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2001 -- Where's the House?

Look, it's yet another year! This one shows some promise. We already decided on a contractor (again, we interviewed a couple). We went with the one recommended by the architect. He's also been around a long time, has a great reputation, and does really good work. His crew also does most of the carpentry. Fewer subs. He's just waiting for the word.

The completed plans go into the city for final review for a building permit. Little did we know, the city no longer does plan checking in-house. Plan checking is where someone counts all of the outlets and windows and doors and such to make sure everything conforms to code. The plans are sent to some outside firm.

It's March, what happened to the plans? I call the architect, he calls the city. No one seems to know where they are. They haven't come back from plan check. The builder goes in for other business and asks to see our file. Gee, look, right there, OUR PLANS! Apparently after the plan checker finished he sent the plans TO THE LOT! Not the city, not our house, but to the lot. OK, mental note, file a change of address form at the post office so this doesn't happen again. It would have been nice if the person at the building department at least glanced at our file before declaring the plans weren't back yet.

The letter from the checker ran 4 pages and listed 60 problems. The answers to 30 were on the plans, right where they should have been. Even I could see that. One was a spelling error. My personal favorite was ``it must be stated that the spacing between balusters must be such that a 4'' diameter sphere cannot pass through.'' OK, first this is part of the building code, and the plans state right on front that everything will conform to the building code even if not explicitly stated. I wanted to send back a few questions about this. Specifically, ``What's the composition of the sphere? How much force is being used to push it through the balusters?'' I would expect a Nurf ball being pushed by a Hum-Vee would make it through my balusters. Who knows? The architect talked me out my questions. He took the plans, made the modifications, and sent them back. Of course, the civil, structural, and soils engineers all had to sign off on it too. Signatures are not cheap.

April. We meet with the builder. A couple of minor issues. The stock market has crashed. Before, we could do anything, now we need to think about cutting back. Our original plans called for plaster walls. That's $40,000 extra. Gone. We wanted radiant floor heat (remember that?) but also needed something to move air through the house. $5,000 - $20,000 extra. Gone. Finally, the balusters and railings called for in the plan ran $200/foot for a total of about $70,000. I think I could probably buy a lathe and turn the balusters for less than that. We're working on this. Oh, and raising the lot? That'll be a mere $150,000.

After 3 short years it's starting to look like we're going to build a house, so I start looking for loans. We're both busy at work so I just call a loan broker and she finds what we need. So far so good. We know what the house will cost, we have an idea what it will be worth. Housing prices have sky-rocketed since we started this. The average house is now going for $500,000 and in the area we're building, $600,000 is a minimum. We've got a 5 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath house with two car garage and one car covered carport. We think it should appraise fairly high. The appraisal comes back some $200,000 under what we expect. The appraiser somehow missed 1 bedroom and 1 bath, and considered the living room, dining room, and kitchen as 1 room. I guess he had never seen pocket doors on a plan before because after a while I noticed that he combined all rooms separated by one.

The loan paperwork proceeds and we think nothing more of it. It's now May and we've a building permit! A real, live building permit suitable for framing! Unfortunately the loan hasn't gone through, so we need to pull money from our line of credit to pay for it, but it's here! We're told the loan will be ready by the end of the month, and tell our Bob to start the last week in May (29 May).

17 May : Call from the title company. There's no evidence that we paid off the loan on the lot. Two years earlier we paid off the lot loan with a loan from another property to save a bit of interest. Apparently this minor detail was never recorded. Oops. The title company will look into it.
29 May : The work has begun! The concrete is being removed.


30 May : uh-oh! I get a call from the title company. There's no record that we actually paid off the lot and we cannot get our loan until we get the evidence. Call the original lender, and it's going to be 3 - 4 weeks. Need money. Now. Panic.

late morning : OK, I go out to the branch office of the bank that held the original loan. Very helpful person calls down to the loan office. I'm told worst case they need to get the paperwork from storage (two weeks or so). Argh!

early afternoon : Get a call from the bank that has our construction loan & am told it is funded. What???!!! I thought it couldn't be funded. Am told yep, it really is funded. We'll receive paperwork the following week.

late afternoon : three different calls from the bank that has the original loan saying all paperwork is complete and we'll get a copy in a few days. call from the title company telling me the loan is funded, but we really need to make sure the payoff of the original loan is recorded. panic over. life good.
31 May : Things are proceeding. We have a porta-potty on the lot (Lynn is so excited)! The ditch for the main retaining wall is looking, well, like a ditch. Something that looks suspiciously like a gas pipe has been found. The plan is to work around it as long as possible. There was also a water pipe. This was found when the steam shovel cut through it. Oops.
5 June : The porta-pottie's final resting place

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