The Vacation Rental Project

So, here I am on a tropical island. It’s 4:06am local time. The only light is that of the moon peeking through the canopy of Monkey Pod trees that covers the entire property and the only sound is the rustling of leaves in the night wind. Temperature is in the bare feet with t-shirt range and all windows and doors are open to the ocean breeze. And I’m wide awake and ready to start the day because my body still thinks it is in Colorado, where I’d normally be eating breakfast right now.

This town in which I’m staying, Kailua, Hawaii, is an interesting place. In fact, the whole island of O’ahu is.

First of all, it’s still 1960 here. When you get out of the plane, you walk in to a terminal from a decidedly different era. It’s a modest building with the classic Government Decor that is rarely seen these days even in government facilities. Oldschool brown wood paneling, fluorescent ceiling lights, and wall power outlets so old and worn that your phone charger falls out if you don’t hold it in place when trying to pick up a few joules of energy to refuel from the 7-hour flight.

This 1960 vibe continues as you cross the island, driving on an old road with no sidewalks or bike lanes, and passing one-story wood houses with low overhanging roofs set far back into rainforest surroundings. This place was a military outpost long before it was a tourist destination, and the original architecture reflects basic shelter from the rain, rather than any sort of creative inspiration or luxury.

Of course, the economic reality is catching up with the physical these days, as money continues to flood in from the US mainland and other wealthy locales. A limited supply of land and strict regulations here has clashed with the unlimited income of people like Silicon Valley company owners, driving up local prices to the point that those old low-roof houses now start at around $700,000.  Meanwhile, newer estates are occasionally built with prices in the tens of millions. The incredible beauty of the island itself, combined with limited availability of places to stay, makes it an ideal place to have a vacation rental business. Many residents of Hawaii run them, whether officially or unofficially, to offset the high cost of housing here.

The only problem is, the local regulations try to prevent you from doing this. It’s difficult to get a building permit to make a guest suite in your house, and even if you do qualify, you must promise that you will not use it as a rental for at least one year. Because of this, most construction and rental activity happens on the sly. My hosts have decided to take an alternative route, jumping the full series of loopholes to score a permit, and then using the suite for visiting family and friends for the required time before turning it over to become an income-producing space. I’ve titled this article (and others that may follow in the series) “The Vacation Rental Project” because it sounds cool, but really it should be referred to as “The Guest Suite Project” for now, to keep the authorities happy.

Once it is rented, however, the picture will be very bright. If advertised correctly, you can rent out even a small apartment for over $2000 per month here, which is equal to the interest cost on borrowing $685,000 at 3.5%. In other words, renting out part of your expensive house can make it feel not so expensive at all. Construction costs for a unit like this, if you were to hire it out to a regular contractor instead of bribing Mr. Money Mustache with food and couch accomodation to build it for you, should come in under $20,000, with materials being between 25 and 50% of the cost. Many of the materials in this case were procured with innovative discounts or through Craigslist, yielding a cost well below average, just as you’d expect from an MMM-approved project.

The same technique of renting out extra space could be used by homeowners in many of the world’s expensive cities, since high prices and high rental demand often go together – which is of course why I’m featuring the project on this blog.

So we’ve got a bunch of work ahead of us. I’ve arrived at the project site and stationed myself in the back corner of the house where the unit is to be built. I’ve got an extremely comfortable couch to sleep on for now, and at my back is an open space where we’ll be tearing down some walls and starting to build new ones, as soon as the sun comes up. Wondering what we’re building? Here’s a peek at the floorplan:

End of Day Update: Many hours later, I have removed the sliding door as planned, to make room for the intersecting soundproof wall, which is now partially built up against the sloped ceiling. The sound wall is a pair of 2×6 top and bottom plates screwed to ceiling and floor, with staggered 2×4 studs spaced along their lengths. Insulation batts will then be woven between studs, and double layers of drywall added to each side. The end result is almost complete sound privacy for both sides of the wall.  There will also be a heavy exterior-grade door framed into the wall, to keep the apartment compliant with the “no detached living units” rule.

