Well Happy New Year, Race Fans! Here’s what’s going down.
Our little project on Main has been wracked to and fro by myriad issues since inception. The last such being the permit process that included new drawings, new engineer letters, new hundred dollar bills, etc. This has been our longest start to not-even-close-to-finish in our history. But some progress has been made. This includes an ominous looking black front door and the beginnings of a beautiful ceiling on the first floor. Our contractor sent over some blurry photos -posted here for your own home-brewed version of a sobriety test. (If some of this looks blurry, you are not drunk. If the ceiling shot is crystal clear, you are drunk.)
Now, as we turn the page on the final and 12th chapter of the year, we are taking a little time to reflect upon not only our year, but our history.
As some of our erstwhile readers may know, this thing of ours started on a small island off the coast of Italy. The island was called, “Earth’s Pull” and was actually a website. So, fogeddaaboutit, it isn’t a real island like Sicily, Salvatore, and this isn’t the mob. When we discuss this thing of ours, that is. We started Earth’s Pull to document our pursuit of escaping gravity (the rat race) and entering that rarified air of a life on more favorable terms than 9 to 5.
As we became more involved in flipping, and very early on into the whole Earth’s Pull effort, we decided to start an LLC or two and get a different name (other than Earth’s Pull) cranking away. After a search or two online, a couple of food inspired naps, and some serious polling of family members, we came up with Box Bend. After all, this is what we do. We take little boxes and pull them and push them and bend them into new and rejuvenated Box forms. And although the domain of www.littleboxespulledpushedandbendedintonewforms.com was available on Go Daddy, we went with www.boxbend.com. And then www.boxbendcrew.com for this blog.
And through it all all we had the goal of being a profitable little LLC. This is not always possible, but so be it. For the most part, two or three exceptions noted, we have been profitable. And this has been good. And fun. However, there are two dark spots on our sun.
The first problem that all renovators and flippers go through, or maybe it would be better to say that the first realization one comes to in the flipping game is, tomorrow you will have to drag your carcass out of bed and go do this thing all over again if you want to maintain the lifestyle you hope to become accustomed to. This is a dairy farm gig. Every stinking day someone has to milk the cows. Granted, it is a good gig when done correctly. And for all the obstacles and hurdles and gymnastics and disappearing materials, it can be a fun gig. Each project holds the genesis of a new adventure. But it is a one-and-done deal if one buys, renovates and then sells.
The second dark dark spot or problem is what we will call the HGTV Paradigm. This is the underlying theory that one can watch someone flip a house on HGTV, then buy, then renovate in one week, then sell, and then get an HGTV deal of one’s own. Subsequent results are an influx of neophytes overpaying for projects, or “lipsticking” over serious problems, and then making a small profit and thinking that this is the way to play the game. Stardom awaits. All that whiny little narrative to say that, at least in parts of our market, people are overpaying for property. Or at least we think so.
So what does this have to do with the price of tea on earth or even on the moon -beyond the gravitational pull? Well, hopefully bringing it all together, we got into this in part to become independent. And, given the current situation coupled with that overarching goal, we are tending more and more towards a model of buy-renovate-hold and lease. We feel that this is where real wealth can be found. We have been slowly doing this with different deals. East Main may be the next such deal. Our new goal being to build up our commercial and residential rental portfolio to greater heights.
Now don’t get us wrong. We will still buy-renovate-sell if we can find a deal that gives us the safety room we need. We will also sell out of necessity if need be, but our strategy is to buy and hold whenever this new direction is conducive to our rental criteria.
Box Bend 2.0 is all about portfolio building and strategic investments married up to old school land and building flips. We’re looking for the ratio to be 51% or higher in favor of portfolio building.
Now all we we need is a good recession. Everything will be on sale and the neophytes will evaporate in a cloud of bad deals and iffy TV.
Oops. Did we say that out loud?
Want to make a million dollars or more?
Invent a pre-poop detector for baby bouncers.
Possibly more financial reward depending upon the inverse ratio of the amount of SC Johnson products, specifically “Shout,” that one uses for the poop cleanup/pre-treat that has mushroomed out of the top of the elastic pants due to excessive bouncing. The same poop that explodes into the shirt, and then spreads across the expensive sheets where one, in admitted haste, may go to change the poopy baby. The same baby that may grab the poop with her ninja-baby death grip and then grab the duvet cover. Even more reward for a machine that notifies a father that there are no baby wipes within reach.
