the leg mounts have become loose causing the whole thing to squeak badly when moving about on the mattress. Even a turn from side to side would wake the dead. Glad we slept in every room to see if anything needed fixing or repaired. This definitely did.

BR 3 new support -03

Time to paint

My “fix” was to add an additional 2×4 support all the way around the legs of each section and run some new screws into the legs where they were orginally mounted. Not a difficult job, just a little time and patience to do it right.

Of course, once the construction was done, it needed painting. I decided to paint the whole thing and freshen it up. Turned out fine. And it’s tight as a tick …. no more squeaking.

Final Note: We added plastic glides to the bottom of each leg so we can move the platform away from the wall easily for cleaning and making it up.

With guests here project work goes on hold. But we’ll be back at it in a few days. Stay tuned.

BR 3 new support -02

And everything gets covered by a bed skirt.

The Pergola Project – Part II

24 October 2014

Pergola 08

The start

Note: I’m about 1.5 weeks behind on posting. I apologize.

I started painting the Pergola on Monday, October 06. I finished Friday, October 10. It didn’t take 5 days, all day. I painted some each of those days. It was hot. It was humid. I was sweating like a pig. I took a lot of breaks. I drank lots of water. I took lots of swim breaks.

Pergola 07Actually, I got the painting of the white slats done by Thursday mid-morning. Just time-consuming work getting between all of those slats and looking up into the sky and sun – it was tiring work (I know, cry me a river – boo-hoo). But damn, it looks good once it was done!

Then I had to work on the rusted areas of the steel beams holding all of Pergola 04the slats up. Here, you have to scrap and pick and pull the old rusted painted areas and then coat them again with a rust inhibitor product. This product turns the rust black and prepares it to be painted. It had to dry overnight.

Friday morning was “paint the steel beams day” and the day we end this project – yeah! Had this done by lunch and had a celebatory beer and swim in the pool.

2 purple orcids oct 2014The Pergola area looks nice and clean now and ready for guests. Plus, the orchids now have a pretty place to bloom.

Guests in for a week and then a couple of more weeks of small projects before more guests arrive in early November.  Updates coming soon.

Pergola Project Completed!

Pergola Project Completed!

The Pergola Project – Part I

10 October 2014

Pergola Rot Repair 02The Pergola project has been staring us in the face for some time. It got delayed a bit when we discovered a fairly large rotten area in one of the Pergola’s large wooden beams. Of course, this rotten area had to be properly repaired before we could pressure wash and then paint.

Pergola 11Going into last weekend, the wood repair was completed and finally dry. Tme to pressure wash the entire Pergola. Sharon is the pressure washing Queen. I think she likes doing it. Plus, since she had to shoot up to get the Pergola beams, she got soaking wet. Not a bad thing in 90°+ weather.

Once she finished the Pergola (old paint chips went everywhere), we cleaned the outdoor wrought iron furniture and some dirty areas around the pool patio.

Screens Clean 02Then, Sharon decided to see if she could clean the big rollup screens along the pool without damaging them. She tested and it worked. So she got all five of the big screens nice and clean. Not often you can pressure wash from the inside of your home.

The last area we needed to pressure wash was the front entrance patio and some really dirty areas on the driveway. Guests are coming this weekend so we want it to look nice and clean. And it now does.

So another project week in the books and the Pergola is ready to be painted. I’ll cover that project in my next post.

Will Work for Living Quarters

15 September 2014

I site I follow on Facebook had a link today to an interesting article called “5 Quotes From Billionaire Mark Cuban That Will Inspire You To Work Your Ass Off.” This post is not about Mark Cuban, I just happen to like a lot of what he was quoted as saying in this article.
Mark Cuban

I liked all five quotes. They weren’t just 1-liners – they had explanations of why he said each. I really liked number four. You can read for yourself at the link above but it ended with the following:

“We are trained to interpret “different” as a negative, when in reality, different jobs and opportunities often provide for the greatest potential for us to thrive as individuals. Life is too short for us to live in fear of being different. Be whom you want to be and don’t worry about the haters.”

I like the “different” part. Doing what Sharon and I are doing here on St. Thomas is definitely different. Life really is TOO short for any of us to live in fear of being different. Just go for it. Whatever “it” is.  As you can probably guess, we had many folks who said we were crazy for doing what we did by taking this position at Silk Cotton Villa. But no regrets here.

And part of this lifestyle is having to give X number of hours in return for a nice place to live and extras paid for such as Internet, utilities, and TV service. In other words, “Will Work for Living Quarters.” Many of our friends have ragged us from time to time (since our arrival) about what a great life we have here on a beautiful Caribbean Island. And it is N-I-C-E … no question about it. But we still have to get our work done before we can play.

Frances Bay St. John USVI

Our Spot at Frances Bay, St. John

I did a post earlier called the Project List where I outlined some of the projects on the list and some we had accomplished. And once again I won’t bore you with the details of the list. It’s a living thing. We complete projects and add projects all the time.

