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IMG_0012Of all the front end work you can list to jump start your renovation project, the most important is finding a contractor who fits you and the project.  Of course, the contractor has to have the skills, abilities and experience that fit the demands of the project.  Most importantly the contractor has to fit the client.  This is no different than any interpersonal relationship.  You will be on an extended “date” throughout the length of the project so you need a high degree of compatibility.

The critical ingredient of compatibility is trust.  This is a two-way street between client and contractor.  With mutual trust you are a team along with suppliers and subcontractors pulling in the same direction to achieve a successful project.  Without trust you can invest precious time supporting a competitive working relationship and the frustration that goes with it.  .

Next question:  Where do you find the contractor with the right fit?  The tried and true advice still holds . . . talk to friends and acquaintances who have recently done work on their home.  Invite a prospective contractor to visit your proposed project and get an introduction to your ideas.  Listen carefully, not only to ideas and solutions, but also to the way the contractor talks about his work.  Is there enthusiasm for the work or is the conversation all about business?  Is the contractor willing to engage in how to develop the project to meet your needs?  If you feel the need for more information ask the contractor for references to recent projects similar to your own where you can call his client or visit their project.  Look for quality and consistency of workmanship.  Ask previous clients how the job went and then listen.

A renovation project going on in your home while you are living there is unavoidably disruptive and stressful.  When you get the right fit with a contractor the experience is fun, engaging, exciting and gratifying.

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Sam Harding installs new fixturesThe biggest challenge to smaller non-profits is finding resources of any and all kinds to support the development and success of their programs. PHAME Academy has entered the ramp up of an organizational development phase that makes those challenges even more critical.  How do you get what you need without overtaxing existing resources?

In-kind support . . . the gift of volunteer commitment of time, materials, energy and vision . . . often flies under the radar, but is the essential resource ingredient that assures it all comes together.  Tychon Development got the ball rolling on refurbishing 1,000+ sqft of PHAME’s new headquarters in an 85-year old Portland bungalow.

When PHAME put out the ask, Tychon stepped up with six weeks of renovation, repair, painting work and project management.  Tapping into our network of personal and business contacts, we requested and received an in-kind donation of all paint from Benjamin Moore & Co courtesy of Powell Paint Center.  Sam Harding of electrical contractor Sam Harding, Inc. accepted our invitation to install light fixtures and repair electrical service in the offices for material costs only.  Executive Director Stephen Marc Beaudoin recruited volunteers from board, staff and supporters to paint and clean.  Host organization Grace Memorial Episcopal Church agreed to cover material costs of tenant improvements.  CEO Ethan Dunham of Red Pine Systems, and PHAME board chair, donated and installed hardware for internet access.

Volunteers speed up paintingBy the March 16 launch party we had generated $18,883 of in-kind support and finished the project for under $1,200 in out-of-pocket expenses.  Not only did we minimize the project’s impact on daily operations, but we were good stewards of hard won cash resources, raised PHAME’s profile in the community, and gave ownership of a long awaited need to board, staff and supporters through in-kind donations of materials and volunteer time for the office space renovation.

Next week you’ll get a complete before-and-after tour of PHAME’s new space in “Where to stop?”



Read previous entries in this series:


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In early February the perfect social investment opportunity came my way to put my career renovation skills and years of non-profit experience to work. After 26 years of living out of a suitcase, PHAME Academy was going to get its own offices. I was introduced to PHAME the previous November at the annual Winter Gala. The energy and purpose of their program quickly captured my attention. Nurturing people so they can work to their potential is a goal that resonates strongly with me as a parent and community member.

Stephen Marc Beaudoin, Executive Director, put out a call on Facebook for anyone interested in helping with their move into new space. On his ToDo List was “painting.” I emailed him offering to talk about painting and his response was, “I don’t know jack about painting.” I came back with “you are talking to Jack!” From there together we entered a win/win race to the March 16 new program headquarters launch date.

As a board member of several non-profit organizations over the past 30 years, I knew that meeting daily program needs AND mounting a renovation project create problematic challenges to staff time and expertise, especially for the smaller non-profit organizations. My goal was to provide the renovation work as well as project management of the overall project so that PHAME staff could stay focused on on-going program demands with minimal interference from the needs of their renovation project.

After 26 years of success working out of transient administrative space, I wanted PHAME staff, students, board and supporters to have the quality of space they deserved. The project timeline was not generous to meet both a move-in date and public launch date for the new space, but the momentum generated with Stephen’s unstoppable energy and spirit hit the targets.

Next week we’ll see how a renovation project was built on a shoestring in “Building In-kind Support.”

Read the introduction to Getting PHAMEous here.


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It’s not hard to get PHAMEous when you have a chance to work with the great program and talented staff of PHAME Academy.  Check out “Heart of Gold” performed by Aaron and PHAME band at From Oregon with Love benefit, and you will understand.

