Sunday, October 11, 2015

Re-Staining the Cedar Shingles and Waxing ADU Poetic

I had heard that cedar shingles needed be restained every couple years. A couple months ago, I looked back and realized it's been four years since we finished building the ADU. Whoops.

The stain had started to look tired; the siding needed a makeover. The shingles had lost some of their waterproofing capability and the portions of the structure that experience direct sunlight had started to visually deteriorate. Cedar shingle siding can last as little as 10 years if not maintained, and 40 years or more if it is.

It took a friend and I about 20 person-hours of work to scrub down the house with hard bristled brushes, then apply another layer of stain to it. It was all pretty easy work to do, except for standing 15ft above ground on a ladder while doing it.

This project likely would have cost $2-4K if I hired a company. Doing it myself, it cost about $400 for materials and labor.

These before and after pictures don't really show the color change well, but in real life, it makes the ADU look brand new again.

BEFORE                                                     AFTER


BEFORE                                                       AFTER


ADUs and self-employment 

In the past, I've been short on time and would have hired someone. But, as of this week, I'm fully self-employed. I'll now be working through my own companies, Accessory Dwelling Strategies and Caravan- The Tiny House Hotel

Being self-employed hadn't necessarily been a life goal for me, but it's very exciting to have the breathing room to experiment professionally on my own. My time is now my own to use, so I'm now able to save money on home maintenance projects by doing some of my own labor-intensive home projects, like I did with the re-staining. Next, I'm going to work on landscaping. 

My initial impression of being self-employed is one of freedom- to pursue professional endeavors on my own time and to enjoy more recreational activities such as backpacking, boondocking in our tear drop trailer, or taking my dog to play in a park, whenever the spirit moves me. It's only been a week, so I'm definitely in the honeymoon period. :) 

Being self-employed seems a bit tangential to ADUs, but it's not. The passive income that my property generates is what enables me to be self-employed. My 15-year mortgage is covered by the income from the main house. Furthermore, the ADU has now entirely paid for itself via the additional income received above and beyond the costs of the monthly property mortgage. 

The costs of housing, which are typically an American's largest expense and burden...are for me, a not an expense at all, but a actually a reliable source of income, solely because of the ADU. 

Being free of a housing expenses might not lead to "riches", but importantly, financial freedom from a ongoing financial burden can lead to a degree of intellectual freedom. This mental and emotional freedom from the burden of housing debt, has historic and celebrated roots in Thoreau's writings, and is an intrinsic ethos that helps drive recent fervor for tiny houses on wheels- a growing, grassroots, counter-cultural American movement in the making. 

As a result of building and living in the ADU, I'm afforded the chance to add societal value by pursuing my own professional passions instead of working to complete someone else's duties or business obligations. 

ADUs can be a form of financial permaculture. If housing costs can be financially regenerative such as they are with ADUs, it affords homeowners the time and energy to do things that are most important to them-- to engage more in the community, make art, volunteer, create new jobs, etc. 

It strikes me that of hundreds of ADU owners I've met, no one expresses any regret about having built an ADU, and most strongly encourage others to do it for some of the same financial reasons that I have described.

Upcoming ADU Events

October 13th
I'll be speaking about ADU development at one of my favorite local non-profits, Northeast Portland Tool Library. It's a free one-hour talk at their tool library, so come check it out. 

October 15th
A half-day ADU class for realtors: All About ADUs - A Primer Course for Brokers, held at Earth Advantage.

November 6th
The Build Small Live Large Summit on Friday, November 6th will be a great chance to meet many practitioners and connoisseurs of small housing. Early bird sales on October 13th. Here's a note about the summit from the event organizers:I'll be speaking about ADUs in two sessions:  

This first session is intended to help individuals figure out what kind of small housing (tiny houses on wheels, cluster communities, and ADUs) works best for individuals by looking at the pros and cons of the legal, financial, and design/build processes involved in each small housing form.

Dee Williams of PAD Tiny Houses and Eli Spevak of Orange Splot and I will helping to tease out the the respective differences between tiny houses on wheels, cluster communities, and ADUs, respectively. Respectively, we're dwellers in, and experts of, the types of housing that we'll be covering.

My 2nd session will be a dive into the zoning regulations, costs, and financing that govern ADU development for homeowners. I'll be presenting with Vince Kingston of Eagle Home Mortgage, who will discuss ADU financing methods using cash-out refinancing, rehab mortgages, and home equity lines of credit. 

November 7th
City-wide ADU Tour. This fall ADU tour will include 11 beautiful ADUs across Portland that have never featured been a tour. Early bird sales end on October 24th.

November 8th and November 15th
Special 6-hour ADU class for homeowners. This class will be held at the Kennedy School and is only intended for ADU Tour attendees.

An ADU featured in the upcoming ADU Tour
December 2nd
JLC Live- residential construction show- 3 hour ADU session offering CCBs. If you're a contractor and you're planning to register for the show, you can use this code to save 10%: SK27


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