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Sage: [00:00:00] Welcome back to It's Not a Tiny house podcast where your host, Wyatt Reed and Barna Kasa talk about all things housing while working on creating a unique and affordable housing solution in rural Colorado. They cover everything you need to know, from city code to financing by interviewing experts and sharing their personal experience so you can have the knowledge to overcome the problems nobody else is talking about. And now onto the podcast,
Mark: [00:00:24] I've got the views. I have 30 acres.
Wyatt: [00:00:29] What if you don't mind my asking, what have you settled on for like a style of construction up there?
Barna: [00:00:36] He doesn't know.
Mark: [00:00:37] Oh.
Wyatt: [00:00:40] If I can ask, you don't have to tell me if...
Mark: [00:00:41] I've gone back and forth. I mean, generally speaking, it's likely going to be. I want to be somewhat eco friendly. So one option I've looked at is what's called ICCF, not ICF. So I CCF is the EPS compressed foam that creates a grid of concrete inside the foam, not a solid concrete like ICF does. The other option is HempCrete.
Barna: [00:01:12] Oh, nice.
Mark: [00:01:14] Probably do hempcreate as an option. I'm not sure about that.
Wyatt: [00:01:18] Who mixes that around here?
Mark: [00:01:18] You mix it yourself?
Wyatt: [00:01:21] Have you ever done a foundation?
Mark: [00:01:23] Yes.
Wyatt: [00:01:24] Cool.
Mark: [00:01:25] I have done construction.
Wyatt: [00:01:27] Enjoy your mixer. And I mean, it's just. Well, I don't mean that. Like to pour that much wet concrete mixed in one thing.
Mark: [00:01:37] Well, I'm probably not doing. I'm not doing poured hempcreate.
Wyatt: [00:01:41] Copy. You're doing bricks?
Mark: [00:01:41] I'm going to do bricks. And there's actually a company in Canada that already makes the bricks.
Wyatt: [00:01:46] That's awesome.
Mark: [00:01:47] So if I do that, it's going to be bricks. We've all discussed about the shipping container. The only problem with the shipping container is getting the shipping containers up there.
Barna: [00:01:56] So did you, did you price a helicopter yet?
Mark: [00:01:58] I have not priced a helicopter.
Barna: [00:01:59] Come on, we need to do one. Just one.
Wyatt: [00:02:01] We talked about that a little bit, right? And there's there's somebody else that's like, I don't know if you can get a container back up in there. Ok, well, so it doesn't work that way then.
Mark: [00:02:09] Well, the other problem, too, is that the HOA still has a problem with shipping containers.
Barna: [00:02:14] So you're in an HOA?
Mark: [00:02:15] I'm in the Glen Vista Subdivision.
Wyatt: [00:02:18] Glen Vista Subdivision.
Barna: [00:02:20] How strict are they?
Mark: [00:02:22] I haven't had to deal with him yet, I just know that it's in the bylaws, but the bylaws were written in 19, what 70?
Barna: [00:02:29] Well, that's that's the issue that I had. So I just looked at some property by the sand dunes. So I think it was Zapata Hills. Yeah. And I found a couple of awesome lots. We looked at a bunch of them and it's like three acres for like 15 grand. You have to do your well, the road's not quite done on that street. And I called them up like, hey, what are the actual rules? Because we read all the rules, Erin read all the rules. It's like there's an architectural committee and architectural standards and all this other stuff. And like, well, I saw some unique stuff there. So I'm like, maybe they're open to things. I ask them like, hey, can I do this? Sure. Can I do that? Can I do a container house? No. But but why? You could do all the other ones like I don't get it like, no, that was like a flat out no. Well, my great. They don't even want one there for storage temporarily while you're building your house.
Mark: [00:03:24] It's the same thing.
Barna: [00:03:25] That's how well against it a lot of people are.
Mark: [00:03:27] If that works, probably what I would probably have to do is is make sure that the exterior of the container is not visible. And actually get a rendering because I do sketch up.
Wyatt: [00:03:39] Yes. That's what I'm doing right now.
