We don’t honestly know where the last couple weeks have gone, but in the blink of an eye they were gone. The reunion in Atlanta was outstanding, although the dynamic has changed substantially now that four of the original five students have married…..and have a total of seven children. Oh yeah, and one more baby on the way. Anyway, it was a good reunion. We dads entertained the kiddos and tried to keep each other sane, while the moms reconnected. Then we all switched. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again I’m sure, but I am in awe of single parents who hold it all together. Also thrilled my family has so much flexibility. Score!
Once we returned from our reunion week, it was time for the Little Man to go back to school. So what happens when kids get back together? Oh come on parents out there, you know…..They get sick. Yep, so by the end of the first week…. the Little Man had a fever and a real nice little cold…..which we parents then caught. Ugh. Anyway, things are going well now that we are healing. I’m getting excited for another Memory Making father/son/grandson surfing trip. Denver Startup Week is coming up. Things are busy but good. There is too much going on in the real estate side of our lives to count, but I should have a signed LOI today…..and complete contract negotiations 30 days out……on our town house project. (LOI stands for Letter of Intent, and it basically begins to establish the term sheet for a deal.) Anyway, we should have more to report soon.
On the equity investing side of things, we have continued to enjoy the dividends from our few long term holdings…..while waiting for better opportunities to deploy new capital. Our swing trades have been unremarkable over the last couple weeks, but we’ve netted a few hundred dollars. We initiated a position in Disney (DIS) at $102. We would like Disney to be a long term holding of ours, but we probably should have waited for a better price. Oh well, we’ll add more in the $90s. We have been frustrated with how Vasco Data Security (VDSI), both the stock and the company, have performed lately. We’ll need to reexamine our thesis on this company.
Most homeowners are aware that a building code exists, although they may not be aware of the details within it. No matter, it is easy to look up the regulations online when you need to find something. Codes and requirements vary by city and state, but there is a tremendous amount of overlap. What always astounds me is that there are so many quirks to building code requirements. As a homeowner doing my own renovations, there are a lot of gray areas. Which repairs do you need to call for inspections on? How many inspections are required? Etc. We may have found our next house. A little bigger than we would prefer, this house’s defining characteristic is that nothing has been done to it since it was built in the late 1970s. A middle aged woman bought it then, lived in it until a couple months ago, and never remodeled anything. Seriously. Paisley wallpaper in one bathroom? Check. Kohler “poop brown” tub and matching tile enclosure? Check. This place even has an in wall vacuum system. While not quite as involved as the 1500’s epic home remodel rebuild, I will be in for many renovation projects if the sellers accept our offer early next week. (Fingers crossed).
Most of you know that we are very involved with our church. I’ve written before about little projects we do around church, in my free time. (I know volunteering isn’t how everyone would spend their Flexible Independence, but I’ve always loved it. Besides, the point of Flexible Independence is getting to spend it how we want.) One of the council members pulled me aside after worship and asked if I would be willing to pull a building permit, so the church could construct an enclosure for the dumpster. He knew I was an engineer, but also thought I was a licensed contractor….which I am not. I said I couldn’t, but then asked what was going on.
He proceeded to tell me about this massive dumpster enclosure that the council was thinking of building. I mean six foot high masonry walls, locking gate, the works. (Please keep in mind that our current dumpster has no enclosure and sits on the edge of our parking lot.) I pointed out to him that if we built the enclosure he was describing, we’d need plans signed/sealed by a structural engineer…..at least two inspections…….and need to hire a licensed contractor. He said he realized that, and his bids were coming in around $5k.
Most people know I’m a minimalist, but I also like to do thing as simply as possible. Simply, but correctly. For instance, I wouldn’t advocate for a group of volunteers building a 6 foot high masonry wall. That’s just silly and dangerous. I asked what he thought of building an enclosure out of PVC fencing material. It would be much easier and less expensive to construct. It would have a clean look when complete. Permitting and inspection hassles would be much lower as well. He responded that he has spoken with the building officials and they said it would still need inspections and to be built by a licensed contractor. He asked me if I could sort out the requirements and procedure. Sure I said.
It took a couple days to get to the right person, but became much simpler once I did. I explained the situation, and that we didn’t actually have to do anything……but were trying to be good neighbors and keep the appearance of our property up. There are no code enforcement violations. No complaints. He said that they were able to permit the project as a fence project….just have one inspection……and would not require a licensed contractor to pull the permit. The condition was that it had to be constructed by church volunteers, using off the shelf fencing materials. I said “deal”.
I hadn’t really considered the “volunteer” requirement before, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. They were trying to make it difficult for unlicensed contractors to operate. Just like how a homeowner is allowed to pull any permit for their property. It was an interesting twist for a commercial/institutional property, and we’ll make sure our church handy man is off the clock when the construction is going on. This option should save the church between $3-$4k, and end up with finished enclosure that is more in keeping with our church property. The point I’d like to pass along is that it is always important to talk to the right person, and ask your question a couple different ways. I often do so by offering hypothetical situations. It allows me to flush out the best/easiest solution, which is often less expensive as well.
Share your renovation and building permit experiences