Big, big dollars. Big.
Hey Race Fans! Welcome back.
We have been busy busy busy. So busy that we don’t have time for commas.
So let’s catch you up, boo.
First off, Main is back on track. Our contractor has been framing like a crooked cop ever since we said good bye to the amateur hour stuff we had going on. (See our earlier post.) Now, if we can take this project that is back on track and end up in the Black, well then, we will be Back in Black. And we bet you know, we’re glad to be back. Let loose... from the noose. You know the one... kept us hanging about.
At any rate, our contractor straightened out the mess the previous guys left and has most thing roughed in. Including stairs. Which we climbed. Yesterday. Here’s a little Box Bend tip for those looking to get into flipping: If you’re wearing vintage Puma kicks to the site, they will offer zero protection from nails sticking out of a pile of boards at the top of stairs. Ouch! (You, sir/mam, are welcome.)
We also are seeing some serious porch action. (See the second photo above, and the one below.) Front and side porches for summertime swings, sweet tea, and possibly a viewing of Bull Durham on a laptop equipped with Amazon Prime. You know; feet up, the Puma kicks with the nail hole in the right sole on the floor, and a way-too-comfortable chair. Yeah...
In addiction to all things Main, we have rented out Barbour Store. This was under the condition that the massive lawn is cut. Which in turn found us buying a zero-turn mower for the tenant Yee-ha! Did we mention that it’s a very big lot?
And we have our ears open for the next Box Bend project. Our GC thinks he has one hooked for us. We’ll see. In the meantime we will be hanging out here. Working on Box Bend 2.0 (hopefully ready by spring or summer). Dressed comfortably and watching Amazon Prime... in our Pumas.
We are pleased to announce that the Spanish company, OPDE, has signed a one year option to lease land from Box Bend, LLC. (A Bon Vivant World company.) If executed, the lease will be for 52 Acres in Lee County, North Carolina over a 35 year term. OPDE is a global player in solar development.
Now back to our regular programming.
Well hello race fans!
Happy weekend and week to come.
We are happy to report that we weren't doing our job and we weren't checking up on one of our contractors. Why happy? Because we learned a very valuable lesson: Always do your job.
Fortunately, that particular contractor imploded. We were very, very fortunate. In secular terms, we got lucky. If the contractor had not imploded, our $15,000 in after-the-fact repairs by the replacement contractor (with $5,000 more to come), would have been multiples of that number. We would have spent tons of money on finishing the renovation only to discover that we had something that would then have to be pulled apart and redone at a heavy, heavy price.
So, shame on us. Not shame on the contractor, but shame on us. We hired these clowns, but never checked up on the circus. We assumed that a license, and a recommendation, coupled with a LLC setup equated into something legit. (The LLC was an LLC on a business card only. Again, we should have checked.) We also assumed that because the progress photos were cool, because the conversation was cool, because the guys were civil and nice, that all was cool at the site. Not true. One or five golden photos will not tell you the complete story-especially if the other fifteen you're not seeing are garbage. Anyone can smile. Anyone can get one good photo out of fifteen. But not everyone can renovate a beast of a job.
We were/are shamed by our complacency. Lesson learned.
So here, in graphic detail, are some of the less golden photographs taken by the replacement contractor and verified by us.
Hey, race fans! How's the old double-hung window hanging?
The BB Crew has been down for a couple of weeks due to stomach flu. Fun! But we're back in the land of the living now. Kind of.
Main Avenue hit a snag with the dissolution of our contractor. Yep, the contractor's company dissolved. Which left us in a bind, but we think we're off to the races again on the job with a new contractor. Here's an object lesson on the concept of "back up." Stay tuned on this fun little project.
Barbour (the elephant) is done. We've decided to hang on to it for a while. We're going to use it for another purpose for the next six or seven months. After that we may sell or rent it out.
Finally, we hired some outside consultants on the potential next stage for Box Bend. Suffice to say that we are considering placing a foot on each side of the development-corporate landlord aisle. This will be a six to twelve month project, and way beyond what we have done before as spec home builder or landlord. Which brings up a couple of points:
We've ripped off and bastardized the British Special Air Service motto -(He) Who Dares Wins. Basically, no guts, no glory. A lot of people talk. A few do. Right or wrong, scaling the peaks or flat on your backside, the only shame is in not trying. One can improve the odds, though.
