Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let the [Construction] Games Begin

We closed on our construction loan! We are officially building a house! 

What a long road this process has been. We first met the builders more than two years ago to tour one of their houses and learn about their process (when we only had $84 in our account called "The Dream"). 

I had lots of trepidation about the crime rates in the area where we bought the land (I still get daily updates from SpotCrime), but everything about this move feels so right. I keep meeting more and more awesome families in the neighborhood, and I am over-the-moon excited that Henry will get to grow up on a 1/2-acre of land on a creek (even if the creek has been rumored to harbor some shady activity).

My dear friend recently linked to an article about "values-based spending," and building this house feels aligned with what kind of life Matt and I want to live. Of course it's not perfectly aligned with our values; it's not as eco-friendly to build new as it is to renovate, and if we could live in a co-housing community in Austin we would. But we'll continue to work toward those values as much as possible. For example, it's highly likely that we'll be able to produce as much energy as we consume, once we're able to afford solar panels. 

It's not the "building the house" part that is aligned with the kind of life Matt and I want to live. We want to live in a house that looks out over nature with tons of natural light with room for an orchard, exploration, garden, outdoor entertaining--in a neighborhood close to where we work and where Henry will go to school, with a mortgage that will allow us to drop down to one income if necessary. Building was the option that made all of that possible.

When I'm honest with myself about what I really want and what makes me happy, an aesthetically nurturing environment comes to the top of the list. I wish I weren't so sensitive to the low ceilings, wall-to-wall stained carpet, and window-scarcity of our current ranch rental, but I am. I miss the light and wood of our Houston bungalow, and I'm eager to be back in an environment that lifts my soul day in and day out. (But, Rental House, I am thankful that we found you and that you give us easy access to the park every single day. I don't mean to sound ungrateful. You have been a good house to us.)

And when I'm living in a home that makes me happy, I'm more motivated to invite others over and nurture connections and fun. It's not that an aesthetically pleasing space is a prerequisite for connection and fun (not at all!); I'm just being honest with myself about how I feel and what I want.

That's what this post is really about; it's about the idea of figuring out what we really want and then making it happens for ourselves and our families.  

I'm eager to create our little urban homestead (officially called "The Blackland Prairie House," since it's situated in the Texas Blackland Prairie--according to the GeoTech surveyor).

The founder/owner of the building company joined us at the closing, and he said he's expecting the house to only take six to eight months from start to finish (since they've already built the house two other times in Austin). If it gets built in that time frame, then it's highly likely that we'll be moved in before the baby arrives!

On the downside, we will only have a short amount of time to save up the money we're going to need for the permanent closing. We're continuing to live according to our very strict budget, and it's allowing us to bank my entire part-time salary every month. Hopefully I'll make some extra income when my wedding book is out. Not only do we have to save for the downpayment + closing costs for the permanent loan, we also have to save up for the appliances since we had to take those out of the budget to fit within our appraisal. 

But that's okay. We'll just have to work really hard to make it work. 

What are you making happen in your own lives? Or what are you thinking about making happen in your own lives? Please share! I'm rooting for you.

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BB said...

This is a lot very quickly. You can do it! This might be the time to borrow money, even with methods you would never otherwise consider like a car title loan (at your bank!). You'll be able to roll it into the mortgage quickly when you drop down to 20% down, and you need to just get it moving now.

Try not to get emotionally invested in moving in before the baby. All it takes is a construction mishap or a problem sourcing or two weeks of rain and that's out.

The appliances are a place for you to be frugal and to go with used options and upgrade over time. My best appliance purchase was a used $100 chest freezer which saved my sanity with little ones underfoot. You might find you don't even want a fence if you really do want to get to know your neighbors.

I'm glad to see that your thinking has evolved and you have realized that this choice is at the cost of other values. As a big dreamer, you constantly have to make choices like this, and when the rubber hits the road it is not easy to practice all your values.

Anthropolochic said...

I'm so happy for you. Congrats!! Re: eco-friendly newly built houses - my parents just built an eco-friendly house. The water is heated by recycled air, the house installations are formaldehyde-free, they've used gravel from local construction for various gravel needs, they installed water-efficient toilets, some of the cabinet installations are actually reworked furniture etc, the house is heated by passive solar (admittedly, the latter is hard to do with a building company, but the rest could applied to any house being built). They did on a pretty tight budget. I've left out most of the details, I'm sure. If you want to shoot me a line, I can give you some info.. Their house sounds very similar to some of the plans you have outlined here - including the property (although, their property is admittedly smaller).

In anycase, I'm happy to hear that everything is rolling. The next 10 months are going to be pretty amazing for you. You've worked hard for it. You totally deserve it.

Isa said...

Yay! I'm happy that you're getting things rolling--and hopeful that I'll be in the same boat soon, too! We're in the planning stage of renovating our attic--adding three bedrooms and a bathroom to the top half of our two-flat building. It'll more than double our living space and let us have the room to keep building our family while still staying in our neighborhood, keeping our tenants, and not having to say goodbye to our 125 year old house (which we love). I just need to get the bank to follow through with the loan they promised and we'll be good to go! :)

Colleen said...

Congrats!! It's funny but we're in the same boat. I'm 9 weeks pregnant and we've just started building our home. They should be pouring the concrete for our basement next week. Like you, we're on a tight schedule to get the house built before the baby is born. I'm so happy that I can read about someone going through the same thing and I won't feel alone. I wish you the very best of luck! I can't wait to hear how your experience go.

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