Category Archives: Project Lists

Spring Spruce-up at the Villa

25 March 2015

As I stated in my post from last week, we’re headed into a lull period as far as having guests at the villa. Right now, we have a 1-weeker booked in April and May each. Then, June and July are unusually heavily booked, including a wedding and party on the premises in June – expecting around 200 folks. That should be fun.

So we’re using these open weeks to do a little spring cleaning, sprucing up, general preventive maintenance, and basic villa TLC.Painting Walls 01

These projects include (but not limited to) pressure washing all the patios and decks like we did last September, painting and touching up the patio walls, replacing worn or torn sliding screen door screens, fixing broken slats in louvered window and door shades, painting wooden porch rails, doing a major cleaning of the propane BBQ grill, and fixing various little items that were broken by guests … to name a few.

patching loose rocks 04One item that was no one’s fault was replacing several stones that fell out of a rock-faced wall near where we store the chaise lounge cushions just inside the giant doors to the pool area. Who knows why they fell out … maybe from one of the many small earthquakes that occur here on a fairly regular basis. Usually in the 2.5 to 4.0 range. Depending on where they occur in the ocean, you will feel them sometimes.

Our owners are coming in for a couple of weeks the first part of April (much needed break from their other business in New Orleans) and they have scheduled to have our pool completely resurfaced while they are here. It has been 10 years since it was last done so it is due. So, we’ll have a bright, clean and sparkling, like-new pool in a few weeks. I plan to document the project so stayed tuned.

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Let There Be Light

19 January 2015

As I wrote in an earlier post entitled, “The TLC Never Stops,” one of the bigger projects I’m tackling at the villa is replacing all of the step lights on the various patios.

Well, I finally completed the east patio step light replacements last week. And I’m a happy camper … I mean, happy caretaker.

I ran into some electrical issues back in early December when I started on the east patio that I, nor the owner, could figure out so I had to bring in a “real” electrician to troubleshoot the problem. He fixed the issue in less than an hour (cha-ching, $125 – worth it!) so I was then able to get going on replacing all the old light fixtures.

Once I got them all installed, it hit me to fill the voids around the boxes (created by chiseling the old ones out and making the new hole big enough for the new box) with Great Stuff spray foam. Wish I had thought of this idea back when I was doing the pool patio step lights. Oh well …. live and learn. Should make any future replacements much easier.

Below are some photos of the east patio work … during and after the project. Let there be light (hasn’t been any for many, many years per the owners). Another project off the list.

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!

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!

Guest Season Right Around the Corner

30 September 2014

Another month is in the books for our Silk Cotton Villa adventure. Another week gone working on projects. Guests start arriving in a little over a week. No project work while guests are here. One reason we have been steady at it for some time now.

Electrical Outlet Pool Patio Issue

What happened when I unplugged an extension cord last week.

I don’t like electrical work – never have. But will do it when necessary and within my knowledge and skill set. We had two outdoor outlets that were in dire need of repair. The environment here had literally turned the electrical boxes into rusted metal flake. Nothing left to hold the outlets in the boxes. And the outdoor covers were dated and needed replacing, too. So, that project got about 90% completed this past week. And, it is turning out nicely. Still some finishing work to make them look nice on the walls. Should wrap this one up later this week. More photos below.

No photos on this one, but another electrical issue. Had some lights at the front door foyer and kitchen area that were not working. After some trouble-shooting, testing, replacing bulbs, etc., we discovered we had three bad switches. Replaced switches and all is fine now.

Things just wear out in a rental property – especially in this ocean/island environment. Constant TLC needed. Helps to be handy in this lifestyle.

Big Door Refinishing 003We have two very large arched wooden doors located at each end of the pool patio. A few weeks ago it dawned on us that they could use refinishing. They were both very, very dry from the elements and don’t appear to have been refinished in quite some time. These got on the “To Do” list this past week. Sharon started working on these this past weekend – sanding and scraping – while I worked on the outdoor outlet project. She’s a VERY good refinishing prep lady!

