Permits and Pivots | Building the Darwinian Empire

by The Darwinian Doctor

In this week’s update on the Darwinian Empire, I’ll discuss some permitting delays in Palm Springs and making lemonade out of lemons in Indianapolis.

Permits and Pivots | Building the Darwinian Empire

Palm Springs

Our vacation home in Palm Springs is moving along slowly but surely. The biggest obstacles so far have all been obliquely related to Covid. Obtaining permits to move along with the interior renovation took longer than expected due to inspector backlogs. It’s also been harder to book pool related specialists due to the strangely hot market for pool construction. Furthermore, the pool inspector demanded that we get the interior renovation permit prior to issuing the pool construction permit. Altogether, these delays likely cost us about a month of waiting.

This is how the pool looks now. It’s unfortunately pretty much unchanged for the past 4 weeks.

If I visualize a pool, will it magically appear?

We finally have the pool construction permit now and the gunite concrete is scheduled to go in on December 18!

The house has a casita unit has thankfully been operational this whole time, so we’ve been using it as our home base when we visit Palm Springs. It’s connected to the main house, but has a separate entrance and is sealed away from the dust and debris of the main house.

Since the robbery, we’ve been hesitant to leave many packages at the home. So we rented a storage facility nearby and are storing all our furniture and supplies for $300/month. It’s getting pretty full, so I hope our interior renovation finishes up soon so we can start transferring it all to the property!

Storage unit
The storage unit


The seven unit apartment building has a funky layout with small units, so it’s been a slow process to lease these up. My wife and I have spent a lot of time hand-wringing over the purchase, and have had a few bitter moments when we’ve called the building our “lemon.”

Indy apartment building
Turn into lemonade!

Instead of just spiraling into despair, we’ve spent the last month deciding on ways to improve the property to make it more attractive to tenants. These are the specific things we’ve done (or plan to do) to pivot the property from a lemon to lemonade:

  • Replace 5 dated appliances (stoves and refrigerators): $3000
  • Paint an upper unit from yellow to white walls (cost included in price below)
  • Convert one unit to a short term rental (new cabinets, countertops, new toilet): $6000

Lowe’s inexplicably decided to split the shipping order for the 5 appliances into 3 separate shipments. It was challenging to coordinate each delivery with my property manager, as the delivery truck would only wait 15 minutes at the property before leaving. The 3 hour time zone difference also made things tough.

All in all, it took about a week and a half and about 8 delivery attempts before all the new appliances got delivered.

With the upgraded appliances, we got word just today that we are signing tenants for two of the smaller units. If the tenants accept the leases, this should translate into $1375 of rent and some much needed cash flow.


I hope you enjoyed this brief update on some of the behind the scenes action in my portfolio. I’ll continue to create these updates to give a more complete picture of the life of a real estate investor.

Have a great week!


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[…] I discussed in last week’s update, we had a prolonged delay in the pool building due to a permitting […]


[…] is a seven unit apartment building. I’ve written before about the difficulties we had renting the units and the changes we planned, like adding new appliances. The good news is that these interventions […]

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