Friday, October 10, 2014

Week 1, homies!

  I didn't feel it was completely necessary to update over the last two months because all we have done in that time frame is get our money approved and appraisal completed. It took longer than we had anticipated but what hasn't so far??
  We feared that appraisal so bad. It was our make or break. It was going to tell us whether we could build this bad boy or wait it out a few more years. We really didn't want to be forced to do the latter since we had already shucked out $2,500 to cover the cost of drafting the floor plans and our various permits needed to get started building. Our contractor, who Brad and I affectionately refer to ask "Big Willie Styles" (A- I do not know why. B- this is a public blog so when he sees it, he will either laugh or be pissed.) had said "if all else fails, you'll just be out a couple thousand dollars." Just? Just?! Every penny we have may as well be gold. One income surely will teach you the value of a hard-earned dollar. Basically, we were NOT going to let the appraisal hold us back. But if it did come in under, we still weren't sure exactly how we were going to get the extra money we would need. Are you still with me?
  Praise be, the appraisal came in after only 3 weeks and was $15,000 more than we needed! That good ol' Curle farm land is worth some dolla dolla bills, y'all! Next up was making sure every t was crossed and i was dotted in order for BB&T to loan us the monies we would need. Lots of emails back and forth with our loan officer but it was worth it and semi-painless. Then I got a J-O-B! The timing hasn't been ours but it has actually been perfect. Big Man Upstairs knows a thing or two about what He's doing. 
  Fast forward to this past Monday, Brad and I pull into the parking lot at the lawyer's office, get out of our vehicles, grab hands and saunter across the parking lot in what felt like slow motion, A-Team style. It felt pretty bad ass. Like a building should have blow up behind or something 
  ...Twenty minutes later, we leave the office with hand cramps from signing our life away six dozen times and a bit exhausted, wondering what the hell have we just gotten ourselves into...
  Perhaps B.W.S. was more excited than us? He responded to Brad's text by informing us he would apply for our building permit the following day. He has since received it and informed us that he will break ground on Wednesday-week.
  Today B.W.S. began grading the area around the house. It looks so pretty. We can't WAIT to get started on our forever home. It's been a longgggg time coming and we are pretty stoked. 
#buildingonbuckhorn



Monday, August 11, 2014

When it's okay to be a two-timer.

  Holy wow, this process is crazy! But I will say God works in mysterious ways and the plan you think you have will likely be tossed out the window. 
  This process isn't any cheaper than it was in the beginning but if we're ever going to do anything with that piece of land we have on Buckhorn Church Road, then we better start making some decisions. 
  We are so glad that the Lord made us wait before jumping into a decision. We've been known to be so excited about something that we just jump all in. About a month ago we were ready to sign a contract and get the ball rolling. We got a baby-sitter for the night (thanks, Grammy and PaPa) and drove the 20 minutes to this contractor's office with huge grins plastered on our faces. We just knew it was time-- we were going to sign that contract. We pull up into the driveway, wait for 10 minutes since he wasn't there yet, then just as we are about to ring his cell, he comes up and almost drives past us, like maybe he had somewhere else to go? He couldn't possibly have forgotten about our meeting. We had just set it up that morning. Could he?
  Long story short, it was a wasted trip. The contract was not prepared, numbers had risen with no real reason why, numbers had to be tightened back up (again), and topics discussed at the last meeting had to be revisited. Perhaps they were forgotten? Not on our end, I take notes at every single meeting we have with every contractor. Call them "minutes" if you will. I'm glad I did.
  When we got back in the car, I wanted to cry. I looked at Brad and said "tell me exactly what's on your mind." He said "I'm glad there wasn't a contract to sign." Good grief! 
  So we took time off and went on vacation for a few days. "The Contract" was faxed to Brad the following week. It looked fine but we just couldn't shake the feeling we got at the last meeting with this contractor.
  Let me go ahead and say this for you future home builders: meeting with a contractor(s) is kind of like dating or courting. You get all involved, start falling in love, then something happens and you realize this relationship isn't going to work out. So it's time to break up. But you really don't want to because someone's feelings are gonna get hurt. I mean, he invited us to his home for a tour and a beer. This is a legit relationship. What do you do now? You google how to reject a contractor. And it's not pretty.
  Some say we should explain why we aren't hiring him and others say keep it short, sweet, and to the point; do not burn any bridges. You may change your mind or need him later. Either way, it's proper to let the contractor know. Don't leave him in limbo; he will call and you'll fumble around with your words. Keep reading.

  So we get back on the phone with our other boyfriend, I mean contractor, and set up another date to review his proposed contract again. Look at us! Dating two at one time! How cheeky. How necessary. This is our forever home. We don't want to make a mistake or wonder "what if..." So yes, we've gotten 3 different proposals from 3 different contractors.
  We spent this entire weekend back and forth with this contractor fixing our proposal to get it within a price range we can afford. And lo' and behold, guess what we're doing tonight? Signing a contract! Say a little prayer for us that we are making the right decision. Please.
  Oh and that other contractor? He called on Saturday as I was emailing "the one" back. How ironic. I didn't even know what to say. So, to buy some time, I told him we were still thinking it over. His response: "Okay, well it had been a week since I sent the proposed contract. Hadn't heard from you. Also, I printed 6 of those floor plans you picked. Paid $48 to have them copied for you. I'm sure you'll need them to take to the bank and such..." Is he trying to tell me that I owe him $48? We never told him to print the plans. Yes, it's from a home he has built before so he could easily make new copies for us. Copyright law broken? Not sure but probably. Guess who will be receiving their "Dear John" letter this week? Yeah... Break ups are never fun. Let's just pray he doesn't call for a reason WHY we didn't pick him. I really don't want to tell him...
  That it's because your older-than-old-school communication through phone calls and faxes are ridiculous, driving out to your office 5 times (the last of which was a total waste) when the other contractor is willing to come to us or meet anywhere since he knows we have a small child, numbers increasing out of nowhere, and not remembering what you were suppose to be researching between meeting dates. 

