Digital homesteading, Discord SDKs and more house stuff

Show Notes

In this episode, we talk about that subscription fatigue that is coming for us all. CJ has been working on some homesteading projects, including maple syrup harvesting and an AI birdspotting camera. Colin finally reveals what he's been working on at work: a new SDK!

What we're building
- CJ is homesteading: maple syrup
- Raspberry PI + camera + AI to detect birds in the yard
- Colin finally shares what he's been working on at work: documenting a new Discord SDK!

What we're learning
- Our lessons learned when buying (or not buying) a house

Full Transcripts

Colin: Welcome to build and learn. My name is Colin.

CJ: and I'm CJ and we're back and we're catching up on what we're working on and what we're learning. And the first thing we're going to jump into is a notion block limit that we just hit, we use notion to like manage all of our notes for the podcast. And if you create too many lines of texts in notion, basically they charge you money. And it's like, ah, man, the paper cuts of all the different subscriptions. You've got Netflix and Disney plus and notion and render and all these different SAS products for work, for play, for content. And it. It just weighs on you. It's like, Oh, another thing that wants to charge 10, a month. And it's annoying and frustrating.

Colin: Yeah. Are you using notion for anything other than the podcast?

CJ: Just the podcast, like over, over time, I've used it for lots of different content type planning things. And I have like had periods of my life where I've journaled in notion, but right now the only thing I'm using it for is the podcast. I,

Colin: we don't, we don't want you paying for that then.

CJ: yeah, it's like, I don't know. Maybe we can go back and delete a bunch of blocks or something like you said to make it work. So,

Colin: it's interesting because I started to think about that. And then like, even though most of those blocks are past episodes and we have them live and the show notes are live, like there's like a little bit of a, like, it's kind of emotional to go and delete that

CJ: yeah,

Colin: It's like a emotional residue. I'm like, do we want to keep this? This is also probably why I have too many things in my house. But yeah, I, if we're only using it for the podcasts, it would be interesting for us to explore, like I was thinking about obsidian with some sort of get back system or maybe even we just go get hub projects and make a repo for the podcast and kind of walk the talk of, of being in public. And and if you want to come on the show, you can open an issue or a PR, you know,

CJ: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Colin: slide into those get hub DMS.

CJ: Totally. Yeah. So help. I have heard a lot of people talk about obsidian. I know it's like the second brain thing, but it sounds like, is it file backed or like, what is the database behind it? And is it like a replacement for notion or how are you using obsidian?

Colin: Yeah, obsidian. I, it's more of an aspirational thing for me. I use it because it's in Markdown. Like I can, I can write a lot of docs there when I don't want to write my docs straight into like my work for, for doing work docs and stuff. And then it's a little tricky cause I think I think for some reason I'm not certain, but I don't think transistors like descriptions are exactly Markdown. They're like Markdown adjacent. And so I often write in Markdown anyway and so obsidian works for me with that, but I don't have a consistent habit. There are a lot of obsidian plugins that will give you things like can bands and being able to do like Excalibur draw and all that stuff inside of obsidian. So like it becomes, it feels a lot like notion in a way. Okay. I think it's more for yourself, but I'm seeing on their website that they also have a subscription now for team plans and you can have syncing and you know, if you're going to be using obsidian, I love the design of it. I love the icon, like the branding of it is just really nice, but I totally get it. Like Notion's trying to make money to survive. Obsidian's got to make money to survive. But at the same time, like if we're only using it for this podcast, which we do not do to make money, should we be spending money? On those things, or should we just be using free tools? Because, you know, it's mostly coordination. We already do pay for things like transistor and descript and all of that.

CJ: mhm, mhm. Yeah, it's been on my mind too. I have so many different little projects floating around out there that are I'm paying for hosting and I'm like man I wish I could just like squish them all into one giant Rails app and host like one thing in one place. So we'll talk about it in a little bit but this project that we worked on This past weekend with my son, I just like shoehorned it into an existing because I was like, I don't want to spin anything else up, but yeah, love the idea about GitHub project. And they have like, GitHub has been releasing a lot of those community tools too. So they have the discussions feature and probably some other things too, in there that we could take advantage of.

Colin: Yeah, I mean, it's also you could run a community on GitHub, which would be interesting.

CJ: Yeah. And in terms of like the way that we use this, it's really kind of like basically a giant blob of text for the notes that we're taking as we're recording. And also like before we record, and then there's a few different statuses for whether an episode is scheduled or published or in editing. And then who like, basically we kind of like round Robin, who's going to edit it. And that's basically all that we're using it for now. Right? Like.

Colin: It is, but I think I was listening to Fairly Technical, and they were talking about how every podcaster has a flow like this,

CJ: Mm

Colin: And so it makes sense that, you know, you don't necessarily want to have a tool that's just this, but I'm sure someone out there will go build it. I think They had like a call for like, someone go build this, please. Or transistor, go put this in, you know, just as part of your flow. Especially if you're scheduling a bunch of episodes, being able to see your scheduled episodes, your on deck episodes, things that are coming in the future obviously, you, you know, something like transistor is very good at like sticking to its core and not adding a bunch of feature bloat that every new feature you add, you have to support and care for. In perpetuity, or you got to kill it. And then people are angry. Cause that's where, like in our case, that's where our show notes are. That's where our statuses are. We also, I mean, we, I know we're hitting the block limit because we have a huge backlog of potential guests and topics too. So we could probably go put those somewhere else and we've mostly gone away from doing guests, but there's a pretty good list of cool people here that we should probably revisit having on the show at some point and kind of figure out. See what other people are learning.

