Another crossroads

You’d think I enjoy bleating helplessly about this project, considering how often I do it, but I really don’t. I really would prefer to be making actual progress on the house, rather than chasing my tail for every bureaucrat with a pencil and a checkbox. But there seems to be no end to the pencils and checkboxes.

As I mentioned last week, the building code inspector wants sprinklers and, much as I hate to ruin the aesthetics of the house, I agreed just to keep the project moving. I figured, for $20,000 (or whatever sprinklers cost) it wasn’t worth the fight.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in no position to throw $20,000 away just for the sake of convenience, but at least I could justify sprinklers – they might actually benefit me, unlike the bog turtle study, the well analysis, etc. It wasn’t $20,000 I wanted to spend, but at least I would get something from it.

Well, the $20,000 figure was just a worst-case scenario off the top of my head, so yesterday we got a bid on the real cost: $80,000.

So we’re back to the crossroads. I can’t justify spending that much money – forget justify, I can’t afford to spend that much money on something as unwarranted as this. On the roof, yes; we need a roof. But we don’t need sprinklers to vacate six people from the second floor with two staircases and three exits. At $20,000 they were a nice to have; at $80,000 it’s just not going to happen.

We offered to just put sprinklers in the hallway, where they would do the most good, but that was denied – they have to be in every room, even the third floor. And while I appreciate the code inspector’s efforts to save my pool table, I can buy another pool table and still save a lot of money.

So again I’m not sure where we go from here. I’m trying not to yell “the sky is falling” like I did last time, but I feel the same way. I let the architect know we were going to fight it and, if we lost, then we weren’t going to pursue the B&B. I look at my business plan and $80,000 is an entire year’s income. And it’s not like having sprinklers will increase our occupancy rate. Historic Elegance and Automatic Fire Suppression in Lancaster CountyTM just doesn’t have a ring to it.

I don’t mean to be glib and sarcastic, I just don’t know what else to do. I’ll put out some feelers while I’m there this weekend to see if there’s any chance of getting around this, but I’m not optimistic. The township, who just started implementing the building code a few months ago, has already told us they weren’t sure how the appeal worked, and that they weren’t going to approve any code variance requests. That’s not a good sign.

And no, I haven’t said anything to Dawn. She’s got enough on her plate right now and besides, she blames me for things like this, as if to say I should be willing to spend every last dime I had to make this happen. Unfortunately, that route leads to foreclosure, and then nobody is happy. (Well, except the new owner.)