I came home yesterday and the house had been moved up near the road, so that it is ready to travel to the barge site. But it's going to sit here for a while waiting for a high tide. They put it so close to the garage, that the only practical way to go in the door would be to go onto the roof of the garage and walk across. Luckily, I was able to get a ladder under the house and climb up through the chimney hole.
It is rather unusual, for someone to return home and never know exactly where the house will be, how high it will be off of the ground, and what angle the floors will be at. I had to take my pillow and put it at the other end of the bed last night, because what was high in the morning was now low. Sometimes, after it's lifted, things have shifted just enough that my key no longer works in the door. Other times the door is wide open and it won't close. I have learned to roll with these things. Only once, they moved the house without telling me and my bed went to one of the gulf Islands. I didn't bother to retrieve it. Lots of people leave mattresses and beds in the hoses, so I have my pick. I have two extra mattresses and some bedding in my storage for just this sort of unfortunate event.
I was working on covering a big cut with Tyvek and doing other details to get the house ready to move today. At about 3:30 I got really tired of going up and down that ladder. The guy working with me agreed that he was dead tired as well. So he hopped in his vehicle to join half the city in rush hour traffic. I walked up the ladder that goes up through the old chimney hole, and was in my bed within 2 minutes of setting my tools down. I slept for 3 hours and now I feel like a new man. Probably the biggest perk to living right at work, is that the commute is so short.
Another day and another house. This one is in Sidney British Columbia. It's nothing special, just a simple 1970s box. Some dirty rotten bastard stole the only toilet. They also took the sink and the shower nozzle. Water lines were cut.
So this means I'm showering at Starbucks. I do get my money's worth when I spend $2.50 for tea. I fill it three times, the last time with chocolate, I charge batteries, shower and make video calls to my wife in the Philippines. It would be so much more expensive to maintain an office.
On the bright side, the house is squeaky clean and I have moved into a very comfortable carpeted bedroom. There is a temporary power pole so I have been able to run the microwave and keep my tools going.
My wife has only seen how I live through photos and video calls, and she can't seem to let go of the fact that I provide her family with a nice townhouse, while living in a transient manner. She has worried that my family will have a problem with it. But I have told her that they have watched me do this for long enough, that they know that she is not the cause of it. I have agreed to make some changes once we are both living and working in Canada. And whenever we live in the Philippines, we will live on our own property there.
This lifestyle works for a single man who is resourceful and extremely tight with money. Nova would like to do the work, but she wants us to have a nice camper van or something of that nature when we go to distant jobs.
She has lived in some truly horrific conditions. Not just dirty, but also dangerous and without pay. So it won't be hard for her to make it comfortable home in a campervan or whatever. Nova can turn $10 worth of bamboo into a comfortable spot.
Nothing of much value is free in the Philippines. Every time I show her all of the free stuff that comes with this job, she marvels at the wastefulness of our society.
I fully expect to do some transient living in the future, but with one of the world's best cooks and homemakers at my side. I'm going to buy the ultimate data package and maybe even stock up on DVDs. If I named 100 movies, she has only seen one of them. So although still mobile, I expect it to be a much more orthodox lifestyle in the future. I'm not getting soft, just moving forward.
A film crew will be documenting the next 6 house moves. It's for one of those reality shows, where they show what people do for a living. Many of these houses are going on barges, to distant Islands, so that's part of it. Today, I was inside an attic, passing bricks up onto the flat roof, as a drone with a camera, hovered over my head. They also filmed where I cut a portion of the house away from the part being kept.
They have all seen my little hovel in the master bedroom, and the that I have taken over the kitchen. So of course I gave them the short version of the story. Basically, that I like to earn good money, but I would just hate to spend any of it on something as frivolous as a place to live. I'm not sure if this part of the story will make the cut, since the business of selling houses, doesn't necessarily go with the idea that you don't really need one. :-) I have a feeling that the public will see a sanitized version, where I don't have meat and potatoes in the oven, or laundry hanging off of the door knobs.
I will probably be fully clothed in all shots. When they arrived, I was probably one of the few people in Canada working outside with my shirt off this time of year. I had been really ripping at a section of tar and gravel roof.
I hope they put in some little thing about my job site living, even if we just spin it on the idea that I'm saving gasoline by not commuting.
