Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Realism: It took 2 years to not justify ADU

As you read this, realize I would seriously consider this an ADU build if I had an extra 15 grand around. To keep this at 15k or less, I must make some concessions.

It became clear to us that the city will require changes that really are cost prohibitive, and changes that are not even quite sensible for our needs.

In some cases it is better to just add a bath room. Our garage is already fully insulated and has electric.

My main concern is a place for mom to stay in the summer time to see her grandson. That is it. Besides a work out room, and place we can do crafts with the boy. We need it for that, but all the requirements for a room used maybe a month and a half per year? Nope.

It is not just SDC's. There is plenty to deal with. Much I am not even mentioning here. ADU is the wrong product.

They wanted a water heater. Why? our home has a great gas one with lots of capacity. With only 200 sq ft, every bit of space counts.. I don't particularly desire an electric one (it will be all electric) out there when I have capacity and one day will want a tankless to power the home and garage bath room. Energy savings should count. We are simply recirculating the water heater and adding plumbing for the sink and toilet.

Another sub box. No thanks. I have both circuits already ran out there, plenty to power the basic needs of a bath and microwave with coffee pot set up.  Seeing I won't have a stove or heating wired, it seems like this is over kill too.

A firewall. I cannot even get to the wall adjacent to the chain link fence. Not an option. Plus the expense makes it a non happenin. To add fuel to that frustration, the city had some people telling me every wall needed one.. which makes zero sense.. be nice if everyone knew what was needed and not just made up what they thought was needed? It made me nervous because there is only so much room we have to budget for this, I cannot have sudden surprises due to lack of professionalism/knowledge on construction requirements. The home adjacent on our property line is over 25 ft from the garage I wanted to make an ADU. No chance of a fire impacting them in any way.
* IF I could build a firewall or meet the requirements without taking the cedar shake off and squeeze into the fence line, from perhaps the inside(?) I would do it. Under the circumstances, unless a TV series does a documentary and helps pay a little bit of the project ( I was hoping we would be approached), the additional work will make it a few grand more than we can spend. I would seek equity line of credit, but not an option. Our home is just barely worth above what we paid in 2006.

I like that I could just put a wall heater. Nothing wired in. Like an Envi. I don't care for forced air and Kadett was the only affordable option. No way I was putting in a heat pump for so little space that was not even constantly occupied. Also I would need to up the home's 100 amp house panel to do it anyway (more expense).

So, a bath room. No 2nd sink in the bath room, just a work sink outside of it. I guess I could also sign a covenant, but I just don't care if there is 2 sinks. No stove, because I cannot have a stove line if it is not an ADU. That is fine. Even the little 21" stove I bought takes up valuable relestate in 200 sq ft.

It took me 2 years to get real about this and decide I want to keep it a garage with a sink and toilet/shower combo. But I am glad I did not dive into it because I would have just had a partial project not finished sitting there.

We also figured if we add a French Door that opens nice and wide to allow a car to park in there, and the bath is tight enough against the opposite wall in the corner, it could be a car parking spot for my classic GTI. We have no drive way. I think this could decrease the value of the home if there is zero parking aside from the street. I bike all the time, but want the flexibility of having a garage anyway.. and that was the final deal breaker to just add a bath and make a work space.

Oh, and the cherry on the top.. they might increase our taxes if we add an ADU. NO Bueno. We are here for life as long as it is affordable. I cannot guarantee we want to rent all the time, I want full flexibility and cost savings on every level. Another $600 a year for a little 200 sq ft place with a special name just does not Jive with me.

Things to consider folks. It is not all "here you go, make it happen".  Once you begin the venture from desk to desk with the city planning dept, get opposite info, wrong info, etc... it makes it daunting and stressful. I just don't need that in my life. My visit will be "I want a bath room in my garage, the sink will be on the outside wall of it with a place for my microwave". Done. Place for mom a few weeks a year and extra play space for the kiddo, a place I can DJ, park some bikes or my car... much better than the ADU IMHO.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tiny Home Project in SE Portland: I have a better budget to work with, now I need community help

The latest information on how much I have managed to pull together and the assistance I am seeking can be read on tinyhomes.com . I will be sharing a lot more regarding this project in the future. Any builders and designers looking to contribute, please contact me at my email address or leave a note below. Seriously, drywall, mud and tape, framing, adding a firewall, siding, installing bathroom or kitchen fixtures.. anything could help!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Vanagon - My Unhealthy Obsession & the Questionable Pricing of an Aircooled Model

I will admit have had wanted a Vanagon Westy for many years now. There. I said it. Even knowing they can be a RPITA.

