Friday, April 4, 2014

Confession: House Building is "spensive"

  Alright, I'm not an idiot but I've quickly learned that building a house is not nearly as easy or as cheap as you'd think. Whatever you have in mind that it will cost to build your home, go ahead and add about 15% more to that. It's ridiculous.
  If I've said it a 100 times, I'll say it one more: "it's cheaper to live in a big city". TRUEST STORY I'VE EVER HEARD... or told. Cities have more competition, thus lower prices. Small towns have less to offer but with supply and demand, the prices are cray! From the cost of gas to groceries to constructing your forever home, you might go broke. Let's not forget that the cost of living is ever-increasing everywhere but the paychecks stay the same. 
  Now, with all the pissing and moaning out of the way, THIS is what we wanted-- to be home around family and raise our family. I just think we were quite naive about expenses here. 
  To date we've met with two contractors and with one of them twice. Both contractors are out of our price range but one of them has lost his home-building mind! We could build 1.75 houses in Greenville for the cost of one here in Como. Holy cow! Mind you, we don't have expensive taste and the house is only 1700 sq ft! We're talking laminate counter tops, no fireplace/mantle, pre-fab cabinets, and the like. Yes, I want hardwood floors but that's the most extravagant thing on our Must-Have list. Seriously! We want to participate in the building of our home when we can like buying and putting in hardwood floors and tile floors, painting, putting on knobs and pulls (see this post on Tips) to not only save money but to feel a part of our home. To know we helped build that. Both contractors are a bit hesitant on what they will allow us to do. I think it has to do with 1- their decreased paycheck and 2- their "name" is on the final product of our house. Yes, I understand that contractors have warranties with our house and what we do does not get covered in the warranty. We are okay with that. The other thing we are worried about is IF the contractor agrees to let us do stuff then though we won't be charged for it under "Painting" in the hard estimate, that will silently appear under a new category... just so they get paid still. I know that's terrible to say and appears as if I don't trust the contractor, but really, in this day and age I'm not sure there aren't too many people looking out for themselves only. It's sad. 
  So our original floor plan that we've loved since the beginning has been tossed. Too much needed to be changed which added more square footage which ultimately means more money! Then we found another and lo' and behold, things need to be changed to it as well! Imagine that. (Yes I am being sarcastic. We aren't the ones who want to make changes to this one...) So we reckon that one is out, too. After our last meeting with the more reasonable contractor, I've had to sacrifice two of my three Must-Haves: my covered & screened-in back porch and my office. It's so disappointing but I'm trying to keep in mind that those are luxuries. At least with the covered back porch, maybe we can add it on later. We really just need a HOUSE! 
  It's getting frustrating to the point that I'm tired of studying house plans. Yes, we can afford the estimates being thrown at us but NO we do not want that mortgage payment when the time comes. Thankfully Brad and I are on the same page when it comes to our finances and bills. We are both frugal people who understand the value of hard work and money. I'm not trying to brag on us, just simply stating that we aren't blinded by the fancies of building a home; that we understand our goal is to build our forever home and not a monstrosity out of Southern Living. Sure that would be amazing but realistically, we'll never be able to afford that. 
  I guess it's time for us to get FRANK on our potential contractor and tell him what we can afford to build. Maybe then we'll either come to an agreement or quit wasting each other's time. I will say this for the guy, though; thumbs up for the beer on our last meeting!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

We have an address. We must be official now.

 Brad called the Land Records lady about our address. Good thing because she had forgotten. Imagine that! But nevertheless, we have an address now! 
 I texted Mom to tell her what her future neighbors' address is and she responds with "when are you putting up your mailbox?" Really, mom?? Kinda need the house to at least have some string markings for the foundation, first. Sheesh. She's a little bit excited for us. :)
 Got a few other contractor names and have another meeting today for estimate #2. Brad and I have tossed around the idea of subscribing to Angie's List but thought it might not have too many listings for our area being as we are 1- a very rural area, 2- one of the poorest areas in the state, and thus, 3- not many are gonna pay for the Angie's List subscription to write reviews. Or maybe we have the wrong idea about this ol' Angie? Perhaps but still not investing. Word of mouth and physical proof seem to be the best way to go in this small area.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Contractors, Banks, Floor Plans... Oh my!