Mark: [00:03:40] Is do rendering of the finished house in all of its great looking style and then go to the homeowners association. Well, this is what I'm building. Oh wow, that's really cool. Yeah, it's a container house.
Wyatt: [00:03:52] See, and you could you could choose maybe at that point just to ommit.
Mark: [00:03:56] You just said it was really nice.
Wyatt: [00:03:57] Yeah, yeah. Force them into it first. Or, just to omit that until they go, What? How are you going to build it?
Mark: [00:04:03] And the other comment is it's in. It's in the 2019 IBC. Are you saying? Are you saying you're not? You don't accept the IBC.
Wyatt: [00:04:13] So that's the other thing, right? Like people go, I don't like it. And the answer?
Mark: [00:04:17] You can't see it.
Wyatt: [00:04:18] Yeah, the problem with that is, is that I didn't ask you, this is the rule book. I asked the rule book. And now that they've included that and Tiny House Code and any, you know, anything under 400 square feet. When people start using vernacular like, I don't like it, that wasn't really the point of the question. No, and they as the authority figure needs to figure out like, well, you're not a tyrant that overlords all of us.
Mark: [00:04:43] And literally from where my building site is located, it is not visible from anywhere. The only people who can actually see my house is the person that's above me over there on the side. No one else can see the property at all.
Barna: [00:04:58] I was going to say it's like unless they're trespassing.
Wyatt: [00:05:01] Well, and that's a whole separate issue.
Barna: [00:05:02] Yeah, it's a different thing.
Wyatt: [00:05:03] That's one part of it. But do you know how many issues I take if I drive around any of these small towns with that and that and that and that and that aesthetics, because the house is falling in on itself or this? Yeah, I'm not going around, you know, fucking with everybody else for lack of a better way to put it like, I'm not going well, that person's paint color needs to change, and they can't have a brick house next to a stick frame house because it doesn't match architecture. We're not doing that.
Mark: [00:05:25] As a case in point, the homeowners association says you can't go above two and a half stories for the house.
Wyatt: [00:05:30] Right. And that's that's actually relatively common. Even even Fremont County has a maximum height of 35 feet. Westcliff or Custer County, they don't even have an adopted building code. They have 25 feet, is the max height. So they do have rules.
Mark: [00:05:44] But see, that's not true because as a case in point, the Glenn Vista says two and a half stories and then you go up Copper Gulch, then turn on 1. And as you're going down 1, which is, I think, Iron Mountain Road or something like that, on this big, huge lot is this massive A-frame house. It's actually a it's actually framed and then A frame.
Wyatt: [00:06:09] Ok, so they got sidewalls to an A-frame
Mark: [00:06:11] Three and a half stories with its 5000 square feet, three and a half stories, at least with this A-frame roof. It's from the ground, low part of the ground. They're probably measuring from the high part of the ground, but the low part of the ground to the top of the roof is 50 feet.
Wyatt: [00:06:28] It's from grade. Yeah, so depending on, you know, if they did that
Barna: [00:06:31] Well, we're getting back into, you know, the rules only apply to you because you just showed up well, like the rules don't apply to anybody else. And that's the objection I have to a lot of the stuff that we've had to go through. It's like, why are we doing all this stuff when everybody else can just do whatever they want? Like we have to follow whatever. Our initial request was a watchman's quarters in an industrial area that was our original request here in town, and we look across the street Watchmen's quarters down the street, Watchmen's quarters behind the property. Watchmen's quarters like there, are Watchman's quarters everywhere around us, right? And they're going to deny ours. But what about the other ones? Oh no, that's an enforcement issue. Ok, so basically, we should just built it.
Mark: [00:07:21] And then let you enforce it.
Barna: [00:07:22] And let you enforce it later when it's already done.
Wyatt: [00:07:25] Which they clearly don't do. If they want to do enforce, you know, unsightly vehicles, if they wanted to enforce non-conforming architecture, if they wanted to do that, they'd already be doing it. And but they don't because they don't know what our last name? We're not from the area.