Once upon a time I was an insane VW watercooled fanatic. Well, car fanatic in general. I STILL have a special place in the car cabaret for anything auto, car discussion related, particularly rare and obscure or under appreciated cars.. as well as ones one can live in, or camp in.. or be a version of a Tiny Home.

A Vanagon is a mixed bag. On one hand, they are a Swiss Army Knife. Packaged VERY cleverly. No vehicle this small (at least available here in the USA) is so well thought out in terms of using every inch of space for sleeping and hanging out.

They are also well finished. German Craftmanship.

The view of the road is something special. Ever since the original Bus they have had this wide view of the the road. Unlike an RV, you can see well on every end. There really is no blind spot to be found.

The stoves work well. The fridge. The pop top is roomy enough for two. The rear seat folds to a decent 2 person bed. The tables are great to eat at after making a meal or playing cards. There is storage galore.

They have a decent handling package with an almost mid engine type feel on the road. Many considered the Vanagon the Porche 911 of mini vans.  They also have a tight turning circle for the type of utilitarian vehicle they are

The romance ends there.

Like the more venerable predessor, the classic VW Bus,  the Vanagon is SLOW. Like as in good luck exceeding 25 MPH up a big grade hill SLOW.
ALL of them. Some just worse than others. The Diesel (recently I found one that bid as high as 9k on eBay with 53k!!) is about the sloewest vehicle that ever entered the American market. under 55 HP from a 1.6 liter motor towing along over 3k lbs. INSANELY - SLOW.

The 1.9 water-cooled motor from 1983-1985 is barely adequate. Having trouble keeping up with modern traffic, but at least within some level of ability to get you there without cussing too much. Same withe 2.1 liter to follow from 1986-1992. VW created a clever ass package with a motor that was simply ASS. You would THINK after 12 years of making the Vanagon VW would have created a better power plant? Right?

The air cooled model is only ever so slightly better than the pathetically slow Diesel. I mean as in over 20 seconds 0-60 instead of 30+ seconds. They both drive 25 mph up a hill.

Here is one on eBay with 40k miles original. On the plus side the facility that obviously bought this looking to flip it for serious cash, did the right things. Change the seals, gas tank,  and anything that a 30 year old barely used vehicle will need to be reasonably reliable.

But lets get real. The bid is currently $11,600 with 5 hours to go. The Vanagon was NEVER a truly reliable vehicle no matter what miles are on it.  ALL of them have issues. Air Cooled as has valve issues, Diesel can barely move, 1.9 & 2,1 liter Wasserboxer head gasket leaking mess of a motor.

Would YOU pay that much for a vehicle that, while it might have a decent amount of repairs over it's ownership, could be bought in well taken care of higher mileage condition, for around 3 grand if you looked hard enough?

At least with a later model that's not air cooled one could look into investing in a Subaru 2.2 liter conversion. Good motor with that great interior and handling...
but the Air-cooled leaves one kind of stuck. Stuck with one of the most painfully slow vehicles ever made. The amount of modifications to put in another water-cooled motor would make it very cost inefficient to consider. So yeah, you are stuck.

I for one have come to the conclusion that a more reliable, and even comfier Toyota RV (ANY year, 20R, 22R, V6) is a better bet with some level of power to move for less $, and perhaps most importantly, a great deal more reliability.  Granted, the cool factor will be at a loss, and it will be less easy to park and maneuver.

$11,600 for a 1980 Air Cooled VW Vanagon????? Get a low mileage V6 Toyota Motorhome in perfect condition. You'll enjoy it more, enjoy camping in it more, and fix it A LOT less! Hell, I just found a V6 with 89k for $6800. Even if it needed a complete engine over haul it would be a much more reliable choice.


I have gotten to the point where, while an RV would be lovely.. I am finding it less stressful to pack up my touring bicycle I built out of a 1993 steel framed Specialized Rock Hopper, sleep in an REI Half Dome Tent I bought on sale for $100 including the Foot Print.... YES..that is much more my speed.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Volkswagen-BusVanagon-WESTFALIA-/261377124174



Friday, December 20, 2013

We are having a little BOY

Early Visit. 9.5 weeks
18 Weeks and a BOY!
Went in for a 2nd ultrasound. Baby was sticking tongue out, kicking, waving. 
Much more REAL than expected. 

I was kind of quiet about my desire to have a little boy. I already have 5 chickens, Dot Dog,
 and my Wife... we are covered for Estrogen in this home. 