 Well, we are at a sticking point with these 3 things. Haven't selected floor plans because we haven't talked to enough contractors and don't know if we'll be able to afford the house. Haven't chosen a financial institution because we don't know how much we'll need to borrow as we don't know how much the house will cost to build. Haven't selected a contractor because some institutions only finance NC licensed contractors. Is your head spinning yet? Because mine hasn't stopped... And we're only at the very beginning. Good grief.

 We are looking at yet another floor plan because the only contractor we've talked to is about $20,000 more than we want to pay.  One bank has approved us for way more than we want to borrow and another only does 15 year mortgages now. This means a much higher monthly payment. Brad has a point- paying a lower monthly mortgage for a longer period of time means we end up paying $40,000-$60,000 extra for our house in interest. Needless to say, I'll be on the job hunt much sooner than I had anticipated. Guess I can't stay at home forever...

 Looks like we won't need to pay that extra $500 to the architect to make changes to our first floor plan before we buy it (if we decide on it). Contractor says he can change it himself. Good to know and always good to ask.

 Brad called another financial institution yesterday to get pre-qualified. We are waiting to hear back from them. The one we really want to go with told him they wouldn't blame us for choosing another bank.

 I called about 6 contractors yesterday. We've got another appointment this week for an estimate. Another is going to call me back to set up an appointment and the rest either didn't answer or had disconnected numbers.

 Let me tell you-- this is such a fun process........

 I keep having visions or daydreams of us already being in our new house. Maybe one day!

 Also, lady from  the county Land Records was suppose to call Brad back with address info last week. Trust me when I say you've gotta stay on people. Also, our deed still isn't showing online or on the GIS map. Brad's more patient than I am. I'm ready to see it listed!

CONTRACTOR TIP:
   - don't figure in your appliances to your mortgage. Why pay for 30 years for appliances that are only made to last about 10 years? Finance appliances on your own... Or be sure to save the money for them yourself.  His estimate included everything except appliances for this reason. Valid point!

Monday, March 3, 2014

And then there was a driveway.

  It's good having connections. It's not an abuse of privileges per say but rather a knowledge of how to use those connections. With Brad being an assistant engineer with DOT for the county we are building in, it kinda makes getting your driveway put in done quickly.
  We had to purchase our 20 foot pipe from CRMP for about $180 then DOT came and put it in for free-- dirt and all. They would have provided rock too but seeing as it won't be the actual driveway we'll use (using the farm path beside our property as our garage will be side entry. Hard to explain but it makes sense to us...). Brad decided on no rock and to plant grass but DOT used a more silty dirt and we aren't sure how well grass will grow there. :( Maybe we need to ask DOT to come BACK and put down some rock so the dirt won't wash away. I guess it'll always be a "No" if we don't ask.

Here are the pics:
See farm path to the right.


 Not much but you gotta start somewhere. 

 Next up: pointing out where our driveway is on the survey at Land Records then getting the proper information/documents to take to the post office to obtain our 911 address.

Still working on: financing. Been pre-qualified with one institution but need to talk to another. Getting floor plans ($500 extra to make a few changes per the designer. Need to consult contractor before paying this.) Need to get a contractor. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

God speaks, I listen

Proverbs 24:27
Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.


This was in my morning devotional today. How appropriate? We keep getting asked if we've talked to a contractor yet, when are we planning on building, etc. It's borderline annoying but I just keep answering "Not yet. In due time. We are taking things one step at a time. Trying to complete one task before moving to the next."

We have a plan or at least an outline of events and we're filling in the blanks as we go along. We are trying to prepare for the ups and downs and unexpectedness of building a house. I mean, we just got the deed to our land last week and we're already experiencing the unexpected. Building a house is stressful. People who have done it say if they had to do it all over, they'd buy a house. That's not very optimistic for us. 

We just want to be as prepared as possible as to avoid as many "surprises" as we can. Of course we are in for more… lots more. That comes with every home building/remodeling job. It just comes with the territory. 