Here’s a view of some of the space that will become the studio, before and after some destruction and construction occurred. The bathroom and kitchen sections will be just beyond that wall on the right, after part of it gets cut away:

 

A portion of the space that will become the new guest suite/apartment

 

Here’s the same space, viewed from opposite direction, with sliding door removed and soundproof wall partially built.

Work has obviously barely begun here. When finished, the suite will have nice travertine tile floors instead of carpet, plus a very fancy bathroom with shower, kitchenette with fridge, nice fixtures and colors throughout, and a glass door to the side of the house that functions as a private entrance. So far, however, this trip is proving to be everything one could hope for in a Carpentourism vacation. This sure beats Disneyland!

Another fine day at The Office

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71 Responses to “The Vacation Rental Project”

  1. Justin@TheFrugalPath November 28, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    That’s pretty crazy that you can rent a small suite out for $2,000. Guess that’s supply and demand. The island is only so big but there’s a huge demand.
    I suppose keeping building permits so tight is another way to keep supply low as well.
    Good luck with the project. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.

    • Mr. PoP November 28, 2012 at 7:55 am #

      Price varies heavily across the island…when I was there I lived in a very poor area with lots of locals for about 300$/month for a room.

    • CincyCat November 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      I imagine tight regulation also prevents developers from buying up every bare patch of greenspace and putting up condos (thereby destroying the land and the million-dollar views). :) Not to mention that it probably keeps traffic issues at a minimum since the “live in” population is also kept low.

    • Jexy November 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

      My husband and I just got stationed here about two months ago. For the month of December, we found a tiny, fully funished 450 sq. ft. studio with a kitchenette-that-is-trying-to-be-a-kitchen in the back of someone’s house in Kailua (same town MMM is in right now!). At $1,700, it was one of the cheapest rentals within biking distance of base. :-O

  2. October MacBain November 28, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    Is that wall being built on TOP of the existing carpet? Why? Shouldn’t it be removed first?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      Haha.. I was wondering if someone would question that. I sliced out a strip of the carpet and underpad to accommodate the bottom plate, which is bolted through to the concrete floor beneath.

  3. Lance @ Money Life and More November 28, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    I have always wanted an income suite in my house but it just doesn’t work in my part of the country. Rent is cheap and we have no basements like on all of the TV shows. I can’t complain much though because our mortgage is so.cheap.

  4. Michelle November 28, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    Good luck! Looks like some work. :)

  5. rjack November 28, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    MMM – Maybe you wrote this elsewhere, but how many man-hours will the job take?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      When I first made the spreadsheet for this one, it added up to about 200 hours.. but then we had to take out the electrical and plumbing work and subcontract it, since you’re not allowed to do your own trades in Hawaii if you’re getting a permit.

      So maybe 150 hours, 70-80% of it by me, and hopefully mostly in these first 2.5 weeks before the family joins me.

      • Mike Long November 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

        If you’re subcontracting out the electrical and plumbing locally, then I’m afraid you may end up getting a lesson in “Hawaii Time”. :-)

        All I can say is, take any U.S. Mainland time estimate, and triple it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but is very much part of the culture there. Nothing happens quickly.

  6. Holly@ClubThrifty November 28, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    I hope you are having a good time! And I am jealous of your Hawaii travels…it is definitely on my list as well~ Looks like the place has potential!

  7. Jessica November 28, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    You probably already know about Reuse Hawaii http://www.reusehawaii.org/reusehawaii.org/welcome.html
    but if not – pay it a visit! Very inspiring with lots of surplus lumber to be had!

  8. Jump November 28, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    I’m sure there’s a reasonable plan for this but how will you secure the sheetrock to the studs with a 2×6 top/bottom plate and 2×4 studs? Are you going to put the sheetrock in between the plates? Or further build out the studs another 2″?

