JollyScot's Journey Starts

Where are you and where are you going?
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Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Yeah I have seen that the software engineering has an extra special layer of extra unpaid work before starting a job. For a profession in so much demand it is a wonder how all of the workers put up with it.

Everyone has their biases, I am not sure the HR systems really fix it. More just absolves people of having to think about what biases they do have. I might be wrong, then again I am not sure what my ones are. I know I have one around those who previously worked at a "large" consultancy. Too many experiences of a bunch of them coming in and causing big expensive messes (that they fix). I suspect a former state workers will be added to that list, so I will need to watch for that too.

Personal non choice based and I am less sure, they will be much deeper whatever they are.

Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Somewhat large update on my general housing issues and progress.

Old Flat

We have managed to fix the underlying issue with the extraction of air in the kitchen through a combination of filters and additional ducting. Thank god we left a disconnected duct in the wall after we were initially told to take it out. Otherwise would have been coming down.

Hopefully this means we can process the sale now.

Over the last couple weeks tried to work through the annoyance of the whole thing. Thought back on some of the stoic readings and come to term with just having to deal with shit things and people and progress to a solution when they occur. Can get angry but actually need to just keep calm and work on a solutions instead.

Before the building regulation individual returns I have been through a few steps in the background.
  1. Got confirmation from a surveyor that he thought the changes were fine and should be signed off.
  2. This surveyor has agreed to attend the sign-off visit on return of the building regulator, just in case and to field answers to more technical questions.
He didn't think the changes made were required based on the plans but it is done now. In the nature of having a back up for everything the following steps have been put in place.
  1. A letter of comfort is produced in lieu of the sign off that will be given to the buyer and let them decide if they want to proceed.
  2. If they do not then offer them the chance to rent if they still wanted to live there. I.e. if they can't buy because of mortgage.
  3. Rent the flat out fully and just become a landlord and eat the extra stamp duty costs initially.
However with the opinion from a surveyor and history/audit trail of exactly what the building regulations has done. Formal court proceedings would begin for the costs of their decisions. This is obviously the least preferred option, but if happens for a second time then so be it.

New Flat

Now with regard to the new flat, been running through the things that need fixed. Any structural changes have now been scrapped to make sure we avoid any council based interaction. A few of the bigger ticket items will now be removed from the list and we will stick to the core change which are, kichen/living room, bathrooms, sealing outside holes...A lot of holes.

The vast majority of the work we will do ourselves, but there are a couple of things we will need help with.
  1. The kitchen/living room floor needs levelled before we put down a consistent new floor.
  2. Balcony door needs repaired. We thought about replacing, but that likely needs permission and council. So repair only.
  3. Potentially a fix to windows but this can wait and we will see post winter.
  4. Full insulation check. We need to get someone in to find exactly where all the air is coming from. We tried but haven't found everything.
Items that we will be doing ourselves.
  1. Rewire the house and new lighting. Brother in law an electrician
  2. Replace electric central heating and with normal electric heaters. The central heating cost were extortionate.
  3. Some plumbing changes for bathroom, Best man of brother in law for this one.
  4. New flooring in kitchen/living room, I'll be doing this after practice on old flat.
  5. New carpets in bedrooms and painting or paper, carpets we may or may not also just get fitted depending on cost.
  6. Tiling and flooring for bathrooms
  7. A sauna in the largest bathroom. Thought about buying this but due to the odd shape of room would be expensive, or using cheapo materials. So new skill learning it is.
  8. A series of carpentry projects for myself around the place. Cabinets and wardrobes. Not much storage in large flat. But plenty of little spaces that could do something with.
  9. As we work through the changes find and fill in the holes. A large chunk behind the current kitchen.
The bathrooms are going to be first on the list. The kitchen might be done this year too. However with having to work it won't be doable.

This should keep our costs pretty low relative to the upgrades we are doing. It means a few higher quality pieces will be installed with savings. We have been through that in full yet. A full tot up of costs will start getting done as we really being looking at ordering materials. A higher spec flat will be considered in some areas as we may rent out the balcony room and want the price to be sufficiently high to justify dealing with people. This income will be used to "pay" back the costs.

Furture Work

Now that I've had a bit of time to calm down the lessons of the process has resulted in a few extra principles for when I'm working with property.

Have the Architect (if used) detail all building regulations that need to be adhered to and that a portion of their payment should be subject to that completion. Similarly have the builders final payment also contingent on that final paperwork. This time round I gave them too much leeway and trusted their skills. I'll need to be more tough on that in future.

The expectation is that these extra conditions should weed out the less informed choices. As if you won't agree, then you assume there may be an issue, then why should you be hired...we will see how that goes in practice.