We also are firm in our faith that God has a plan for us. He made all of this happen. We wanted to move home, He gave Brad a job. We have a dream of building in the country, He allowed us to purchase farm land. I've always dreamed of living either in my parents' home or very close by, He is answering that. This is God's doing. His work. If building our forever home wasn't in His plan for us, then we'd still live in Greenville, commuting home on the weekends to be with family. 

Family is the root of this journey. It's the reason we moved back home. It's the reason we have land. It's the reason for a LOT more during this journey. Just you wait. We are and can't wait to see what else God has in store for us.

Why I'm a Player's Fan

  After that incredibly awful Broncos defeat last night and all the really mean but "funny" posts all over the Internet, I feel compelled to explain why I am a Peyton Manning fan and not necessarily a Denver Broncos fan.

  I grew up in a NASCAR home. You have a favorite driver, not a favorite auto racing team (i.e. Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports). Well, I guess some people do, but not my family. If our man was out of the race, then moderately pulling for another Richard Childress Racing teammate wasn't totally unheard of. 

  I was a Dale Earnhardt, Sr. fan… because my dad was. I would spend Sundays watching that black #3 go 'round and 'round those tracks. I guess my "relationship" with the player started at a young age. Watching NASCAR was a way for my dad and I to bond. I did everything I could to learn more about Dale, Sr. (or at that time in the 90s, he was just Earnhardt… Jr. hadn't made his NASCAR debut just yet.) I watched his interviews, read racing magazines, made collages of Dale, and wrote him letters. Like real letters, not emails. My dad found the address to Dale's office and we sent him a letter in my best second grade handwriting. To our surprise, he sent back two personally autographed pictures of himself! I still have mine somewhere. It's put away for safe keeping. I adored that autograph! I displayed it for years. I felt like I had a friend in Dale. I wrote to him a few more times after that but I don't recall getting any responses. No matter, though! I was happy with my first response.

  I continued to watch NASCAR throughout the years but as I aged and became more interested in boys and friends, I didn't watch it as much but my dad still did (and does). In 2001, I remember where I was and who I was with when I heard on the radio that Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was killed in a racing accident during the biggest race of the year, The Daytona 500. All I could think about was calling my dad. I didn't have a cell phone at the time but as soon as I got home, I hugged my dad and told him how sorry I was. 

  In the days to follow, I got on the Internet and printed all sorts of articles and pictures of Dale and made my dad a scrapbook. He still has it to this day. I felt like my dad lost a friend and we lost a family member. A man who was in our home every Sunday afternoon. I can pretty much guarantee my dad shed a few tears for his beloved race car driver's demise.

  It was no question that our next favorite driver would be Dale, Jr. He was fresh and new and not looking too bad at the time (nowadays it's hit or miss with him). After Dale, Sr. died, I pretty much stopped keeping up with NASCAR. I don't watch it on tv but I did see my first race two years ago. It was awesome! And of course, I was rooting for my Dale, Jr. and even took a few pics of him from way up in the stands.

  In my home, we weren't big on national league sports or even much on the college level until I started at East Carolina University. Being completely naive and misinformed about all things professional sports related, I always believed that college players were better than professional because college played for the talent; not the paycheck. Well, lo and behold, who usually becomes a professional athlete but a college one. 

  Dating my now-husband, he changed my mind about sports. I began watching NCAA sports and the occasional NFL game. It wasn't until 2006 that I started to really show interest in NFL. I remember saying to a friend "NFL isn't bad. I just don't know which team to pull for." Being from North Carolina, you'd think the choice would be made for me. Nope, I wanted to watch some games and decide for myself. The first real NFL game I watched all the way through happened to be played by the Colts. I don't even remember who they were playing, just that their quarterback was amazing. He had an arm on him. I can't tell you who won that game but I knew I wanted to watch a few more games played by that quarterback, Peyton Manning #18. 

  So I did just that. The next week, I looked up their game schedule and watched the Colts play once more. I was hooked. Watching Peyton throw that ball down the field right into the hands of his receiver was awe-inducing. It was magical. 