I joined her in the application of the stain step and we got that part knocked out, too, before the weekend ended. Now, just have to let mother nature dry them before a protective coating is applied. With the humidity here, drying takes a while sometimes. More photos below in the Gallery.

In between, we worked on several smaller projects like weeding potted plants and putting down a weed-block layer and then put the finishing layer of wood filler on the rotted out area of the Pergola beam (previously discussed). Now, once that final wood filler coat is sanded, we can move on to pressure washing the Pergola and getting it painted.

Man, we can’t wait until the next R&R weekend rolls around – LOL

Peeling, Painting, and a Bikini

22 September 2014

We were definitely the “working couple” this past week. Hope this doesn’t bore you. But if you’re considering the working couple lifestyle, you need to know what’s involved with a gig like this.

As many of you that follow our blog and Facebook page know, Sharon and I both kept doing our regular jobs when we started the villa hosts and caretakers position. We put in our required villa project hours when we can which a lot of that is on weekends. My “regular” job isn’t as intense as hers so I have more time during the week days to knock out some projects, and I do.

Examples this past week:

Pergola Rot Repair 02A few weeks ago we found a rotten section on a wooden beam on the Pergola over the outdoor eating area. It wasn’t a small rotten place – pretty big – at least 12″ long and 2″ tall and almost all the way through. Through talking with the owner (formerly a boat owner and yacht captain) about the issue, he told me to get a product called “Git”-Rot and apply first to stop any further rot and then fill the cavity with wood filler.

These repair steps cannot be done in one day. And with the heat here, the “Git”-Rot, a 2-part epoxy product, even had to be put in the refrigerator to cool it down before activation and mixing. Supposed to be done and used in 70° temp or lower environment …. don’t believe I will see that temp any time soon – LOL.

Long story-short on the rotten wood repair, almost done after a week. Maybe 2 more thin coats of wood filler to get the board face right and we can then move on to pressure washing and painting the whole thing … after we get the rust off and stopped on the metal cross-beams. I’ll cover that in another post.

The villa is built with a lot – and I mean a lot – of concrete. You have a tendency to build hurricane-proof once you loose your home to a big storm. And these owners did in hurricane Marilyn in 1995. She was the most powerful storm to hit the Virgin Islands since Hurricane Hugo of 1989.

Pool Patio Painting 04One assigned project is to keep the concrete walls around the patios painted and touched up before guests arrive and/or after weddings and events. Due to the heat, the flat surfaces of these walls get extremely hot causing the paint to blister in areas. So …. before you can paint, you have to cut out the blisters and peel off the paint where it is not adhering. That’s one project we did this weekend. And Sharon decided to use the time in the sun to work on her tan. Ergo the title: Peeling, Painting, and Bikini.

Pool Patio Painting 05I must say, I have never painted with a bikini-clad helper before but I like it. And, when you get too hot, just jump in the pool for your well-deserved break.

Not only did we work on the patio walls around the pool but also painted the short walls of the east deck outside the owner’s rooms. This was a little more time-consuming because we had to do the delicate work of brush painting the caulk line I re-did a few weeks ago between the floor and the walls. But it’s done. Check that one off the list.

Then there was the canopy bed project. We noticed a few weeks ago that the canopy bed in one of the bedrooms was very loose and squeaky. Would not make for a nice guest visit – hanky-panky or no hanky-panky. It was in need of some serious TLC.

After removing the box springs and mattress and doing some inspecting and testing, we discovered how to tighten up every joint on the wood parts and also found the bed rails were very loose and got these secured, too. It felt good to get that bed tightened up and rid of all the squeaks and creaks.

Below are a few more photos of the work. By Sunday evening we were tired and ready for some R&R. We headed off to Hull Bay for some fish tacos (the best!), beer, and live music by the ocean.

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.