It's official! On Friday afternoon, we signed papers for our new mortgage!
It was a crazy week where everything happened at the last hour. On Monday we were told by the bank to install a railing for the stairs and to cap the LED string lights in the living room and office. On Tuesday, Mike accomplished this with the builder and took pictures for the bank.
On Wednesday the appraisal came back positive and we were finally given approval by the underwriter for a loan given certain conditions which included property insurance and a certificate of occupancy. This was the first time we heard both items were required for closing. When we originally asked about insurance, it sounded like the current insurance we had for the building process was good enough for coverage.
The bank had never mentioned the Certificate of Occupancy and we did no hear about this until the end of the day on Wednesday. We panicked as the gentleman who handles the inspection only works three days a week and Friday morning would be our only opportunity to meet with him otherwise the closing would have had to be postponed and our construction loan extended and additional money paid out.
We are truly blessed to live in a town that really believes in helping each other. We filed the required Energy Efficiency paperwork on Thursday and spoke with the Planning Office who let us pay for the Certificate of Occupancy that day and promised they would send the zoning inspector out Friday morning so we could meet our closing deadline. Thank you Jennifer Murray for making that happen!
All of Thursday we spent time calling for quotes on property insurance. We decided to go with Allstate who we currently have our vehicles with. They valued our house high enough for us to be able to replace it if need be and also gave us a great rate that could not be beat. We confirmed the insurance on the phone at 5pm only to receive a confirmation e-mail at 9pm which indicated the insurance would not be effective until Saturday. If the insurance was not in place before the closing on Friday, we would not be able to go through with the closing!
So Friday morning was hectic making calls to Allstate to have our insurance made effective immediately AND having the zoning inspector come and view the house. We can't thank John Zwick enough for his availability, for complimenting all the work we've done and for processing the Certificate of Occupancy so quickly!
Our 2pm appointment with the bank was moved to 4pm. The delay was appreciated as Mike had to jump my van for the upteenth time that week and so we used the extra time to stop by Interstate Battery and have a new battery installed. At 4pm, we met with the bank and signed all the paperwork to make our loan official.
I'm happy to say that we have spent the weekend sleeping in and enjoying the freedom of not having the bank holding a deadline over our heads.
Thank you! Thank you to all our dear friends and family who got us through these 18 months with prayers and support.
We are no means done the project, so please continue to stay tuned for updates, but this was a major hurdle for us to get over.
Our next project is installing a temporary ramp to get me in the bottom floor of the house and having the fork lift delivered so we can begin work on the platform lift!
We thought we would have good news to share with you by now but we are still in limbo with the bank and appraiser. The appraiser showed up on Monday and quickly scanned the house and took pictures. We could sense the result might not be good when she started naming everything that was unfinished instead of looking at everything we had accomplished.
After she left, we requested the original appraisal from the bank and to our surprise, the appraiser had included the workshop and appliances in the original appraisal estimate. We were also shocked to see that she only gave a value for the finished 2,777 square feet of $74/sq ft and nothing to the rest of the 2100 square feet. The average cost per square foot for 2 bedroom homes in Vermont is between $125-$150 per square foot.
We have not been given an updated number by the bank, nor have we been given a list of what needs to be completed. We are hoping that all will be ok in the end, but did you ever have a bad feeling about something? We just have this feeling that the appraiser is going to undervalue the house and we will need to file some sort of appeal.
As we used $50,000 of our own money on the house, we are hoping the house appraises high enough for us to take some cash back, otherwise we will not be able to build the workshop. If we can't build the workshop, we can't unload the tractor trailer. If we don't unload the tractor trailer, Mike will not be able to make any money and we will have to buy the trailer back from the person who bought it from us. Hence our perpetual bout of nausea until we hear from the bank.
We actually would consider going to another bank and having a new appraisal done, except for the fact that our construction loan must be paid off by the end of the month. So we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Meanwhile, we can no longer afford the labor, so Mike will need to finish the remaining work himself. Unfortunately, all our tools have decided to fall apart at the 11th hour. So instead of paying for labor this week, it will have to go towards tools!
If all goes well with the bank, we can hopefully start looking towards moving in! Until next time!
The bank appraiser is coming today! Mike worked day and night this weekend installing toilets and sinks, in an attempt to complete the house for the appraiser who is arriving at 1:00 p.m.
