Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lost Month

So a whole month has went by without any progress unfortunately.  Soon after my last post within the next day or so, the graders excavated out the basement, and we had the surveyors come out and stake the house for the foundation.  And then the stakes have just been sitting there for about 4 weeks.  Unfortunately even though I gave them 2 weeks notice like they told me they needed we have now been waiting for a month and still have no idea when they are going to get out there.  I am beyond frustrated.  We also found out in the mean time that our soil on the back 1/3 portion of our house will be sitting on poor soil and we will need a caisson foundation system back there which adds another $4k or so to our already out of control budget and we haven't even started the house yet :(  Our graders whom I love and they have been the absolute best people to work with told us that if this was their house they would not put footers on that soil back there.  But they were no expert and to have someone check it out.  We had to hire a soil engineer to come out and test the soil and mark up what he recommended that we do and then give McGee Brothers all of his information for them to coordinate since he will need to be present for the foundation work now.

Last week over the fourth of July we went up to Justin's parents' mountain house for the annual cousin camp.  The kids had a ton of fun and still haven't recovered from staying up late every night.  We did a lot of fun things.  Visited a lot of nearby parks, went on a hike and saw wild horses and ate a lot of food!  It was a good distraction from the house. I was hoping to have foundation in before we even went but that definitely did not happen.

At this point I am pretty depressed.  I have no idea how to rush them along without bothering them too much and making them mad.  I contact them about 1-2x a week with some reason to find out what is going on.  Ask about when they will make it out to us and then get no firm date and maybe next week.  This has been going on 4 weeks now.  I know the weather has not been cooperative, but I feel they should have finished ours by now.

Our only progress in 1 month has been to have a porta potty delivered (that noone is using so that was a waste of money) and our electrician installed our temporary power pole.  However Duke has not gotten around to hooking it up and who knows when that will be.

I know this is a very depressing post but that is pretty much my current mood.  Our loan is only a 9 month construction loan and we are now already over a month into it and haven't even started building the house!  I just hope things will pick up from here once the foundation goes in.  And hopefully no more major problems.  Getting the lot prepared and foundation adjusted to handle our lot has already added on about 30k extra than what we were originally expecting from being told from previous contractors etc.  But of course no one can really know until you get in there.  One blessing has been everything working out the way that it has that we ended up not using a contractor.  Even though it has and will be extremely stressful, If we still had a contractor we were having to pay at this point we would just have to walk away b/c this house would have just been too much.  And then I'd really be depressed! lol.  We've tried to go through the budget line by line cutting out whatever we can and downgrading the interior to make up for some of the cost.  So hopefully the major issues will be behind us once we get the foundation settled and start the framing which is where I can see any other major issues arising.  I'm just hoping to get through both of those.  Once they are both finished I feel like my problems will not be quote as major! Knock on wood...

So with that we're just existing.  I feel like my life is in limbo.  Justin and I are currently living in the garage at my mom's house, while the kids took the two spare bedrooms.  So far it hasn't been too bad, but it is starting to get a bit hot at night.  We have two large fans that blow on us but luckily last night was the first night that it has been too bad.  Hopefully we just have to survive another month or 2 and then it will start cooling down again.  I'm very grateful to my mom for allowing us to stay with her, especially since at this point there is no way we could afford a rental with all the extra costs that have arose with our house.  But it is still so hard to not have my own space or any of my stuff.  We basically packed up most everything except our clothes into a storage unit.  We just keep telling ourselves that this one horrible year of our lives will all hopefully be worth it in the long run.  We just need to maintain our sanity while we do it! lol.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The lot has been cleared!

So it was hard to try and get before photos, but below kind of gives you an idea of how thick the brush was.  There were a few large trees that had to come down as well, but we tried to save what we could that wouldn't interfere with our septic.  The grading and septic of our lot has been a major stress factor.  Our lot came with a septic easement attached to the neighbors property.  There has been several items that caused issues but the main one was just that dealing with the neighbor has been very awkward and hard.  He was upset that we had to cut down many of his trees to be able to install the septic field in the future and there seems to always be hidden costs that keep popping up. For instance we most recently just discovered a gas line that will need to be moved and of course these things just keep adding up.

We finally got the lot cleared and had a silt fence installed this past week.  We were about to begin the basement excavation when another huge hurdle was made aware.  There is a current old abandoned foundation that was built on the property and will need to be demolished (more $ of course)  We knew about that, but what we didn't realize was that due to setbacks and being restricted by the septic field of the house and the drop off in the back of the lot, we are forced to put the house in the existing cavity of the old foundation.  That is fine for the basement portion of the house, but unfortunately the garage needs to be raised up to the first floor level and it is going to cost close to $12,000 extra what we were planning for the excavation portion of the build.  So there goes a huge portion of our budget.  Basically our entire contingency that we will need to try and save in other places.  Not that we can ever make up that much but at least try and save a few thousand or so in other places.  We are meeting our graders out there again this weekend to try and come up with the most affordable solution, but unfortunately none of the options are very cheap.

Our main hope is to make it through the foundation and framing stage and then the worst part will be behind us and we really feel we can manage well from that point on.  The foundation will probably be the most stressful of all since it is the most important that it is done right. We do really like our graders though and trust them to do a good job.  We found a good reputable concrete company to pour the basement walls and concrete footers as well.  Hopefully we can make it through this without too many issues and will have our forever home.  And pray that our inspections will go well!

