For those who read this site regularly you have probably started to wonder why I have cut back on writing on the current hot issues of the day as they relate to politics and the new wave of race baiting. It's simple, I have come to realize that no matter what I write or think, there is way more to life than sound bites and no matter how much time goes by we seem to be talking about the same things, people and issues with little to nothing actually accomplished in addressing them.
In a recent interview with Radio Host Jeff Rense I explained why I had stopped traveling to DC to cover CPAC. CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) put on each year by The American Conservative Union was started I believe with really good intentions. It was just that after covering the event for several years it became clear to me that like all things started with the best of intentions, CPAC like so many other political organizations, had been co-opted by the special interest and by the groups that wanted to make a name for themselves more than make a difference in the country. So rather than continue to cover events which are more about who can pay more to play, I took on a challenge that would test my abilities both physically and mentally as well as my determination and conviction.
Last August a friend had asked me if I would help him out by trying to find a contractor that would be able to take on a renovation project within the budget my friend thought was adequate. Because of the passing of a friend the month before and my traveling to the memorial service in late September and a couple of other renovation projects ongoing at the apartment, I didn't get to visit the property for the first time til early November 2014.
The below photos are what I found on the first visit to the property.
It was clear to me from the moment I set eye and foot on the property that my friend was not going to find a contractor to do what had to be done on this property for what he was looking to spend, but that did not stop me from trying. On this day I met with three different contractors and spoke with the City building inspector to see exactly what the city said had to be done. I had left the property with the understanding that one of the contractors would be back in two days with his sub-contractors to get a better estimate idea on the job.
Two days later I get a call from the contractors informing me that when he and his subs arrived at the property that morning he found that someone had broke into the property by breaking the window in the front bedroom and along with literally destroying the place had stripped out the water heater, all the electrical wiring and had busted out all the plumbing, including the 4 inch cast iron sewer line.
These are the pictures taken just two days later.
Suddenly the project went from finding a contractor to trying to figure out how to prevent the property from simply being demolished. It is important to note that the City had already issued nuisance property condemnation orders because people were breaking into the property and using it for god knows what. Being the person that I am in that I do not give up or in, I was determined to figure out how this property could be saved and be made livable again. As contractor after contractor told me the property could not be renovated and repaired for less than $75,000 or more I became more determined than ever to show that it could.
In late November and early December my friend and I talked it over and after looking at all the options on December 18, 2014 I had made a decision that would without a doubt present the biggest challenge of my life physically, mentally and financially. I saw an opportunity to establish a long term home for me and Moe Joe and I knew in my heart I could take on and accomplish what I set out to do. On December 18, 2014 I began the process of working with the City and drawing plans for Electrical, Plumbing, Construction, site necessary to obtain the required building permits to begin to make the above disaster zone the home I know it could be. I not only had to study up on the building code, I had to determine what products would be used and include the insulation, energy stats as well as the Florida Building Code approval code for each.
Drawing the plans was not as easy as I thought it would be but I did it, to scale, with all correct symbols for pipe, outlets, switches, wire, circuits, lights, doors, windows, water heater placement, etc. Because I started the permitting process just before Christmas it took a couple of weeks before the permits were issued but considering what was required I did better than most pros who do it for a living. I picked up the permit on January 12, 2015 and swung the first hammer of the project that afternoon. On January 14, 2015 I had passed the pre-power inspection and had power restored to the property in two quads to use for construction.
It was January 15, 2015 when I began the first full day of work on the place and just a week later I had all the doors and windows replaced and passed inspection as well as the plumbing rough for a new water service from the meter into the house with all plumbing roughed in for water heater, tub, toilet and sinks. On January 16, 2015 I was able to restore water and sewer service to the property.I have worked every day getting up at 4:30 in the morning and driving an hour from home to start by 6 each morning and I wouldn't get home til 7:30 or 8 PM. I was killing myself and I decided that the only way I was going to get this done and survive is if I got the place up to the point where I could live in one room and work as my body would allow. On February 2, 2015 I packed up Moe Joe and everything we own and moved it into this house with almost everything simply being stacked in the middle of the rooms to allow me to work around it. It has been and continues to be a challenge, but compared to what the place looked like on November 14, 2014 I am extremely proud of what I have been able to accomplish in the amount of time that I have.
I have taken on something that has been extremely difficult at times. My right hand has gotten worse and it throbs in pain all night. The numbness in my hands and right leg are more severe but I refuse to allow it to stop me. It may slow me down but it will not stop me. I have the house completely wired, plumbed, insulated and have floors, drywall and paint left. How many people do you know who can wire and entire house, every outlet, switch, circuit and panel box and pass inspection the first time without ever doing it before?
This is the project that I have told you would be taking most of my time. I am still working on getting the second book out and am on schedule to have it released on May 26, 2015. Taking on this project has opened my eyes to what so so many people across this country deal with every day in trying to meet mortgage payments, comply with local code enforcement, and have a home that is theirs not someone else. This challenge has also reinforced a belief I have always held, which is there is nothing I cannot do it I decide to do it. While my physical limitations might make it a little harder to do, cause me to take longer to complete it, and hurt like hell for doing it, it will not and can not ever stop me from doing it. So yes, there is more to life than a sound bite for me and I am happy to know that soon I will be able to say I have taken something on the brink of demolition and turned it into something beautiful and that can be enjoyed for years to come.