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Archive for the ‘House Plans’ Category

Stalled out, again

I’m fairly horrible, but I haven’t posted an update here in forever. It isn’t all my fault though, because not much of anything has happened. Since my last post, we did get most of the clearing completed, brought in a LOT of dirt for the driveway, and poured footers. And that’s it. Nothing else. We used up all of our savings, and can’t go any farther till we save up more, or some other kind of miracle happens, like we get a mortgage from someplace or someone, or win the lottery. I can’t believe it has been over three and a half years since we started this project!

We talked about trying to find a lender again, now that some of them are lending again, but found that they still aren’t lending much on construction projects and we are still scared of having to pay a lot of money for appraisals only to have them come in ridiculously low. The mortgage broker we originally worked with said he will let us know if he finds another lender for construction. Blech.

So, in the meantime we’ve been busy with work and school and trying not to think about the house we’re not building. It is sad to think of it just sitting there, waiting for us.

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Home site

This afternoon after work, Andy and I went to meet our builder out at the property to check out the progress of the clearing. There is quite a lot to clear, so it takes some time to do things right. With all of the environmental issues, they have to work very carefully to avoid damaging areas outside of the approved site.

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We heard that the backhoe operator stopped at least four times to get down and relocate box turtles that he happened upon during clearing, and that is way cool with us. Turtles, we are sorry for disturbing your homes and will make it up to you when we are able. Seriously.

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We were very happy to find that a lovely cypress tree that we had really wanted to save will not have to be removed. The site superintendent said that one of the surveyors who is an expert on trees had estimated that it is approximately 70 years old. We really wanted to keep that tree, so it was great news to find that it will not have to be removed. We are doing our best to preserve as many trees as possible. There are quite a few cabbage palms that have had to be removed, but we will be able to relocate them to another part of the property, so they will not go to waste.

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I haven’t posted here in quite some time, mostly because there hasn’t been much to post. While anyone else could have gotten a building permit in a week’s time, for us it was a lengthy process spanning many months. Go figure. Anyway, the good news is that we are supposed to start clearing for house tomorrow or the next day, if all goes as planned. We finally have all of our permits in hand again, with the revised and much smaller workshop house we ended up with.

We are not home free yet, though. Our original plan to use loans from our 401Ks to fund the construction is out the window due to the terrible economy. Our 401Ks fell in value by at least 50% so there is not enough to borrow from. Also it would be a bad idea to borrow from them when they are valued so low because if the market rebounded we would not feel the benefits.

So our current plan is to get as far as we can on our savings, and then re-evaluate at that point. We are hoping that we have enough cash to complete the site work and perhaps the slab. Then we will have to stop until we can come up with enough money to get the whole thing framed, dried in, roof on, etc. because we can’t just leave it open to the elements for a long period of time. Maybe we can borrow from a relative or something, or get a signature loan. We’ll have to see when we get to that point.

Regardless, we will be thrilled to see something finally happen on the property when the clearing begins. We both want to be there to see the first bit of it since we have been working towards this goal for three and a quarter years now.

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Still nothing new

So, a lot of time has passed since I last posted, but that is because essentially nothing has been happening. We got our drawings revised and our builder put in for the changed permits, but things are moving at a snails pace. We’re kind of used to it at this point.

In any case, we should have the new septic permit in a matter of days (I know, famous last words) and then it will only be a matter of getting the revised building permit through, but the building department is aware that it is coming, so hopefully they will actually do something with it.

The bad part is, we no longer have enough money in our 401Ks to be able to borrow what we need, so we are seeking other options, ones that do not involve crooked appraisers or underwriters who are afraid of their shadows. Hmmmm. This could be interesting.

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We met with our builder yesterday evening, and the meeting went well. He thinks our plan for the alternative house is a good one and is going to investigate with the county to see if there is anything that would stop us from using a cistern for our potable water. As far as I can tell through my research, there are some houses and other structures with cisterns in this county, but none that use rainwater exclusively as their potable water source. Still, it is a common practice in other parts of the world. In the Virgin Islands, it is pretty much the only way to get water to a residence. Even in this county cisterns were common in the 1800s to the mid 1900s.

In the course of my research I found that there is agency after agency advocating water conservation and alternative water sources, some of them are the same ones we worked with to get our wetland permits, such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District. Then there is the EPA, the federal government, and even a water resources conservation team within our county pushing for water conservation. It would seem that it should be easy to gain approval for our proposed cistern water system, but then again, nothing has been easy for us. I am going to start making some calls tomorrow to find out if there is any precedent in this matter.

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I have been drawing all kinds of different possibilities for a layout of the workshop/house. I think Andy and I have figured out a good layout that we can live with.  Of course, we still have to meet with our builder to see what our options are, but at least we sort of have a plan.

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We are continuing to explore the plan for building and living in the expanded workshop.  Andy and I have even come up with a workable floor plan, and we have researched cisterns as well. It seems that the best option for us would be to get two smaller cisterns so that they can be taken offline one at a time when they need cleaning or maintenance. The cost for the cistern system is much, much lower than the anticipated costs for the water main extension. Like $20,000 lower. The design of the place would be similar to this, but it would have siding rather than shingles on it, a metal roof (better for catching rain water to fill the cistern) and there would be some other slight variations:

It is a simple plan and uses the trusses we already had designed for the original workshop, so that should save money. We are excited about the possibilities and just need to meet with our builder to see about the feasibility of this idea.  Then we should be able to get started in short order.

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