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. 😕

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. 😉

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.” 😀

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. 😆 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! 😀 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. 🙂 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?