A few weeks ago we took a break from projects and spent a wonderful Saturday with some new friends at Frances Bay on St. John island. Our first trip over there since taking this position. You can see more photos of that day at The Working Couple Facebook page.

And this past weekend, we spent a lot of Saturday and some of Sunday knocking out more projects. One was pressure washing the east deck. Yeah, the view is nice and who cares if you get soaking wet in 90° weather …. but it is still work and it has to be done.

But there is a reward for all the hard work we did this weekend and the photos say it all. It could be worse. We Work for Living Quarters (on St. Thomas).

Where Does The Time Go?

21 August 2014

It’s hard to believe that today is the beginning of our second month at Silk Cotton Villa as caretakers and hosts – one month in the books. It hasn’t flown by and it actually seems to me as if we have been here longer than one month. We have definitely been busy both with our own work-from-home-office jobs and learning the villa routine and knocking out the projects to keep this place in shape and “show ready” for guests.

Speaking of projects, we knocked a number of them off the list last week. Examples: 2 coats of Tung Oil on the front door, fixed some shelves in the owner’s apartment, got the main storage room about 95% organized, fixed all of the guest bedroom’s shutter door and window slat controllers (many had missing connectors), and lots of little things not worth mentioning.

I must say … fixing the shutter slat controllers was tedious and time-consuming (hours!) – something Sharon and I had never done before but before long we had a system – LOL. I’m sure it won’t be the last time we have to fix some of these.

T-storm Aug in  the virgin islands

Here’s the good part of this lifestyle and the position especially when the owners are gone and no guests in the villa. At the end of the work day, we head up to the main villa house from our studio living/office quarters and enjoy a swim before dinner and then dinner on the pool patio looking out to the southern Caribbean Sea. The image to the right was taken earlier this week when a thunder storm blew up about 20 miles out in the ocean. It was a nice show from the patio. Nice way to end another day in paradise.

I think we will enjoy the next 11 months here.

Project List

12 August 2014

Keeping my promise from the end of the last posting, it’s time to talk about the Villa projects. The way a lot of these couple’s positions work is the caretakers/hosts get living quarters with things like utilities, TV, and internet service provided in exchange for a predetermined number of hours of work. Not a bad deal, IMHO. In some of the opportunities we have reviewed on the couple’s job sites we follow, some even offer other compensation such as a monthly stipend (or salary), health benefits, vehicle usage, etc.

Our caretaker/host position at Silk Cotton Villa provides living quarters (an air conditioned 500 SF 1-room, furnished studio apartment with a view of Charlotte Amalie bay), utilities, Dish TV, hi-speed Internet, and use of a work truck along with some compensation for cleaning during and after guest visits, and hourly pay for any work above the agreed upon hours owed for all the above. And if we want to provide Chef services or other Concierge services for guests, we can write our own menu and service offerings and charge whatever the going rate is at villas like this in St. Thomas. We haven’t decided on whether to Chef or not. That’s another topic for another post.

While guests are here, we HAVE to be available in case they need anything or something goes wrong or breaks. Otherwise, we stay out of their way so they can enjoy the Villa and their stay. While the villa is empty, that’s when projects get done. That time is now.

The list got started when we did out first full villa cleaning turn the second day we were here. The owners worked with us and showed us how they wanted everything cleaned and checked. As we went room to room cleaning, there were all kind of little details that needed to be addressed and/or fixed. Some as simple as replacing a bathroom drain stopper because it is rusted-looking. Then, all the rooms have shutters over the windows and sliding glass patio doors and as you can imagine, over time and heavy use, the shutter slats need a little TLC. That was the beginning of “The List.”

I won’t go over the entire list as it stands right now and nothing is what I would call “major.” But there’s caulking to do around edges of the patio over our apartment to stop some leaks, replacing 20 metal fixture boxes for embedded “Step Lights” that light up walkways at night (they are rusting due to weather conditions here), painting of walls, pressure washing the patios around the pool, re-attaching some loose hardware, cleaning and organizing some storage closets, Tung Oil the front door, Scotchguard some furniture, and the list goes on and on. Mostly little things but it’s having the little things right that makes a stay here special and enjoyable. We don’t do “shoddy” here at Silk Cotton Villa. Sharon and I have never done “shoddy” and never will.

My plan is to let y’all know what we get checked off as we go forward. I know, boring stuff, huh? So far … remounted a speaker to a wall, got one storage room about 85% organized, ordered one of the Step Light boxes to make sure it’s going to work before we order 20 of them (should be here in a week or so … slow deliveries here), and we’re trying to get all the projects onto one list so we can get a full grasp of what lies in front of us and we can develop a plan and schedule to complete them before guests start arriving again after hurricane season is over (Oct 15th).  Everything doesn’t have to be done by then but it would be nice if they were. Besides, in a place like this, as big as it is, in the environment it is in … there is always something that can be done. I don’t think project lists are ever empty here.