And so we begin!

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ~Walt Disney

We hit the ground running after I posted on Saturday morning. I went down to help Bill while he staked off a huge section of the front yard so no one would drive on it. Basically, I only held the stake straight until Bill pounded it down into the ground.

Stake Pounding

Stake Pounding

Yard staked out

Yard staked out

Then, I got called off the survey staking committee and Jill put me on chauffeur duty to pick up Jack from a Boys Scout event. It takes a village to do all the work on the compound. πŸ™‚ Joan took Megan shopping at the school’s marketplace and shopping for birthday ideas. Jill cleaned house.Β  Jim, Jim, Sr., and Bill did the staking for the house. We had to get everything done before Jack’s 2:30 football game.

Not sure if you can see or not, but there are red survey flags in those piles of mud. The flags mark the four outer corners of the house so the foundation guys can pour the footers in the right place.

Survey flags

Survey flags

IMG_2285

IMG_2284

Sunday Bill went shopping to buy all the electrical components to hook up his cabinet making equipment to a generator. He had tested starting the different pieces of equipment with the generator. Some had better results than others. But, everything eventually started and it seems that he will be able to run his equipment off the generator since we have no electricity in the pole barn yet. Bill’s pole barn “open house” has been delayed a week because of his construction duties. However, Bill has made great strides in getting the workshop almost ready for duty. He would only let me take a couple of photos until he has his open house. Wonder if he’s going to serve refreshments? πŸ˜‰

Back workbench with raw mahogany wood stored above

Back workbench with raw mahogany wood stored above

Sunday, I spent a lot of time measuring Jill’s fireplace and windows again. Unfortunately, when Bill and I discussed the window seats on each side of the fireplace and window and window seat measurements, we discovered we needed to make our fireplace larger than was drawn on our house plans! 😯 The fireplace and windows are gonna be the death of me yet! I was dreading breaking the news to Jim that we needed to make more changes. However, it is better to find out these mistakes before we start framing and before we order the windows. And, Bill and I looked again about how we would extend the fireplace stone up to the ceiling and it just wasn’t going to work either. Grrrr.

We had a construction meeting with Jim on Sunday evening (Sept. 22). He gave us a lot of homework to do on Monday. The three of us each had our to-do lists.

  • Jim worked with our vendor for Hardiboard siding and trim; updated house plans; made phone calls and arranged for permits; and lots of other behind the scene things he does – like discover that our bid for trusses was not for attic trusses.
  • Bill arranged for a porta potty and dumpster; called another company to compare block prices; called vendor we planned to use for block material and had them resubmit their bid with updated information and arranged for them to deliver block on Wednesday; called another roofing material vendor and inquired about pricing; both of us visited vendor and picked out shingles and got a quote; called lumber company and had them resubmit their bid with attic trusses; ordered sand; and called Vectren to ask about electricity and gas hookups; cut our grass; moved the trailer to the side of the pole barn; arranged a hose hookup from Jim, Sr’s water-spout down by the lake; and found spots where the porta potty and dumpster could be stored during construction. Whew! He was a busy guy.
  • I had to re-work all our windows and re-design our fireplace. I also had my household chores of 5 loads of laundry, unloaded and loaded dishwasher, picked up kids from bus stop, wrapped Megan’s birthday gift, took Jack to football practice, and helped Jill prepare Megan’s birthday dinner.
Jim, Bill and I shared lots of phone calls that day. Jim found out that the Health Department said we needed to add more soil over the area where we were having the septic installed. Saturday when we were talking with our septic installer (same guy who did our excavation for pole barn and our driveway and who will also be doing our final grading), he said he could get top soil for a cheap price per dump truck if we’d like it. Bill wanted to get a couple of loads for grading and had made arrangements for him to bring that on Monday. Well, when we found out we needed more soil for the front area, Jim told him to just bring it, too. I think we ended up with two loads in the back and four loads in the front. It’s really nice soil.
Top soil for final grading

Top soil for final grading

Soil for covering the septic area

Soil for covering the septic area

While I was re-working the window schedule, I asked Bill if he thought our windows for the front bedrooms would be down too low. We measured everything again! I called the window guy and asked him what the next size window height down would be. We would have to go down from 56″ to 48″ in height. Where I loved the taller windows, I really wanted the tops of the windows and the doors to match across the exterior of the house. But, if I wanted to keep the 56″ height and still have them higher from the floor board, I would have to raise the top height. Again, Bill went outside to measure where that would take our windows. It ended up they would be up so high that they would be one board down from our trim board. That just wasn’t gonna look right. I ended up using our Home Architect 3D software again and changed all the window sizes to get a better look. Bill and I made the decision to go with 48″ heights in the bedrooms and in the laundry room. We left the two window seats at 56″ because those windows will be lower to the floor. Of course, then I had to call the window guy back and ask him to give us a new quote. Brother!