The builders are installing the stair treads this morning. We have a few other small details that we were not able to complete, but we have the materials on site and are hoping we have done enough to get the bank's approval.
So please pray for us and send us positive vibes around 1:00 p.m. for a successful appraisal. Thank you!
Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family! I hope you will understand that we did not have time to get cards out this year. We have not even bought each other a gift. As the song says, "All I want for Christmas is"¦a house!" Or at least that's what I've been singing as we draw closer to the finish line.
Many of you have asked if we are in the house yet. We are not. It has been a total of 16 months in the RV and what a year it has been! We've had flooding, record lows and now an ice storm! Last winter we lost our furnace. This year we have frozen and broken all the main water lines to the RV and the hot water tank has gone on the fritz. To say it's been a rough time of it would be an understatement. But we are still plugging along!
With the need to roll the bank loan into a mortgage as soon as possible, we cannot afford to waste time moving into the house. We are out straight - going to bed each night at 1:00 am and waking up at 6:00 am.
The builder did not show up the month of October, so although the bank granted us a three-month extension (ending January 1) we once again felt crunched for time. We have one week left and we have several items left to complete, including: building countertops for the kitchen, master bath and two half-baths; installing sinks and toilets, installing doors, installing baseboard trim, staining and installing stair treads and building a railing for the stairs. We also have about one day's worth of electrical as well.
Again, labor has cost us more than anticipated due to the urgency of completion. We have spent more of our savings than anticipated and have now started to use credit cards (something we wanted to avoid at all costs). We are at the point where we just grin and bear it after each check we write "“ knowing that the end is near (at least for labor).
The bank insists on 100% completion. We have tried to save some time by putting up unstained trim and cheap light fixtures (because we cannot decide on the fly). Once the loan rolls into a mortgage, Mike can take his time to stain the trim and put in proper light fixtures. He also can begin work on the elevator. I can't tell you how good it will feel to not be under the gun anymore with the bank. I'm praying it comes soon!
Thank you to everyone who have supported us this year. We are very blessed to have you in our lives.
And may all of you have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!
I apologize for taking so long for a new update on the progress of the house.
Here is the latest news:
We met with the bank the first week of October and we are happy to report that the bank extended our loan again.
Our wonderful neighbors, Betsy and Ruth, were instrumental in helping us get the entire house primed and painted with multiple coats in less than a week, thanks to their more than generous donation. We cannot thank them for ALL they have done for us, from providing physical labor to making us delicious meals and for supporting us as we struggle to finish this house. Their friendship is a blessing and we are lucky to have them in our lives.
Last week, we bought a fork lift! Why you may ask? Well, you all know how ingenious Mike is when it comes to machines. Elevators cost $40,000 and lifts cost $15,000, both of which are not in our budget. Mike anticipates using the hydraulics and shaft from the pallet stacker as the base for his elevator. He will eventually build a platform, doors and controls. He has experience with this from his nuclear machinist job in South Carolina. The lift is in terrific shape. It is an older model but has been serviced every year by a local business and it looks like new. And the price is right at $850.
Last Friday, I had my final fitting for the van that is being modified for me to drive. I was able to drive the vehicle for the first time. It has been a year and a half since the van was purchased and two years since I obtained my license. It felt great to be on the road again. The van should be delivered in a week or two. It will arrive just in time, as we have been told it will not pass safety in December (too much rust damage) and just this week, the power steering line went.
The majority of the driving will be my responsibility, as the guys working on the vehicle refused to modify the driver's seat for Michael to be able to drive. Mike will have to do this when he has some time.
If you know of someone with an old beater truck for $1-$2k, that will pass safety, please let us know as Mike needs a vehicle to drive. And if it has a plow, even better!
Over the weekend, Michael wired up the furnace and installed the three thermostats for our separate zones in the house. We found these fantastic thermostats at Lowe's that are wi-fi enabled, so I can control the temperature in each zone from my computer. I'm not even moved into the house yet, and I can adjust the temperatures. Very cool.
On Monday, Vermont Gas came and turned on our natural gas. The meter they had originally supplied us with began leaking like a sieve but the crew quickly brought another and installed it. It is so lovely to have heat in the house now.
Mike's friends are coming tomorrow morning to help carry the kitchen cabinets upstairs. Mike plans to begin installing them next week.
We have spent more of our own money than we should have. Labor gets costly.
Luckily, Mike has been requested to build a control panel - another one of his talents! Although it takes away from the building of the house, it is an opportunity to make a few dollars. Hopefully he can split his time as needed.
