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This article gives us all yet another reason not to alienate your neighbors.  Apparently an 85-year-old man named Paul Smith enjoys woodworking — in the form of making dominoes — in his Naples, FL home shop.  From NaplesNews.com:

The Homeowners Association had said that Smith was running a business, which is against association rules, because he sold the dominoes for $40 after purchasing his materials and investing 19 hours of labor into creating them.  Smith maintained he made the dominoes at cost and therefore had a hobby, which is allowed under association rules.

While the article is actually a follow up indicating that the association will likely rule in favor of Smith’s hobby, one has to wonder how something like this came up in the first place.  Granted, it could be a simple case of nosy, retired neighbors turning him in after bridge one night, but it’s been my experience that this kind of thing is generally a symptom more often than the real problem.

And it’s something we should all take a few minutes to learn from.

When I was a kid, my father had a full machine shop and wood shop in our two-car garage.  I remember it as being packed tight, and that’s the memory of an eight-year-old; it must have been incredibly tight.  He did quite a bit of commercial work from there, ranging from repairing 25 metal lathes (in exchange for keeping two, one of which he sold to pay for repairs to the other, landing him a free lathe) to fixing lawn mowers for extra cash.  But our neighbors never seemed to complain.  Why?  It’s simple: they all knew that if they needed help it was there. 

Certainly I think the idea of bitching about a guy making dominoes in his home is ludicrous.  What could he possibly do that would allow his neighbors to even notice?  Certainly the production process can’t draw much attention, and at 19 hours a pop he’s probably not shipping dozens of boxes a day.

But all of us with a shop have been known to take on a project from time to time that might draw attention — like welding or beating on metal late and night or stowing a car that’s, um, not currently registered.  If you take a moment or two to keep an eye on your neighbors and offer them your valuable assistance, you’ll likely never receive a visit from the homeowners’ association — even if you richly deserve one.  Loan the guy next door a masonry bit to reattach his gutter, or better yet show him how to use it.  Tack the guy across the street’s lawn mower deck back together for him to save him $250 for a new one.  Help the guy you share a fence with fix his gate.

And use common sense in planning projects.  If you’re going to keep a “parts car” in the driveway for more than a day or two, buy a cheap-ass car cover and hide it.  Close the garage door when using your planishing hammer.  You get the idea.

I’m sure most of you are well aware of this, but it never hurts to receive a reminder — like the story of this poor guy in Naples.

Oh well, I guess all’s well that ends well.

East Naples Man’s Domino Woes May Be Over [NaplesNews.com]


5 Responses to Naples, FL Man Catches Hell from Homeowners’ Assn. for Making Dominoes at Home

  1. nrChris says:

    Ah the politics of home-o-nership. Sounds like he pissed off the wrong person or people. Operating a store front should be a no-no, but production or anything else for that matter in the confines of the house should ; a) not be anyone else’s business and b) not come to their attention if you are using your head.

  2. Don Bradshaw says:

    I live in a rowhome in Baltimore and I’ve been working on my really but up house constantly for months. The up side to this is that my next door neighbor’s house has been empty this whole time, as they have been unable to rent/sell the place at the price they want.

  3. Greg Smith says:

    Home owner associations are pure evil.

  4. Wayne D. says:

    I’m planning on building custom electronics for RC airplanes in my garage and sell them through a hobby shop. My HOA has a no home business thing too, but as long as I keep my mouth shut and no customers come over, I think I can keep it under the radar. Making electronics is pretty much low noise, which is probably what the whole domino issue is about. 10 to 1 someone just doesn’t like the sounds of cutting wood.

  5. kay says:

    How do I purchase a set of these? Thanks

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