Things I learned today, in order of craziness:
1. We have new windows! The first delivery came in and they are being installed. That means soon we can have real homeowner’s insurance — and maybe a loan!
2. Our house is not actually a 1914 Colonial Revival, it’s a 1914 Georgian Revival. Oops. My bad. How did I figure that out, you ask? I spent an hour with the Detroit Historic Commission trying to learn what kind of doors Matilda needs. She’s finiky, that one.
3. My color palate is pretty limited by the Historic Commission. For the trim and shutters I can use a version of yellow white, yellower white, greenish black or olive, basically, Good thing we don’t care much and Matilda’s mostly brick. But I think we will go with a yellow white for the trim and maybe a very dark (greenish black) stained front door with some glass.
4. The city, according to our contractor, is down to just three mechanical inspectors in the building department. For the *entire* city, which means there are waits of more than a month to get your rough inspection. That may not seem like much to anyone not going through this process, but let me explain the significance: once you put in all your HVAC (mechanicals), you need to have an inspector come out and approve it. You have to do this as well for the plumbing and electrical. These inspections have to happen before any further progress can happen. So people can be stuck for a month waiting for these inspections, unable to put up drywall or do anything else. Talk about adding time and cost to a project.
5. Also, seven Detroit building inspectors got charged today with accepting bribes. The corruption, it runs deep.
6. I have to get approval before I can plant a vegetable garden — or a garden of any variety. The Historic Commission has authority on all things exterior. And even though they likely won’t say no, it’s still a hoop.
There you have it, friends. Detroit is in bankruptcy but I need to get a garden approved.
To be fair, the commission staff has been very kind and helpful. They are just enforcing the rules. It’s just the irony that houses (hell, even skyscrapers) in Detroit can be left to rot and collapse in on themselves with no apparent retribution on the negligent owners. But try to rebuild one and, well, regulations galore. I know that we’re in a historic district, and I support both the spirit and the need for the rules wholeheartedly. But it does seem a bit of a disconnect for owners rebuilding having to go through hoops but those who choose to abandon seem to face no penalties.