Everyone knows the old adage and has most likely been stung by its inevitable truth. What happens, eventually, is that the other shoe unfortunately falls; the truth rears its ugly head and leaves us with egg on our face. Well, it is no different in the world of architecture, construction, and real estate. Being deceived is a product of wanting something for less than its real value. Oftentimes we fall into the deception trap to close an unwanted gap between our budget and what we want actually costs. Budget and cost either match or they don’t! Expecting to get something for nothing, while human nature, is foolish. Either today or somewhere down the line, the truth will come out or it may be very hard to accept. Five years ago, when the real estate and construction boom was out of control, there was always a shortage of really competent help because everyone was so busy. Prices became artificially high. People who were less and less qualified entered the workforce and were being hired regardless of the obvious. Let’s use Brooks as an example. I remember Brooks say, “He’s only a plumber. I’m not him paying $32,000…it’s only plumbing.” So instead of paying the licensed/insured/bonded plumbing company what they deserved, he had his general contractor friend (first mistake) hire some under qualified guy in order to “save” about 30%. “That’s gonna pay for my Viking stove,” he boasted at the time.
Fast-forward to Starbucks last week when I found out that Brooks now has to replace all the copper in his house. It turns out the copper piping wall thickness was inadequate to handle the wear and tear of poorly reamed joints in virtually all the connections. The original work all passed code but was such a penny safe and pound foolish blunder that the $10k that he saved five years ago is now going to cost him over $50k to remedy. Tile, cabinets, hardwood floors, plaster, drywall, you name it was all affected by this deal that was too good to be true. Plumber dude is out of business and nowhere to be found. Brooks, at least you still have that Viking stove! Next example, yours truly. I once found a lot for sale in a great neighborhood with great houses all around. It was perched up on a hillside, which would enable a magnificent view of the ocean. “Why isn’t it sold yet?” I wondered. The FOR SALE sign had a phone number for an out of town owner, but that’s still no reason for the property to just be sitting there. The price was so reasonable. “What is the deal?” I thought. “It’s just too good to be true.” So I put in an offer in hopes of cashing in on someone else’s charity. Turns out that the soil testing I (thankfully) had done determined that the entire lot was very expansive soil with incredibly deep bedrock. The cost of a foundation was going to run upwards of four times the cost of a typical foundation. It only cost me thousands for the testing, but I saved 100’s of thousands in what would have been a very big mistake. I had just proven that the lot price was, in fact, too good to be true. Another property that was too good to be true looked something like this. It was again in a string of beautiful homes all vying for their own share of highly coveted ocean view. It was owned by the property owner to the east and the ocean was to the west. The property owner had a magnificent view and was not going to lose it as long as he was alive. He purchased the lot way back when and put a title restriction on the deed. The restriction required that as long as he lived in the house to the east the height restriction of the house to the west was limited to its existing height. What looked like a valuable piece of land had severely limited potential. In fact, unless the property owner died, the lot’s value was far below its seemingly great price. Photo via Flickr miri695.