It is funny, almost "knew". As soon as the Doctor began showing what was happening inside, I just knew "That's a Dude". A minute after my inside thoughts, the doctor let us know "It's a Boy!".

Now we can plan. I can look out for the Toys I grew up with for us to play with (old Tonka trucks and Fisherprice, that's my Living Vicariously Through choices). I am currently looking for bikes for kids, seeking that trailer for getting around town... researching best bike and baby to kid options.

Stoked. Scared. But, Stoked.


My Recent Commuting and all around Utility Bike: I am a Wald basket Believer.



It began with fenders, some swept back bars and then discovered it needed a  higher rise to the stem (I added an adjustable quill per lower right pic). Decided to go with some fat Bontrager Hard Case 2.0 Tires.  Found a rear rack on a bike someone trashed. Found the Wald basket in a trash bin as well.

Let me just say that I LOVE my front basket. I can hold bins of food, cake, bungee down all kinds of stuff that sometimes was awkward in my rear panniers. Plus, unlike my panniers (which are VERY handy in their own right, situationally), I can leave without remembering to bring them. I can leave the bike without having to bring my Orlieb bags inside a grocery store.

Steel frame classic Bridgestone MB-3, fat tires, fenders, swooped bars, and a Wald BIG basket? Comfy, Tough, Utilitarian, and FTW!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ADU Loan Option & Electrical Costs

The current situation is that we do not have enough equity in the home to pull funds. The closing costs ate the additional equity.

So I looked into a home equity line of credit. I am allowed as much as 15k. The way I look at it, at 4.5% interest, and a $350 fee to receive this loan... I could avoid cleaning my entire 10 k of personal savings out, or at least pay for the build in it's entirety if it ends up being over 20k.

In the end, it is about $2500 in interest if we pay back in 2 years. To have a rental in the end? Likely worth it.  That DOES mean I will need to have a monthly renter consistently to pull this off, using every dime in rent to pay down the loan. Which does not seem unreachable. If it takes longer, that just means paying more in interest.

My biggest hurdle has been electrical. The bids have been over $5000 (many as much as $6800). We are now exploring a friend or a friend handling the electrical for about $4k, or handling demo of current wiring and another highly recommended local contractor adding the new 200 amp service in the home, sub box, digging, wiring, etc. Leaving me with a $5000-5500 bill.

Seeing I have a strict budget as it is, I might have to go with the friend of a friend from Tualitin (he is still bonded.. important!) for $4500 or less, doing the same work. He requires that I buy the supplies needed and pay him the labor. To save $1000 that could be used for framing an interior, or adding a front shed style porch... it is likely worth picking up the goods and having him do the work, over hiring a local contractor. He is pulling permits on his own/like the local contractor would have, and I appreciate that a lot.

I am waiting to say Yay to the loan until I have confirmed the costs that a main contractor quoted, meeting with a city rep at my home to get the low down on requirements with my architect present, and pulling the permits with that architect once he puts together the site map and engineering.

That's the latest!




Monday, July 22, 2013

Quick Update on the ADU: Home Refinance helping fund the ADU, Water Heater Thoughts.

I have been gathering bids. I think I found my plumber.

The one change I would like to make is sharing the current relatively new gas water heater in our main house with the ADU. I see little reason to put an electric one in the limited space. It would be more efficient to share our 50 gallon tank as well. We are only 2 people, and when/if we have a child... it will still be only 3 people in our home that has 1 bathroom.

Still not sure where the closet will be in the ADU.

I have 3 contractors working out bids. I figure who ever gets to me with a solid # and a start date will be my guy.

Our home was appraised. We are getting a (much) lower interest loan though a Credit Union since we had a bad experience with B of A. So happy that all our hard work making our home spiffy paid off. We were under water since we purchased as the market fell in late 2006.  Our home is 20k above what we paid..

Meaning? I can more effectively finance the ADU. It looks like the 4k I needed to get this rolling will be available.  At 2.75% interest rolled into the loan.. there could not be a more affordable means of getting this done!  It will still be a tight budget (12k, plus 4k.. =16k total to build this 227 square foot home, including permits)... but should be doable.   If worst did come to worst, I got approval for 3k on a 7.9% interest credit card. I will leave that for incidentals if they come up in the build. Then I will need to find a renter ASAP when it is built (hopefully within 3 months!) to pay that back since I really have no discretionary income, just enough to pay my bills. Need the rent money to pay back that loan to avoid big interest costs.