I played with the fireplace and came up with a new design. Here’s what it might look like.

Fireplace with border

Fireplace with border

Early Tuesday morning Bill went down to the pole barn – what is now being called our construction headquarters. The first thing to arrive was important. πŸ˜€

Porta Potty!

Porta Potty!

By the time I left to go to water aerobics around 10:15, this guy was running this bobcat back and forth trying to smooth out the area where the footers would be dug and poured.

Bob cat busy

Bobcat busy

It wasn’t long and the dumpster guy came to assess the area for the dumpster. Bill decided to put it to the right of the turnaround rock in pic below. The guy said it should be delivered sometime this week.

IMG_2295

I ran errands after water aerobics (even got my flu shot) and got home just in time to pick up the grandkids from the bus stop. Jill and Jim’s yard to the west of their driveway was lined with trucks and there was a wheeled digger with a backhoe digging those trenches for the footers.

Wheeled digger with backhoe

Wheeled digger with backhoe

While I was parked at the end of the driveway waiting for the bus, some guy drove his car into the grass to the east of where I was sitting and sped around me and parked off the driveway near the construction. He slowly got out of his car and I noticed he was a big guy. Didn’t look like he was part of the construction crew to me. I mentioned him to Jim and Bill that evening and they weren’t sure who he was. It turns out he was probably the county concrete footing inspector cause we got an email the next day that he had been out and approved it. Yay!

Bill held down the fort at the construction site and I took the grandkids up to the house. The foundation crew worked until about 5:00-5:30. Here are some photos of the afternoon adventures.

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Wednesday I went to bible study and ran more errands. Since we live out a ways, we try to combine our trips into town. Jill warned us that our gas bill would go up and it has! So, while I was gone, Bill had another busy day at the construction site. First up was the mortar sand delivery for the block installers.

Sand delivery

Sand delivery

On Monday Bill had called the plumber to see if he needed to come out before the block guys came. So, he came Wednesday morning. We had one plumber do the radiant heat and the rough-in for the half-bath in the pole barn. We were using another plumber for the house and the completion of the pole barn stuff. It appears that the first plumber may not have roughed-in the half-bath the way the second plumber would have liked it. 😳 We hope he can come up with a remedy. What we do know is that we cannot use the toilet that Jim’s parents were giving us. And, there’s something about a grinder pump thing-a-ma-jig. The plumber also put some pipes down to approximate areas where he would need plumbing access. Bill said the block guys would put them in the proper place.

Vectren came out in the early afternoon to assess the situation for temporary and permanent electrical service. The gas guy called Bill earlier in the day and said instead of him coming out, he would just get with the electric guy afterwards. Bill talked to him about transformers and whether we need one now or later. We will need a new one on the pole at the end of our driveway. They talked about if we wanted temporary electric we could run it from Jim & Jill’s transformer at the end of their driveway. But, they would have to go up 18 feet for the wires to be pulled over and Bill said that wouldn’t work with the large trucks coming in and out. If we put a transformer on our pole now, it would be a 200 amp one. However, since the house will be 400 amp, we’d have to have another transformer installed when the permanent service was needed. The Vectren guy told Bill he needed to call Vectren marketing and get a price for what the transformers might cost. We also will need to fill out a form with a checklist of any possible equipment in the house and pole barn that we might be running in the future. They have some sort of 3-year deal where they assess what revenue will be generated on what you will use and that is what they base the cost of how much we’ll pay for the transformer. Sounds complicated to me! πŸ™„ Anyway, the Vectren guy left Bill a voice-mail message late yesterday that they could get us temporary electrical service by January 2014! 😯 That’s not gonna work. Bill will be calling the Vectren guy back today.

The block delivery arrived around 2:00.

Block delivery

Block delivery

Heavy crane to lift the block

Heavy crane to lift the block

Today someone from the foundation crew will be back to remove all the ground around the footers to make the ground level with the footers. You can see from the pic below what I’m talking about.

Ground to be leveled

Ground to be leveled

The block installers are scheduled to arrive Friday to install our block.

When Jim started to call subs over the weekend to schedule them he found out our framer would not be available for another 3 weeks! He checked on our second choice framer and he was 4-5 weeks out from being available. So, we are going to wait for our first choice guy. Actually, I’m kind of glad we will have a delay because I’m taking a trip and I don’t want to miss the framing of our house. I want a front-row seat. Don’t get me wrong, the footers and block are exciting! However, I think the framing is the best part in the beginning. It finally brings all these months and years of planning from a flat or 3D rendering to an actual structure that we can stand in and walk through.

It is Bill’s hope that he will be able to start working on cabinets in the next two weeks.

Until then . . .