I will do that. They are from England. English reality shows are very much reality. They don't try to create a bunch of drama or show things out of context. It's a step-by-step thing where people come out of it having some idea about how that job is done.
Nothing like Pawn Stars or American Pickers or those stupid shows where they open a storage locker and they stacked the deck with very valuable things.
Houses seldom get moved in England and moving them by water is quite rare. When you look at the older masonry houses, they would be extremely expensive to move and totally not worth it. Then there's the narrow streets that were meant for horses which are now quite often one-way, because they won't accommodate two-way traffic.
They got a shot of me very carefully extracting an Old Furnace that weighs about 300 lb, from a room where there was only three quarters of an inch clearance. The service record of this Behemoth goes back to 1976 . I suspect that it is the original from the 50s . I cut the top third away with my Sawzall , so that it would drop away from the plenum that we don't want to ruin. It couldn't have gone better.
They also got me breaking concrete to make the holes under the house. It was just clean up after the excavator with a breaker. Pieces of concrete that normally would take two or three hits, took 50, because it was such a good grade. And because they were filming, I just kept going to the different places and completely burnt myself out, with a few hundred strokes using a 12 lb hammer. If I wasn't being filmed, I definitely would have done half of it and left the rest for tomorrow. I'm very tired. Hopefully it will make good TV.
After several really tough days dealing with a tough chimney and a flooded crawl space and other issues, today was a day off. I got home at about 9 p.m. to discover that my house, and more specifically, my bedding was very high off the ground. The threshold of the front door is about 7 ft off the ground right now.
I really didn't want to do a night in the car, because it's a cold one and the car is stuffed with tools and scrap metal. I could do it in a pinch, because there's lots of extra clothing, including a couple coats, but I always like to dress lightly and cover with lots of blankets. I had my 1500 lumen Milwaukee light in the car, so I decided to scan the site for available resources. I really didn't want to have to stack 20 of the moving blocks to build my way to the door. Amongst the trees I found an old aluminum step ladder. I am currently roasting under a thick layer of blankets, inside the house. It's getting cold enough, that I'm going to fill a garbage bag with extra blankets that will be kept in the back seat of the car. There are lots of things that could prevent me from accessing one of the houses. Sometimes the house is pressed hard against a fence or wall, at the spot where the door is. Sometimes the door can be wedged very tightly because the house has twisted a bit. So there must always be a contingency plan. Only once, the schedule was changed and I wasn't notified. They shipped my bed to Saltspring Island. Once the house is in this condition, it's just a really nice tent. All services have been cut. But I have another house to start on Monday and this house will sit here beyond that date. So I'm Stylin, for free as usual. If things had gone differently, I might be wearing three pairs of pants, four shirts and two winter coats and covered up by the one sheet that is in the back of my car. I would have done this very close to the all-night Tim Hortons.
I'll bet if I checked the bushes in a dozen neighbouring houses, I wouldn't find an old step ladder. That was an incredibly lucky find. For a couple of of minutes there, I really thought I was going to have to rearrange the car and hunker down for the night.
I like to count myself among the homeless, but it's certainly not the same thing, since I have a car, houses to sleep in, and money. Take away any of those components and being caught out this time of year, can be a really shity experience. I'm going to have to kick off a blanket, because I'm getting too hot. Good night.
I was doing some cleanup of the underside of the house today, when one of the managers came by. The houses almost always move in the middle of the night, but I found out that this one is going to move tomorrow morning and they will start work at about 7:30 a.m. . There's a high tide and it's moving by barge . Just like that I'm out on my ass again.😨
I will wake up really early and get myself out of here. I'm sure glad he came by when I was here, otherwise I might have sent another batch of bedding and mattress to a distant place.
I have three houses lined up, ones that I found and will be working on. One of them will be stripped of valuables until I reach diminishing returns and we hope to move the other two. They were dealing with asbestos a few days ago when I checked, but they thought they would be finished by The Weeknd. If they are, I will be able to start on that job. I'm hoping that they have signed the contract for the two that move, because one of them has electricity, hot water, all of the appliances and everything else that I like in a free home in this expensive city. That house may not move until January, so this would carry me through some of the worst winter weather in fine style. But I won't really know what happens until I dial a phone tomorrow morning.