“Talent Revealed” is the slogan of PHAME’s program for mid-teens and adults with developmental disabilities and special needs in the Portland region.  PHAME practices the “Enlighten, Educate, and Entertain” teaching philosophy. This approach supports the students by providing opportunities that encourage education, enlightening experiences, and entertainment derived from not only the classroom and special event environments, but also from the experiences and support derived from parents, guardians, and the students themselves.  PHAME is the only program of its kind in the USA.

For the first time in its 26-year history PHAME secured the chance to move into its own offices next door to its host organization, Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, in east Portland.  The space is an old Portland bungalow the church has owned since the mid-50’s, but has not seen a lot of use of late.  The wear and tear over the years had left the interior in need of seriouis attention, especially the lath and plaster walls.

Stephen Marc Beaudoin, Executive Director, put out a call on Facebook for anyone interested in helping with their move into new space.  On his list was “painting.”  I had a unique block of time I could donate because of the slow economy in the construction sector.   We wed PHAME’s needs, Stephen’s energy and vision to my long developed renovation skills to refurbish two offices, stairwell/entry, and living room/dining room space along with some simple upgrades.  In five weeks and many, many volunteer hours later we were ready for the new headquarters launch celebration on March 16.  We generated $18,883 worth of work for less than $1,200 out-of-pocket.

Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing my experiences refurbishing PHAME’s new headquarters.  Next week we’ll look at the point of liftoff in “Getting Started.”

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Belated post to THANK all who came to make Don’t Be Elfish!  a spirited last minute event of the holi-DAZE 2010.  The whole idea was to enjoy good people, food and fun while ramping up the season of giving.  A guest afterwards sent me this email:

“It’s nice to see the spirit of giving during Christmas.  Wish there were more parties like yours!” – Mark, Lansing Linoleum

The Finlay Boys look forward to expanding the agenda during December 2011, and to entertaining all of you all over again.

Special thanks go to Wendy Novick for so bravely letting the Finlay Boys pack people into her house for the evening.  To the Carri Bella Combo for the smooth holiday jazz sounds.  To Aaron Trotter for his intriguing art cards of Portland and ever so wide engaging smile.  To the NPOs represented by Kris Thompson from Wallace Medical Concern, Juan Martinez from Basic Rights Oregon, Stephen Marc Beaudoin from Phame Academy, Beth Burns from p:ear, Kate from Live!Wire Radio and Dennise Kowalczyck from KZME Radio.   Portland keeps growing and flourishing with all the great work you guys put out into the community.

Thanks for what you left behind, the dirty dishes AND the donations.

– Paul

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The Finlay Boys are throwing a holiday party to celebrate Tychon’s online launch and to benefit our “NICE” list of PDX nonprofits in this seasons’s  Willamette Week Give!Guide:

• Basic Rights Oregon
KZME Radio
LiveWire Radio
Wallace Medical Concern

Festivities include:

• Live creation of a gingerbread house decorated by each of the nonprofits
• Portland Art Cards and performance by Aaron Trotter
• Handmade Almond Toffee by Mike Calder of Vollie Austin Toffee
• Complimentary holiday gift bags with schwag and goodies, including fun stuff from Big-Ass Sandwiches
• Live holiday music by the Carri Bella Combo

Thurs December 16
2804 NE 31st Ave, Portland 97212
No cover, but prepare to donate!
Dress Code: Sexy Santa!
Feeling extra philanthropic?  Bring canned food and clothes for the Sunshine Division

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A lot has happened over the past three decades, and a lot of what has happened is change.  Connecting with clients was simple and direct.  I didn’t even have a business card for the first 20 years of my career as a contractor.   I lived and worked in a small town in Central Oregon and everybody knew who you were whether you wanted them to or not.  And they always knew where to find you.

Now with a good start into the 21st century communication is a whole different set of strategies.  Word-of-mouth referrals still have great value, but people are looking for the information they want on the world wide web.  Took me years to break the hardcopy habit and go straight to the invisible electron stream for the information I needed.  Now those free phonebooks that show up on my door step go directly to recycle.

My son with a black belt in social media development kept pushing as I drug my feet until I conceded that I should build an online presence.  Now that you have found Tychon Development’s webblog, why would you check back in after today?  When I sat down to make a list of possible blog entry topics, I found that the list developed almost exponentially.  After 30+ years in the renovation business you pick up a lot of experience, and you form some pretty clear ideas about what works best in many aspects of the trade.

I am never at a loss for opinions and you may not agree with all of mine.  After all these years of wondering why people keep struggling for the same solutions, I am going to put in print the “Word According to Paul.”  I have always worked to create the approach, strategy, method or system that would make the next project more effective.  The information and resources that come with my point of view will hopefully be of help even if the opinions don’t fit everyone.  I do have a lot of client stories, some bordering on the paranormal, but those will have to be published posthumously.