Barna: [00:07:40] I don't know. I don't understand it. But Zapata Hills is kind of got another place where we drove around and we read all the rules before we even started driving around and Erin is definitely like, yeah, she's a rule follower, too. So we go in and she's like, They're breaking the rules, they're breaking the rules like, there's an RV. They're like, you're not allowed to have, Oh, I know that you live in, there's an RV there, there's an RV there. There is a shipping container there used for storage. There's this. There's that. Your just like out of the very few houses that have actually been like built in this neighborhood, most of them are breaking the rules. So the lot I found was like the most expensive lot, of course, is what I found for myself. And I go, this is great. There's a creek running through it. There's a pond, there is a waterfall, it's seasonal. And it's like on the side of the mountain, great views of the sand dunes, and there's a building on it already. So I go, that building doesn't seem like it conforms to any of the rules that are there. There's like three levels of decks. And so I call them up. Oh yeah, if you buy it, then you have to put in a whatever request for architectural review and then it'll be denied and then you need to tear it down. What? That's been there for 20 years?
Wyatt: [00:08:58] Well, I don't know grandfathering, too.
Barna: [00:09:00] I'm just like, what is going on here? Like that is cool until I buy it.
Wyatt: [00:09:05] And you just told me that which is even scarier, right? Like, they literally just said that. I'm not comfortable with that kind of stuff, right?
Mark: [00:09:12] The first the first house I was going to buy in the county is out between Penrose in here and and here, out on is it 123? It would be its road 3, I guess, coming out of Penrose. So when you come in, Penrose is like the first, right? Anyway.
Wyatt: [00:09:30] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mark: [00:09:31] And that goes all the way to Canyon City.
Wyatt: [00:09:32] Yeah, it does. It comes the backside over by four mile.
Mark: [00:09:35] So about midway between Canyon City and Penrose is this 40 acre property with this beautiful house on it. It was it was actually owned by the people who ,the family, that started Fremont County or helped start Fremont County. So it's been there for a long time. The house is built with these massive black timbers that were the original dam of, Pueblo, Lake Pueblo. And the metal framing of the House was the original Royal Gorge Bridge.
Barna: [00:10:18] Ok. That's awesome.
Wyatt: [00:10:20] I like that somebody repurposed all that shit and turn it into a house.
Mark: [00:10:22] It's beautiful. I mean, we're talking like the wooden post or these black creosote post that are 15 to 16 inches square. Yeah, there they hold the whole house up. It's a four thousand square foot house that has got nothing but nine foot windows in the front on both levels.
Wyatt: [00:10:43] I remember you talking I think about this.
Mark: [00:10:45] And the whole back of the house is three.
Wyatt: [00:10:48] In the mountain, right?
Mark: [00:10:49] No, it's just laying out there. It's got three feet of brick, rock, around the entire sides in the back of the house. It's completely solar home. It's it needs a lot of TLC, but it could be frickin amazing. Yeah, and it turned out that the well was spoiled. And I said, well, you know, we can't get a loan without the well, turns out the family actually has a well permit, an existing well permit to get a new well and talk to the talk to the driller. And he said, oh yeah, I can hit water about 100 feet right there. And so I said, cool. So I said, Well, what's covered? They said, OK, good. And then they came back and said, Yeah, we can't get a loan for it. I said, Why? Well, because it doesn't have a thermostat.
Wyatt: [00:11:38] Oh, yeah, yeah, we did talk about this.
Mark: [00:11:40] It's a solar home. It just needs a wood stove. The whole house gets heated by one wood stove. Yeah, yeah. But doesn't have a thermostat.
Wyatt: [00:11:49] This is the level of stupidity that we have now.
Barna: [00:11:51] Get a thermostat, stick it on the wall, don't hook it up to anything. Got one.
Wyatt: [00:11:54] Just literally ask for another tour.
Barna: [00:11:56] Here's a picture of my thermostat.
Wyatt: [00:11:58] Look at that. You're happy.
Mark: [00:12:00] You're in like Home Depot holding a thermostat selfie. Like, send it off to them.
Wyatt: [00:12:05] That you're saying no, because we want to say no.
Mark: [00:12:06] You almost want to put like a vent on the wall that's just got a fan in it. And basically a sensor that's wired back. So when they turn the dial up something comes on and the fan comes on.
