A Little Blood, a Lot of Sweat, and a Few Tears

What does it take to renovate and re-open a bed and breakfast?  The short answer is: a little blood, a lot of sweat, and a few tears.

2013 June 27 001Beyond that, I guess every B&B owner has a different story.  Regarding Pat and me, we began this endeavor more than five years ago with the idea that we wanted to share experiences that are different from those we had during the first 30 years of marriage.  We also wanted to learn new skills other than those we had employed for our previous careers.

But we had no idea of how many hats we would have to wear!  Here are a few examples of our new and/or refreshed areas of expertise:

  • Students – We attended a course for prospective innkeepers, along with several conferences for B&B owners
  • Real Estate Agents – After we found a prospective property that we liked, it took two years and several proposals to seal the deal. The due diligence period alone took about 4 months.
  • Attorneys – Once the Agreement of Sale was complete, we set up two LLCs along with the necessary supporting documentation.
  • Auctioneers – We had purchased the contents of the house, but we did not fully realize how much stuff there was, from basement to attic. We conducted three yard sales, and one auction at the fairgrounds.
  • Junk Men – Even after recycling and/or selling as much material as possible, we still ended up hauling away three full 30-cubic yard dumpsters of old mattresses, stained rugs, box televisions, broken vacuum cleaners, etc.
  • Geologists – When the water pump died, a County official told us that our well did not meet code. It was a challenge to find a suitable location for a new well.  And when we did, they still had to drill over 600 feet deep.
  • Architects – We did not make many renovations to the actual structure, but we did design a slightly different layout for the kitchen and butler’s pantry.
  • Permit Expediters – As you can imagine, a place the size of ours requires all types of permits and approvals. This means reading regulations, filling out forms, ordering tests, scheduling inspections, and writing checks.
  • General Contractors – It takes a lot to renovate a house that is over a century old. In addition to the obvious things like repairing plumbing and wiring, we undertook some significant projects such as installing a fire alarm system, installing central air conditioning, replacing the roof and gutters, and renovating ten bathrooms.  After all that came wallpaper stripping, plaster repair, and painting of over two dozen rooms.
  • Interior Decorators – What do you do after you empty out and repair all these spaces? Well then you have to fill them up with furniture that is functional and looks nice, not to mention the accessories.  So, for example, we needed treatments for over 50 windows.
  • Health and Safety Officers – Pat had to take a class on food safety and management. She was a little nervous because she had not been subjected to a written exam for many years.  But, of course, she “aced” the test.
  • Chefs – Pat bought several cookbooks and started practicing her recipes. Basically, she just had to dust off all her skills from growing up in a big Italian family.  I, on the other hand, had to harken back to the days when I worked my way thru college as a short order cook.
  • Accountants – I had to learn Quickbooks and set up the various accounts in order to keep track of all the money we are going to make.
  • Marketers – We joined local organizations and started pounding the pavement. I now hand my business card to everyone, including the bag boy at the supermarket.

I do not want to overstate our case.  For all of these tasks, we had significant help from our professional consultants and contractors.  But anyone who is familiar us, knows that we are both “hands-on” individuals.  And it took a lot of personal persistence to keep the project moving along.

2013Nov09 009There were times between 2012 and 2015 when I thought we would never make it to the finish line.  And I don’t want to even think about the costs.  Suffice it to say that some of you have probably seen the 1986 movie entitled “The Money Pit”.

So what resulted from the expenditure of all this time, effort and money?  You will just have to stop by the Frederick Inn Bed and Breakfast to find out.  We enjoy sharing the building, and our story, with others.

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