My first deal

It took a long time to land my first deal. Probably 10 months of active searching, and several years before that casually feeling around the market and the renovation business. My criteria was:

  1. Not far from my home in Malden, Massachusetts - I have a family who I have responsibilities to, and enjoy spending time with

  2. Reasonably favorable numbers - Purchase Price + Conservative Renovation Estimates <= Expected Sale Price

  3. A smart renovation (as opposed to a knock-down) could result in a beautiful home with a Greatly (with a capital G) improved energy consumption footprint.

In October, I finally found the right place. The home was built in 1890. It’s a 1800 sf single family in a charming, high-value neighborhood north of Boston. 3 bedrooms with 1.5 bathrooms. The walls/ceilings/floors/windows are in rough shape. It smells like the dog that lived there before I bought it. The Brady Bunch would have made fun of the dated kitchen. The layout was very funky, as it had once been a 2 family with 2 (crappy) staircases and awkward dividing walls. None of the systems worked and knob & tube was everywhere. The owner understood the problems with the home, and wanted to move before the winter freeze. PERFECT! A blank canvas! I made a cash offer on the day I saw it at the price he was asking, and ended up getting it for $40K less than that due to a property line misunderstanding.

My big idea is to fix the layout, reclaim poorly used space, gut & redo the interior, dormer the roof to add a bedroom, add an ensuite bathroom to a master bedroom, insulate the ba-jesus out of it, maybe finish the basement, install efficient heat pumps and on-demand water heating. If all goes well, I might sell it for twice what I bought it for. The renovation initially looked like it would cost 250K, but a lot of that was a mildly-educated wild guess. The only way to know for sure, was to try. The worst that can happen, I figure, is that I pay more for the renovation than I budget and lose money, but gain an education. Let’s do this.


Ah, Hello?

Here we go… I’m (hopefully) former Information Technologies professional… specifically an Enterprise Software Architecture Consultant. I designed and oversaw the build for very large business processes supported primarily by custom built software. I loved the work. I was good at it. And it paid very well. I gradually grew dissatisfied with the nagging reality of a purpose void. Humanity faces so many critical challenges, and I felt numbed by a world focused entirely on profit for profit’s sake. I guess I had made enough of it. I had the opportunity to add a mission I love to the wonderful life I already had, and I took it.

By my calculation, climate change is our largest collective problem. Time to solve it and avoid unspeakable devastation is slipping away (if it hasn’t already). Significant changes to the way we live are needed, but our daily personal challenges block our path to an urgently needed healthier existence. People unconditionally want certain luxuries. We want to be comfortable in our home: warm in the winter, cool in the summer, a nice place to gather with the people we care about. We take pride in our homes, and we will not sacrifice that (for the most part).

Thankfully, through home building innovations, brilliant people have quietly been making it possible for modern Americans to live a low carbon lifestyle, at an undeniably sensible price. All we need to do is piece it all together. Sounds simple enough.

Welcome to my thoughts…