Barna: [00:12:19] Yeah, I love it. That would have been the trick right? Yeah. How sad is that, though?
Barna: [00:12:24] But how do we get to that? Like you go into this whatever neighborhood that I was looking at and it's like, there's an awesome, really cool, funky building, like the first thing you see and then it's just rule after rule after rule where you cannot recreate that cool building ever again.
Mark: [00:12:41] Ever again.
Barna: [00:12:42] And me, I was looking at the there's a road that isn't fully built yet, so it's got these large rocks. It looks like somebody like drove through it a while ago, but, you know, weathering and everything. So all these rocks have, like just they're all over the side of the road like, I want to pick all those up and use that to build the house. And like, well, we need a rendering. We need this, you know, like, I don't know what it's going to look like. I don't have any rocks I got yet because I got to still pick them up like one at a time. Like, I don't know, just build a cool house. Like, No, no, I need you to pre build everything and know everything, because that's how we do things now. It's like, OK, creativity is out using what's around you is out because you have to buy everything at Home Depot.
Mark: [00:13:25] Which is interesting because you have been up to Crestone?
Barna: [00:13:28] We just heard about it
Mark: [00:13:30] It's nothing but original homes.
Barna: [00:13:32] But it's HOA too. It's an HOA and there's still an architectural review, according to the rules that we just read. Erin and I read that like 3 days ago.
Mark: [00:13:41] There's there's straw bale homes there.
Wyatt: [00:13:44] Well, we've done, though, is we've taken, you know, referenced that earlier, right? IBC, the international building code, right? So you can't do wall coverings, for example, of whatever you want. You have to go. It has to meet this ASTM regulation. We have we have created a standardization of all of these products. And if you don't use those products, your home is non-conforming. It's not going to pass code requirements. Therefore, you'll never get a certificate of occupancy. And most of us don't own our homes. The bank owns the home. They want to know that it's built so that they can sell the thing again. They don't care what you want. You don't own it. And that's I think the driver behind a lot of this stuff is the money
Barna: [00:14:24] Well, what if you do?
Wyatt: [00:14:26] Well and that's the other thing, you know, if you're going to pay for it in cash, why can't you do whatever you'd like to do? That's right. Where you know, where's that distinction inside of the IBC?
Mark: [00:14:34] More, I mean, more important why can't you just say our county complies with the 2012 IBC or any IBC greater than 2012? Newer than 2012.
Wyatt: [00:14:45] So they can. And that's the thing about reduction, right? They can adopt it by line item. They can go through it and go, we're going to take 2020, but we're only going to we're going to throw out sprinkler code. We're going to throw out this that the other thing they can do that. But that's is that a room of builders that are trying to maximize profits or trying to maximize opportunity to have creative freedoms.
Mark: [00:15:06] Right. I already know that the big discussion I'm going to have on the property up in Copper Gulch is the sewer. I mean, is the septic. I'm sitting on top of granite. That's so it's an aboveground septic already.
Barna: [00:15:20] Yeah, like an evaporative one, because that's one of the things you have to.
Wyatt: [00:15:25] I know nothing about those things yet.
Barna: [00:15:28] I just read that that if you like, there's certain lots that it has to be an evaporative septic system like, I don't understand. That doesn't sound good to me. I don't know anything about it.
Mark: [00:15:40] Yeah. So there there are designs because of these situations. So there are designs for basically I can put a water treatment plant on my property. Yeah, so that it goes through seven different cycles within a plastic container and it comes out potable. No field.
Barna: [00:15:58] Yeah. Is that allowed?
Mark: [00:16:01] No,
Wyatt: [00:16:01] No, not here. They exist but they're not allowed.
Barna: [00:16:06] Yeah. Well, what is that? The sand filters or whatever. I looked into it, and because Brad mentioned it, I look it up and I'm like, it's literally sand in a barrel. It creates potable water. The the I looked up the website,
Wyatt: [00:16:20] I did that on the first one.