Below is a picture of the lot before it was cleared.  I will take pictures of the cleared portion this weekend:

We moved...Again!

So I just realized it has been about a year and a half since I last posted.  It would take me way too long to try and recap everything that has happened since then but I will try and touch base on the major things.  Adeline is now almost 2 years old!  Up until about 12 months she remained a wonderful baby.  She still is not bad, just not super laid back like she used to be.  She is pretty stubborn and likes things her way!  She also desperately wants to be able to do everything the older kids can.  Kaitlyn graduated the 1st grade and did really well.  Her test scores for reading were in the 99% and her math was 92% (of other kids in the county and state.)  Brayden and Allie both started and finished preschool at a new school near our house. Brayden will start kindergarten in the fall.  I can't believe it!  They both enjoyed school and both were very different than Kaitlyn.  Kaitlyn was always such a teachers pet and rule follower.  Brayden apparently does his own thing and talks a lot more to his friends even when he is probably not supposed to.  I observe him in Primary at church as well and I joke that he seems to be the worst kid in there!  He just wont sit still or pay attention.  So we may have more challenges with him in kindergarten.  Allie is still my most difficult child.  She is either super sweet and loving or very angry and throwing major tantrums.  It's either one extreme or the other.  Her teachers told me that she is a drama queen.  For instance one day she fell on the playground and hurt herself (not badly).  Just a bump.  Anyway, her teacher asked her after a little while if she was going to be ok and she said "NO! I'll never be ok EVER again!!"  Oh goodness!  It's so funny how all of them have such individual personalities.

So in major news, we are building a new house. Yes I realize we just moved into a new house  from my last few posts but a variety of reasons made me want to move again.  Our old house was in Indian Land.  While we were very happy with the schools, I was not thrilled about the distance our house was to the schools.  The elementary school was not far, about 5 miles, but the middle and High school can take about 30 minutes to get to and the bus routes can take over an hour.  When we bought we were mostly focused on elementary so it wasn't such a huge deal, but as time went on, the county passed a new school bond to build a new high school.  Most all of the growth of Indian Land is in the north but unfortunately land is also much more expensive the closer to Charlotte you got.  Our house was on the border of both Pineville and Fort Mill.  I could hear Nation's Fords's football games from my house, but we had to travel 30 minutes one way.  So we waited and waited to hear where the new school would be and come to find out it was almost 7 miles further than the current high school.  And it was still going to be the only high school!  There were several other reasons as well, but that kind of put me over the edge.  We realized that we just are not good neighborhood people.  We hate having to have a perfect yard and we hate not being able to even a plant a tree in our yard without permission.  I think in the 18 months we lived in our house we got at least 8 citations for certain things such as weeds, bare spots in yard, etc.  The house itself was fine and worked for our family but once we moved in, I realized there was no storage!  Not even an attic.  The entire upstairs did not even have a linen closet.  We had no place to store towels, sheets, or board games.  That drove me crazy as well, b/c I like to have a place for all that kind of stuff.  Well one day Justin got an email about a lot that had popped up on the market in Fort Mill.  We made an offer within 2 days on the market and it was accepted and we closed on the lot last November.  It was perfect for us, (at least we hoped).  It was 1.8 acres on a wooded lot that bordered the Sugar Creek in a quiet established neighborhood on a cul-de-sac with NO HOA!  I fell in love immediately.  We could have chickens, the kids could run and explore the huge wooded lot!  It was perfect and what we felt a really good price compared to other comparable lots in Fort Mill that were not near as nice.  We sat on the lot for about 6 months before we finally decided we were ready to build.  We listed our Indian Land house on the market and it sold within 2 days with 3 full price offers!  It was amazing!

However, at that time we thought we were building a house with a contractor.   After buying the land we got several different quotes from various builders and contractors that were all WAY over our budget.  We knew a friend from church who was a contractor and got a quote from him and ended up deciding to go with him.  Unfortunately the house price once all the final numbers came in was still out of our budget.  At that point we were devastated and had to tell our contractor that we were so sorry, but we just couldn't financially continue on with the house.  Which brings us to now...We are building the house ourselves!  I am acting as the general contractor!  It is going to be horrible and super stressful and time consuming but it was the only way we could still build our house and we were already homeless since our house had sold!  So we are now living with my mom who opened her house up to us again and we will be here for the next 9 months.  It definitely has it's challenges, but we are hopeful that one difficult year of our life will be well worth it in the long run.

So I set out to get quotes and had a new found appreciation for our former contractor and the time involved in trying to obtain them all!  It took my months just to gather all my quotes and put them together.  I had to seek out my own subcontractors, and the hardest part was finding the loan!  I must have called 40 different banks and credit unions before I finally happened upon this small bank in Rock Hill that was our saving grace to allow us to be owner builders without a contractor!  I designed and drew the house myself and then paid to have it engineered and stamped.  We filed for permits and closed on our loan today!  We currently have 9 months to build the house before our loan expires!  Pray for us that it happens!  I can't even being to explain how stressful this whole situation is already and will be but I'm hoping and praying that we can do it!  We're already in way to deep to back out now! lol!