One journey ended . . . Another to begin

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it. ~Bob Hope

I am happy to say we FINALLY closed on our construction loan Thursday afternoon (Sept. 19)! The process took longer and was more strenuous than we ever thought possible. We started our first loan application on June 17!!! And, if you really want to count the whole process, we actually started a preliminary pre-approval type process back in January with the regional loan officer in the Indy area. Needless to say . . . that was a journey we are glad has come to a close.

Sherry, our loan originator, continually told us she didn’t see any reason we wouldn’t be approved for the loan. But, the relentless questions and requests had us doubting that fact. This was our first construction loan – ever. We have purchased several homes and refinanced many times as the rates got lower and lower over the years. The construction loan process was a whole other beast. 😯 I’m an organized person, keep receipts, capable to create spreadsheets, scan documents and save them in pdf format, and attach them to emails. Boy, did those skills come in handy over and over again.

We eventually found out why we were experiencing so many questions and requests. Apparently, the bank had never dealt with someone who had purchased so many items for the house or who had already paid for improvements to the land (well, pole barn, driveway, etc.) prior to getting a construction loan. πŸ™„ We only mentioned all of items when we initially started the loan process because we thought it could be used toward our equity for the loan. We really didn’t need most of it for that. It would have been a lot easier if we had purchased the stuff out-of-pocket after we had the construction loan. Purchasing it before, everything had to be documented and recorded for HUD. The appraisal came in fine.

At one point, Bill said he’d just take the money out our investments and pay cash for the rest of house construction.Β  However, our financial adviser said he could make us more money than the 4% interest we will pay for a construction/mortgage. And, since we can still deduct the interest on our taxes and we can afford to pay for the mortgage in retirement, we went this route. Hopefully, we won’t regret this. πŸ˜•

Enough about that nightmare issue.

To lighten the mood and has nothing to do with construction loans or building a house, here is pix of some wildlife we see out where we live. Just moseying down the road – a family of turkeys. They wouldn’t get off the road either until I finally drove closer to them. The Dad (on the left) finally walked to the right of the road to join the Mom who was up in the bush area. The three youngsters finally flew toward the left. You can see my speedometer hologram in the windshield set at 0. I was parked while taking pictures. πŸ™‚

Turkeys!

Turkeys!

Now, for the exciting news!!

drum-roll

We are finally going to start building our house next week!

As soon as we knew we got the appraisal and knew we were going to close on the loan, Jim said we needed to make any changes to our house plans and spec document ASAP. He needed to send the plans and specs to the building commissioner to pull our permits and the foundation contractor so he could start as soon as we had the permits. It was also time for final decisions. Once the footers are poured, no more changes to the house plans! Jim and Jill both asked if we were ready to move forward, because we were getting ready to spend some big money really soon! And, no backing out of the process. We both said . . . “Bring it on! We are ready! More than ready!”

I went through the plans and specs and marked them up with any changes we might have had since getting bids back and contracts from subs. While I was doing that, Bill spent his time going through contracts, cleaning up our construction binder, and putting all the information into Microsoft Project. Bill had downloaded a house construction template and had to tweak it to fit our construction. We are using MS Project as a scheduler. We spent two long days (Tuesday & Wednesday) working through all the information and updating everything on the digital versions. We sat down with Jim late Wednesday evening to go over all the changes.

Bill and I spent Thursday morning making more changes and finalizing the spec document so we could email to Jim. Jim made all the changes to our plans and emailed off the documents to the building commissioner and foundation guy. One of our changes we had to make was to our fireplace. We originally wanted our fireplace to look like this:

Fireplace we like

Fireplace we like

After Jim drew the fireplace for us to figure out sizes, we discovered the columns would have to be skinnier than the ones in the picture. Then we noticed that we would not have any room on the hearth to place our fireplace tools or to set wood down on the sides of the fireplace doors. So, without a fuss, I said I’d give up this dream. With the modifications, it would change the look of what I had envisioned. However, that meant we had to come up with a new design and fairly quick. I found this design:

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 6.24.20 AM

Bill liked the double wooden mantel. I did not like above the mantel. So, Bill suggested that we extend the stone up to the vaulted flat ceiling – about 13 ft from the floor. So, I did a little magic with the photo in some of my computer software and came up with something like this:

New fireplace

Fireplace with Ledge stone

Every change constitutes either phone calls, emails, or visits back to contractors. This involved our stone guy. Before we headed to our closing, we made a visit to see Rick at Tri-State Stone. The stone on this fireplace was a ledge stone. We liked that stone on the fireplace, but we weren’t sure if there was enough variation in the stone sizes like the Cutface Suede we had picked out for our exterior.

Centurion Cutface Suede Stone

Centurion Cutface Suede Stone

I looked through a bunch of photos on Houzz.com and Google and neither Bill or I liked the Cutface on that big of a fireplace. Here we go again! More changes. 😑

Rick showed us several samples of stone and several binders full of photos of buildings and fireplaces he had designed. He suggested we do a stone border around the fireplace to give it more visual appeal. Can you see the difference?