CJ: Yeah. Yeah. I think the, the, like the ease of just jumping on you and I and recording, it's like so low touch that like that I think is also like helping with consistency is just like, okay, you know we show up, we do our thing, we record, we edit and we publish and it's good to go. But yeah, I think like it would be awesome to get to know a lot of these different folks. So yeah, stay tuned. I think we'll probably have someone in this year at some point. Yeah.

Colin: So I think last episode you talked a little bit about your, your maple syrup trees. So how, how's that going?

CJ: Oh my gosh. Okay. Yeah. So we teased it a little bit. We tapped some trees and I tapped a lot of them incorrectly. So it was so sad. It was like, you went out, you go out in the yard and it looks like there's just like gunshot wounds and the trees are just bleeding sap, like all down their side. I'm like, I'm sorry, Mr. Tree. But we tapped one of them correctly. And thankfully that was the sugar maple, which is the one that produced the most sap. And it was kind of wild. We, it was, it was really, really fun. Like the anticipation of waiting and then going and checking inside Some days it would produce like nothing and other days it would produce like three gallons of sap, which is just like mind blowing. And it comes out like very much just like water. And so my brother was in town visiting and we built a like makeshift homemade syrup evaporator in the backyard. We just bought like a bunch of cinder blocks and like used pieces of the barbecue and got some, got got built like a little chimney and had. Our like wood fired evaporator. So we had kind of like a, a catering dish that we were able to pour several gallons at a time into and just boil it off. And we spent about four hours one Sunday afternoon, just making s'mores and hanging out and playing card games while we watched the fire and. Boiled off about six gallons of syrup, which made like five cups or six gallons of sap made about five cups of syrup, like homemade syrup, which was delicious and amazing. And it was, it was like tons and tons of fun. So very much recommend trying it. If you're, if you live somewhere that has maple trees it's just like small batch, you know, even if you make like a little bit it's tons of fun.

Colin: And now we understand why maple syrup costs what it does.

CJ: Oh my gosh. It's so, yeah, I think we, we calculated out that we're spending like $16. Every two weeks on maple syrup. Cause our kids eat waffles like every single morning for for breakfast and they just pile on the maple syrup. And so our two growing boys are eating tons and tons of syrup. And this would the goal was definitely not to cut into like our maple syrup spend, but,

Colin: Right. You have a, you have a bucket for that.

CJ: Yeah, exactly. So yeah, it was, it was surprisingly easy to get started. You can buy the taps or the spiles, the little like metal pieces on Amazon for, you know 30 bucks or something, or, and then you can buy, I bought like five gallon food grade buckets and a little kit and about like 30 worth of cinder blocks and just cut some wood, some dead wood out of the backyard and made our little evaporator. So yeah, we're probably, we probably spent like twice as much as we spend on maple syrup on just like supplies and getting it done. But yeah, it's tons of fun.

Colin: you're homesteading now. I think that's very similar to like people making beer and things like that.

CJ: Yeah. Have you, have you brewed beer?

Colin: I've done some like various ciders and like making my own vinegar, things like that, like fermented vinegars. So a little bit less on the beer side.

CJ: That sounds like very, very up the same, like crafty sort of home. Yeah. Homesteading type stuff, which it's like so much fun, you know, to just use this, the, I don't know, use the stuff that earth is giving you that's like around you. So speaking of that, speaking of earth and the stuff that's around you so I, I think we may have mentioned it. Maybe back in December, my son, Logan was like very into getting a raspberry pie for Christmas as like a a present. And we're like, what is he going to do with a raspberry pie? We don't know. So he got this little single board raspberry pie. And loaded a bunch of gate, like gaming OS things onto it and was playing just like simple games. And the other day he and his brother got really into like tracking down the birds. Like the birds are all now coming out now that like winter is ending and spring is starting. And so they're tracking all these like birds of New Hampshire. And. And they wanted to build a tool that would help them watch when birds came to a certain feeder that like, isn't easy to see. And so like, amazingly in a weekend, there's like so many cool tools out there for raspberry pie. And we got We got a little pie running with a USB camera that is running. I think it's called motion. So anytime the camera detects motion, it will start recording and then it records for a certain number of frames. And there's all these different like things you can tune about the thresholds of, you know, How much noise you allow and like how much motion to detect or whatever, and how many frames before to record and after to record and everything. And then it has all these nice hooks. So like when, when it detects motion and then when it stops detecting motion or when it takes a picture or when it stops taking a picture or a movie or whatever. And so. We wrote a little Python script that takes the video recording and uploads it to a rails app and then lets us and then the rails app sends a slack notification so that like anytime the bird comes to the window, we get a slack notification. And the next step here is that we're going to ship it off to some. AI model to ask like, which you know, what is the species what is the genus and species of this bird so that we get these Slack notifications that say, you know, the Mr. Like the tifted titmouse or whatever, the tufted titmouse is at the window, like so super, super fun project and like mind blowing how many tools there are just to like throw things together. So that was tons of fun.