Barna: [00:16:21] Yeah, but I looked it up and they're like, Yeah, we've installed four million of these all over the world, and it's actually used by, I don't know if it's a W.H.O. or whatever. Some, you know, world wide organization. Yeah, they used by them to create potable water in Africa, everywhere. Allowed in America? No. But it works.
Mark: [00:16:41] Well, but except for Washington state
Wyatt: [00:16:45] Oh, are they in Washington state?
Mark: [00:16:46] Washington state is where these things are typically made and built. Yeah, because Washington state has said that this is the most ecologically friendly septic system for the environment. So they want only these to be used because of the ecological damage it does not do to the environment.
Wyatt: [00:17:04] You may be able to you may be able to look into this. You may be able to look into incinerating, um, systems. You may I don't know. Colorado is a little funky about its blackwater stuff.
Barna: [00:17:17] Your in Fremont County, right?
Mark: [00:17:18] That's Fremont County.
Wyatt: [00:17:19] It's Fremont, but you might look into an incinerator. The only problem with an incinerator is you got to have a bundle of juice. If you're on solar or off grid, it's not really easy to go with that.
Mark: [00:17:29] I have wind, definitely wind. I have 50 mile an hour winds every day, all day long. But so I mean, I do not have a problem as far as wind energy has been.
Barna: [00:17:42] So house, probably not out of straw. Got it.
Wyatt: [00:17:46] It's just it's generally speaking like the voltages for that kind of stuff you need, like some big power for an incinerating toilet system is all.
Mark: [00:17:54] Well, I mean, personally, I would I would like to hopefully be able to say, look, let me put one of these things here as a pilot for the county, if you decide it doesn't work, if you decide that it is inappropriate to say, let's say six months and you decide that it is not generating anything that you want, then you can find me and I'll put in a normal one. But let's just do a six month pilot. You can test it however you want it. How many times you want and decide.
Barna: [00:18:25] And you're willing to take on that fight?
Mark: [00:18:28] And I'll take On the fight.
Wyatt: [00:18:29] I applaud the hell out of that. I also know where I'm going to put my money right now based on some previous experience, and that sucks. But I want to, I want to fight that fight with you. I want in on that. We need that, we need that option and we need these other options.
Barna: [00:18:43] And because was was the option that bagging toilets not allowed. Right.
Wyatt: [00:18:49] Couldn't do it.
Barna: [00:18:50] But we can just bag it. You can be off grid and you can use a sand filter for the liquids, right? Solids, bag, liquids, whatever. No, not allowed. I was like, But I can literally go to the store and buy one here in the county and no.
Wyatt: [00:19:09] Not allowed.
Barna: [00:19:10] So let's add that to the fight.
Wyatt: [00:19:12] You know, we we we, We I say, we, humans have added a bunch of other with we throw jacks out behind ourselves after we blaze a trail, right, so that other people have to slow down and can't catch us. And I'm like, you know, who got in charge of of some of the things and what we've learned here is that everybody is mostly concerned in the beginning with the waste that a human is going to produce when they get to a job site. You know, nowadays when I pull a permit in Westcliff, I can't get a permit until I have shown them a receipt that a portable, porta-potty, has been delivered on site. They won't give me a building permit. You can't do septic systems can't do sh, no pun intended. Can't do shit until you literally have, you know, a system in place for that and like sanitation. We get that right. Everybody understands the importance of that. So you're not getting everybody sick. But we've taken away so many viable options for we do it this way because we've done it this way.
Mark: [00:20:09] I know, and my intent is my intent. For example, I don't want to harm the environment. I want to do something. And so, yeah, I'm willing to do that fight because the system is going to produce potable water. You test you test the water all you want, it's going to always come out potable and you're going to say that that's a problem? Then I will take you to court.
Wyatt: [00:20:30] They're going to go, oh, gross, and it's like, where do you think your water comes from? It's just brand new water that we made has never been recycled once through the Planet Earth that filters its water.
Mark: [00:20:41] The same way
Wyatt: [00:20:42] Right?
Barna: [00:20:43] Well, that was the start of that one of the movies, there's something like a mountain spring coming down and drinking from the spring, and they're like, they're like panning up to go up the creek. There's guy peeing in it? That's it.