  Some "true sports fans" may call me a bandwagoner or not a real fan or something along those lines. I was new to NFL and Peyton Manning was placed in my line of sight on the one day I decided to give this professional sport a go. That's where the love bloomed. Since then I've been following Peyton Manning through his career, the ups as well as the downs.

  Yeah, he got himself a Super Bowl and a win in 2007. That sure didn't change my feelings about him. Doing my research, I found that the Mannings eat, breathe, and live all things football. They know their stuff and how to play the game. Watching interviews with Peyton, I began to like him even more. So down to earth, so truthful, never placing blame on others, and even a funny guy. What wasn't to like?

  Perhaps I didn't know enough about football as a sport when I began giving it some interest. Maybe I didn't realize that in order to be a "true fan" you have to pick a team and not a player. To be sure I realized that there are rules to being a sports fan. Most importantly, you can't be a player fan; you must be a team fan.
^^ Bless you, I hope you can read my sarcasm. 

  Through the years, the more I see him play, the more interviews/commercials/SNL appearances/documentaries I watch, the more news articles I read, the more I like the guy. I followed him from the Colts to the Broncos and I'll follow him wherever he goes after that. Even during his time off for his neck surgeries, I didn't fully root for other players or teams. I still watched football and maybe I was happy when Eli did some good things and got his Super Bowl win too. 

  So all in all, I AM a player's fan; not a team fan. It's how I was raised; it's in my upbringing. It's all I know. And furthermore, who can blame me for choosing Peyton Manning as my favorite NFL player? Sure he had a terrible game last night but how many players do you know would have stopped to sign autographs, talk to fans, and speak as well as he did during his post-game interview? Some, sure, but not enough. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Pre-approval and Driveway Shenanigans

  Hoping to get the pre-approval paper work flowing next week with one bank. Might try two just to see what's up. With me not working and us on only one steady income, I don't have such good feelings about dem dolla signs the bank will allow us to have. We shall see. 
  I have family who works "high up" at this bank but doesn't deal directly with family (smart move, bro) so we've been directed to another loan officer. Said family member did let me in on what we need for a preapproval. And holyyyyy smokes, it's a lot of mess. 

We need but are not limited to:
- driver's license
- SSN card
- 3 years worth of income tax info
- retirement/401k info
- current bank account info (ALL accounts)
- life insurance info
- out-of-pocket health insurance info
- 529 monthly contribution info
- 3 of the most current pay stubs

Good LAWD! It's taken me a few weeks to gather all that information. Whenever I think about searching for it, I get tired and decide to do it another day. TODAY, however, I've been pretty productive in this mass-info hunt. Perhaps we'll venture into the bank next week.


  The driveway sitch is a little more difficult than we had anticipated. We are planning to use the "farm path" beside our actual lot as our house plans have a side entry garage. For legal/political/annoying purposes, we need a driveway ON OUR property for when we go to borrow money from the bank. The bank will need to see easement onto our property. If we stuck to the OG plan of using the farm path to obtain our 911 address, then we'd eventually have to redo our survey to gain ownership of the easement AKA the portion of the farm path that we would drive up to get to our house. My parents had this same problem when they purchased their house way up in the middle of the field. Their property looks like an oar on the satellite image because they had to buy the path/easement to their property. Summary: stupid, stupid, stupid.
  Basically what we'll be doing is spending unnecessary money to create a driveway beside the farm path and just use the farm path like we want as we have landowner permission to do so. Now that we know what we need to do, we can't find the 20 foot pipe we need! No where local has it. We'll have to go out of town and pick it up ourselves. On a brighter note, I think we've found free dirt! Who's heard of such a thing?! Since when isn't dirt free?? When you don't have anywhere to dig it from, I guess. I'm hoping it'll be free or at least very cheap and then we'll just pay off some of that man-labor (family is the best!). 
  Once the driveway is complete, we'll go to Land Records in Winton, show them where the driveway is on our survey, and they'll give us the proper paper work to take to the Post Office so we can get a proper 911 address. 
Our snow-covered lot (peep the 'rental's house in the background)


  Oh and we got our deed in the mail yesterday so we official own this one acre! Hallejuerrrrr!
Cheesin' extra hard 'cause we own dis biatch now! (Farm path is on the right)