Colin: That's cool. Yeah there. There's a bird feeder out there that That will do this for you, but I love that you guys made your own We've gotten this for my girlfriend's parents and it was one of those kickstarters that was like three years late. But it works like they get text messages. It's like a, it's an iOS app and it's almost like a Pokedex from Pokemon where it's like you've, you've captured this bird and this bird and it identifies each individual bird. And, and they've been having a lot of fun with it, but I love that you guys are pulling it together yourselves and you can change it up in terms of like what it does. But having like a, a bird book that, you know, these are all the birds that we've seen recently would be pretty cool.

CJ: Yeah, that's 100 percent what we're trying to do when we first moved here their grandparents bought them binoculars and like birds of New Hampshire and walkie talkies to like go outside and go like do outdoorsy stuff. And so yeah, they're, they're super into it, but, and they've been going in the physical book and marking, like, this is the month and year that we saw this bird or whatever. And so, yeah, we basically need to build a Pokédex exactly like you said. And this, this actually circles back perfectly to the subscription fatigue because we have nest cameras and we've been paying like, I don't know, some crazy amount every year just to have this nest camera and like the, I feel like the quality of the video and the quality of the motion detection is not as good as our like hacked together Raspberry Pi version. So I don't know, we might be dumping the nest here pretty soon, but.

Colin: that feels like one of those, like how much time are you going to spend on this versus that subscription on nest? But also, I mean, I, I can yeah, a lot of those cameras are not that good. But if it's for fun, you know, I don't know if I would trust it for home security, but if you, if you build something that's amazing, then maybe Kickstarter on your hands.

CJ: Yeah, for our, for our use cases here, it's almost all like wildlife detection. We just want to see like, did, was there a bear in the backyard? Was there a deer in the front yard? Are the

Colin: nest won't tell you, right. That is it, does it tell you if it's an animal?

CJ: It will tell you if it's a dog bark, like it can detect the sound. But like, other than that, I don't think it tells you, it just says there

Colin: Yeah. You're like, I want to know, especially in Tahoe and stuff, like tell me if it's a bear or a person, tell me if it's a car, tell me, yeah, all these different things. But this is also like where you run into when we do a lot of those captures of like click on all of the dogs and all of the bikes. And it's like your cameras can also get things wrong. But I I've been impressed with how well the bird buddy has picked up like which birds cause the camera doesn't look, okay. That good in my opinion,

CJ: Mm hmm. Yeah, so we got, we tried some early, like some early tests, and we took the, like, images of birds that we captured, and I tried sending them to OpenAI with GPT 4 vision, like the preview of the vision model, and just said, like, what bird is this, and it got it wrong. Which like, whatever, like it's not tuned for that. It's just like probably telling us a random story about a bird, but we like on iOS, you know, that thing where you can push the eye and it will give you like the magic thing for plants and whatever that works amazing. Like you just take, we could just take a screenshot of the video that was happening and then click on the eye. And it was like, Oh yeah, this is a tufted titmouse. And here's like a whole bunch of information about it, the link to the Wikipedia page and all this stuff. So Yeah, we'll have to figure out what Apple's running.

Colin: Yeah, there's been a lot of chat about whether or not Apple's gonna have like a big AI release at some point that gives us access to that, because I think all of that runs on device. So being able to have it available, it's like now, is there going to be a web version that at least is trained on the same type of thing and you can use it, you know, similarly, because I think open AI is making quite a bit of money between chat GPT subscriptions, more subscriptions. Thanks. And just open AI API credits. And I think a lot of companies are like, how can we get some of that? You've got Anthropic and all these other companies doing the same. And we just need bird AI, right? The best bird recognition software that's out there.

CJ: Yeah. And the fact that the Raspberry Pi is able to run so much locally, like I, I also am wondering if we could just run like a small model locally on the pie. Yeah. Or like maybe there's even some bird specific model that's available on hugging face that we can just put on there and say, you know. Here's the picture. Like, what is this? And then include that in the post request to rails. It's like, here's the video and here's the description based on your model, like of what kind of bird this is that'd be amazing. So I don't know.

Colin: If there isn't one, you and your kids can contribute your first

CJ: Yeah,

Colin: Hugging Face. The preeminent bird AI.

CJ: yeah. It's, it's fun. It's tons of fun. So

Colin: That's cool.

CJ: it looks like you've got some stuff that you have been. Sort of hinting at what details can you share about what's going on at work in stealth mode?

Colin: Yeah, so it's it's public now. And by the time this episode comes out, it'll probably have been out for a little bit. But yeah, well, the things I've been working on at work are slowly getting out there. So we have GDC, the Game Developer Conference, next week. And the thing we've been working on is allowing developers to build games. Inside of discord. So you can launch, you can build a game as a developer, but then as users, you can launch these games and you can do that already today. Like we have a bunch of games that we've built and worked with some partners on. So a lot of mini games, when you think of like, You know, what kind of game would you want to be able to jump in and jump out of? A lot of party games, things like that. So my big project has been taking the SDK and the docs that we use with partners that were pre me joining discord and like making them publicly consumable. All the information architecture. And then like thinking through, like as a developer, what do you have to know to do all this stuff? So, you know, kind of a cool thing. Cause I didn't have to edit a lot of our existing docs. It was like a whole new section. So a lot of free reign around, what does it mean to like teach someone what this is, how does it work? How can you use it? It's all developer preview. So there's a bunch of limitations right now, but like, just how do we do all of that and, you know, also release a TypeScript SDK that. people can use to put in their apps. So that will be available for devs on Monday. By the time this comes out, it'll have been out so you can go play around with it. But, yeah, I've been very one track mind, just focused on those docs and samples and all that stuff for what feels like a very long time.