Wyatt: [00:20:58] Yeah, where do you think it's coming from right.
Mark: [00:21:00] There was a shirt I almost bought down and Manitou, which says, drink our natural spring water, which has a bear peeing in the water.
Barna: [00:21:09] And that's it.
Barna: [00:21:10] Kids playing in the sea foam that's basically poop.
Wyatt: [00:21:13] You don't think about it, you know which many don't, right? Because they never had to. They haven't had to put it in their own septic systems or their think about this stuff. They just just kind of like, where does where does food come from? The supermarket. Food does not come from the supermarket. It ends up in the supermarket. That's where you find it.
Mark: [00:21:29] Actually a letter to the editor, famous letter to the editor that was written, I think, in The Washington Post. But about the fact that these people are out hunting and stuff and why can't they just go to the grocery store like everybody else and get their food? And like,
Wyatt: [00:21:46] You've never. Yeah, right? You know what? Not even can't even give that one any level of attention.
Mark: [00:21:51] Yeah, it's like, wow.
Wyatt: [00:21:52] But before we continue on the stories of septic systems, maybe we should learn who we're talking with. Do you want to jump in? We usually do this where we have we warm you up, you know, we kind of massage it a little bit. We have a good conversation and it's like, hey, who the hell are you? And then what are you doing here?
Barna: [00:22:09] So our guest, our guest today is
Mark: [00:22:12] Mark Wells
Barna: [00:22:14] And. Your background is in, loosely IT?
Mark: [00:22:18] Yeah, I have been doing pretty much everything there is to do in the IT space for the last. Actually, since I was 12 years old, I started working on computers when I was 12, started hacking them by 14, started working with a bunch of friends in high school with hacking systems, including the Fairfax County school system. Yeah, we had complete control of the Fairfax County school system.
Barna: [00:22:45] You hacked into the school system?
Mark: [00:22:47] Oh, a team of us did.
Barna: [00:22:47] OK. I have a I have a friend. I should hook you up with.
Mark: [00:22:52] Back then, back then, it was not necessarily considered illegal or even knew no one even really
Barna: [00:22:57] Knew what it was. Yeah. You're like, turn the lights on and off and doing whatever.
Wyatt: [00:23:01] But to be able to do that, I mean you, especially at that age, you know, you're exploring, capabilities.
Mark: [00:23:07] Well, you know, unfortunately, back then, people didn't realize, for example, Fairfax County back then was very modern, as far as computer systems were concerned, and this is the mid 70s. And they put in some of the most advanced computer systems in the high schools, and then they left all the instruction manuals. And there's these big, thick construction manuals up on the shelf, and they didn't think that the students would actually read them and figure out. Oh, look at this look, look what we can do.
Wyatt: [00:23:34] I will just say that the minority of maybe even the stark minority would have actually got into that. And that would have been you and your cronies. Me and my guys were, you know, I don't know what we were doing.
Barna: [00:23:44] Playing hockey.
Mark: [00:23:44] So I've just been doing it for computers for forever, pretty much all in the Washington, D.C., area and doing work for the federal government. As a federal government contractor and things like that, I surprisingly ended up in the CIA for 15 years, almost 15 years doing the same thing. Left when wanted to go back to the commercial world. Unfortunately, good timing on that, which was the crash of 2000, so ended up back into the federal government space after that. And I've been pretty much doing that my whole life. But I've I've done everything there is to do on the computer side, software wise right now, vice president of innovations and technology or software solutions. And basically, I lead a team of people that are working on writing software for the next generation. It's actually a piece of software that helps you write software.
Wyatt: [00:24:42] Oh, so like for guys like me,
Mark: [00:24:44] It's well, it's still for developers.
Barna: [00:24:47] It's not for you. It's totally off for you, dude.
Wyatt: [00:24:50] I'm like, I'm writing about how to build houses for guys like you, but not that advanced.
Mark: [00:24:56] No, but it's it's still for developers, but it's the development is a pain in the butt.
Wyatt: [00:25:01] Ok. I wouldn't know.
Mark: [00:25:03] The best thing you say is it's a real pain in the butt, so anything you can do to make it easier is worthwhile. So we're basically building a new piece of software that makes it really, really easy for developers.