    • Nate R November 28, 2012 at 8:35 am #

      Looks to me like the carpet was cut around it. Looking closely, looks like the carpet isn’t tight down around the 2X6.

      Jump,

      There’s 2 “sets” of 2X4 studs on the wall. Like this: http://siteimages.soundisolationstore.com/upload/image/staggeredstud.gif

      • Jump November 28, 2012 at 9:17 am #

        Interesting, never built a sound barrier wall before. Mentally noted for future reference!

        • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 11:00 am #

          Good! I was hoping some others would pick up on the soundproof wall idea and use it in their own projects. These things are amazingly effective, especially if you do double layers of drywall on at least one side.

          If you have a kid bedroom up against a living room where the adults like to stay up late, or a man-cave where you want to have the garage band play without disturbing the family, the soundproof wall is golden.

          • Lorin November 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

            Have you considered using resilient (RC) channels on one side? I’m no expert (we hire those) but I believe they help by acting as a shock absorber (whereas the gyp just adds mass).

            • Ottawa November 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

              It’s all a matter of cost/expertise/circumstance for required dB reduction. Slapping lots of drywall layers on is great in MMM’s situation (and probably cheapest/easiest). However, in retrofits/space constraints or high dB reduction situations you may want to go for quiet rock http://www.quietrock.com. While quietrock takes some expertise it is pretty easy and forgiving. Resilient channel on the other hand is difficult and not forgiving!

        • Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom November 28, 2012 at 11:33 am #

          When we renovated and realized that a bedroom/office was going to be next to the TV room we sound proofed the walls. We did such a good job that my husband doesn’t hear me call him for dinner when he’s in there!

      • CincyCat November 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

        How about a “soundproof ceiling”? Our laundry room is right underneath the room that we used (years ago) for our nursery since it was right across from our bedroom. We sometimes woke up the baby while doing laundry at nap time by opening & closing the dryer door.

        • Derek November 29, 2012 at 6:59 am #

          The same thing can be done for a ceiling. We recently replaced the drop ceiling in our basement with a layer of drywall, resilient channel, and another layer of drywall. This was fairly helpful in reducing a lot of the higher frequency noises coming up from the basement, though the tenants we have living downstairs can still hear our footsteps (lower frequency).

      • TOM November 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

        Dumb question, double layers of drywall on both sides? Is that necessary?
        Couldn’t you use ceiling drywall instead of 2 layers?

        • TomTX December 6, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

          If you use two different thicknesses of drywall, they have different resonant frequencies and will “best” transmit (or in this case block) different sounds.

  9. Carl Jensen November 28, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    One of my favorite things to do in Hawaii is to stay on home time and wake up super early every morning. Then, walk to the beach in the dark and watch the sun come up. If that isn’t motivation for wanting to retire early, I don’t know what is.

    • Jessica November 28, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Your comment almost made me cry – I love Hawaii sooo much and miss it every day.

      • Carl Jensen November 28, 2012 at 9:41 am #

        Ha, it makes me cry too! I’m not sure if its out of happiness at my wonderful memories or out of sadness that I’m not there right now!

    • Mike November 28, 2012 at 9:26 am #

      HI is actually my wife and I’s motivation for FI :)

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      My friends here do the same thing! I walked down to the beach to watch sunrise this very morning.. very peaceful.
      Here’s a picture of it:
      sunrise november 28

      • Mrs. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

        Okay, now I’m officially jealous. I’m freezing my ass off here! ;)

        • pachipres December 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

          If there was a Like button for this comment, I would be pressing it a thousand times!!!

      • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies November 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

        Don’t just walk the beach – running on the sand is an amazing workout!

  10. Kristin November 28, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I love the dog outside in the background with his frisbee!

    I’m a 20-something girl – anyone got any pro-tips for learning about construction? Looks super fun but I’d have no idea where to start!