CJ: Those greenfield projects, those are amazing. Those are like the, yeah, those are super, super fun.

Colin: Yeah. And I'm excited to go to GDC and just like, see the engineering team that built it, get to show it off and have some fun. You know, they've been working really hard on it for a long time too. And just, you know, that, that last 5 percent that takes the longest, the polish, the, you know, the little things that we need to do. And then, you know, there'll be some GDC after parties and things that where we get to celebrate all of these little wins that we've had,

CJ: nice. Is it, so help me understand exactly like what this looks like. I, in my mind, I'm sort of imagining, you know, Well, the, the two things that come to mind is the Shopify sort of I forget what it's called. They're like react component based thing where you can build your own stuff into Shopify. And then also like,

Colin: like hydrogen and O2 and

CJ: yeah, exactly.

Colin: hydrogen and oxygen. Yeah.

CJ: yeah. And then also I guess, Stripe apps where like, you can embed your own thing into Stripe apps. Is that like along the same lines or how should we

Colin: I haven't looked at the Shopify stuff. They used to have something called which I just discovered the other day. That's called the exact same thing called embedded app SDK. And so we, ours is also called the embedded app SDK and. It's very similar to the Stripe apps. And I can't fully remember if Stripe apps were hosted by Stripe or by the company. Cause in this case, you will host your front end and backend, but you need to use our, like your, your app is being proxied by us. And so there's a bunch of things that you have to do in the SDK. The SDK handles the communication with discord and the actual client, whether it's mobile or, or or. Desktop. So like authentication, a new person joined the game, a person left, someone's talking what guild are you in? What server are you in? What channel are you in? All that kind of stuff. You do still have to build a game, right? So there is like, not really a way to hand wave around that. You're still going to be having to know how to do full stack web development, state management, you know, all that kind of stuff. We're just going to be emitting those events to you. And so it is then hosted like in an iframe. So very similar to Stripe apps. And yeah, I think Stripe apps was a very greenfield version of, of that for, for them as well. And, and I got to be in the, like the beta for that probably. Through you or somebody, I don't remember, but it was cool to see, or we, we had built one at orbit. That was what we had done. So yeah. Yeah. So I had worked on that a little bit, so I had some of the like end user experience of that. But yeah, we, unlike the Stripe one, we aren't like shipping components for you to use. So it's literally a blank slate of, do you want a game? Do you want to build a shared whiteboard? Do you want to build a Kanban? Like it doesn't have to be a game, but a lot of people, you know, You know, expect that there is a game behind that button. So we're going to be largely focused on games, but we have one called jam space whiteboard. That's kind of like kind of like a figma fig jam style thing.

CJ: Very cool. And then is it like one way to think about it might be discord is all of your like user management and like player management stuff. And then you just build like the mechanics of the actual game for some multiplayer thing.

Colin: yeah. So, you know, yes, we'll tell you when there's new users, you still probably should keep track of what users are on your end and all of that, and just kind of get like the, the diff of someone left, someone joined, give me all the people who are here now, things like that. And there's there's some scopes and things you have to get around. Like if you want access to people's username and avatar to bring into the game, you've got to opt with us and let the user opt into that. We're not just going to give you that data. So users are going to be. As a developer, you're going to have to find what data you want. Users are going to have to opt into it. And that happens today. If you join any of the, the existing activities, like we have a really fun one called putt party that, that was built at discord. That is a really fun, like putt, putt game that, you know, it's fun for like doing standups and stuff and just playing a game while you're doing a meeting. And then the big one, I think is that like over time, we hope to, you know, Have more like persistence and things. So when you leave a game and come back, it's a new game, but being able to keep persistence, if you have like a long running chess game, for example, that you don't have to be there for the entire time. It could be more async and say like, Hey, it's your turn, CJ. Hey, it's your turn, Colin. And you'll get a message in discord, you know, to, to take your next turn. So

CJ: That's cool. I like

Colin: yeah.

CJ: Yeah. There's like a bunch of games that are just like spiraling through my head about things that we built just for fun, like a little HTML five, you know asteroids and like, you know, flying a ship around, you like jump in, jump into a multiplayer game with other people's ships and some random spot. And you're all just trying to avoid the asteroids. Or even like a type racer type game where it's like, Oh, you know, like a race is going to start in five minutes. And it's just like, who's in the room or whatever with you. And then yeah, lots of fun stuff. So is it the events that are being emitted, are they all kind of like JavaScript, like proper JavaScript events that are bubbling up on the browser side? Or is it like web like a web sockets or something like client? So they're all like client side things that you're handling or.

