The commercial property nightmare was finally over—three years and two months after it had begun. I should have been ecstatic; instead, I was thoroughly spent. Numb. What little enthusiasm I had was beaten out of me during the final weeks leading up to the closing, which were fraught with all manner of snafus and last-minute haggling. Plus, the weather was miserable, my health had taken a serious nosedive, and I was a hair's breadth shy of a nervous breakdown. It was like skidding through the finish line in a totally wrecked car.
But the worst part was that I still faced an uncertain future: owing to lawyer's fees, property tax liens and a host of other deductions, I ended up with roughly half the amount I would have net had the transaction wrapped in a timely fashion. I can only hope it will be enough to finish the house; I won't know until after I start getting estimates for some of the really big-ticket items, like the doors, windows and roof.
Plus, things are different than they were back in October 2016, when work on the house ground to a halt. In spite of having Lyme Disease and Sarcoidosis, I was perhaps the fittest I'd been since my early 30s, when I was busy gutting and rebuilding my first home. By contrast, I've been nearly immobilized the last two years. Not to mention acutely depressed. All the physical gains I'd made building my home have been lost.
I may be able to recover some of my strength and flexibility, but I'll never be back to where I was. My knee has become the stopping point: I need a new one, but the likelihood of that happening is vanishingly small. And so, as I embark on the last, long leg of the run to get the house done, I'm faced with the fact that I can only manage a few of the items left to do. The upside, however, is that the work will be done much more quickly, and perhaps with better quality—assuming I can afford it.
With my head reduced to oatmeal, I needed a solid action plan. Fortunately, I'd already created one, which I've turned into a to-do list that I can keep updated. The biggest challenges, however, were readjusting my mind and body from years of inaction to action. Plus, I had to be prepared for any number of unforeseen speed bumps that would almost certainly pop up along the way. Indeed, there have been many—way too many, as far as I'm concerned.
Hard Choices Ahead
Much tighter finances means having to re-think many things. One is how much work I'll do myself: it becomes "as much as humanly possible," as I'm forced to tackle stuff I'd considered foregoing. The jobs of insulation and floor tiling were the first to be moved back under the "DIY" column, even though they present significant physical challenges.
The roof will be the biggest single expense. From day one my choice was standing seam steel. But with a 1:12 pitch, it's the only allowable option. Professionally installed, I'm looking at $25K. DIY installation would only knock off about $5K, and given that the panels weigh about 70 pounds each, it's not going to happen. Plus, I've never done steel roofing before, so the potential of screwing up is pretty high; I'd much rather invest additional capital in making sure it's done right.
Among many other things, it now has me reconsidering my choice of exterior sheathing. Just before the real estate deal was settled, I'd chosen standing seam steel for the siding to match the roof. But the siding could run between $10K and $15K, professionally installed. Changing my selection criteria to "most economical" means DIY faux board and batten, which I'd used for the Epiphany. It's really just cheap grooved exterior plywood with pressure-treated slats applied over the grooves to make it look like board and batten. Total projected cost would be less than $2K. I can live with that.
One thing I refuse to do myself is sheetrock. Even though I have the skills, I cannot handle the rock, even with a good knee. It is brutal, punishing work, especially ceilings. For a few thousand I can have it all done painlessly, and in just a few days. Plus, I'm lousy at compounding, so it will look infinitely better done by pros.
Other hard choices include things like the appliances: Currently I'm looking at over $13K worth, making it a source of considerable consternation. They aren't top-of-the-line models, but they're not budget-conscious, either. But if I change certain selections, it will almost certainly involve some re-framing. A lot of online comparison-shopping lies ahead.
It's rather disappointing: instead of finishing the house in style, I'll be nipping the budget to the bone just to reach the finish line.
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