    • Lorin November 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.You’ll probably just paint or something simple the first few times, but pay attention, learn a bit, and you can work up to more complicated things.

      • Kristin November 29, 2012 at 8:20 am #

        That’s a great idea! Thanks so much! I’ll fill out a form this weekend.

    • Carl Jensen November 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

      You can learn anything from YouTube.

  11. Chris November 28, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Damn MMM, you’re making retirement look good!

  12. mike crosby November 28, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    If you need a helper let me know. Serious.

    Where I live I also could rent out a room for $1K/mo, but my wife will have none of it.

    Some of my best friends in the past were people who I rented out rooms to. (Also some of my greatest enemies;-)

    This family I know in Laguana Beach rents out their home for $5500/week in the summer. Not on the water mind you, but up on the hill. They take their 5 kids, fly to the Bahamas, stay at an all inclusive resort and still pocket money.

    • Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom November 28, 2012 at 11:35 am #

      I had an opportunity to rent out a room in our house as well. My husband feels it would be an invasion of our privacy, and not worth the hassle of trying to keep the kids out of the renters way. He’s probably right, maybe when they move out.

      • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 11:53 am #

        I hear you, Mandy! Now as a family man, I wouldn’t rent out space in my own house unless there were some catastrophic need for money. Back as a single person, however, sharing a house with housemates was great fun.

        A separate unit with its own entrance would be different.. but for actually sharing the primary space, it would have to be a close friend or family.

  13. Nathan November 28, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    It would be interesting to keep tabs on the term “carpentourism.” As of today, MMM has the only three legitimate Google hits for that word. It’s good enough I think it’ll catch on. My wife and I did a little carpentourism when she was a traveling nurse–in return for rent, I worked on the guest unit where we lived outside Norwich, VT one fall/winter. Fond memories.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      Thanks Nathan, I’m quite fond of the word Carpentourism as well :-)… and just like everything else, it could turn into a pretty cool business: I could register the domain “carpentourism.org”, and it would document an increasingly-cool series of vacations where I get to build things around the world.. and reader contributors could post their own stories as well. It could even be a meeting place for the people with the properties, and the traveling carpenters.

      Definitely a win/win for the participants, but also an interesting site for people just reading along, since you get renovation and investment ideas, stories from around the world, and fantasy value that makes you say, “Shit! I’m pretty good with a power saw too.. so what am I doing sitting in this damned office building in a suit when I could be out living life like the Carpentourists!”

      Update: the Mrs. and I just discussed the idea. We liked it so much, we just registered Carpentourism.com :-)

      • Pollyanna November 29, 2012 at 11:23 am #

        Love it!

      • 205guy November 30, 2012 at 2:13 am #

        And it ties in nicely with the age-old tradition of the traveling journeyman.

  14. Derek @ Freeat33 November 28, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I’m curious if you feel real estate in Hawaii is a good investment. Supply suggests yes as there is only so much beautiful, tropical, getaway space. But the state of the economy might suggest otherwise. Your thoughts?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      I personally don’t feel that $700k+ single family houses are ever an ideal investment, financially speaking (although if you can afford it and it is worth the cost for your lifestyle, it can still be a wise purchase overall).

      For now, there is a near-infinite supply of beautiful tropical places to live – most of them are just not owned by the US. That makes them much more affordable – Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, etc. Even Florida has some great tropical areas that are not too pricey, comparatively speaking.

      As for the state of the economy – things are cooking in the US economy these days.. and unfortunately this part of Hawaii didn’t see the half-price sale on houses that other parts of the country saw in the late 2000s. There were definitely a few good foreclosures on the Honolulu side, as I saw some 1-2BR condos in the under-$200k range when I last checked.

      I’m pretty happy with my own strategy – find a way to come and live here for free, while meeting wonderful people as well. Anyone can do tricks like this – you just have to free your mind from the traditional cage of “If I want something, I guess I have to find a way to buy it”.