One of the main pitfalls to job site living, is falling into a pit.😟 There are several deep holes around this one, that were dug so that water could flow away from the house. The big tow bar was installed in front of my entry door. It actually makes getting in and out of it easier, since it's like a porch. But every time I walk out I have to remember that it could be very slippery. On frosty mornings, freshly painted steel with a coating of frost, is very treacherous. This wouldn't work at all if I were a sleepwalker. There are three different places where a person who's not thinking, could blunder out the door and fall 7 feet. I generally lock the doors at night , and I also put the broom or something else across at an angle, just as a visual reminder for myself, that this isn't a door you can just walk out of.
I arrived to the three houses yesterday and received the key for the two that are vacant. My contact with a development company ask them to turn off the power in the house we are tearing down and to leave it on in the one I'm going to live in. His secretary got the house numbers mixed up and my power has been cut.
The tenants will move out of the house beside me on the weekend and we should have power there until mid December. After that, I will run a cord from a temporary pole. This allows me to use an electric kettle, hot plate and microwave. I'm also going to need to charge quite a few batteries.
I'm not concerned with heat, as I seldom heat any of the houses, except a very small bedroom or occasionally walk-in closet if I move into that. But almost always I just don't bother and instead have really good quality bedding.
One of the hoses was lent out to an artist group for Halloween. They made an awful mess and ruined some of the salvage. I had to clean quite a bit of soil off of the carpet in the largest room, to get at the tongue-and-groove flooring. Somebody stole the copper from the basement and that is now making it difficult for the guys doing asbestos work.
The first photos are of the room where I'm staying. The others are from the Halloween house.
I've really landed in the butter this week. I started out moving to the house where the power was shut off. Then last night tenants moved out of the much nicer house. I immediately packed up and moved. It took three and a half minutes. I timed it. It was about 4 in the afternoon so I decided to pack it in and get settled in my new place.
You never know when the power will be shut off again, so I immediately put laundry in. While the laundry was in process, I had a much-needed bath. Got to bed good and early then woke up at 3 a.m. and decided I had better roast my potatoes and sweet potatoes, just in case the power is cut. They showed up at 7:30 a m.
Normally, this would mark the part of the job where I'm pretty much camping. This large project has a temporary power pole with about 20 outlets. This morning the contractor dragged out two big cords that I'm able to use for the duration of this project which will probably end the first or second week of January. Then he asked if I'd like to borrow one of their electric heaters. Yes please. So I have heat, light and I have two microwaves, which seems like enough. The water is still working, and I could even do laundry should the need arise again.
This is generally the toughest time of year for job site living, due to the weather and a Christmas slow down that often leaves me without a house or in one without any services. So I'm going to ride out the worst part of winter, in relative comfort. The house is two blocks from my daughter's house and about half a city block from a big grocery store. As free housing goes, this is about as good as it gets. This isn't even the best part of the story, but I'm too tired tonight to write it down.
The photos below are a cheapskate's dream. They left me two litres of Kirkland shampoo.
Continuing from my last post, I didn't tell you the best part about this particular job
Normally, the house moving company calls me and tells me where the next job is. But this time, someone else called me to tear down three houses and when I got here, I realized that two of them are movable. I probably would have salvaged about $4,000 worth of stuff from these houses and had it done in 2 weeks. But this is not a good time of year to sell stuff and two weeks doesn't carry me through winter in a nice house until the middle of January. I won't work at this a full-time until move out date no, because there's not that much work to be done . But I will still park my ass here.
So I've lost the opportunity to salvage $4,000 worth of stuff but I will probably do about $8,000 worth of work and I will still get to sell a little bit of stuff from the basements. I also get a $2,000 finder's fee. Kaboom. It couldn't have worked out better. We were heading for a slack period and now the schedule will be full. Instead of $4,000 worth of salvage and 95% of the house going to the dump, we are saving both houses. Somewhere around 120 tons of house.
I'm going to make a lot more money and have somewhere to live. The house moving company is going to do somewhere around $130,000 worth of business, all of the guys will be employed and the guy who called me initially will save about $20,000 on his demolitions. Everyone wins here, and I am the Conquering Hero who put it together. I'm not sure how I'm going to milk that even more, but I'm going to certainly try. Anytime I want something, I'll say, "remember when I found those two nice houses blah blah blah" and we'll see where that goes.
