Time to get into Detroit

The city inspection was… enlightening. After all my panicking over details, the inspector was completely relaxed and complimented the work we’d done. “A lot of these places are terrifying. This is a lot better than I expected,” he said after we’d completed the first floor.

When I asked about the criteria for passing, he basically indicated we weren’t anywhere near passing, saying, “Man, everyone fails. New buildings fail. They think they have paint on the walls but it’s just primer,” and so on. He probably checked even more boxes than the first inspection. Some of them weren’t even accurate, but it seems a moot point for now based on the rest of our conversation.

By the end of our half hour together, I gathered that a Certificate of Occupancy was essentially bullshit for an owner/occupant. “Man, this is your house. YOUR HOUSE. All I got is a pen and clipboard. I ain’t puttin’ anyone out on the street,” he told me when I asked if we were clear to move in. “I’m gonna mark it as occupied, and that’ll give you 2 years on this inspection to fix the issues.” When he looked at the carriage house he said “I’m gonna say I couldn’t get in there. You don’t wanna see all the things I’d write if I got in there, and you’d get all angry with me. Just do what you gotta do and I’ll just note things about the outside.”

Passing thru the basement, he saw the new boiler system. “Oh man, that’s like Chinese to me. You have to have a permit for that one.” I assured him I did and he was just excited about it then. “I’m taking a picture for the other guys in the office. I’ve never actually seen one of these installed. That’s amazing.”

When he handed me the final report, he said “You already closed? Well I don’t know why you even need this then. Good luck to you,” and off he went. That basically summed up the whole experience: the mountain was actually a molehill, and I’ve been battling windmills. Time to clean up, pack our bags, and get into Detroit.

8 thoughts on “Time to get into Detroit

  1. Congratulations. :) I'm glad that things went better than expected, and that the hurdles you were worrying about all this time weren't as high as they seemed at the beginning of your journey. I'm excited and happy for you that the next phase is finally here, and you're ready to move into Detroit! I wish I could be there to help and to share this experience with you. It kills me and makes me unbelievably sad that I'm not; but I'm happy that I can at least follow all the progress here and be with you guys in spirit.
  2. Congratulations Matt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your Dad and I are so happy for you! I'm sure a huge weight has been lifted off those shoulders. I laughed (and teared-up a little) as I read this post, which is beautifully written! Now go about the business of moving in, being proud of what you've accomplished, and thanking all your awesome friends who have helped you so much! We're very proud of you, Matt.
  3. Congratulations. This is so cool...

    You and I met when you were quite young back in Pennsylvania, and I know your Mom and Dad very well, having graduated from high school with both of them, so very long ago.

    Your Dad told me about your website awhile back, I bookmarked its location, and have been following your progress in Detroit ever since. Until now, I've never brought myself to actually post something here, or for that matter, anywhere.

    As I have read your postings over these months, I sometimes laugh, sometimes cringe, and at other times feel the same smouldering anger at the challenges you have faced. Over the past forty years I have done my fair share of house fix-it projects (in so many places, it makes me scared to think about it...) but never in the extreme to which you have. Thus, from one project manager to another, my hat is off to you!

    I know Detroit quite well from my business travels over the years, and always marvelled at the gritty pride Michigan folks show concerning their city, regardless of the crazy things us people in the rest of the country read in our newspapers.

    As a student of urban architecture, I am keenly aware of the thousands of dwelling treasures in Detroit, from Frank Lloyd Wright examples not all that distant from you, to row houses that speak so eloquently of their origins when the city was an ecomomic magnet to the world. I always found it sad when seeing these treasures destroyed, depriving them of any ability to speak their stories to the future.

    Your postings here shine with a next-generation version of the same gritty pride which, at least for this aging baby boomer now living in the south, provides a window of hope on how optimism, pride, focus, determination, to say nothing of extreme amounts of hard work, can still produce something good.

    There's also an irony at work here; for when the last nail is driven and the carpet is on the floor, it's not about the house... it's about the people who live in the house, the people who live on the same street, and the people who live in the neighborhood. This is what really matters.

    So, congratulations, keep it up, and I look forward to a new chapter in your postings!



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