  15. Ray November 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Check out this cool little spot that someone rents out. They call a “micro-house”. It’s just up the road from you

    https://airbnb.com/rooms/591375

    While in Kailua, go eat at Boots and Kimo for breakfast. It’s touristy, but delicious. You gotta get the mac nut pancakes, the corned beef omelette is also good

    • Mrs. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      WOW!! That place looks fantastic! Excellent pictures as well. No children under 18 though (I wonder why?). That fish window is amazing.

  16. Nate November 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Been there done that, and doing it now. Lucky for us locals the housing market is on a steady climb, again near those values pre-crash (2007). I am bringing in $2000 on a $3000 mortgage. Permitting is a night mare, be prepared to wait, and wait, unless you have connections or some other avenue. I saw that same sunrise this morning, what a magical treat.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Yup – the homeowners here knew which guy to hire to draw the plans, and he apparently knew the secret handshake to get the permit quickly. The photograph I posted of the floorplan is from the official, city-stamped, 24×36 architectural sheet of the permit set.. so we are as official as can be here. No waiting required!

      Similarly, the electrician and plumber are people my friends here know personally, so I’m betting there will be minimal or no delays on that too.

  17. Kathleen, Frugal Portland November 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I love your description of the temperature!

  18. jlcollinsnh November 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    “…instead of bribing Mr. Money Mustache with food and couch accomodation to build it for you..”

    just a wild guess on my part, but does your host happen to be named Tom Sawyer?

    ;)

  19. George November 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Wow, I cannot believe a mere 197 sq ft could bring in $2k a month.

    Sounds like you’re having fun, I love building stuff, but for me personally I could never do that because I would miss my son and wife too much, even being away for a week would be too much for me.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Glad you are such a dedicated family man, George! In the MMM family, we are home together all day, every day, except during school hours. So it’s kind of healthy for us parents to take the odd bit of time alone to regroup our minds and live differently.

      As for 197 square feet seeming small for $2k/month.. here’s an 80 square foot place that rents nearby for about $2000/month (at least, any month that they can book it out fully):
      https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/591375

      Remember that even a crappy hotel along an interstate in Kansas is still often $100/night ($3000/month). The place we’re building here is MUCH nicer than a hotel, and that’s before factoring in where it is located (about 1/3 mile from the beachfront place where President Obama pays $30,000/week to stay with his family for a week each December).

      • George November 29, 2012 at 10:21 am #

        I agree with your points; doing weekly or monthly rentals definitely makes a lot of sense for someone living in these expensive areas; while an actual hotel would require lots of labor, i.e. cleaning sheets constantly and checking in and out guests all hours of the day; the air bnb requires much less labor on the part of the owners, perhaps maybe two hours / week;

        As a Mustachian my preference is always to start by living in a low cost area; I purposely choose to live in central PA where my house costs 185k for 1800 sq ft on a 1/3 acre lot and came with new windows and a new roof;

        For my house, the 15 year mortgage is 3.375%, thus the actual house payment is $1060 / month ( $668 currently goes to principal, $392 for interest); Local Real Estate Taxes is $204 / month and Home-owners Insurance is $32 / month. I am happy with the situation right now, because I have a non-retirement savings of 88k in a brokerage account and I have no other debt other than the mortgage. This 88k generates about $700/month in dividends (invested in shares of JNK, REM, and FHY). Thus, this passive income covers the interest portion of the house payment, covers the real-estate taxes, insurance, water, sewer, and trash bills so far. Its similar to living rent-free except for the $668 equity I am essentially paying myself each month. Over a few years, I will be able to increase this stash to cover all living expenses.

        however I guess it is good that you address the diverse following of the blog because many Mustachians may find themselves in expensive locations like Hawaii or in density populated cities or other expensive countries; I suppose the lesson here is that if you have a town-house, i.e. in DC or NY city area, Toronto, or Vancouver, etc, one should look for ways to, for example, renovate a basement or other room to make some type of studio or guest suite in order to help generate cash flow. Even if this means working hard to get a permit from the local government.