Curved border

Curved border

Square border

Square border

Of course, Bill preferred the curved one. Me, not so much. Oh, it would look great if our fireplace was curved at the top, but ours is not. And, I do like straight lines! πŸ˜‰ A curved border just wouldn’t look right to me. So, I told Rick to come up with some straight lined border around the fireplace. Here is a photo of the fireplace we are buying.

Enerzone

Enerzone

We want the fireplace stone to match the exteriorΒ wainscoting stone. After looking at the Centurion Ledge we decided we wanted something else. We had picked out Centurion Cutface stone in the color Suede. Centurion Cutface has a lot of jagged edges – hence the name. I’m thinking that dust could collect a lot more on jagged edges. Bill spotted another sample of stone that he liked – Stack. It was in the color Bucks County. Hmmmm. Decisions, decisions. It never ends.

Centurion Suede Cutface Stone

Centurion Suede Cutface Stone

OR

Centurion Bucks County Stack stone

Centurion Bucks County Stack Stone

OR

Centurion Suede Stack Stone

Centurion Suede Stack Stone

I think the Bucks County’s dark stones would match the Bronze trim really well. But, I think it has too much orange color in it. I still like the Suede colors. Plus, it would go well inside and out with those burgundy color stones and the mahogany front door and mahogany cabinets and trim inside. Poor Bill. He says he has no say in colors. πŸ˜₯ And, he is right. The color decisions are mine. πŸ˜€ So, it looks like we will go with the Centurion Suede Stack Stone for the exterior and fireplace. So, it might look something like this but with a straight line stone border around the fireplace:

Enerzone fireplace with Centurion Suede Stack Stone with Mahogany mantle

Enerzone fireplace with Centurion Suede Stack Stone with Mahogany mantel

Now, we just have to see if Rick has a sample of the Centurion Suede Stack stone and we’ll take back the other three samples we have. Check that off the list!

We finally got a long-awaited quote for truss over the garage lumber package from one of the lumber yards on Thursday, too. Bill spent most of Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning comparing that quote to the other one we had. Decisions had to be made which lumber yard we were going to use. When Bill picked up the quote, they handed him our window and exterior door quotes. I looked at them quickly and noticed that both of those quotes were older ones. Oh, no! We don’t want them to order the wrong things! 😯

Friday morning Bill emailed the window/door guy and told him our concerns. He asked if we could come down and meet with him and go over the quote line by line. We met with Joe on Friday mid morning. Thank goodness we did that. We found some errors on the quote – like white interior prefinish on two windows! We are supposed to have bare wood so it can be stained. Plus, Joe was great to suggest which way a window should open in each room. We double-checked everything and he made the changes and printed us a new quote and emailed Jim the revised final one. I struggled with the interior borders of the window screens. They came in white, almond or bare wood. Bill was leaning toward the Almond but I really didn’t like the color against a Mahogany color (which would be our trim color). We may live to regret the decision I finally made, but I went with bare wood and will have our painter stain it along with the window and door trim. I’m sure our painter will regret that decision, too!

The meeting with Joe was a GREAT experience! In fact, I told Jim I wished we could do that with all the major contractors to make sure the correct things were going to be ordered. It’s so much better having the expert going through the order with us line by line. It never hurts to have several people’s eyes looking at the same thing and finding mistakes. Joe said we were doing things the right way. Making all the decisions before construction started.

Friday morning Jim said he was going to go to the County Building Commissioner’s office and see if he could pick up our building permit. He had emailed our plans the night before. I was surprised that we could get a permit that quickly. I gave Jim a signed blank check that morning to pay for the permit. As soon as we had the permit, we could start building! Jim had made arrangements with our foundation guy to pour the footers on Monday, September 23! We were finally going to start building our dream house! By the way, Megan did mention that September the 23rd was her birthday and asked why would her Daddy schedule our build to start on her birthday! πŸ™„ I told her that all the work would probably be done while she was in school so it would not take anything away from her day. So, Happy Birthday, Megan and Birdie (my sister)! They share birthdays.

Bill had given Jim the contact information for the block suppliers, block installers, lumber company, framer, and roofer so Jim could get them scheduled. Best laid plans always seem to change. First of all, Jim found out that we couldn’t get the building permits without a drawing from the septic installer of what the septic would look like on the property. So, that sub is coming this morning to do that. He will give to Jim and Jim will email that to the Building Commissioner on Monday. Jim said he could get the permit after that was submitted. And, since we had rain all day yesterday the foundation guy said it worked better if he started on Tuesday. And, we couldn’t start that without the permit anyway. Now we are shooting for Tuesday, Sept. 24, to pour the footers. Megan’s birthday will not be spoiled by construction after all. πŸ˜‰

Today Jim is staking out our property. He is a professional licensed land and survey engineer. He surveyed all our properties. This morning Bill and I will be assisting Jim in the staking by holding tape measures. I think I’ll be able to manage that. I hope! Bill is also staking off where the septic will be installed so no one will drive over that part of our property. There is something about driving over that portion with heavy machinery that is not good according to Jim. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it has to do with heavily-compacted ground affecting the effectiveness of the septic.