I made shepherd's pie in the microwave tonight. Cooked up the potatoes and meat separately and then mixed it with all of the other stuff and squeezed it tightly into Wide Mouth Jars and microwaved again until everything was cooked. By far the best microwave meal I've ever made.
One of the houses is already up on wheels and there are no services connected. It is within reach of my extension cord, so I could have power but nothing else. I'm living in the one beside it that hasn't been touched. I will start on the basement tomorrow. Nothing has to happen to the main floor of this house, so I will have a clean place right until the end.
The exterior is covered with transite siding which contains asbestos. It's a very stable material encased in concrete and painted, but lenders don't want to touch houses covered in it, so it will be removed. The entire building will be surrounded by scaffolding and wrapped by large tarps. I won't have access during this time. I may need to get out of the house as early as the 22nd but maybe not until the 26th. As luck would have it, I am needed for dog sitting only three blocks away, for at least a week, starting on the 27th. The job will be done by the time I am rendered homeless again.
There's a bit of juggling involved, if you want to live in comfort, as a semi homeless person. This one will be easy because I don't actually have to move my stuff. I just have to make sure not to lock any of my tools into the asbestos zone.
I have use of a really secure, small building on the site, and that is where tools and ladders will be stored. This will eventually become the office for this 65 unit development. I was so pleased when the project manager handed me those keys. It's full of older appliances that I can sell or give away at my discretion. I've already given away an ancient stand-up freezer that he's going to use for hanging meat. I have dealt with a few minor things for the manager, including alarms that went off at night, cleanup of debris that was on the road, and receiving something for him, in his absence. I think there's a good chance that this shed, which is like a small house in that it's insulated and wired, will become mine for a short time even after both houses have been moved off-site. Fingers crossed.
I've developed a bit of a problem. I have great storage, which allows me to live very lightly at my jobs and store the things that I don't need. I wear several hats in the work world. When I'm doing trees, all of my demolition stuff is stored, and vice versa. Sometimes I might be tearing down a chimney and only require a few things and everything else is in storage. I also store unsold items that can be hauled to future jobs to be sold. They gave me 6 months notice, which is great. I really like the landlord there and can't complain about anything. It's being developed as retail space that will pay far more than I could.
Storage often fills up with things you don't need. In my case it's not stuff I bought, it's stuff that I found in the houses and was unable to sell them before the job ended. So I've got to make it a priority to sell this stuff.
My only vehicle right now is a Toyota Tercel, not the sort of vehicle you think of when you think about moving all of your huge pile of shit from storage. A few days ago, an acquaintance called and said he would like $500 for his old vans since he has bought a newer one. I have ridden in it before and it is serviceable but nothing to write home over. This would give me a means of moving product to where it might sell and then I could haul the remainder up to the farm, where I almost never look at stuff.
But there is the issue of all the tools that I need on a day-to-day basis. These constitute probably half a van load, if you count my extra bedding and everything. So at the same time, I have probably bought another part-time home. The car isn't really big enough, although it works in a pinch when I'm between houses.
Many people would become quite agitated if they became homeless. This happens to me every week or so on average. I sometimes move directly to the new one and sometimes spend a few days in the car. Being rendered storageless is a far bigger blow for me, but I'm sure I will land on my feet. Might have to get rid of a bunch of stuff that are just duplicates of things I already have. Every second job produces another fan rake and I think I have four bicycles. Time to liquidate, transfer to the farm and give some stuff away. It's going to hurt for a little while, but in the end instead of spending $230 per month for storage, I will spend about $75 extra per month to keep the van on the road.
Necro posting so soory about that!
I love your hustle man. BUT one thing that i would like to point out is that you actually do not live rent free
Your storage was costing you $230/month, car insurance while negligible compared to apartment rent is still a factor. Plus you mention some farm which must cost something from taxes, etc.
What about buying an old RV and renting a spot for it to store your stuff and be a remote home base when in-between. Wouldn't that cost about the same as storage space?
Appreciate your wisdom and experiences written. Somewhat calming for a newly transient tumblweed such as myself. I'm your age but no where near your experience with living so free. Little details like storage of cars and stuff are important details to newly transient peeps. Keep it coming ") Respect!