        A lot of this is optimizing your opportunities for your personal situation. Thus, your advice really makes sense, if your house in Hawaii has a high value like 700k, building a guest suite is really an opportunity to tap the value of your property to generate some cashflow.

  20. partgypsy November 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Wow better not show this to my husband, he would be so jealous. The best he was able to do, was to renovate/rehab parts of commercial buildings (typically in preparation for that area to be changed from commercial to residential space) in exchange for being able to use that space for a specific amount of time (usually a month). He would then organize and throw group art shows. The art show would have an opening and be up for the duration, while on the weekends there would be music shows that charged admission. A fun (and sometimes lucrative) time for all.

    • Gerard November 29, 2012 at 7:02 am #

      This is such a great idea. It bridges art and the trades, it’s kinda below the radar, it leads to low-cost coolness.

  21. lurker November 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    when do you get to go surfing???

  22. LB @ Financial Black Sheep November 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    I have helped my father build houses since before I could talk. Do you need an assistant? I have so many found memories of weekends spend updating, remodeling or building new houses all over Colorado, and one other state, but never Hawaii. Are you sure you don’t need an assistant? Will work for vacation :D

  23. James @ Free in Ten Years November 29, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    My jealousy continues to grow – your pictures look great. I didn’t realise about the real estate situation in Hawaii, but I suppose it makes perfect sense.

  24. phil November 29, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Soundproof walls like this are fantastic and I built one for my rental suite in my house. One question – why are you building one and then putting in a HOLLOW core door?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

      Great point! That “hollow-core door” nonsense is just an error on the part of the draftsman (the pocket for it alone would eat up much of our soundproof area!). Instead it will be a very heavy 30″ exterior fireproof solid-core door with weatherproofing and bottom threshold. Not as soundproof as the wall itself, but still pretty good.

      I actually think the very idea of a hollow core door is ridiculous, and have never installed one in my life. If you want a door somewhere, you presumably want it to block sound, right?!

      • phil November 30, 2012 at 7:20 am #

        Why did I doubt you?
        Totally agree – and exactly what I did – using a prehung solid-core weatherstripped door with bottom threshold and a Kwikset Smarkey lock that allows me to re-key between rentals sans tools. Thanks for this post!
        Just moved and will be doing my second apartment conversion in the new detached garage soon. Should bring in $1000 monthly… allowing me to start part-time retirement as that will fund working 4 days a week instead of 5 with no loss in income..

  25. Gramma MM November 30, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    Gramma MM’s Visiting Artist’s B&B
    Here is a story of a very successful B&B conversion on a little old lady’s retirement house:
    You see, a few (was it three?) years ago. Gramma MM and her son (later to be known as Mister Money Mustache) decided to do a reno on one corner of her little 150 year-old heritage brick cottage in the middle of a nice-but-a-little-tired mid-Canadian city.
    So he organized the REUNION-OVATION PROJECT.
    We drew up plans, sending them back and forth through the ether, figured out budgets and costed things out in the Canadian marketplace.
    And he mobilized the whole bunch of his sibs, along with their very capable and smart spouses, and everybody showed up on my doorstep with their families and their tools one May 24 long weekend and let-er rip!
    They demolished walls and floors and roughed in new ones, started plumbing and wiring and figured out how you put in a pocket door. They set me up with one toilet in an empty raw construction space, which, for the next few weeks would be it, while MMM built a me a beautiful (and interesting) new bathroom/laundry area of my own, as well as a tidy little bath with a shower and a corner vanity for my guests.
    After the rest of the family went home, MM spent a month here moving things along, installing pipes and wires and drywall and the fixtures for the two bathrooms, putting in doors and trim, and doing the ceramic tiling as well as teaching me the craft. Some of the time Mrs. MM and little Stache were here too, and it was a wonderful summer!