I’ll take pictures today. It’s a gorgeous day to get this project started!

Next up: Hopefully pictures of actual construction of our house.

Hurry Up and Wait, Part III

Throughout all the chaos of the previous week, Bill continued to work on the comparison spreadsheet. After Bill would get done with sections, he asked me to go over them in a more detailed format and note any questions we might have. Bill tweaked his formulas several times to see if we could get a true apples to apples comparison. When he thought he had gone as far as he could go on the spreadsheet, he printed it out. We planned to sit down with Jill and Jim Friday (Aug. 16) evening to go over pros and cons and $$$. Honestly, looking at the spreadsheet, I couldn’t really tell if the bottom line figure gave the true picture or not! I was confused even more. 😦

Friday evening after the kids went to bed, the four of us started talking about figures and comparisons. Bill and Jill are “numbers in their head” people. They are both mechanical engineers and have a way of looking at the big picture and cutting to the chance. It appears that Jim and I are more the “break everything down to very detailed line items” type of people. Yes, Jim is an engineer and is an expert at what he does, but his brain matches mine as we like to see detail detail detail to support the big picture. Jill finally said – forget all the line items. She said you already know what you want in this house and you already know what those things will cost because we had already bid those items out from our very detailed spec document. Obviously, the builder did not look at our very detailed spec document and went about pricing our house the way he was used to pricing out a house. Allowances for our items could be changed. Jill said all we needed to look at were the fixed prices the builder quoted (not allowances) – lumber, painting, roofing labor, siding, trim carpentry. Hmmmm, that’s what Bill was saying all along. πŸ˜•

Jim got out his scratch pad and started to make notes. We looked at the prices the builder quoted for those fixed items and compared only those with our bids we had received. If the builder’s fixed prices were low enough to make up for the majority of his management fee and we plugged in all of our spec figures in the allowances and still came close to the total of bids we had gotten, maybe it would be worth going with the builder. Jim was not charging us any management fee for being our general contractor. There were fees from his family’s construction company (permits, insurance costs, etc.) and those would be included in our cost.

Jim sent an email to the builder that evening with our questions. We wanted to know the specifics of the painting bid – did it cover all the interior and exterior and staining? We wanted to know if the siding bid was for Hardiboard and if it was prefinished Hardi or unfinished and what material the shakes were? We wanted to know if the trim carpenter’s price included the custom fireplace? We also asked if we were to build the house ourselves, would the builder be interested in subbing out painting, siding, trim carpentry, and roofing for the same price. We decided we would wait to make our final decision of using the builder or subbing it out ourselves until we got answers back. However, I did mention that I had lost faith in the builder because he had not looked at our spec document. He even said in our last meeting that he had never worked with clients with that detailed a spec document. I said I wasn’t sure we would ever get what we actually wanted in our house working with the builder. Jim said that was a good thing to bring up. He thought it would be possible, but he felt we would have to spend hours with the builder going through the whole spec document with him and making sure everything was covered. And, it may even raise the price more. Ugghhh.

On Monday (Aug. 19) Jim got a call from the builder and they discussed all the questions Jim had sent him via email. The builder was not interested in subbing out any of the jobs if we built the house ourselves. That night we talked with Jim and decided that the cost of using the builder wasn’t that great of a deal and we still doubted we would get what we wanted in the end. Besides, we felt the builder didn’t still understand us. He had asked Jim if he should schedule a time for us to meet with Fergusons to pick out all our kitchen and bath stuff. If he had even looked at our spec document he would have known we already had all that spec’d out or already purchased! 😑 Jim said he was fine no matter what we decided. However, if he was going to be general contractor, he wanted to get this whole thing started. We told him we wanted to just sub it all out and that the bank was waiting on a contract. And, that was what we needed to work on next.

Trying to stay positive, the pros of the whole builder versus subbing out ourselves thing were:

  • We found we really did have some good bid prices.
  • We were able to get another good painter in the meantime that ended up being cheaper than the builder (which was our lowest bid).
  • We finally found a roofer. Turned out to be the roofer the builder used.
  • Because of what the builder suggested (his background before housebuilding was a painter), we decided to go with unfinished Hardiboard instead of the LP SmartSide siding. And, we could get the colors we wanted by having our painter paint and caulk the Hardi siding and trim.
  • Last, we knew this way we would get the house we really wanted.

