I’ve got an 800 pound Gorilla in a can!

18 Aug

Do too! Wanna see?

First, I beg your forgiveness over my absence for the last several days…

My days of late have been rather hectic. Chemo and Radiation are cruel mistresses, and my wife Char isn’t bearing up too well. In fact, we spent the last few days in the ICU at our local hospital, working our way through an “Oh My Gawd” moment that seemed to last forever.

But, on the positive side, she’s been far less grumpy, and really quiet since the sedatives finally kicked in… Man, they should bottle that stuff for home use… Maybe even in an aerosol can!

“What’s that? Gawd, woman… why are you griping at me, again? Pssssssssssst! There, that’ll fix ya… Now stop drooling all over yourself, you look like a demented primate…” 🙂

(I know, I know… direct your “hate mail” to “renaissanceronin@gmail.com”)

I spent countless hours, trying to keep Joshua occupied (Man, do I wish this kid had a Grandma…) and thinking about decisions that I’ve made, trying to get us into a real home, one where we’ll be safe from whatever tries to come thru the door, or the roof.

You see, I’m that nut trying to build his family a home out of shipping containers, aircraft hangar parts  I recycled, and a few photovoltaic panels, to keep the utility guy outta my yard.

After Joshua finally fell asleep (no thanks to those geriatric candy-stripers who kept trying to feed him sugar loaded cookies and orange juice!) , I was reading an architectural magazine, and a guy in the patients lounge saw it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know those nice ladies are just there to try and make your bad time a bit better, but the last thing I needed was my kid running at full bore, hopped up on sugar and chocolate chips. Talk about an Energizer Bunny on Acid! Oy freakin Vey!) 🙂

(Have you ever noticed that when you’re sitting, minding your own business, trying to relax with a magazine or a book, everybody in G_d’s Creation will try to engage you in a conversation? Hmmm?)

Anyway, while I sat there trying to read my magazine, I ended up having a conversation with a guy who was telling me all about “affordable housing.” He went on and on about the houses that his company is building, and then whipped out a brochure (that he “just  happened  to have) to show me his “prizes to houseless humanity.”

Now, I didn’t mention that I was “something of an expert” in the field. In fact, I mentioned very little. He wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise…

I may be a pig, but I’m a smart pig. I read the covers of magazines (especially if they have girls, or Hot Rods, or better yet… girls on hot rods…  on the cover), I can read the jacket liner notes on good books, and I can even crayon with the best of them. Hell, I can even carry on a conversation, as long as you don’t try to slip in any polysyllabic words.

But this guy… every third phrase was “affordable housing.” And, he kept using them like he actually understood them. But after I listened to him go what seemed like the entire hurricane season, I realized that he had absolutely no clue. It was one of those conversations that should have gone like this;

“Man, the hamburgers in the hospital cafeteria are really affordable. Why don’t I go grab a few, and we can keep talking about housing.”

But, the reality of the conversation was more like;

“Let’s grab a burger and talk about affordable housing.”

And then it went south faster than Yankees carrying carpetbags to Memphis at the end of the “War Between the States.” 😦

Affordable Housing is a topic that’s being beat to death in every building rag on the planet.  Everywhere you look on th Internet, there are loads of “hip modern housing designs” that just beg to be built.

(It’s funny that the renderings never include “normal average everyday, drive my butt to work and then crawl home” kinda people. They always depict “elegant people” who look like they belong in an expensive liquor ad.)

Now, I LOVE looking at these renderings, because they usually make me laugh. Like many other people, I’m drawn to these images, because I’m trying to claw my way thru the mystery, to arrive at that magical land, where everybody gets to grow up in a home of their
own. I’m interested as hell, because one of these days, I want to abandon the crappy rental walls that my family has been forced to live in (after a hurricane ate our house), and live in a modern, safe, durable home that I can afford.

You see… I can’t afford what some people call “affordable housing.”

