If you’ve been keeping up with our work over the past few years, you’ve probably heard about the difficulties we’ve had in our current building with termites and leaks from the upstairs tenants. Earlier this year, there was a particularly bad leak which affected five different areas including our main office, our library, our kitchen, the two bathrooms, and our storage room. We came into the office one Sunday morning to find water dripping down everywhere including into the document feeder of our Xerox machine and into the LCD projector in our library. Thankfully the books in the library were spared and we were able to dry out the copier without effect, but the projector has never been the same since we had to pour water out of it.

Suffice to say, that incident was the last straw in a long struggle and the compelling factor in our decision to find a new location for our office. The Lord provided for us though because a two-story unit in the building on the corner just 30 feet from our front door was available for rent. It's a bit more compact than our current place, but still gives us room for four classrooms. The place has been available since August 2014, but when we had inquired before we heard that Seven-Eleven was going to be moving in, however by May of this year, the place was still vacant and we negotiated a contract to lock in a monthly rental price for 10 years that is half what we are paying right now. That amounts to a net savings of over a million pesos over the full term of the contract!

There was a catch though, this place was going to require some major renovations—like strip the place down to bare concrete, bust up the old tile floor with a sledge hammer, and rebuild everything kind of renovations. Thankfully, we've done this kind of work before (like when we moved into our current place nine years ago), and we've been able to make a lot of progress in a relatively short period of time. We should have everything moved out of our old location by the third week of October, and Lord willing, we should be be able to start our next session on time on November 9.

Our difficulty at this point is financing. While Amy and Sara were on furlough this summer, they spent some time raising funds for the project, but they only received about a fifth of what we need to complete the renovation and get back in business. Several groups and individuals said they would help but haven't yet gotten back to us on the amount. It seems that the desire is there and it's only a matter of time before the money comes in, but now is crunch time for us and we would like to get back to the business of teaching as soon as possible.

I've included a copy of our budget for the renovation below down to the nails and pipe fittings, though I rounded everything off because of the exchange rate (which is hovering around 45.50 pesos per dollar) and a few of the numbers are just estimates (like the cost of whiteboards). All together, it comes to around $14,000 and we have received about $5,800 in contributions towards that amount. One great thing about this project is that it saves us a lot of money in the long run which we can pour back into our outreach and training programs.

Let me walk you through the budget and what we've done so far to give you an idea of where we are right now and what we lack to get the job done. Our first expense for this project besides dust masks and trash bags was for a set of steel pull-down security doors to replace the broken accordion gate that had been left by the old tenants. After that, since we were still teaching at the BSC, we spent a couple of weeks working off and on to tear out the old walls and ceiling and busting up the unusable tile floor. Once we got all that out of the way, we hired a couple of guys to lay the tile floor for us downstairs and do a bit of cement work around the place. With that foundation laid, I went out a bought the most wood I've ever purchased at one time one-hundred and fifty American pine 2x4s (oddly the cheapest wood available). We used that pile to put together several load-bearing walls to sure up the sagging “mezzanine” level of our building and extend it to a full second-floor. That meant buying forty or so 2x6s (this time Canadian Eco-Forest lumber) and a dozen sheets of plyboard. Thankfully, Barry still had his big, pneumatic framing nail gun that we used last time we had to fully renovate an office and a couple boxes of 3-inch nails. It was quite an experience putting it all together, and walking in to the smell of pine instead of dust and rats' nest was a welcome one.

A smaller batch of eighty or so Canadian 2x4s (which turned out to be much more consistent size and quality than the American ones which were apparently imported as 2x12s and then ripped down locally) helped us get in a central load-bearing wall on the second floor to shore up Barry's apartment which was being renovated on the top floor above us. Jon got RJ and the twins started on installing the woodplank flooring upstairs and together they got it all in place. A stack of metal studs has turned into a few non-load-bearing walls upstairs and in the kitchen. We've bought about half of the gypsum board we need and installed most of it. Rachael has spent a couple days taping and floating the drywall joints, and we started texturing downstairs this week so once that's finished and it's painted we'll start to hang the ceiling.

Barry spent some time as an electrician in his younger days, and he graciously helped us get everything wired in downstairs. Sara also discovered that wiring is her favorite construction job, especially compared to chiseling concrete and sanding drywall. We got a great deal on buy one, take one LED lightbulbs for the place (we ended up paying about $1.25 a bulb), but we still lack about 20 bulbs and the fixtures for all of them. We also got the phone and internet transfered over this week and when the place is painted we can set up the printers and network equipment.

On the door front, we had some guys come out and install a glass storefront with an aluminum frame. Half of it will be used as a display for advertising and signage and the other is the entry way. I've spent a fair bit of time the last week or so installing doors. To save space and not interfere with the stairway, I've installed a couple of sliding pocket doors and one more in the hallway. And I put in a new backdoor with knob and deadbolt. It's quite a bit of work to get everything to fit when none of the existing features are level or square. I've installed one of the windows downstairs, and Jon got one window in upstairs and a second one should be on Monday. But we still have to hang all the non-sliding interior doors.

That's about everything we've accomplished so far, but things are really coming together fast now and it's starting to look like an office instead of an empty shell. We haven't spent anything on the bathroom yet, we’ve just been chiseling out concrete to make way for the new pipes. The doors have all been purchased, but we still need the hardware for them, and we need to get more putty, paint, and wire. We will also be building some shelving and whiteboards, but we can cannibalize our existing whiteboards and shelves in our store room for most of it.

Within a week or so we should be ready to start installing the air conditioners and that will be our biggest purchase by far (more than $3,000). Thankfully, we'll be able to move a couple of units from old office over to the new one, but that means we have six units to buy and eight to install. If possible, I would like to get inverter units because they are about 50-60% more efficient, but they are more expensive upfront. That price is reflected in the budget for split-types, though not for window units, so we might end up spending more on A/C if the units are available. The two units we plan to move are inverter split-type units we bought in the last year or two.

The other big expense in our budget comes from upgrading our audio/visual equipment. When I first started teaching 10 years ago, we were using overhead, slide, and filmstrip projectors. A few years later, we had switched to LCD projectors and big bulky CTR TVs, but now that the projectors are getting old (and at least one of them has water damage) the time is coming for us to get some new equipment. What we would like to do is replace three or four of our projectors with LED flat-screen TVs. While projectors can make an image pretty big, they aren't nearly as bright or sharp as on a TV, and the TVs that we have are big and heavy and not suitable for going up and down stairs. With so many of our courses using either a TV or a projector, it would be nice to consolidate and save some space as well. We'll probably keep one projector on hand for special use, but the others can be passed on to other congregations or ministries in the country for the rest of their useful lives, and while it would be nice to have the new equipment ready to go when we open the new location, we can also phase them in over the next year or so through the savings in our rent.

2015 Construction Budget

Steel pulldown doors $550
Tile & Adhesive $600
Woodplank flooring $825
Installation $300
Walls, Subfloor, & Ceiling
Lumber $1800
Metal studs/track $100
Aluminum ceiling grid $300
Gypsum board $650
Baseboard & Trim $300
Screws & Nails $50
Putty & Tape $100
Paint $650
Wire $400
Outlets, switches, boxes $250
Lighting $300
Doors & Windows
Aluminum/glass storefront $600
Exterior rear door $80
Interior doors $400
Sliding windows $200
Hardware $250
Pipe & fixtures $50
Toilet/Sink $150
Tile $500
Shelving/Whiteboards/Tables $300
Air Conditioning
Window units $500
Split-type units $1750
Installation $800
New Audio/Video Equipment $1600
Total $14,355

(Updated: 10/17/2015)