Within a couple of days we were able to get a contract worked up and signed and emailed to the bank. It was a great 65th birthday present for me! Signed and dated on August 22. Sherry at the bank told us that because of the fiasco of the application denial, we had to start a new application and start all over! 😯 I asked her if we were still going to be able to keep the 4% interest rate we had locked in two months ago. She chuckled and said yes. I wasn’t sure what that chuckle meant until later. She said she had all the information and she would plug it back into the computer. We scheduled an appointment to sign all the papers again on Friday, August 23, at 10:00 am. Jim asked that when we were there to ask Sherry when we could start scheduling subs and get construction started.

When we got to the bank Sherry got out our file and we started signing all those papers again. When we got to the Good Faith Estimate page, and we were looking through it, I asked Sherry why there was a $7500 charge for points in the 4% interest section. She said, “Whoops, that’s not suppose to be there. They waived that fee!” Bill and I looked at each other and then Sherry said, “Don’t ask!” Turns out Sherry negotiated that we didn’t have to pay any points to keep the 4% since they had messed up our original loan. Originally, we were suppose to pay 1/2 point to get that rate. Interest rates had gone up since our original application. Apparently, the points went way up!!!

Pros for redoing our loan application were:

  • We got to keep our 4% interest rate on the construction loan and didn’t have to pay any points! Thanks, Sherry, for making that happen!
  • We got the construction complete date changed from March 2014 to August 2014.

Sherry said we really needed to wait until the appraisal was back and approved by the bank before we started construction. She said we would probably close on the loan in 2-3 weeks, but as long as the appraisal came in with the right figures, we could start scheduling our subs. She was going to get all the paperwork completed to order the appraisal that afternoon. Apparently, she did because the appraiser came out to the property one day last week. He called Bill to ask some questions about the pole barn and what improvements he had in it. The appraiser also called Jim Friday about the house plans and had a few questions. Bill asked the appraiser when he thought he might be done and if he saw any problems. He said he didn’t foresee any problems in it appraising for what we need and he thought he’d be done the middle of this week. In addition, our loan has gone to underwriting as Sherry has emailed me a couple of times to answer some questions for them. Apparently, underwriters also don’t like to read spec documents or other documents that we provided with the application as all the information was there. πŸ˜‰

So, it is our hope that we can finally start construction on our home sometime in mid September!

HallelujahWe are tweaking some of our bids to make sure all the materials are correct on the quotes before we start ordering. Also, on Weds., August 28, Jim sent out emails to a list of our subs saying their prices looked good and for us to continue going forward, they need to sign the contract which was provided in our original bid set we sent out two months ago. Jim was nice and sent each one another copy. Jim decided we would give subs until tomorrow – the day after Labor Day to get back with him. We’ve received about 1/3 of the information back as of today. It’s like pulling teeth. Thank goodness I went back through the bids as our front door quote had the wrong in-swing and we had the wrong color handle sets for the windows. Those have been corrected. But I think I found another mistake on our bathroom window. It is supposed to be an awning window that opens. But, there is no mention of a screen or handle set with that window. So, I’m afraid what was quoted is a stationary window. It’s always something.

Okay let’s move on . . . Here’s a little funny. Bill has worked hard in the pole barn trying to get it organized. But, he’s gotten delayed because he really wanted to paint his cabinets so they all matched in his new workshop. You have to know that Bill had probably more boxes packed and moved from his old pole barn to here than we had for the house! And, they were full boxes and heavy. Bill’s labeling of his boxes and his inventory were . . . how can I put this and not sound so critical? . . . well, they were not how I would label them. And, apparently not how Marty would have labeled them. Before Marty had to return to college, he was helping Bill move those heavy boxes. Marty went to move a large box that was probably over 50 lbs and struggled to lug it over towards Bill and then asked Bill (sarcastically) to read the label. It was labeled “pencils.” πŸ˜€

Pencil box

Pencil box

Marty said, “There’s more than pencils in this box!” There may have been a few pencils in the box, but here is what it looked like inside:

Inside the pencil box

Inside the pencil box

Why do I bring this up? Well, because Bill was looking for his heat gun to use in helping him clean some of the cabinets he was going to paint. He couldn’t find the heat gun listed on his inventory or labeled on any of his boxes. Bill opened almost all his boxes looking for that heat gun before he found it. So, Bryan, I knew when you were helping your dad pack in the old pole barn you bet half of your dad’s boxes probably wouldn’t be opened again in 20 years. Here’s proof. He opened almost all of them only 2 weeks after they got here! They aren’t unpacked (yet), but at least they’ve been opened!

Opened boxes

Opened boxes

I asked Bill if he found the heat gun in the “pencil” box. πŸ˜† He didn’t. He probably found it in one of these . . .

Sliding door box

Sliding door box

Misc box

Misc box

Clock box

Clock box

Inside clock box (no clock!)

Inside clock box (no visible clock!)

Here are pics of Bill’s cabinets he’s painted.