Colin: In the client today and then this kind of abstracts it and talks to it, so it's, it's using something called a post message protocol, so we're doing RPC commands over post message between the iframe and the client and a lot of that, the SDK handles that. So you're not going and building all these like gateway listeners and RPC listeners and commands and things. The, the events, it's TypeScript, so the events are typed. We know, like when we, so you know what to expect and all of that. And I think that's where, like, there's a lot of work that you have to do to get the thing to load. And then once you're loaded, then you build the rest of the game. And so my joke has been like the, the draw the owl tutorial of, you know, first you draw the two circles and then you draw the rest of the owl. Like we are not going to build a game for you. So like you do still have to have experience in either a game engine. The HTML ones are amazing and they're like kind of what we're built for, but. Things like unity and unreal and stuff are technically possible as long as you can compile to web things like Wasm and WebGL and all that, there's a lot of tuning that you have to do to make it work well. Cause you're running in an iframe inside of a, maybe a mobile app or a desktop. So there's a lot of things there that over time, we're going to be making a bunch of tutorials. I want to make a bunch of game tutorials just because I think it'll be good for our community to learn from as well. it'd be fun to build.

CJ: the, a bunch of stuff came to mind too. One of them was that dragon Ruby had, I feel like they had a way to build for the web. Maybe that was wrong.

Colin: It does say web.

CJ: Oh yeah, it does have WebAssembly. So you could write like a game in Ruby, compile in WebAssembly and I don't know, maybe get something working. The other, the other thing was that I, I remembered that Repl. it launched a game framework called Kaboom. js. I don't know if you, have you seen this at all?

Colin: I have not.

CJ: It is, I think it's a very basic version that's similar to dragon Ruby, but it's all like JavaScript methods for just calling like simple, simple things to interact with a, I'm guessing it's just a bunch of sprites on like a canvas or something. But yes, very similar kind of game mechanics to dragon Ruby or some other similar, like simple. Game framework,

Colin: Nice. Yeah, I mean, if you've ever tried to make a game in JavaScript by yourself, you start to realize like, I need scenes and players and I need to move. That is not the stuff that we're helping you with yet. Right? So like, I will definitely have to look at this because doing it with Dragon Ruby, we have an example that is in Unity and all these other things, you end up having to wrap your game. In the iframe and then we, you now need to pass all the messages that we're sending you into your framework. So like you have to have these hooks into unity or hooks into, you know, those other things. If you're just using kaboom, you're in JavaScript and so you can handle those events and you can do those other things. So we are going to work on tutorials for like, you know, here's the unity hook ins. Here's the unreal. Here's kaboom, all that kind of stuff. So I'll have to look at this one. Looks fun.

CJ: Yeah. It reminds me of what is it called? The scratch, like that scratch programming environment where kids can kind of like use Blockly to drag around stuff, to build simple games. That's what Kaboom reminds me of too. It's just like very simple, little. Tools to build simple, simple stuff. So very cool. That's exciting. That's like a long time, long time coming. So

Colin: across the finish line. We're excited. So hopefully we'll get to talk about more different things now that this is getting put out into the world.

CJ: Well, we'll look at, we'll look forward to that. Yeah. Why don't we jump into what we're learning about? I mean, obviously we're learning a ton about the stuff that we're building, but

Colin: Always, always learning.

CJ: yeah lessons learned buying a house.

Colin: Yes, this was, I don't know. This is, this is one of those things. This is like the weird housing market that we have right now, but I, I watch Redfin like religiously and we found this house. That's, it's hard to explain, but it's just like so different than every house in

CJ: Mm

Colin: we're like, you know, we want, I think we should buy it. We were not pre qualified and it was only on the market for three days and had three offers. And I was like, you know, let's, we want to make an offer. And they're like, yeah, that's very, that's very cute. But if this thing's going to be closed in like an hour and you guys are not pre qualified. So we've learned that like, you really shouldn't. Even be looking at Redfin because or like in our case we went and looked at the house And we of course then fell in love with it and we're like damn like we are gonna miss this thing So being able to have that I mean, I think when you have an agent They're also going to take you more seriously if you're pre qualified like otherwise, they're like, yeah We'll show you the house, but we're not going to put a lot of effort into selling you anything because you're not You haven't done that step. But it did send me down this rabbit hole of like, you know, right now rates are really high, but not historically, but relative to the last four years. And it started sending me down this rabbit hole of like, does it make, like, I've always been taught to always do 20 percent down

CJ: Mm hmm.

Colin: a lot of that is because of PMI or, you know, your property mortgage insurance, because you haven't hit that 20 percent equity. Okay. And I started looking at all these different ways for us to not do 20 percent down. And I think if we had pulled the trigger on this and put it in an offer, we probably wouldn't have done 20 percent down. But like when you do first home buyer, you can go all the way down to three, 3%. And I can see how that gets a lot of people locked in their house. you know, being house poor, not being able to technically afford their house. So in a way it was like, yeah, we missed the boat on this, but we saved all the pictures so that we can have inspiration for like, if we find a house, cause it was a flip, like the house did not look that nice before these people took this one over. It was definitely a flip. So also you're like, what didn't we know? Like, was it flipped? Well, is there secrets that they painted over things like that? So in terms of that, it was definitely like a developer who was buying up houses and, and cause I, the other one we looked at as we walked in, we're like, I think this house, It's owned by the same people just based on the finishings and stuff. And then we walked around and we're like, yeah, this is totally the same people. So whatever, whoever these people are, they have an aesthetic that I apparently enjoy. But yeah, so a lot of lessons learned. We went on a rollercoaster of emotions of like, Oh, we're going to look at a house. Oh, we're going to put an offer. Oh, you guys don't have them. Your prequalification. So sorry, this house is going to be gone before you wake up tomorrow.