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Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Good news, the changes made to the flat has been signed off and we can complete the sale.

The cash injection will go to my parents and they can decide what they want to do. They have started mumbling about a move to the country. Much like everyone else at the moment.

I have suggested they wait until October/November time when the free government money runs out to see what the actual market will look like. Since they would be buying anything in cash at the moment they will be competing with those using a mortgage to rush out of the city. Possibly the newly minted countryside people will never need to go back to the office, but I am not so sure.

If they do move we would buy them out of their share of the flat. Will go and speak to the banks about trying to get a longer term fixed interest mortgage (stop me from selling assets). Seen 10 year fixed at 2.08%. Relative to inflation it is a negative real rate. in the longer term if a fixed rate is not secured then we would rather not have the mortgage. A long enough time period for whatever is happening to flush itself out only, otherwise not worth taking it on.

The first few updates to the new flat have been done, All of the downstairs lighting has been fixed and changed over to high efficiency items as opposed to the old poor efficiency type. Additional coverings for the windows have been put up the stop drafts. Some additional sealing of the older windows will need to be looked at.

Started to look at the bathrooms. Considering a new boiler between two bathrooms and the directly below kitchen sink. At the moment the current tank powers a central heating system, however there are so many non insulated pipes running through the property that we just can't track them. We are starting to think a new smaller system is a better choice.

The flat used to be a single 400 m2 property that was split into 2 x 200 m2 properties. The result is that we just can't see where all of the pipes are going. We have a feeling that a lot are currently running through the other property as well. Its a pretty big mess.

In terms of work I am already starting to get bored doing it. The initial hump of learning what they want is over and I am now just progressing the tick boxes they need on their project. 3.5 month left and then I will wind down again, I am not having fun. Not really seeing the large income being paid as it all gets lost in the noise of the market movements. If it can help me secure a low cost mortgage then it will be worth the time spent. I am aware that the additional pay is smoothing out my investment swings so better to have this extra funds to invest than not.

My Japanese learning has already taken a hit as a result of the job and I am only just starting to get back on top of it. All of the house developments that I could be working on has been put back until the end of the contract. So I think I have actually managed to cross the line where I have more non work things I would like to be getting on with relative to the pay that said work pays.

I know I have said this before. This time I have actual defined project to be getting on with. As opposed to I want to stop because the work I do is rubbish. Based on the amount of work the company has I think they would probably want to extend the contract in December. I won't be doing it though, so from that perspective I will have "created" a high paid job for some other person.

The process has also been started to wind up the company. With the tax changes that happened in April the company is pointless the UK now. I would like to have it all closed before the UK comes with a new budget in Novemberish time.

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Location: Midwest, USA

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by SavingWithBabies »

Congratulations on the sign off! I was reading along and hoping it would work out. That sounded extremely frustrating.

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Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Been a lesson that has changed my view on housing quite a lot. First house nothing much happened, a broken boiler once and the tenants I had in peed on one of the beds and left.

Whereas this one had:-

Issue with initial seller
Issue with architect
Issue with builders
Issue with committee that maintain flat
Issue with energy company
Issue with extraction system
Issue with supplier of bathroom items
Issue with noisy neighbor
Issue with council planners
Issue with council building regulations

So a lot of lessons from the single property. I could argue I was paid to get a very fast education on how property really works. All in I will come out being around £20,000 ahead of what my capital investment was. So it has all worked out because the initial price was right and the upgrades idea added enough extra utility.

I made everything harder on myself with not being in the country when some of the upgrades were done. Leaned on professionals to cover off certain things. The professionals missed a few key items, combined with the failings of the initial dealings with the council.

Could I have spotted them had I been around....maybe...but probably not. Am I being unfair with regards to their fails, yeah probably. Eventually no one really knows what they are doing. There is always something in their skills set that has a gap. I uncovered it for the specialist kitchen builders and the architect.

Now I am going to try and reduce the amount of things that are taking my time. Have a feeling i have death by 1000 cuts with various things. So getting the house off the list is a nice start. The company will be the next cross and accounting requirements with it. By then end of the year the "professional" life will be over too.

Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Last month I had the cash from my house sale in my account. Other than the local council trying to get me to pay some extra taxes post move date there are now no items I need to deal with on the place.

After looking through all the mortgage options on the new place, we have decided against getting one. Although having the money at a low rate makes partial sense, I would rather not have the debt. Mainly because I don't know what to do with the cash just now. We will keep our overheads low instead.