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That brings you up to date with what is going on. I hope the next time I post I’ll have pictures of us finally breaking ground for the house!

Hurry Up and Wait, Part II

In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive. ~Lee Iacocca

Bill and I were living with a family of two full-time working parents with two full-time school and activity busy children; two dogs (one failing 16-1/2 yr old and one 2-1/2 yr old), a guinea pig, a rat, and two beta fish. In addition to what Bill and I try to contribute to our multigenerational living arrangements, we also had so much going on with housebuilding decisions, Goldie’s health, the movers, and finding storage for all our “stuff.” The only thing we could do was greet each day with a smile and a prayer and plow through it the way we always do . . . by working hard . . . Bill taking over the physical labor work, along with spreadsheet analyzing; me taking care of the family with laundry, cooking, dishes, along with organizing all the housebuilding paperwork and communicating with the bank. These are the roles we know and feel comfortable in.

Wednesday (Aug. 13) morning Bill got a call from the area manager of the moving company to tell us that the three moving vans headed our way were delayed. They had run into stalled traffic on the highway and then one of the drivers became ill and they had to swap out people. We were told to expect the first truck to arrive around 11:00 am. That gave Bill several hours to work on creating a “builder versus our subcontracting bids comparison spreadsheet” and start entering info. I took off for the grocery to buy a variety of drinks and ice for the moving crew. A little before 11:00, Bill went back down to the pole barn to wait for the movers. He called me when the first moving truck arrived and I came down. We decided that we both needed to be down there to help manage where we wanted house and workshop items to be stored in the pole barn and check condition of items as they came off the truck. We had 9 movers and 6 trucks the day we moved out of our home in Central Indiana in early June. This day we had 3 movers and 3 trucks! This was gonna be a long day. But, I had enough cold drinks to satisfy an army!

The first truck arrived about 1-1/2 before the other two trucks made it. One guy started to unload it all. Bill had a lawn chair set up for me to sit and watch.

The first moving truck!

The first moving truck!

As soon as the mover unloaded Bill’s workshop swivel chair, Bill plopped himself down and supervised. The plan was to put house stuff on the Right of the pole barn and workshop stuff on the Left.

Bill in his supervisor chair

Bill in his supervisor chair

The other two trucks arrived and the three movers worked together to start unloading furniture.

Furniture piling up

Furniture piling up

Couch - a place for me to sit and watch!

Couch – a place for me to sit and watch!

It soon became clear that we had to deter from the original plan of house stuff on the Right as some of the furniture Jill wanted to use for her new office space was quickly getting lost in the back of the pole barn. Before long, there was no rhyme or reason of where the movers put the boxes and bins. They put them where they could fit them. Before we knew it, there was no place left to put anything else. 😯

Pole barn filling up

Pole barn filling up

As the afternoon was coming to a close, there was one last item to be moved from the last truck. And, it was gonna be a bear to get down that ramp. It was the huge crate Bill had built to house our large king size canopy bed. Neither one of us had seen how they had moved it from our other house and none of the present movers were part of that moving crew.

Last item on the truck

Last item on the truck

After the movers shuffled a few things around in the pole barn to make room for the crate, they started to manipulate the crate toward the ramp.

Is it gonna fit?

Is it gonna fit?

The wheels were hanging over the ramp! The movers would have to try to steady the crate as it was being pushed and pulled down the ramp without the help of the wheels. It was the scariest thing I ever watched. I was so afraid the crate would fall over on them. Bill was staying close to make sure it wasn’t damaged in the move down the ramp. Of course, I didn’t want him standing so close!

Here it comes

Here it comes

And, they made it!

And, they made it!

The sighs of relief were audible all around! The guys wheeled the crate inside the pole barn and there wasn’t much room to spare. Here is what the pole barn looked like right before we shut the garage doors for the night!

Full pole barn

Full pole barn

It was exhausting being a chair-side supervisor! πŸ˜€ We were wiped out by the time evening rolled around. This was one night I think we planned to have leftovers for dinner.

The next day (Thursday, August 15) was a really tough one. It was the day we said goodbye to our Goldie Girl. This is a favorite pic of her in her better years.

Goldie Girl

Goldie Girl

This is how we want to remember her. We don’t want to remember her how she was the last several months . . . old (almost 17 years old!), confused, anxious, arthritis-ridden in her back legs and hip, out of breath, deaf, eyes swollen from allergies, walking sideways, and having accidents. It’s hard to make a decision to let a part of your family go. My sister Vicki visited the week before and loved on Goldie while she was here. All of my six sisters have a closeness with Goldie Girl. You see, on one of our Sisters Weekends 14 years ago Goldie “lived” with me and my sisters that weekend in our cabin. She was an abandoned dog and the owners of the lake retreat asked if anyone would want to adopt her. You could say Goldie adopted us. My sisters named her Goldie. I was toying with the idea of getting another dog, so I bought a collar and leash and brought her home with me without telling Bill. I had no cell service at the cabin retreat so it was a surprise when I introduced Goldie to Bill. Bill wasn’t too keen on the idea of another dog at the time; however, Goldie quickly won him over and became “his” dog ever since.