CJ: So were there any other houses or this was like the only one so far?

Colin: This was the only one, and I'll send a link to you. I'm not going to put it in the show notes, but it is remarkably different. And it's just interesting. Like it feels a little bit more like a Palm Springs home, like in the style. And now that I look at all the other houses in town, I'm like, these are all just houses. Like none of these speak to me at all. And if we're going to spend a bunch of money on a house, I want. You know, to have, it's like, it's like watching those house hunters show where they're like, what are, what are their two, what are your jobs and what are you looking for? And you know, I feel unreasonable attachment to this house,

CJ: Mm hmm.

Colin: it's just a house. And I do think we are in the longterm going to wait and make sure we have the 20 percent down because the math worked, but it was dumb how much more expensive it was. If you don't put down 20%, especially with 7 percent interest rates right now.

CJ: Yeah. So lots of good learnings, I think. Yeah when we bought our first house, we made so many mistakes. So you've learned a lot of the same stuff that we learned, but also or like, and things to look out for. So we tried to buy a house in 2008 and we put in we went down, it was like in a, in a place where it had, you know, the model home and there's like real estate agents just kind of like sitting there waiting for you to walk in. We went in, put in an offer, offer got accepted, and we went through the whole process of like prequalifying and whatever. Right. We got to the point where. We were trying to get ready to move out of the place we were renting and our lease was going to end. And so we like had already ended our lease and we had like other people coming in and like moving in behind us. And so we had like a pretty hard date to get out. And escrow was supposed to close at a certain time. And so we're like, okay Let's see if the seller will like, let us just move in temporarily and we can like rent it would be like a rent back or whatever, or like, there's different terms for it, but sometimes you sell your house and then you stay in it and then you rent it from the new owner before you move out. I think that's called a rent back different, similar thing where like in this case we moved in before we closed and then like the 2008 crash happened.

Colin: no.

CJ: That week that we're in the house and all of the subcontractors for the GC that built the house came calling for their cash, like, which doesn't usually happen. Usually the GC can like float a bunch of money. And like, as things are closing, they can pay the framer. You know, for the, the, the house that just closed and they can pay the, the drywall people, they can drive the paint, pay the painters and the pavers and the whatever, like the roofers. But when the market crashed, what happened was the GC's like bank was one of the banks that failed. And so that triggered this opportunity for all of the subs to renegotiate their contracts. And when they renegotiated, they were like, Oh, we want our money now. And so that meant that the contractor didn't have enough money to pay all the subcontractors.

Colin: Right. It cascaded all the way

CJ: yeah, it just like, just came crashing down. And long story short, we never got to close. So we moved into this house. And it, the, the loan, like the actual thing never closed escrow. And so we were in this wild situation where like, we're living in this house. We don't own, but like the seller, which was like the contractor, like just let us live there basically indefinitely until we could find another house. And so what was kind of crazy is like, we had bought like washer and dryer and had them installed like up the stairs and like all this stuff, like we were in it, like in it and living in it. And it was like our, you know, our new place, but it never, it never technically closed and it was never really ours. And I think we also got very attached. To that house. And that ended up totally being like silver lining blessing in disguise because as the market crashed, the price of everything went way down. And so we ended up getting in or like yeah, over, over the next several months, we, we probably saw like 80 different properties. So we went and looked at like a billion foreclosures and it was crazy. Like in 2008, people were like, Getting evicted or they're foreclosing and they're just would leave with like the cabinets and like all the furniture and like the windows and like just stuff that like, you're not supposed to take out of the house when you leave. And so we'd go into these foreclosures that were just gutted. So it was kind of wild, but we ended up finding a S a separate place and landing there, but yeah, I guess the learning in this case is don't move in before you actually close.

Colin: That, yeah, I was like, I didn't even think about 2008, but even just doing that before you close has all sorts of implications. But, wow. Yeah, I mean, just the idea that your value might go down in putting you underwater. You know, even today is a, is a concern. It was good because we both put down like a pro con of this specific house, which then, and then like, how would we, you know if we, we, there's like a bunch of weird things that we have to do, like sequencing that would not have made sense, like we actually want to sell Chanel's place. First. But like we were being, we were acting out of like, was this scarcity? Was this FOMO? Like we were not coming from a place of strength and power. So like we would rather have it pre qualified know that the other property is sold first, or at least we have it on the market even. And then we also have some health issues and things that, that we're trying to tackle right now. So not exactly the best time, but we were, we were kind of given into the FOMO. So I shared a link in the chat here of the house, but it definitely is just so different compared to a lot of the houses. And I do think like, again, it gives us a good sense of like what we'd like to achieve, like in our own. And maybe similar to the, how the flipper did it, like they bought this house for like four 50 yeah. And they were selling it for 600. So like, maybe we find a similarly structured house somewhere that we want to be. And I'm curious, like how much is the, of the neighborhood is important to you? Right. Cause you can't change the neighborhood and like the neighborhood was not perfect. The house was good. We were, we were clearly making some some justifications for why we should do this.