For the upgrades to the flat we have been through and managed to seal all of the downstairs windows and seal all of the lights that were blowing in cold air. Unless the day is really cold the bedrooms manage to stay pretty warm all day. If it does get cold then heating on lowest settings manages to tick the heat up to an acceptable level.

We have some insulated curtains that still need to go up, still trying to figure out how best to put them in though since the downstairs windows are sloped. There will be some curtain making on the cards too as we bought the fabric rather than made ones. Painting of the bedrooms has now all been done as well. Two of the rooms need new carpets. However we are in no rush to do that we will make do with what we have.

We have had a few people into see the upstairs windows but have large divergences on what they think. Ideally I would like to put in new windows that are properly sealed. However it is a listed building so requires dealing with the council and authorities again, so we are not doing that. I suspect so kind of patch up will be done to fill in the majority of the gaps again. Then put in insulated curtains here as well. Due to the sizes though I'm not sure. Its about 25-30m worth of curtains.

Work for the system is still ongoing, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The company wind up process has now begun and I will step aside from the corporate world again. The only thing now that will bring me back in would be entering some kind of growth industry because its interesting. Or more likely if we want to use the skills to emigrate again (hopefully not). We still don't trust the position we are in.

I have been doing pretty good with the Japanese, the initial look at the characters again was not good. I didn't remember any of them. However after the first run through of something and seeing the story that was made for it. The second run through I have been remembering 90%-95% of them. I am expecting this to slip as I get to the last batch of items but it has been good seeing that I have just regressed back to stage 1 after that mental month back in May/June. By the time my work winds up I should be back to knowing all of the characters and ready to make a start on phrases and words.

Last item is health and fitness, I have been doing a 50 hour fast every week for the last 2 months. Been an interesting experiment. It is now pretty easy to make it that long without feeling much beyond the first evening hunger pangs.

Combined with this we forked out for a proper spin bike. With our building gym being closed for months I wanted something in the flat. Outside is fine but I know I'm not consistent enough for it. Every second day I do 30 mins as 5 min warm up 8 x 30 MAX...2 min rest. Then 5 min warm down. The other days I have been using the kettlebells we got. Generally doing a similar 20 min core set of something. I would like to go back swimming all of that is still closed with no obvious normality point.

The result is relative to the start of lockdown where my weight was creeping up. At one point I was at 81kg. I have brought this back down to around 75kg. The eventual target to get back just below the 70kg number. At that point I will take away the weekly fast I do and replace it with a single 72 hour each month. Although I eat healthy in general, I still like large portions so I know a regular diet is not my thing. The intermittent fasting was ok but I broke that too often.

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Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by JollyScot »

Have had a busy few weeks. Work ramped up as the team approached a delivery deadline. Since March I have been tracking all of my daily productive work with pomodoros. The for each of the last 4 weeks have totaled 50 hours worth of pomodoros. Although fine for a while the overhead started to get a bit much and glad to be taking a few days off now. As an example a typical productive week I would do around 30 hours worth.

Depending on the point of view the productivity boost has paid off to some extent. All of the contracts of people in the team were up for renewal in December. About half of the people have not been offered an extension due to cost cutting measures.

I was offered an extension, however my initial response was to say no as with the pension contribution allowance used the taxes I now pay means I didn't think it was as worth it. The net position when accounting for fall in the £ and the increase in taxes means I wasn't exactly that far ahead of what I left in Switzerland. The amount of non-standard work the company needs to finish by mid next year the found some extra budget and increased the amount of pay to justify continuing.

At the point of contract end we "should" be coming out of the pandemic hopefully. Who knows at this point though. Had the world been open and I could go and do stuff as normal then I maybe would have stopped at the increased level. We are all stuck inside with not much to do over the winter though, I will just delay the full throttle other stuff.

Although my work was busy I managed to set aside 4 hours each week to keep my Japanese going. I have been back through all of the characters again and can now recognise the 2042 core characters with around 90% retention. There are a few I still get a bit muddled, at this point though I am happy to move on to the next step.

This weekend I finished modifying a set of flash cards that contain 5000 ish words with sentences. Initially I will run through them only trying to learn the specific words. Then after getting a portion of the way through start adding in the sentences as well. The aim will be to make decent progress on this before getting a tutor to help.

For the markets my returns have been broadly flat, gains being offset by losses and so on. I have started notice an awful low of material online of people showing their great portfolios of stock and the amazing returns. Not sure what is going to happen, but the whole world can't just be drive by half a dozen tech company returns. If a bump does come everything in my head says it will be brutal. Maybe I'm just too doom and gloom about it.

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Re: JollyScot's Journey Starts

Post by ertyu »

Hey, you’ve stuck with the Japanese! 2000+ characters are nothing to scoff at, good work!

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