It is 11 days until the end of the loan and we are just not going to be able to finish the house in time. We still have a list of items that need to be taken care of before the bank will declare the house "complete".
The loan officer was here today and we showed her how much is left to be done. Thankfully, it seems like they will be granting us another extension.
However, we need to get this house done as soon as possible with the mortgage interest rates rising as they are. If we had finished the house in May like we were supposed to, our monthly payment would have been around $1,300. Today, it would be over $1,500. We are worried it will go up again, so we are trying to move quickly.
The good news is that the drywall and taping is finished and it looks awesome. We highly recommend East Shore Drywall for your insulation or drywall needs. They were here every day at 6:00 a.m. and worked hard and did high quality work.
We are going to begin priming the walls this weekend. If you have some time, we invite you over on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 11:00 a.m. to help us with anything from swiffering the walls to remove drywall sanding dust, taping up windows, caulking the walls or rolling on paint.
We could really use your help, so if you have some time this weekend, please drop by! Thanks!
The countdown begins! 30 days until the construction loan deadline. I am very happy to report that the drywallers were able to start earlier than they said. Mike was having his first cup of coffee at 6:30 a.m. last Monday when the installers' truck pulled in the driveway.
In one week, the entire upstairs has been drywalled and the first floor begun. They are flying along and doing a wonderful job. They anticipate completing the project by Wednesday. The taping began on Thursday. I'm hoping most of the upstairs will be taped by the end of the week, so we can start priming the walls and getting the kitchen cabinets up (which arrived this weekend!).
We had some setbacks with our gas piping this week that took up much of Michael's time. The plumber pressurized the system and put a gauge on it. To pass code, the gauge must not lose pressure for 30 minutes. Well, the pipes passed the test, but after leaving the gauge on for 24 hours, the pressure dropped to zero which indicates a leak in the system. Our own common sense told us this wasn't right and when we contacted Vermont Gas, they strongly recommended finding the leaks -- the danger being that any small leak can build up in a wall and cause some pretty bad problems.
Michael went through the piping with a special bubble solution to indicate where the leaks were and we couldn't believe it, he found 14 leaks! Most of them stemmed from pipes not being tightened properly or the pipe dope not being applied correctly to the threads. There were a couple unions that were also not tight enough. It took him 2 1/2 days, but now when the system is pressurized it does not lose one increment of pressure...which I am relieved about!
After we pay for the insulation and drywall, we will have spent all the money loaned to us by the bank. To complete the house, we will need to spend our own money. The labor is taking longer than I had anticipated, so I am going through and creating a new budget to guide us through the month. Due to the delays and need for labor, we anticipated having to spend $30,000 of our own money. Unfortunately, because of this, we cannot afford to put in the concrete car pad and ramps to make the house accessible by wheelchair.
I have been given a quote by a concrete contractor for $20,000. We are still getting bids on the excavation which I anticipate will be between $5,000-$10,000. I am seeking help from the Travis Roy Foundation but the grant money available will only cover a portion of the job. I plan to contact SD Ireland to see if they might be willing to help. I will keep you updated on those efforts. If you have any ideas, I would appreciate your suggestions.
Thank you to those who have recently sent donations. Your support is very much appreciated.
A lot of good work has been happening at 20 Cilley Hill Road. We have had electricians, HVAC, plumbers, siders and insulators at the house for the majority of the past few weeks but we are running out of time.
We have just over one month to complete the project and here's where we are at:
1. The siding in 80% complete with portions of the back and front to be finished and the soffits installed over the prow and a couple places in the
front and back.
2. All the electrical wires have been run. The electrician has a few more days with the control panel. The breakers need to be installed. All the lights and outlets will need to go in after the drywall is hung.
3. The HVAC needs to put in several returns, two more hot air runs, and finish the black piping. He also needs to install the hot water unit and the AC unit.
4. Most of the rough in plumbing drain pipes and venting are in. Several of the rough in hot/cold drops have been installed. We still have to run the main headers and connect them to the hot water tank and cold supply. In addition, we need to purchase a whole house filter and possibly a water softener to remove iron from the water.
5. The fiberglass and spray foam are in for the most part. They missed several spots, so we are trying to get them to come back and finish the job. Also, they need to spray R-50 blown cellulose in the attic once the drywall goes in.