Why am I hacked off, and even jaded? Well, it’s because the guys building these “affordable houses” are as shifty as the San Andreas fault line.  The photos are cool, and the renderings do make you wonder;

“What if?”

“What if?” is the wrong question to be asking yourself. The real question is : “HOW?”

One you stop looking at the snazzy renderings, you have to read the fine print. And most of time you’ll find out that it’s filled with misinformation, and inconsistent conclusions.

Usually, these ads and blog posts are written by marketing ilk. You know the type. Slicked back hair, big snazzy car, lot’s of bling. They’ll dazzle you with BS, while they try to determine the best way to “close you,” and get their commission.  Because so many of us are desperately seeking out that Holiest of Grails—a really cool house that their family can actually afford to buy—we want to believe (Gawd, we want to believe!), and we find ourselves overlooking anything that might get in the way… like facts. And if you look for them, you’ll see them. You know the ones… facts that usually disprove the claims of housing affordability.

Before you buy into any of these “Merry skips down La-la lane…” you have to put on your Sherlock Holmes  hat, and look for the REAL truth. That really hot house you just read about was probably built with donated products, so that the manufacturers can get “free publicity.” The builder may have  used students and retirees as volunteer labor to build it, too!

Ever gone to one of those trade shows that tout “Housing Opportunities?”

You pay your ten bucks, and you expect to see the home of your dreams. You know the one…

It’s that one that you’ve got taped to the fridge, after you saw it on the Internet. And when you fight thru the crowd (because they’re all there for the same reason, and seemingly, the same house) to inspect the property, you’re gonna find out that the camera is NOT your friend. Camera angles can make a small house look much larger than it actually is.

And what’s this? The foundation isn’t included in the deal. And, it’s a tricky foundation, that will cost you your kids college fund. Hey! Nobody mentioned that in the blog post…

Those @$#%&!!

Nothing is free, folks. I’ve been saying it for a while, if you’ve been reading the blog posts. In order to build, you have to spend.

“But  I saw it on the Internet!” isn’t an argument that will fly, when you get right down to the dollars and cents of your new home, especially if you’re trying to build affordable housing.

You’ve gotta stick to the facts;  a clear understanding of all of the variables involved (the size in square footage, the quality of the components that you’ll use, the erection method (do not insert “Viagra” joke here), the operational expenses, blah, blah, blah…

Now, that’s a discussion that you don’t wanna have with the In-Laws, brought on because your “significant other” suspects that you’re crazy. THAT   discussion has the potential to not only mislead anybody interested in the concept of affordable housing, it’ll also fill their tiny little brains with rebuttals to the marketing hype. You know… the inaccurate” non-facts.” You need to have a meaningful discussion of affordable housing that will steer the naysayers away from their uptight, “Why don’t you just go buy a regular house like everyone else, you worthless bastard…”  glory.

It’s a grueling conversation best served up with a full goblet of your best wine, or if it’s with your In-Laws… a cheap bottle of swill, like Ripple, or maybe even “Boone’s Farm.”

And, if you stick to the facts, at the end, they’ll get a good headache from all the phosphates in the crap you served them to drink, you’ll have avoided the minefield that is the “affordable housing stories in the mags,” and it will be far less disappointing, than that horrible “standing in the parking lot, disillusioned” feeling you got, when you finally saw thru the hype, at the “Home and Garden Show.”

I’m gonna spend the next several days, (Char’s illness permitting) finishing off my post series on Geothermal Heating and Cooling.

And then… I’m gonna help you figure out what’s real, and what’s not.

Affordable housing ain’t “a million dollar modular” dropped on your lot, without any landscaping.

But if you stay tuned, I’ll show you what Affordable Housing “IS.”

I promise…

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

2 Responses to “I’ve got an 800 pound Gorilla in a can!”

  1. autoauctions September 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    thanks !! very helpful post!

  2. car repossessionist September 14, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

    Hello Guru, what enticed you to post an article. This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.

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