Sunday, January 29, 2012

squiggi borrows money

Once you get the plan finalized, pick stuff out and get a price, then you have to put up the money. The contractor told us the hard part was done when we got the price, but I have to disagree. The hard part is asking a bank for the money.

Since we're not rock stars or chewing gum heirs, we had to go to the bank and ask them for the money to build our dream home....
First step, filling out the forms online with all the stuff you would think, employment, bank accts, etc. Then the bank required hard copies of everything, so I got to spend a day or two chasing bank statements around town and getting proof of IRA balances, etc. The scary part was when the bank required us to sign a contract with the builder.

Kind of hard to do. You're committing to the builder, but you don't have the money, and you can't get the money if you don't commit. YIKES!! We made the builder put a clause in there that if it fell through, we could back out.

The next step was an appraisal of the new house and the property it's being built on.
Right now, houses are not worth much, and are not selling well. Our appraisal came back WAY lower than expected, mostly because there was nothing to compare our new house to, as far as prior sales go. That means the bank wants a VERY LARGE down payment.

We've pretty much decided to go with it, realizing that it really won't get any better and this is a really good time to build. So, now, we're waiting (again).
According to our new friend chadfromthebank, there's just a few "housekeeping" things to be done and then the loan goes the the board for approval. (really? that's not what we've been doing all along?) Anyway, coming down the home stretch, and this part will hopefully be over by the end of feb., nearly 2 months from when we started.

Next week.......squiggi gets a landscape plan.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

the art of picking things out

So, about 3 years ago, when we thought we wanted to build a house, we started looking. We went to home shows, bought magazines, and just looked at different aspects of a house. There are SO many choices to make, from what kind of doorknob you want to the kitchen cabinets. We have a pretty good idea of what we like, so that did help a bit.

The next step was to start a file. I guess a designer would call it a mood board. I got a big flipchart, made a page for each room, and just started taping things on there that I liked, a light fixture from home depot, a pic from a magazine......

When it came time to really get down to business, the contractor gave us a list of suppliers that they work with, and we had to make appointments to go to each one to pick out "stuff". The windows were easy, as well as the fireplace, and then it got a bit harder. We spent a great deal of time looking at faucets and lighting (not quite sure we still have it right), tile and floor coverings were hard too.(still working on that one as well). Cabinets are a HUGE investment and not an easy decision as well. We did eventually work through the list and got a budget for the finished house. Now we're free to keep looking, as long as what we choose comes in at or lower than the budget.

We already know we'll do something different for the bathroom vanities, and have found the floor tile for the master cheaper at home depot. The next step will be really shopping for things like medicine cabinets, tile, a front door (those are unbelieveably expensive), vanities and our clawfoot bathtub.
This is going to be fun!

Next time......the fun of financing.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

the evolution of a plan

While we're waiting for the bank to finish their work, I though I'd talk about how we got here to begin with.
Way back in 2008 or so, when we first started this project, we developed a wishlist of our dream home.

all on one level - no stairs
open floor plan
3 bedrooms for resale value
a large fitness/media room with a seperate powder room and entrance for the pilates studio
lots of light
nice, big master bed/bath
laundry/storage/doggie space
energy efficient, preferably radiant heat flooring and SIP panels

Not too much, right? We started going to home shows and scoping out contractors and their work. We found a contractor and a plan we liked, but it just didn't work out, so we shelved it and waited.

For the second time around, we knew we couldn't use the original plan. It was too big, and it also "belonged" to the original contractor. Off to the internet to search.
After many hours of looking at plans, I finally found one I liked and that I felt could be modified to fit the bill.

Seperate entrance, big room in the front that could be bigger, single floor, nice layout, but just not quite there.

Through our contractor, we found Diane, house designer extraordinaire. She took the original, all my scribbles, our wishlist, and came up with this......

If you squint and turn it sideways, you can see some of the "bones" of the original.
We have a pretty solid idea of what we want, Diane added some pretty cool tidbits, as well as the contractor, and this is the final plan. The kitchen may still change a bit, but we won't make any other changes. It's been engineered, looked over, and now, it's being prepared to turn into the city for the wait for building permits.

The outside evolved as well. For a long time, I've wanted a labyrinth. It's kind of the whole thought behind Pathway Pilates. I also want to be able to share it with my clients and friends, and, really, have it be a focal point of our landscaping. We also HATE grass. To the point of not wanting, really, any in our new yard.
The landscape designer started with this. (without the labyrinth in the front, and with a long sidewalk to the street, GRASS! NO!, and not enough parking)

After a bit of scritching around on it, I came up with this:
labyrinth in the front, no grass, lots of flowers and interest. Love it!.
I'll meet with her tomorrow to finalize the hardscaping and talk about plants (unless the snow gets in the way). This one IS an evolution, as are most gardens.
I can hardly wait to get to work on both!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Let the games begin

I've created this blog so that I can track the progress and the trials and tribulations of building our dream house. A little background.

For more than 20 years, we've owned and lived on this wonderful property that is 3 acres pretty much right in the city. Up until about 2 years ago, our house was at the end of a dead end road with 7 acres of dense woods next door. Enter mr. developer who purchased the 7 acres from the estate of the lady who'd owned it, and built 31 houses. We now have 31 new neighbors, most of which are really not very nice, and our peace and quiet is, well, over.

When the development signs went up, we seriously discussed moving. We quickly realized that to get what we have now, we'd have to move WAY outside the city and we didn't want to do that. The answer was to move into our own back yard and build a new, farther from the street house.

We went to a lot of home shows and looked at a lot of stuff (one can dream), and finally settled on a contractor, and a house plan that this particular contractor had already built. Unfortunately, it was WAY too big, almost 3,000 square feet, but the contractor assured us that could be fixed. We worked with him, paid him money, and worked with him to get a workable plan that was about 2400 sq ft. After 6 months, we had a "final" meeting to finish up the plan, hoping we could get something workable and then hold it for a while until the economy got better. The "final" plan was horrible, scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin pretty much and totally not final. We realized that this guy had too much baggage with this house and could never change it to what we wanted, so we thanked him and walked away.

Fast forward 2 years. The Fed announced that interest rates will remain exceptionally low for the next year or so and it seems that NOW is the time. We decided that, although the original contractor was a nice guy, he was not nearly organized enough to actually complete a house. I emailed the local master builders and they gave me 2 references. We picked the one that just looked the best to us and signed a design agreement with them. In less than 3 months, we had our dream design, all the "stuff" (floors, plumbing, etc....) picked out and a set price for what we want to build.

The next step, and where we are now, is the financing. We've applied at a great local bank and are now waiting for the appraisal on the new property to be complete. Once that's done, we'll be closing (hopefully) on the construction loan.

In the mean time, the house plans have been out to be engineered, I've been working with a local landscape designer, and the contractor is preparing everything to be submitted to the city for the $30,000 building permit.

Stay tuned......this week, hopefully a positve answer on the financing, a new kitchen plan, (I'm in LOVE with these cabinets), and more landscaping.

This blog will chronicle the building, landscaping and decorating of our new 2400 square foot dream "retirement" home. I'm beyond excited!