    After he left, I was on my own, deploying the new skills he had taught me and finishing things up, cutting and laying ceramic tiles, installing a very pleasing and functional kitchenette, and just generally tidying up plaster and painting.
    When it was finished and I was happy with it, I created a little brochure with photos, and brought it around to the galleries, artist-run centres, and studios, as well as delivering a batch to Theater Aquarius.

    So now I have an amazing cozy guest suite where visiting artists (about a dozen a year) come and live while they do setups and residencies at the various public and University art galleries, and where theater people hang out for the duration of their rehearsals and shows.
    I always find them interesting, and fun to have around, and I learn so much…
    And, of course, I also get a bit of money out of the deal, not to mention tax deductions on anything and everything I decide to do to my home in the future. For example, this year I asked MMM if he’d be interested in helping me install a cozy gas fireplace in my living room, as a carpentourism project for next summer, and he said he’d love to, but only if I let him renovate my kitchen at the same time!!
    D’you think he’ll have time?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

      Oh, hi there Mum!

      Ahh, I remember it well – the Reunionovation at your house was the very first Carpentourism project of all, about 5 years ago. Still maybe the hardest, too.

      Since then there has been a Carpentourism event every summer – a condo remodel/sale, a bathroom in Ottawa, and two years of cottage building (with a few smaller projects thrown in on the side).

      It may never stop.. because if you can’t build things on your vacation, what do you DO with all your time?! :-)

    • aspiringyogini December 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Awww! I loved this story! It is so nice, Gramma MM, that you have such good relationships with your children, their spouses and your grandchildren and that they work so well together. And of course they are so capable and wonderful, because of your DNA and nurturing along the way. Well, done! Tell some more MM stories Gramma MM!! Please?

  26. Concojones December 2, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    To MMM and his hosts: thank you for this very, very educational blog post!

  27. Corey December 3, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I am a planner working for a municipality on Vancouver Island, and I process a lot of applications of all types, from sf renos/additions to larger condo and office buildings. If there’s one thing that affects permit processing time, it’s almost always to what degree someone has their shit together and given their project a lot of thought. I get yahoos in the office all the time that seemingly roll out of bed in the morning and think “hey today’s a good day to do an addition to my house!”. They then proceed to hand draw some crappy plans and submit them to me, and I spend the next two months asking the person to redraw so I have enough detail to approve the project. On the other side are people who bring in plans like MMM has posted above, have obviously got their ducks in a row BEFORE coming to apply for a permit, and often times get a “rubber stamp” of approval in only a day or two because they clearly have thought the project out to the point where they’ve already answered any questions I may have had long before they came in to apply.

    For those of you who have applied for permits and received quick approval (or not) it’s likely due to the above, rather than who you know. Yeah if my bff was coming in the apply I might prioritize his application a bit, but in 99.9% of cases processing time is directly related to the level of professionalism on the part of the applicant.

  28. InACents December 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Sounds like a great gig! Congratulations on the excellent find, putting in some hard work with an excellent reward on the end. Our family loves Hawaii, so have a great time!

    Get up towards the North Shore and enjoy those shrimp trucks!

  29. stellamarina December 4, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    Glad you are enjoying Kailua living. Now you know why President Obama and his family spend Christmas there every year.
    You are also finding out the reality of housing issues on our island.

  30. JaneMD December 5, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    I was watching HGTV and regularly consider strangling people for buying vacation homes. 600K vacation condo in Miami when you live in Georgia? If you got a nice hotel room and stayed there a month at 300/night – 9000 a month. At 20% downpayment for the condo (120K), you had better be doing that for 13 years in a row. (Unless you are renting it out)

    In that light, someone renting a single room for $2000 in Hawaii doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Though now, if I ever visit somewhere for a long period of time, I am totally checking short term housing instead of hotels.

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