If you had an advantage, would you take it?
The answer for me is, “Yes”.
This is my story.
In the year 2000, after living in a rented townhouse for a year and a half, my lovely wife and I took the plunge and bought our first home. It was also a townhouse (but it was ours…okay, technically, it was the bank’s, but you get the idea), but it was in a new development. We were in a group of homeowners who were in the second wave to purchase homes in this patch of new construction.
As it was a housing development, it had a HOA, or a homeowner’s association. Now an HOA is a wonderful social construct in that it sets up the rules and regulations that all the homeowners agree to abide by. Freedom is a wonderful thing, but if you like your property values, you don’t want your neighbor painting their house pink with purple polka dots, setting up a free range oxen business, or parking three dozen cars in their driveway.
Since we were part of a new development, we had an HOA, but it had no members. In an effort to be civic and do my public duty, I ran for the position of Treasurer and won a spot on our local HOA.
One of the items we (myself, our President, Vice-President, and Secretary – the four members of the fledgling HOA) had to take care of was to draw up the rules and regulations by which all the residents would abide by. One of those documents to be drafted was the Architectural Guidelines. This was the document that would spell out what colors the houses could be painted, what hues the doors could be, and what tints would be allowed on the window trim.
Since we were brand new at this type of work, we did what any good outfit did and we copied from other HOAs around Virginia. The four of us took a different section of various guidelines and spent some time drafting our new architectural rules. After a few weeks, we combined our sections and we had an almost-final version we were all happy with.
Except for me. I had an issue.
During the time we were drafting the rules, my lovely wife and I had bought a new screen door to place in front of our front door. This new screen door was white. This was not a problem except when I saw the final draft of our guidelines (doors were the President’s responsibility), it states that screen doors were allowed on homes so long as they…
a) matched the color of the door it was in front of, or
b) matched the color of the trim of the door it was in front of.
Those were the only two options. As you can see, our white screen door already violated our rules.
Sure, I could have spoken to the President to try and have her change her mind, but I took another route.
Since it was known among the other three members of the HOA board that I was only one involved in the world of information technology, I volunteered to take on the arduous task of merging our four Microsoft Word document into one seamless work of literature. Yes, I explained, there would be lots of work to be done in formatting our quartet of documents, of ensuring that the pagination was seamless, and in making sure that all the words were spelled correctly. My other HOA compatriots gleefully handing me this task.
In addition to formatting, pagination, spell check, and making sure all the verb tenses agreed, I did add the following piece of text to the section regarding screen doors. Our new revised guidelines said that screen doors could also be…
I was banking on the fact that no one would scrutinize my finalized draft before it went to the printer and before it was made official.
I was correct and our screen door was now street legal.
Advantage seen and taken.
That’s my story.
P.S. The genesis for today’s post comes courtesy of the news that came out this week regarding the January 2017 figures for new home construction in the United States. That statistic is just one of many data points that I keep my eye on. If you’re curious as to why I follow certain economic indicators…well, that’s a story for another day.