Education. One can purchase education with time or money. Or both. A good education helps to steer the ship clear of obstacles. We've found the best education is to invest time and money with those that have done what we want to do. This year, so far, we've spent thousands of dollars on our education. This is not unusual for us. If you want to be different you have to do things differently. So far, it has paid off.
When we couldn't afford steep tuition rates or courses or consultants, we bought books on tape and lurked incessantly on websites that dealt with real estate or businesss. We also had (and still have) library cards.
So now we're investing again in ourselves with consultants that have achieved what we want to do. After the consultation, we'll know without a doubt if we are going forward or not. How much is removing a question mark worth? We think it is invaluable.
Okay. Enough of that. In other news, we are officially unemployed. This has been a long time coming, but we're happy to report that as of September 1st, we are gainfully unemployed. We will be working with our consultants, working on a few other projects, and looking at a few opportunities that have been waiting patiently in the wings for us to be... unemployed. We prefer "full-time investors." Either way, bye-bye day gig.
Main has exercised some restraint and some modesty. This is evidenced by the fact that the top is now back in place. That is, the roof trusses are on like Donkey Kong.
Meanwhile, we are searching for the next deal, but we are warily watching a market where wide-eyed cowboys are paying up to 90% of ARV and expecting to make a profit. It may be time to take cash off the table and wait for everything to go back on sale.
In regards to the title, we apologize for the crooked nature of these photos. The Main project shot was taken about 34.3 minutes past the butt crack of dawn last weekend. That's our excuse and we're sticking to it.
The rest of the photos, well... it's Barbour in the remaining shots. Elephants are always a little unseemly in appearance. (Please reference earlier Babar post on this subject.)
We're pretty excited about both projects.
We met Mike -the contractor on Main -for an early AM check handoff for a smoking hot deal on a double oven. Get it? Smoking? Hot? Oven? Okay. Never mind. Mike is storing the oven until the little Main that could is ready for that bad boy. But that's not all. Take a look at the very crooked politicians' photo of Main. See anything beyond sheathing and a topless, bomb shelter-looking thing? Yeah! That's right, son (daughter). "Them there trusses are on der ground, hos." (North Dakota meets North Carolina.).
Yeah! Alright! Topless shame no mo'. Or so goes the plan.
And Barbour also benefited from a secret meeting with Mr. Steve -the contractor on that job. Here's a little insider info: contractors like to get paid. So does Mr. Steve. And thus the top secret, Defcon 5-level, meeting. We paid Mr. Steve.
Mr. Steve has been very busy putting in new flooring and features at this fantastic modular manufactured home. He should be wrapping up this bad boy (with sunroom, garage and over an acre of land) in the next few weeks. And then, cue the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, we're releasing this catch back into the wild.
We've sold our 5 Acres on Richmond Road and are in the process of selling the old farmhouse on 20 acres in Sanford. But lately, our mind has been elsewhere.
New beginnings and old doors being opened and closed. And then, to add self-absorption to self-absorption, a couple of medical scans have been burning in our minds like a small candle in a huge and dimly lit hall -barely noticeable but still perceptible. Today is the second scan. The day one of us goes nuclear with a PET scan. Fun. Nuclear. Nuclear?
But as far as the Box that Bends goes, we have to hand it to our erstwhile realtor, Judson Vickery, for making that puppy known as Richmond move. Truth-be-told, we bought it wrong. And we were debating working it over into a rental. Which, by the way, is one thing to do when ego overcomes the brain. Turn it into a rental and slowly decrease your downstroke. But Judson made that baby move. Now we have to get her to closing and deposit the check. And then the music starts again.
We are told by our contractor that Barbour is almost done. Maybe sometime next week. Then it is one more on the market.
We've also put the word out that we are looking for one more project, maybe two, to squeeze in before the year is over. Low cost, degradation and destruction with possible structural damage or trees growing through it, or even nuclear waste from PET scans hidden in the crawl space, but also a certain something that allows us the opportunity to make lemonade from those lemons -if our ego doesn't get in the way.
Here are some PG-13 photos of a topless Main Ave. Word is that the trusses have been delayed.
We are back in Dixie.
The Main Street project has been progressing, and the biggest challenge was leveling the house.
Framing is completed on the first floor, and more photos will be posted soon.
For now here are some photos of the floor going in. After the epic struggle of getting the house level....
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