Monday, June 10, 2013

Oh and about that house building project...

So yes, there had been talk of breaking ground in the spring of 2013... Now it's June. So obviously that didn't happen.

The unexpected baby news is partially to blame but not entirely. It's obviously distracted us and thrown other factors into our schedule this year as well as our financials and the things we will be dealing with; at the same time we have pressed forward with the house pursuit... just not as rapidly as maybe we could be.

The very center, in that far back corner of the field...That's where it'll be!
To catch you up to speed on all of the things we've done so far... And some of this may be too detailed for you to care but I'm recording it for my own purposes for future reference.

1. We've met with two different contractors and gotten two quotes.
These two options are very different. One contractor is less experienced. He's newer (younger) and has primarily done building projects rather than full start-to-finish houses. The other contractor has years of experience and is the county's commercial building inspector. He built two of the houses already on the family property and also did my parent's garage. Naturally, the more experienced contractor's quote is higher. 

2. We wish the quote was less.
But who doesn't? Part of the problem I am having is knowing no quote will be right because:  

(a) We do not plan to take it to turn-key complete. We're OK with having unpainted walls in some rooms, perhaps floors that we finish out... trim work to be done, landscaping that needs recovered, etc.

(b) We plan to go "cheap" on a lot of things--not the things that matter, obviously. The parts that matter in structure and future problems, I am totally OK with putting up good money. Top of the line furnishings? Not so much. We'll take less aesthetically pleasing light fixtures, light switches... even trim and doors and appliances. We'll scrounge where we can. We've already acquired a dishwasher someone was getting rid of simply because they were going with a new look for their kitchen. We also got a stainless steel kitchen sink at the Habitat Restore for only $12.50. I don't think this is planned for in the contractor's quote.

3. We've surveyed the land.
The family was having a lot of land surveyed anyway so Mingus and I added our names to the list. We pre-marked lines with my parents to section off just the plot we'll need for building. With my other siblings potentially moving down (and other's potentially not) they didn't want to go about deeding off full portions to each of us. We're quote all right with that. So we have about 4 acres surveyed; however, we do not officially have it deeded over to us yet.

4. We met with the bank and learned we're doing things "right" so far.
I know nothing about what it takes to buy or build a home. So I was a little nervous to meet with a loan officer and end up feeling like a fool... To tell them our thoughts and be laughed out of the office. Luckily that wasn't the case. As it turns out, he was quite impressed with the amount of money we have saved exclusively in a fund for the house. The fact we have land made us extra prepared. He said people come in with no little to no money they plan to use themselves and no land or just a lot in the city and want the bank to give them money to start building. Between our family land and our savings, there is no reason we cannot get a loan.

5. We learned about construction loan to mortgages.
We also learned about the process for using the loan money and turning it over to a mortgage. Basically we'll have a year as a construction loan and then it will turn over. From there we could use any bank or institution to get the mortgage. We met with a local bank and this officer admitted that a larger bank will likely offer a better interest rate. At first her recommended we go this route when the time comes; however, in our situation, sticking with a local bank will be an advantage. A large chain or corporate bank will have set protocal for the condition of the house in order to issue the mortgage. With our intent to have the house partially "unfinished" a local bank will be much more willing to work with us. They know who we are and who are family is. They know we are on family land and will basically do anything to take care of any payment problems before actually having to sell.

6. We have a loan application.
We have yet to fill it out. I know we could fill it out and perhaps get an idea of what kind of money we could potentially get without actually filing for the loan (since we are still waiting on the land deed) but we haven't even tried to take that step. Part of my hesitation has been knowing that with the coming on of children my work situation will change, as will my income level. Do I file as our current income level and try to get more or file what we think it will be to have a more realistic view?

7. Learning about electric.
Mingus talked with the electric company to learn about running the power from my parent's on to our field. It's close enough that we could run it at no charge since overground for first 1,000 ft (I think) is free. However, we'll be going through the tree line and they would require cutting out a 60 ft wide path (30 ft on either side). That's a lot of trees and will completely change the look of their backyard--and ours. We can go underground and spare some of the damage, but it does have a cost. Luckily, it's nothing absurd and for as close as we will be running the line, we can afford it. We all think it's worth that cost

8. Learning about septic.
We also found out that prior to actually breaking (running electric) ground we have to have the septic system approved. Apparently too many people don't have a good septic plan or if they are within a city or neighborhood, the only options for running it do not meet health regulations. This causes all sorts of problems down the road. So you have to have the soil tested and everything OK'd by the health inspectors and THEN you can get electric and THEN you can break ground.
That's where things sit. I'm nervous to take the plunge and having so much money out in our name with so many unknowns in the future... At the same time, I don't know that an "easier"/more affordable time is in the near future (or anywhere in the future). Interest rates aren't likely to go down and are so low now they really will only go up... I also don't really want to sacrifice too much of our plan/design at this point. It's a semi-large space (2400 sq feet--that's two floors with no additional basement) but the design is very simply and we're not going for extravagant interior. In my heart I believe the quotes are far above the reality but it's still scary.

So I just pray for the peace and guidance to know what the best move is for us as our family grows and we go through other changes... That we do not push forward when it's best to wait... or that we do not sit on it forever and ever, waiting for some sort of "change" that makes it easier that will never come. 

God always takes care of us, though, and we'll keep following our feet.

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