When I first bought my cottage, a woman was remodeling the Victorian behind it. She had recently purchased it for under $500,000. She had the electrical redone and had the place split into a duplex.
3 years later the housing prices went sky high and she decided to sell the duplex, which she quickly did, but remained as a renting tenant. She also bought a large boat, which she kept in the weed overgrown back yard, which also contained the steam house that used to furnish steam to our cottages and a giant redwood tree.
A short scrappy British guy bought the house for $650,000. His wife was a cutie, also tiny, a nurse from Canada. As they remodeled one side of the house, keeping the original bath, claw foot tub, ceiling medallions, and put in a washroom, they worked day and night for many months.
They were in the business of flipping houses for a profit. Her salary as a nurse went toward building supplies, while he supplied the labor. They had bought one apartment building and remodeled it into luxury apts. They rented those to wealthy businessmen, charging high rents. They also had a large Chris Craft wooden boat, that they worked on in their spare time.
The rental market was dead at this time, because of all the people buying houses. They made a half arsed attempt at renting, but then decided to sell the house they'd been working like slaves on.
A Chinese guy bought it for $760,000. A few months after that, we got notices saying that he wanted to add 400 sq ft of living space to the house. It took a long time for the plans to go through.
Worked started on the house over a year after the Chinese guy bought it. He also tore down the steam house, and built a "shed " in the back yard. I talked to this guy frequently during the building and he repeatedly told me that he "was building the addition for his family." One of the neighbors wrote the city a nasty letter and told them that the new guy was building the shed for living purposes. The Chinese guy told me about the letter and swore to me that "he was in the energy business and had to build the shed for meetings with other energy guys." The shed is as big as my house.
The building went on and on. The addition went up and up and then the basement was dug out. The Chinese guy told me the basement was "for storage." Then three different people moved in the three
upper apartments that were ready.
One evening a pipe was leaking all over my back yard, so I went to look for the Chinese guy only to be told that he did not live there. One of the tenants called him and he sent someone to fix the pipe right away.
He then paved the dirt in the strip that bordered my backyard which vastly improved the look and size of my patio area. I asked if I could put up a fence and he told me he would do it and did so, without any charge to me. I asked him if he was going to put tenants in the basement and he again assured me, "No." One day I went in the back yard to play ball with the dog and I saw the basement window open and heard an alarm go off inside. One of the guys who had lived in one of the upper apts has moved into one of the basement, bedsitter apts.
He now has 2 more tenants in basement apts. and since the inspectors have approved the shed, he has been having laborers turning the shed into an apt. for the last few weeks. So altogether he has turned a former duplex into 6 apts, some illegally. The tenants are all immigrants. One was from Spain, but he has since moved, one is Mongolian. There are Koreans and Chinese and the other day an African guy showed up with 2 Asian girls to look at an apt. The Chinese owner must be advertising through an immigrant hot line.
I am such a property rights advocate that I don't care what others do with their own property and he has done me a lot of favors so he didn't have to lie to me about what he was doing with the property. I love my new back yard and spend most of my time in it.