Our focus in 2014 will be on finishing the interior. We've learned that there may be some confusion among members regarding what's planned (or not planned) for the interior, and so we'd like to share a few words intended to clarify things and bring you all up to date.
Fundraising began for the clubhouse last January. Our fundraising goal was $35,000. As we stated often in our appeals during the course of our fundraising, this amount was only intended to finance the construction of the clubhouse exterior (often referred to as the "shell") and maybe the electrical work if we were fortunate. The base materials cost for the shell — concrete footings, lumber, roofing, windows and doors — was estimated at $27,261. Extras like fasteners and finish materials (such as paint, trims, aluminum soffit and fascia, lock sets, etc.) were not included in this base estimate.
As you will note, we intentionally built a significant "cushion" into our budget. Apart from the obvious need to include enough money to cover extras not included in the base estimate (like those mentioned above), there was another less obvious but much more important reason to have a large cushion. Our previous projects (especially the swimming pool) taught us that navigating bureaucratic red tape is a journey that almost always has an unpredictable end. We learned that no matter how well you research a project, and no matter how thorough your planning might be, you can never predict what the final outcome will be because of human involvement in the interpretation and enforcement of laws and codes (aka government bureaucracy and red tape). For a project like our clubhouse, this unpredictability could easily have added thousands of dollars to its final cost. Building a large cushion into our budget to offset these potential unknowns was therefore both reasonable and responsible.
This time around, our red tape journey produced mixed results. On the positive side, no expensive preliminaries or modifications were asked of us. Our plans were accepted as drawn. That literally saved us what could have amounted to thousands of dollars in extra costs!
On the negative side, our plan to use the clubhouse shell as basic shelter for a number of years while we gradually found money to finish the interior (electrical, drywall, flooring, plumbing and so on) hit a snag. We learned that we would be required to finish the entire building within two years.
Fortunately for us, the positive outcomes in our red tape journey helped offset the negative outcomes.
The money saved by not having to fund any red tape extras was substantial. Hoping to add to this amount, we instituted cost-saving initiatives aimed at stretching our building fund as far as we could in order to retain as much money as possible for the interior. Instead of hiring a contractor to pour our concrete footings, for example, the club did the job ourselves. Shopping our building materials list aggressively yielded better pricing than originally anticipated. We even went outside our borders to purchase windows and doors at considerable savings. All this good fortune and intense penny-pinching has left us with enough in the kitty to finish the clubhouse interior to the minimum standard necessary to gain an occupancy permit (with just a little help from general funds).
Besides obvious funding limitations, there are two other important constraints that will influence how we move forward with finishing the clubhouse:
(1) The building permit granted by the RM of Brokenhead describes the work to be performed as follows: "Construction of a 28' x 60' Seasonal Amenity Building intended to serve the 'Travel Trailer Park' component of Conditional Use Order C-51-11 approved by and issued by the RM of Brokenhead March 8, 2011." The RM is holding us closely to that Conditional Use Order. What we call our clubhouse is called a "seasonal amenity building" by the RM because that description fits with what's permitted under their main building by-law. That by-law permits us to legally use this building from May to October inclusive. We will not be permitted to open it for use by campers or visitors outside of that time frame.
(2) Our insurance company has informed us that they won't insure our clubhouse if it's heated with a wood stove because they consider the building "open to the public" and thus at risk if untrained people were to operate the stove.
These two important constraints have serious implications that may impact our planning for the interior of the building. In the earliest stages of that planning, we had talked about insulating the clubhouse and heating it with wood so that we could make more use of it during the earlier and later parts of the season (April and November, potentially). The May through October restriction that we must now live with obviously changes things.
As its sole funders, you as members will play a significant role in determining the way forward on this project. We'll be actively discussing our options in the days and weeks ahead, beginning with the Advisory Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 22. Please attend if you can.
Q: How much money did we raise in total for the clubhouse, and how much is left?
A: Thanks to your generosity, we achieved our fundraising goal of $35,000! Pay forwards and donations brought in $32,700 in cash. Donated materials (chiefly the metal roofing) accounted for the rest of the total. We currently have $9,246 left in the clubhouse fund. There is $9,800 designated for clubhouse construction in the 2014 budget, with the $554 difference coming from general revenues. We estimate that this $9,800 will be enough to finish the clubhouse interior to the minimum standard necessary to obtain an occupancy permit.
Q: What is "the minimum standard necessary to obtain an occupancy permit"?
A: For us to obtain an occupancy permit, the walls and ceiling must be fully clad in 5/8" drywall in order to provide safety in the event of a fire. The floor must also be finished (probably with vinyl tile). Because the walls are being closed in, all electrical wiring and plumbing must also be roughed in. We will need to finish the kitchen but the building inspector has given us permission to delay installing bathroom fixtures if we lack funds to do so because we already have operational bathrooms nearby.
Q: You've told us what our clubhouse building budget is for this year ($9,800). How tight will this budget actually be?
A: This budget will be very tight! In many cases (where allowed), our original principle of living with things somewhat unfinished until we can afford better may still come into play. For example, our remaining money will fund the electrical wiring, but we may need to live with bare light bulbs in inexpensive white plastic sockets for a while until we can afford proper light fixtures. We can afford to do the plumbing rough ins, but we may need to live without toilets for a while. Our understanding is that if the clubhouse is substantially completed to plan and to code (the "minimum standard" described above), and if all wiring, plumbing, exits and surfaces appear safe, then our occupancy permit will be issued.
Q: Where will the money come from to pay for clubhouse extras and options not currently funded?
A: We have closed pay forwards because we've reached our debt ceiling. We have also promised that there will be no more board-initiated fundraising. That leaves member-initiated fundraising and voluntary donations as the most likely immediate term sources of funding to complete the clubhouse. Some of the revenue generated from increasing the size of our membership could also be directed towards completion of the clubhouse.
Q: Are insulation and heat mandatory or optional?
A: They're optional. As a May-through-October "seasonal amenity building," we're not required to install insulation or heat.
Q: Do we have money in our clubhouse budget for insulation and heat?
A: No. As mentioned above, our fundraising was intended to finance the construction of the clubhouse exterior only (the "shell") and perhaps a bit more if we were fortunate. We were indeed fortunate, and so we have enough funding left to do most of the required interior finish work. We don't, however, have any money for insulation or heating at this time.
Q: Won't the building get too hot in the summer without insulation? Other than saving money, are there any advantages to not insulating? Can insulation be added later if we choose not to install it right away? Can heating be added later? Since we can't use a wood stove, what sort of options are available if we choose to heat the clubhouse? Will we ever air condition the clubhouse?
A: These design questions and a whole lot more are now in front of the board. We encourage each and every member to take an active role in this planning. If you can't make it to an Advisory Council meeting, then please share your ideas and opinions via letter, e-mail message or phone call to a board member.
The board must make final design decisions in just a few short weeks. Now is your opportunity to be heard.
We wish to once again offer our sincerest thanks to everyone who has helped fund and build our new clubhouse! This new structure that now stands proudly at Naturist Legacy Park once again shows what a small group of truly determined nudists can accomplish when they all work together!
SOURCE: This article was published in both the members and non-members editions of the January 19, 2014 Naturist Legacy News Update. I am the author. Check out the 2013 Photo Galleries to see what was accomplished during this ambitious year of construction and development.