Ugly House, Chapter 5: Sometimes a Different Perspective Is Needed

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While I had hoped to have started construction by now (mid-January), scheduling and processing for the other professionals involved has slowed things down considerably. First the surveyor needed to squeeze our project into their overbooked schedule. Then we hit the holidays… My architect then needed more time to have discussions with the planning department and with his client workload, needed another week or so to get to where we thought we’d be by the 3rd week in January… Here we are, my child is marking the 100th day of school and we’ve not managed to make progress towards being able to have realistic conversations with the General Contractor.  

Anxiety is building up as we have made the first official mortgage payment and now the interest clock is ticking…  

Last week I met with my Architect and his assistant. There is good news! They ascertained the encroachment of the existing bay window, at the front of the property line, is not in need of any additional permitting or fees as long as it is with-in code complying standards for clearances. Now the question of the moment… “is it in compliance with clearances?” They also report back pretty much everything else we had understood. There is plenty of documentation to show that this building has been a duplex since the 1930s and every other regulatory agency except for the city considers it as such.  

That’s where the good news seems to end. If we were to try the “easier route” and change the status of the lower space to an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) we would be constricted to having the rentable space be a maximum 50% of the main home’s habitable space. Essentially we could only offer a one-bedroom apartment and take in considerably less rental income. On top of that, as he talks it through, we are probably looking at the same amount of time through the planning review processes with neighborhood notification and “city council meeting” public notices, that it wouldn’t save us any time. With a quick look at the calendar, this means we couldn’t move in until the fall, and September would be a tight timeline estimation.  

I’ve just hit bottom on the emotional roller coaster and I’m desperately seeking the big chain-driven climb back to the top. “What have I done” keeps rolling across the marquee of my mind.