6. The drywall has been delivered, but instead of starting this past Wednesday, they have pushed us back to the end of next week and maybe into the
following week after the holiday. This delay has us quite concerned because we cannot begin to work on finishing the house until this goes in.
7. The downstairs shower unit will be delivered on Tuesday. This is our third attempt at delivery. The previous two times, the unit came damaged from
8. The pre-assembled kitchen and bathroom cabinets will be delivered August 30th and will need to be installed after the drywall goes up, along with the soffit over the cabinets and range hood.
9. The master shower must be concreted and tiled.
10. Railings need to be built and installed on the deck.
11. The walls need to be painted.
12. The window interiors need to be stained and the window trim too before being nailed up.
13. Sinks, toilets and faucets need to be chosen and installed.
14. Flooring must be chosen and installed.
15. Access to the house via ramps and stairs must be done.
16. Chimney pipe must be designed, ordered and installed, along with two gas fireplaces.
As you can see, there is an overwhelming list of things to be done before September 30th. If you have a specialty and some time to donate, I could really use your help.
Caulking Help Needed! If you have time tomorrow, Monday or Tuesday (day or evening), we could really use your help to caulk all the air gaps (per Efficiency Vermont's recommendation). There is a LOT of caulking to be done. Thanks so much!
I need your help! My partner Maria is paralyzed from the shoulders down as the result of a diving accident. She needs a custom house. As a result of being confined to a power wheelchair, the house must be completely accessible. Some of these items include a roll-in shower, track lift, accessible kitchen counters and desk, remote control lighting, automated doors, etc.
Selling my house in SC barely covered the price of the land here in VT. We looked at buying a house or having one built by a contractor but both options were out of our budget.
The only way I could get a house for Maria was to be my own general contractor and build it. I secured a construction loan with an 8-month term. I planned to sub out the major work and do as much as I could myself. In order to save money, we parked an old RV on the property that I modified so I could do Maria's care in it (she needs care every 4 hours).
I knew we were off to a bad start when the processing of the loan took longer than we expected and the money was not released until the last week of September. Rough weather in the fall turned the property into a mud pit. Excavation took considerably longer than originally estimated and the cost ran almost $10K over budget.
Between mud season, hunting season, holidays and some nasty weather, the framer did not get started in earnest until January. In April, the roof was finally put on the building. The exterior still lacks windows, doors and siding. At this point, the construction ground to a halt.
Walking across the floor, I thought it strange that it had "bounce" to it. Engineering software from the manufacturer of the floor joists and beams showed to my dismay that the main beams, floor joists, door headers and window headers are all undersized and do not meet building code. This is a very serious problem and requires major work.
The framer has already exceeded his labor estimate by $10,000. Any contingency money we had set aside, including money for accessibility items, is now being used to purchase materials to bring the house up to code. With no money left in the framing budget for labor, I am doing the work myself. It is slow going!
This has created a new problem. The construction loan runs up at the the end of May. I have requested an extension which the bank is considering and most likely will grant. However they have given me a strong warning to "get it done".
The original budget was based on me doing much of the work after framing (wiring, plumbing, insulation, drywall, trim, kitchen installation, flooring, bathroom tiling, etc.) Working at my present pace (early morning until long into the night), it has become obvious to me there is no way I will complete the house within the bank's time frame and thus risk losing it to the bank. However, there is not enough money in the budget to hire tradesmen for every task in order to complete the house on time. Hence this appeal for help.
Living in the RV on site since last September has been a story of survival. Water lines have frozen and burst. The furnace and propane system have both failed. Sewage has had to be transferred in containers each week from the RV to the septic system across the yard. Even a simple task like filling the RV's tank with water was made difficult by the extremely cold winter temperatures (hoses had to be thawed and used quickly before they froze again).
The last several months have been hard on Maria. The RV is extremely cramped and affords her little room to maneuver her wheelchair. Her leg was broken in an unfortunate accident in January. She has spent much more time in her chair not wanting to be "helpless" in bed while I am outside working on the house. This has led to multiple pressure sores that cause her a great deal of pain. These in turn have now caused me to take more time from the building process in order to care for her additional health needs.
I am doing my best to get the house completed but I can no longer do it by myself. I DESPERATELY NEED YOUR HELP! Areas of need include: donations of money, building materials and skilled labor
Please share this site with friends or anyone you think may be able to help.
We will continue to document the rest of the project here until the house is complete.