Friday, June 6, 2014

Building a House, Month 2 Updates

Hello from Jersey City, NJ!

We made it in last night at 10:00pm. Our amazing friends and hosts, Peggy and Eric, picked us up from the airport AND fed us amazing pizza. We are in heaven!

Brendan is already celebrating at a bachelor party for his friend Doug who marries Maylin on Sunday. I thought I'd take advantage of a quiet morning to write a post on our house updates since it has officially been two months since we decided to build a house. After we had the meeting last month to pick our upgrades and make our selections, the builder drafted a contract with all the listed change orders. The only thing we added from the previous post is a ceiling fan on the patio to help keep air circulating on hot days. The exciting part of seeing the new contract was that we finally knew the actual cost of our house. We came in exactly "on budget" for what we wanted to spend by picking a floor plan that allowed us to have enough financial freedom to add what we wanted, setting a total amount for what we could spend on upgrades, and sticking to it. Now, we have an exact total cost, which is, obviously, necessary for nailing down a home loan.

Before we left town, we met with the builder to go over the change order contract. I did catch a few mistakes--things we wanted that were left off (crown molding) or prices that were originally quoted to us differently (I had all price quotes in writing and brought them to the meeting). The builder corrected all the mistakes, so it was no big deal, but I went over the contract meticulously and with a calculator several times (Brendan is a lot more laid back!). During this meeting, the builder actually pulled out the floor plans for our house and started using different colored highlighters to indicate all electrical, plumbing, and cosmetic changes being made. We had to make some detailed decisions about things like where we wanted certain light switches located.

At the end of the meeting, it was time for us to write a big check for 25% of the total cost of our upgrades. We now have this + the deposit invested, and of course, at this point out lot is still absolutely bare, so it's kind of funny having so much invested already. I decided I don't mind it really, since it breaks up the cost of buying the house into several large payments instead of one huge one. We've been building our savings for a year a half, and though it did feel weird to withdrawal from it, I reminded myself that this is what we were saving for in the first place!

Our builder seemed optimistic that they could break ground and begin underground plumbing by June 7th (as in, tomorrow), which would mean our house would be finished by November. Brendan and I are not getting our hopes up in any way though because a lot of it depends on factors that are outside of anyone's control (like the city approving all the needed permits and weather, etc.) We're still going with the estimate of January 2015, and we will be happy if it isn't even later than that (we have March in mind as a worse case scenario). Since our home is part of a larger project, part of the wait is the simple fact that about 70 families purchased homes in this community before we did, and we are "in line" so to speak.

The day before we left town, I did drive by our lot and capture a photo of it:

The lot on May 31, 2014

While our own lot is still empty, it is interesting to note all of the progress happening in the longer does our lot appear to be in the middle of nowhere:

The lot on April 6, 2014

If we get any progress updates from Midland while we're gone, we'll do some updates, and hopefully, there will be at least some progress. We were told we may come back to framing, but Brendan said he'd be happy to come back to foundation. I guess my fear is that we'll come back to nothing!! But Brendan says it's not going to be that far behind.

My plans for today include visiting the 9/11 memorial and museum this afternoon. I'm glad I checked online before leaving the apartment because I had been under the impression that I could just show up, but that is not the case. When I purchased my ticket this morning at 8:00am, the earliest available time was 2:30pm. Tonight, we are all going to a concert...on a boat! I'm very, very excited.

TGIF everyone!
<3 S&B (we are staying with a cat named Casey, who is keeping me company today...I'm already missing L&Z who turned 6 years old yesterday! In honor of their birthday, here is a link to their adoption story.)

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