CJ: Yeah, the neighborhood matters so much, like, for us at least, like, it's such a massive thing. I think also, like, if you can figure out who the flipper was, like, you might be able to go and work directly with them and say, like,

Colin: Yeah. Who's your contractors? Yeah.

CJ: to the contractor. Cause they want to do like, they want to do different kinds of deals or whatever. And they're probably, there's actually really interesting techniques that I was learning about. And I think there's only like a handful of like really big flippers in Reno that do like hundreds of houses a year where they'll buy flips, you know, sell, and they've got the same crews and whatever. But one of the things that I learned about was like, And this is actually applicable to Kraftwerk too, is that when you or I just go down to Home Depot and we see some fixture or some flooring or something, there is a certain price. And that price is marked up an insane amount to be like the, like B to C cost of some amount of flooring or whatever. And there's so much that goes into that for them to not, like, so much goes into the markup for them to have, you know, the stores and employees and all this other stuff. Whereas some of these like really intense flippers, they'll buy like shipping containers full of just like the same flooring or shipping containers full of, you know, all of the same cabinets and then they go into a house, they flip it, they just like put in the same stuff like in the whole house and they have, they're just using like their own wholesale Like purchase straight from China, like whatever materials that end up being exactly the same as whatever they would be from the big box store. But, um, interesting, interesting considerations, like maybe find the, find the flipper and see if you can work directly with them or, you know, friends of the flipper or whatever sometimes.

Colin: I have found them and they, they are both, they were the seller and the brokerage. So they're also a brokerage. So I'm going to probably have to go chat with them. Yeah, I mean, what you're talking about is like, there's like a contract rate and quantity rate that you can get. And so, yeah, I mean, if someone, you're watching these YouTube videos of people redoing a house or so it's like, you're going to pay more if you're going straight to Home Depot. Even for the coworking space, we have like a Home Depot pro account. Like I, we just. And it's like, here's your contractor discount. And also you pick it up on the other side of the home Depot and we're going to take it out to you. And it's like, okay, that's, that's like, that's how the other side lives, CJ.

CJ: Yeah. Also like I guess a secret is that they don't confirm or they didn't at least when I was doing it like that you are actually a pro. You can just say like, Oh yeah, the PO for this is whatever, like my address, you know, and like often, well, like as a veteran, I get better discounts, like through veteran discounts at Home Depot and Lowe's, but yeah, I think you can just go in and sign up as like, yes, I'm a pro and I want the pro extra discount and all the pro perks, but really it's just

Colin: Yeah.

CJ: yeah.

Colin: And there's also in, in most cities, there is the Habitat for Humanity has like the re share resupply stores that are really cool to restore something like that. I think it's restore. So it's a lot of like things that some of them are super janky and some of them are super nice, but they're just donated to be sold. It's like, you know, extra appliances, extra fixtures, all sorts of stuff. So.

CJ: Interesting. Yeah. It's lots, lots of different lots of different lessons to be learned there. I, I am curious, like, well, one, one of the things that I found interesting as I'm chatting with a bunch of folks who are in the market to buy right now is how much PMI costs. Like when we bought, I think PMI was like less than a percent or something of the mortgage. And now it seems to be like way more than that. And it just makes the, the actual total monthly cost is. So much more. So what? Yeah. Like, was that something that, I mean, yeah. So PMI is like your mortgage insurance. And if you own less than 80%, Or like if you own less than 20 percent or something of the equity in your house, then you have to pay for this insurance. And the insurance is not like a fixed thing. It's like variable rate, right. Or like it's variable. And then when you get your mortgage, it's locked in at a certain amount or something.

Colin: I'm not sure how they calculate it. It's probably based on the size of the loan. So like, again, like the less you put down, the more PMI there's going to be. Cause it's insurance on you not paying your loan. But in our case, like if we only put three or five, which FHA loans allow you to do, you're going to be owning only 3 percent of the equity. And so the amount of one, your mortgage payment will be higher. Your PMI will be higher. So the cost of shelter will be higher. Right. And then when you think of it, I like to think of renting and buying, like buying the floor is your mortgage, your insurance, your PMI, all the things all in, that's the minimum you will ever spend. Right. It's not the maximum because there's utilities and maintenance and things are going to blow up and all that with rents all in with utilities and rent. That is the maximum that you will ever spent. And so there's a lot of risk there. Obviously you're not getting equity and renting and things, but it is very interesting. And it's still also blows my mind that like rent does not contribute to credit. Scores whatsoever, but paying a mortgage does, you know, it's, it's pretty crazy. So I know there's some people out there who are trying to change that too, with different kinds of credit cards that you can pay your rent with and stuff like that, but

