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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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Little ‘green’ house

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.

The drawing board

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.

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.

So, we’ve been sitting around brainstorming, because it seems to be the thing to do. So far, what we are thinking is that we will forget about getting a mortgage, and instead each of us will take out a 401K loan for $50,000. That would give us $100,000 to work with, plus we have about $11,000 left from what we saved for the project. With that money, we would do most of the site work for both the house and the workshop, then build a slightly larger than originally planned, two-story workshop that would be our temporary home. When the market changes later on, or gradually over time we could work on building the main house, then the workshop would be converted to an actual workshop with an apartment on the second floor. Even still, the money might be pretty tight in getting that accomplished. Our builder is on board with the idea and is going to meet with us this week to discuss the options. We are going to have to be vigilant in saving money on the project wherever we can.

To save money, we would do things such as using a cistern to collect rainwater from the roof, like they do in the islands.  When I lived in St. Thomas, I had a cistern for water and it is a very simple system- a tank, a pump to pump it into the house, and of course, a metal roof with a gutter angled to channel the water into the tank.  This setup would save a lot of money, because we are facing somewhere around $25,000 for a water main extension, water meter, hook-up fees, etc.

We had all kinds of problems with the stupid appraisal, and we finally took our last option which was to have yet another appraisal done, this time at a $1000 expense. Since we had no other choice, we went for it and then were strung along for a couple of weeks while the new appraisal was completed.

Well, you guessed it, this one was even lower than the other one, by a large margin. The only way we can get a mortgage now is if we bring $63,000 to closing. I asked the mortgage consultant if we were supposed to just crap it out because she knows we do not have $63,000 sitting around; it is all tied up in the project already. 

Honestly I don’t know what is going to happen now. I am sitting here right now writing this very calmly in an effort to keep from completely freaking out and going into hysterics. I want to punch the walls and scream obscenities at the top of my lungs, but it wouldn’t do any good anyway. Andy doesn’t even know the bad news yet- he is out at school taking care of some administrative junk. 

I haven’t given up every last hope just yet, my mind is racing with ideas of alternative homes we could build on the super cheap or other ways to solve some of the more expensive aspects of building the house- such as using a cistern for our water supply instead of putting in the costly water main extension we have planned, or building the house like a treehouse to avoid having to bring in such massive amounts of fill dirt to build up the house pad.  I just don’t know how difficult it would be to make these changes to the plans, or if a lender would even consider lending to us if we do something unconventional like that. But at this point, we have to consider every possible option we can come up with.

One idiot away

Our mortgage consultant is not quite all there. She just doesn’t understand some of the most basic concepts of construction mortgages, and this seems odd, because this has been her profession for the past five years. Our builder, Bob, talked to her today to try to get her to understand, and he called us right afterward to tell us what a dingbat she is. I think it is time for us to go above her to her supervisor, because there is no amount of us hammering her with the facts that will make her understand.