I successfully renovated a condo building. My new husband offered to manage my next project — and it all went horribly wrong

I come from a very poor background. I have been homeless a few times. Through hard work and absolute sacrifice, I was not only able to secure a good job for myself, but also spent my life as a teenager taking care of my entire family. That continued until my mid-30s when I started focusing on myself and trying to secure my own retirement.

I had to figure everything out myself. It’s quite lonely. After several failed businesses, I finally found real estate and jumped right in. I had to pay quite a bit, and I met a few bad guys during that time, but overall, I bought and rehabilitated a four-unit apartment and it turned into a profit in five years.

During that time, I found another four-unit building, which I bought with cash. My ex is an electrician and is incredibly helpful so we got together pretty quickly because we spent a lot of time together. He helped me on many projects, often overseeing labor, but I always paid for supplies and any third-party workers needed.

He dug us down a hole

He proposed after a year, and we got married a year later. He asked to administer the second rehab. He told me that he knows more than I do about project management. Fast-forward to 2021: I invest $140,000 and he invests $40,000. Three years later, the project is still not finished. When I questioned him, he was angry and resentful.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our joint project led to terrible stress because he just lied about what happened to our budget – how much I invested – and why the project was working. The project is not even 50% complete. He dug us into a hole, spent money on things I told him not to buy, and exceeded our original budget.


‘I covered most of our expenses during the four years we were together.’

My husband left me in August. He abandoned the project and our marriage. He says our marriage and business stress him out. I never judged him, and know that I made twice as much as he did when we met but that doesn’t matter to me. I covered most of our expenses in the four years we were together, and he only contributed when he felt like it.

He tried to come back in February, but we ended up fighting again. Now he wants the $40,000 he invested in my building that he tore up and left for demolition. I could have done it two years ago if I was still in charge. I have nothing legally written. I called an attorney who said a divorce could cost me $15,000.

I’m not a big wig investor

If both properties were purchased in my name only before our marriage – and I invested three times what he had in his failed project – then who is in debt? I told him that he has no right to both properties and that we should not get such an expensive divorce without children. Outside of the project, we haven’t allocated our finances.

I bought this building to use for retirement income as I am not a big wig investor. These two buildings cost me my life savings, and I should have made $1 million in assets. My net worth is now $650,000 because the other building is still losing money. In my current state, I will lose money if I sell it as it is.

He kept telling me to take equity out of my first property to pay him to leave, but I didn’t feel like I owed him anything due to his negligence. , and the fact that he has tied up my money and lost rental income for the past two years. I’ve covered our expenses, including $50,000 for vacations since we’ve been together.

I feel like I broke my heart, and now he’s trying to break my wallet too.

Project management

Dear Manager,

A mediocre man meets a successful woman, convinces her that he is better at building furniture, unable to oversee a project similar to the one she has successfully managed in the past. In the past, invest a fraction of what his wife had invested, get angry when asked about his failures, pick up his hammer and claim his money back.

You have the money to talk to a good lawyer, and get the legal background. Good omen that you bought these properties before getting married, but you are likely to have compounded the second property because he invested $40,000 of his own money to renovate it.

Whether you live in a property community or an equitable distribution state, gather documentation: bank statements, emails, credit card statements, bills, and anything that shows you have contributed to this marriage. Be prepared. In the end he may owe you money.

While you’re doing that, keep your eyes on the future rather than the past. It may be true that you can now have $1 million in savings, but that’s not what happened. You’ve paid the price for a lesson you won’t be able to forget in a hurry. Don’t give away your creative gold to anyone.


‘I want you to build something for which you will lose nothing but the courage and determination you have shown in your life thus far.’

When I read that your estranged husband has arrived on the scene, I hope things don’t turn out this way. He helped you by screwing. The good news is that you still have the skin in the game, you can finish the second project when you finish the first one. But first you need to be tough.

To do that, I want you to build something that will cost you nothing but the courage and determination you’ve shown in your life so far: build a wall of glass between you and your husband. It’s time to stop entertaining his demands on your time and business.

He was a madman, a man who had built himself on a smoke cloud of fake bravery. If he’s who he says he is, he’ll build you up instead. You have managed a similar project with budget and time. The only person you need to prove anything to is yourself.

The next man who comes along and points the drum tells you that he is better than you at something or anything, show him the door. Hopefully, it will be a door you paid for and installed yourself – and a door with a good lock and a really nice, classy door.

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