CJ: Yeah, it's interesting. The other thing too about PMI is that like, say you buy today and you put down 3%, if something wild happens and the market goes crazy, and it pops, and it goes up to whatever, let's just say everything doubles in value, then, Like next month you can reach out to the lender and say like, Hey, the equity in my home is higher. I would like to have the PMI removed. And then they might say, okay, you need to get a an appraisal. And then I think you have to go re you have to re go through the appraisal process, but you might end up spending. 200 to 500 to get it reappraised a month later. And then they immediately remove the PMI from the mortgage for like the rest of the mortgage. And then there are, there were some new rules that were enacted after 2008, I think, where it's like the mortgage company must remove it automatically after you have a certain amount of equity. So yeah. There's like a couple of different triggers where you can like, I don't know if you buy, there's also like some really fancy things you can do. Like get a a, like get two different loans. Like one is a HELOC and one is like the mortgage. And you can do like put 5 percent down, get a 15 percent HELOC and a 80 percent loan. Now you don't have to pay a PMI, but you have like this other HELOC loan that might have, like, you have to put in like a higher amount or something.

Colin: Yeah. You've read all the same things I have. Those are the 80, 10, 80, 10, 10s, eight, eight, 80, 15, five. Like you can avoid PMI, but you have two closing costs. There's all these things that can happen there. And the other thing right now is that everyone's talking about if you buy, then you're just going to refile when rates go down. That also assumes rates will go down. And historically rates have gone higher. And I think we're on the trend that they will go lower. Yeah. And the argument is if you can buy today, demand and like, other than this house, right? Like most houses are sitting on the market for longer and so there's less competition. You're not getting these all cash offers that are jumping ahead of you. And that you can, if you can afford it and you're not going to be house poor, you can get more house for your dollar today because when rates go down, demand is going to go back up and prices will likely go back up. And, you know, you'll have a lower rate, but you're going to be buying less house. So the problem is when you refi, you're going to have to do closing costs and reset the timer and all that stuff all over again. So this is why millennials don't have houses.

CJ: Yeah, there's another like really fancy thing that I learned about recently that might be interesting to think about and that is that like if you can find someone who's motivated to sell and they have an existing mortgage that's at like some very desirable rate, like 2. 7 percent or something, right? You can like buy the mortgage off of them. And somehow they like transfer the mortgage to you and you like take it over. Obviously you, you'd have to like pay the different, like pay them their equity and probably a little bit of like incentive. But then you end up with a mortgage that has like a crazy low rate and maybe only 25 years left or something. But yeah, there's some like really interesting. Tricks that you can do there. It's been on my mind too, because we have, we have like some older mortgages that are locked in at low, low rates, but I want the optionality of being able to sell, but I don't want to sell and get rid of this mortgage. So it's like, okay, maybe we can sell it, like sell the mortgage and the house and get a kickback from the buyer because they're going to get locked in at some super low rate. And depending on like how long, it like, it comes, yeah, it comes down to one of the main factors is like, how long do you plan on staying in the house? Like if you're going to stay for 10 years or more, then like, yeah, it makes sense to just like be super aggressive to get a crazy rate. But if you're, if it's going to be a stepping stone type situation where maybe you'll be there three years and maybe you'll rent it after that, or maybe you'll be there three years and then you'll want to like sell and buy up or whatever, then you might not want to like. Or it might not matter as much, like how, how hard you fight for the rate or something. I don't know. Lots of different, like weird mental gymnastics to go through to try to figure out like what makes sense. But,

Colin: Yeah. Well, unlike most personal finance thing, I mean, it's this, this whole thing has made me think a lot more about buckets. And I've got some ideas for things that I want to play around with. Cause I was doing a lot of mental gymnastics with money buckets. And I'm like, this is what buckets should do, right? Like when you're going to make a decision. Help have it help you make that decision and show you like why you can't touch this money, you know, or, or you can't touch this money, but this is the penalty, right? Like if you're because you can take 10 grand from a Roth IRA for a first time home purchase, but like, should you? Like, it's gonna be interest free, and if you keep it in, can you get 10 grand from somewhere else? Can you wait? Can you save? Don't touch, ideally, don't touch your Roth IRA. But, you know, I was starting to look at it because this house, this house made us do dumb things, so.

CJ: Yeah.

Colin: Yeah,

CJ: It's, it's so interesting. Like, yeah, the psychology of money is very, very it's hard, it's hard to fight against, especially when you fall in love with a place like you did. And that place looks dope. I'm looking at it right now on Redfin and this thing looks amazing, like super sick backyard. Like all, yeah, every obvious, obviously like the flipper went through and like modernized every single piece of it. So it looks like super

Colin: And of course there were some things like the, the, the, the door to get into the garage was like a foot higher than the bottom of the door, like the floor. There was a few weird things from like, this was definitely a flip. So it was not perfect. You know, it's, this is like, I don't know, you get, you fall in love with something and you, you ignore the red flags too. But cool. Well, I guess we, we talked a lot about housing stuff. Do you want to save this for the next time? Or do you want to chat about some, some metabolism?

CJ: Very cool. Well, as always, you can head over to buildandlearn. dev and check out all the links and resources in the show notes there. Thanks for listening. And yeah, that's it for this episode.

Colin: Bye, friends. All audio, artwork, episode descriptions and notes are property of CJ Avilla, Colin Loretz, for Build and Learn, and published with permission by Transistor, Inc. Broadcast by