Wyatt: [00:25:12] So you can come in behind you guys and plug certain things in and it just speeds their process up.
Mark: [00:25:16] Yep, pretty much.
Wyatt: [00:25:18] I know I oversimplify.
Barna: [00:25:20] And what's the name of the product?
Mark: [00:25:22] Well, the product right now is called shift up. And I work for a company called Octo Consulting, which is a major federal government contractor back in the East Coast, although we have offices in Denver and Phoenix and a few other places.
Barna: [00:25:36] What brings you to Fremont County?
Mark: [00:25:39] I was really by accident more than anything else. I've told you that story before.
Barna: [00:25:43] Sounds familiar? Yeah.
Wyatt: [00:25:44] Yeah. Why we're in the room, I guess. Yeah, we all got here.
Mark: [00:25:48] Yeah, I had a there was a pretty rough period of time in my life and a number of years back, and I basically said I got to get away and just kind of randomly said, I need to find a cabin in the woods somewhere to go reflect on things and ended up finding this cabin down on the Arkansas River Valley. And then I started driving around while I was out here and kind of went up into the mountains and into Westcliff and kind of went, Oh my God.
Wyatt: [00:26:15] Yeah, the world opens up up there.
Mark: [00:26:17] You kind of have a religious experience. And then I was like, wow, this is amazing. This is. I got to come back here next year, and then I came back next year, the next year and stayed in the cabin. Not out in the middle of nowhere, this time actually up in the the wet mountain area and it was an Airbnb, and I called and said, you say you have internet, I need internet for my job. I cannot have satellite. What kind of internet do you have? You know, so no, I have 100 megabits. I said, You're up in the mountains and you have 100 megabits internet. And he goes, Yeah, we have microwave towers all over the mountains here. You can just get internet pretty easily. And I'm like, damn.
Wyatt: [00:26:59] Yeah, that's changes some things.
Barna: [00:27:01] I'm moving.
Mark: [00:27:03] That changed the perspective very, very quickly. And I was kind of like, you know, this is an amazing place. And then surprisingly enough, fate started working, I guess, in my favor in that I was a consultant at that point in time and I was working for different companies and I was actually working for this company called Leidos. And they said, hey, we have some work that's going on in Colorado Springs. Would you mind going to Colorado Springs for a while? Nope. Sure. No problem.
Wyatt: [00:27:30] No problem. Just, you know, pay me.
Mark: [00:27:32] And in the next year, next client was like, hey, we got this stuff going on in Colorado Springs. Could you go to Colorado Springs? Absolutely.
Wyatt: [00:27:39] Right. Right? Bags packed. I'm out.
Mark: [00:27:41] And as Barna knows, I kept staying in his Airbnb. Yeah. And then it ended up that everybody I was working for, it kept saying, you need to go to Colorado Springs, you need to go to Colorado Springs, you need to go to Colorado Springs. And I ended up coming out here once or twice a year for the last three years. And then that's when I found out about some of the high tech improvement and opportunity things that are happening here in Fremont County through the state. And I thought it was really, really amazing. And so I started kind of talking with people back on the East Coast about it. And it didn't necessarily go over well with my previous company, but COVID hit kind of changed the rules about remote work.
Wyatt: [00:28:25] Yeah, it put so many people into that remote work space.
Mark: [00:28:28] Yeah, I mean, back at my old company was like, if you didn't show up to work at 9:00 to 5:00 and you weren't seen in the office from 9:00 to 5:00, you weren't productive. Covid kind of explained to everybody. Oh, you know what? You are actually productive when you're at home.
Wyatt: [00:28:39] Maybe even more so.
Mark: [00:28:40] And to some extent, more so. Yeah, there's some things you can't do well from home that you still need to be in office, but generally speaking, especially software development and things like that.
Wyatt: [00:28:49] Yeah, isn't that I mean, you guys kind of live in that space and being able to do things through the box?