Vicki asked if Goldie might have had a stroke because of the walking sideways (off-balance thing) and the confusion. Who knows. Vicki shared I might want to check about dealing with senile dogs online and see what they suggested. After Vicki’s visit, I did check several websites. It appeared that Goldie had almost every symptom of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people). It appeared from what I read that she would continue to just get worse. I called my friend Ann to talk to her about Goldie. Ann is my expert on animals and animal behavior. She asked a lot of questions and finally asked the dreaded one – were we ready to let Goldie go? I told her as much as I didn’t want to, I was ready. I thought Goldie’s quality of life was not good. Then she asked – what about Bill? I told her that I did not think Bill was ready yet. That evening I talked with Bill and we decided we would watch to see if Goldie got any worse, and if she did, we would make a decision then.

So, fast forward a week . . . Bill took Goldie outside Thursday, August 15, morning. As soon as he got back upstairs, Bill looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “It’s time.” I said I would call the vet and see if we could bring her in. Bill told me he could not go to the vet with me. He said when we had to put Rusty down 12 years earlier it was too hard and he just couldn’t go this time . . . especially since it was Goldie. As soon as I started to explain to the vet office what was going on, I started to cry on the phone. They made an appointment for later that morning. When I told Bill he would have to help me get Goldie into the car, I started crying. Then Bill said he would go with me but would not be able to go into the treatment room. The rest was hard. I told Jill what we were going to have to do later that morning and asked if she wanted to tell the grandkids so they could say goodbye. Megan and Jack cried and I felt bad sending them off to school afterwards, but they each and Jill spent time with Goldie before they left.

I stayed with Goldie through to the end. It was peaceful. She was no longer in pain or confused.

Sandy, Bill and Goldie

Sandy, Bill and Goldie

When we got back home Bill immediately went to work with Marty to start moving stuff out of the pole barn into two storage units he had rented down here – one was conditioned and one was unconditioned. This became a theme for Bill and Marty for days and days. And, through this process I would periodically come down and tell Bill what stuff I wanted to keep in the pole barn and what could go to storage. We got out our inventory list and marked off which boxes went where. It was overwhelming. I didn’t handle it well so I stayed away. Poor Bill. It was so hot. He has lost the rest of the weight he wanted to lose and he is fit and trim these days. And me, on the other hand, I don’t like sweating off my weight so I’ve not done as well. πŸ™‚ Besides, I prefer going to the Y for the water aerobics.

Bill has managed to get shelves up in the pole barn and moved wood for the cabinets and other items up on them. He even got one of his peg boards up.

Shelving units

Shelving units

Shelves

Shelves

Peg board

Peg board

Apparently, we did not receive the construction loan application denial letters on Wednesday, August 14. I was mistaken. We received them on Friday, August 16. So you can imagine the state of mind we were in after the last two days we had. I had picked up the kids from the bus stop and grabbed the mail. I called Bill and he took a break from moving stuff and came up to the house. We made a call to our loan originator. She was shocked and knew nothing about it. 😯 She said she would try and find out what was going on. But, it was a Friday and towards the end of the work day. We waited about an hour before Sherry our loan person called us back. She said from what she and her boss could figure out the loan processor had royally messed up. They had used $$ figures that were incorrect AND they were supposed to have held the application until we had a signed contract with a builder AND an appraisal. She said not to worry (yeah, right) and they’d get it all figured out the first of next week.

Bill and I were becoming so frustrating. We knew building a house would bring a lot of stress, but this was more than we had bargained for. It’s not just the housebuilding. It’s everything that goes with it. Moving and storage. And the questions the bank and underwriters have! Getting a loan is not like it used to be. Our credit score is in the Excellent range but we have to explain every little thing that shows up on a credit report. I understand the restrictions. But sometimes you feel like you are being accused of doing something wrong. We had to explain how the movers charged our credit card twice and how our credit card company credited us and charged us four times for the same credit!!! We are talking thousands of dollars. We didn’t do anything wrong – the moving company and credit card company were at fault. But, we got the job of trying to explain it all to the bank. Crazy. Try explaining about charging new appliances on a new credit card, paying it totally off the first bill we get, and then when the store gave us a $100 credit on those appliances a month later – it showed up as a new inquiry for another credit card. Huh???? We didn’t apply for another card. The company just sent us a check for the $100 credit because we haven’t used the credit card again. I keep records of everything. And, believe me, the bank has asked for every bit of it! Word of advice – document everything.

Next up: So what did we decide about building the house – Builder or Subbing it Ourselves? Did the bank get things straightened out?