  So tonight's the night! We're getting engaged! No really, we sign our proposal then get started designing our very own floor plan. Sure, the main idea is from one we found online but to avoid buying them then having to make all the changes we want or violating copyright laws, we get to use a drafter to design our plans! Let's pray all this dating we've been doing will turn into a beautiful marriage of home building, communication, and selecting paint colors and tile!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

You can make a PLAN if you want to but God's gonna do as He pleases with you

  HAHA! LOL! Teehehe! Bahahaha! LMBO! That's God laughing at our "plan"...
 Our plan was to break ground Spring 2014. Umm, Summer 2014 is in about 30 days. So much for that plan.
 God knows what we want and though we are being impatient, He has perfect timing. We will get our Forever Home when we are meant to have it. 
 Got back the numbers from a contractor we really liked... and it wasn't pretty. Way out of our price range. So we've been talking to yet another contractor. He seems very real and is super detailed in his hard estimate. We are waiting for his final number. Fingers crossed he is within our budget.
 Mind you our budget has increased twice since we decided to buy land and build a house. We are so far away from what we had planned to spend on a 1600-1700 sq ft house it's not even funny. We honestly can't afford to increase it again. Like I told Brad about our beautiful, cleared one acre of land surrounded by growing corn, "I'm about ready to throw a single wide on it and call it a day."
 With this last contractor, I have literally gone as cheap as I can get on finishes without sacrificing my hardwood floors. I got back my covered back porch, though. At least for now. I think we might be back to a spec home already. :) I bet it still costs more than we want to spend...
 I've decided if our next quote comes in out of the newest price range, then I AM going back to work as soon as I can find a decent job. Otherwise, we truly won't be able to afford to build. The 20% down and closing costs is already going to deplete our nest egg as it is. That alone is depressing enough. 
 I just have to keep reminding myself that God has a plan for us and in His timing, we will get this house. It WILL happen. I just need patience and to trust Him.

Lifestyles of the Broke and Not-Crafty

  I guess you could say I get a little jealous when I see all these awesome DIY projects gone RIGHT. I can't seem to get that to happen to me. I've even given up on Pinterest these days. So many cute ideas... but I lack a creative gene or something. It's super rare when I try to recreate the Pin that it actually comes out half decent.
  Below you will find a few of my DIY projects lately. They didn't turn out terrible, I don't think. My motto is "when in doubt, buy some black spray paint."

Gold Mirror Gone Black

Mirror prepped for spraying
End result- I cropped out the table on purpose.

 I like the mirror painted black now but it is over a dark brown console table in my foyer and it just doesn't look great together. Whoops. The mirror is heavy and requires a screw in the wall to hang. Since we do not own our current house, I will wait until later to move it elsewhere. The console is a family heirloom in great condition so I dare not refinish it to match the mirror. 

Inherited End Tables Get ANOTHER Face Lift

 Back in 2008 I was obsessed with HGTV (nothing much has changed in 6 years). Inherited two end tables from a family member. They used to be straight outta the 70s and in dire need of an upgrade. Mind you this was before the days of Pinterest. What can I say? I'm an original DIY-er. I saw Sabrina DeSoto use painter's tape to create this... Yeahhhh, it's not cute. And I've lived with it for SIX YEARS! Six.


WTH!
Much better
 So the two end tables look a bit better but I would still love to change the hardware. Took one to Lowe's with me to buy new handles and NOTHING would match up with the existing screw holes. So I'm stuck with these "gold" beauties for a while longer.

I Have A Night Stand. Hallelujah!
 When we sold the Greenville house, homegirl wanted our ENTIRE bedroom suit. Yes, the very first purchase I made with my teaching paycheck! Even had to put that joker on Layaway for a hot second until I got my second and third paychecks. It broke my heart to have to get rid of it even though we do want a King suit next. I thought I'd pass it on to my son. So much for that idea. I sure hope she loves it as much as I did.
 Since we've moved back home, we are sleeping on our original mattress and box spring on a metal frame, upgraded from 7 cardboard boxes to a $60 yard sale dresser, and our "night stand" is more commonly known as The Floor. Naturally, when I saw this one on a yard sale site, I snatched it up. It's Mission Style like my old bedroom suit so it reminded me of it. *tear* 
 This project cost $20 for the night stand, $8 in spray paint, and $4 for new hardware. Not too bad. Legit night stands can get pricey, brand new. 


Forgot a before pic. This is post-sanding.

Ta-da! Terrible quality pic.


 Now my books, cell phone charger, and the ingredients for a diaper changing station all have a place to sleep at night. Our "gorgeous Master Suite" is a bit more appealing now.
 Y'all just go ahead and be looking for me on HGTV. My new show will be called "From Crap to Class". 

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!