Mark: [00:28:54] Yeah, you can do that for the box. It's no big deal. So that kind of changed the whole perspective on things. And then the company I was working for merge with a new company, and the new company has a very dedicated social presence. They believe in doing a lot of things to help out. And they essentially started promoting a number of different strategic opportunities that the company wanted to pursue, and one of them was they wanted to pursue what they refer to as remote software factories and a remote software factory is let's stick a bunch of developers in a remote location at a lower price and then we can have them work from that location.
Wyatt: [00:29:38] All you need is a micro team of, I don't know, five people.
Mark: [00:29:42] Or more.
Wyatt: [00:29:43] Yeah, but in proximity to each other, right? And send us send us the message in a bottle when you get it done.
Mark: [00:29:50] Yeah, kind of. And at the same time, we end up helping rural communities and things like that. So I said, Hey, guess what? There is this thing going on in Fremont County, in Colorado, and we have an office in Denver through another merger and a few other things. We've got clients that live in Colorado Springs. And so it was like, Hey, this kind of all works, and we can take advantage of these opportunities here.
Wyatt: [00:30:13] And rural living. And maybe even the cost of living is a little cheaper here.
Mark: [00:30:17] Yeah. So it was like, hey, let's create a software factory. So I'm part of the reason I'm out here is obviously to be able to live out here is pretty good, but also work with our Denver office stuff and also try to analyze the opportunity that exist through these programs to see if we can. We haven't made a decision yet, but to see if we can put a software factory here, we've actually got a similar thing like that in North Carolina for Fort Bragg.
Wyatt: [00:30:49] Ok, so I mean, you're talking and that's the thing here. You know, here is drive time to maybe where you guys office in Denver is a martini lunch distance.
Mark: [00:30:58] Yeah, but even but Colorado Springs is thirty five minutes, and we've got two three clients there.
Wyatt: [00:31:03] And so you can serve those clients. And that's going to be a small portion of
Mark: [00:31:08] And if you're used to Washington, D.C., you don't get anywhere thirty five minutes.
Wyatt: [00:31:13] I made that argument.
Barna: [00:31:14] I made it out of the parking lot. It's great.
Wyatt: [00:31:16] I made that argument to my dad at one point because I was when I left high school and I went to college and it was like a little over a four hour drive from, you know, university to home because we're from this northern pocket and got down to the university. And I was like, I'm going to move to Arizona. And he's like, What the hell for? My brother was living down there, and I'm like, If you think about it, that's a two and a half hour flight. I'm moving closer, you know? You know, like just to kind of help connect that when when you stop think about miles and you start thinking about time. Yeah, in time, by the time you get through airports. And of course, this was, you know, 2008, 2000, I came out of college 09. So it would have been like airport security was not quite maybe even what it is today. That and you know, it's a straight shot from where we were going. So when you think more about time and less about distance, because I mean, you guys on the East Coast deal with that you could take take an hour to go five miles.
Mark: [00:32:06] Well, perfect example. There's a place called Tysons Corner. We used to have to have an office in Tysons Corner. Tysons Corner doesn't really have a lot of people live there during the night, but during the day it's supposedly in the top 10 cities in the United States, population wise. And the main parts of the building, when you come off that road, there's a there's a road that comes down to the interstate and the distance between really where the office building starts and the interstate is less than a mile.
Wyatt: [00:32:41] Yeah. And it's jammed.
Mark: [00:32:43] And it can take 30 minutes just to get to the interstate.
Barna: [00:32:46] That's when we knew we had to move is when we were in Denver and grocery store was maybe a block or two away and it was forty five minutes. And you're just like, no, not doing this again.
Wyatt: [00:33:00] Heck, that doesn't suit me. I mean, I'm also I'm a small town kid from the corner of nowhere, right? But so and I tried major cities. None, none upper East, you know, I did. I did some stuff down in Florida and I did Phoenix and Indianapolis like good size, you know, places a little bit spread out this rural living. If this is what we call this, it suits me. You know, we're in a pretty small town that's like you said, thirty five, maybe forty five from springs Pueblo is that close Denver's a couple of hours away. Red Rocks isn't far away, so you can get to all your shows. You can get to work, you can get here, you can get there. And here we enjoy a lot of sun.
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