POST 8 What goes up, must come down

We received the first run of architectural drawings today. Not everything, just the main level and the site plan.Wow! The house is starting to become real. All the sketches we have been working on for months have blossomed under the architects hand and  Computer Assisted Design company into walls and windows and fixtures and pergolas.

Of course there are things that we want to change. There are concepts that looked OK on the rough draft but don’t work well when really drawn out. The site plan forces us to address things we have never really discussed, such as the location and shape of the walk between the front door and the driveway. That is something that sounds simple but can affect the street appeal of the whole project. And we are in the process of hiring an interior designer to finalize the interior layout. How do we deal with a tricky wall in the bedroom? What is the best length for a cabinet run in the kitchen.

Today is not without its frustration. It seems that every time I finish a case in the lab, there is another call from the banker. Things that were promised evaporate, and for our financing we may be on Plan C, or maybe it is D. As long as it is not “D” for desperation.


POST 7 Reflections of My Mind

August 9 and this blog is reasonably up to date. Financial arrangements are still being finalized, and we are having many back and forths with the architect on the design  plans. What we call a two-story home he calls a ranch with a second level. That philosophical difference has an effect on the vision, but I think we will all arrive at the same place.

A couple of things have made us think this week. First, someone we know who works in the design trade, along with her husband has decided to cancel plans to construct a new house. Runaways cost proved the undoing. We realize we will have to make some concessions to keep OUR project from turning into the beast that broke our bank. But we still want to do this project with style.

The second was a reunion with an old friend and mentor. He has lived his life for the past year knowing he has advanced lung cancer. He is doing everything he can to combat the disease, but has barely paused in his wonderful career of educating and promoting necessary change. With his lovely wife at his side, he travels the country, writes books and journal articles, and creates touching blog entries. He reminds us that while we will do things with style, we must also do them with grace.

POST 6 Schoooools out for summer

Things we have learned since Father’s Day:

Purchase and Financial: Pre-approval, HELOC, Asset Based Loan, Long Term Lock, Escrow, Buy down, Sending Lots of Documentation, Resending Lots of Documentation, Managers Approval, “We want to be your bank”, Read the Fine Print, Patience is a Virtue.

Construction and Design: Zip Siding, Soil Testing, Topographic survey, Muntins, Symmetry, Balance, Hold back, Ceiling Dome, Microsoft Paint, Pseudo-Cedar, Specifications, Architectural Shingles, Board and Batten, Top-loaders, Knock-offs,  “We want to build your house”, Read the Fine Print, Patience is a Virtue.

POST 5 Well, my mind is goin’ through them changes…

By the time I arrived home that evening I had cancelled two deals, one to buy, one to sell.  It was time to relax, enjoy the summer, watch the White Sox  Yeah, right!

Barb claims it took me less than  a  day before I was sending her MLS listings. I contend it was at least a day or two longer! No matter whose recollection is correct, we were looking again, but there just didn’t seem to be anything on our radar that met our wants and needs. And by now, our front and back gardens were in full bloom. And through Barb’s hard work on the Heron’s Landing Board and Landscaping Committee, all the common areas in our subdivision were looking the best they ever had. Who could think of moving away?

By now it is the Friday before Father’s Day. We heard from MW, the realtor/builder from the Thorngate site. “I just want to let you know, the lot is going to go back on listing next week, but maybe you want to make an offer before it does?”

Next day, Saturday. Barb and I talk a bit before her hair appointment, Barb growing frustrated. “I can’t take this indecision, this changing every day,” she tells me. I respond that I might make some calls. By the time Barb comes home, looking lovely of course, I have crossed the Rubicon, been on the phone with the sellers three times,  and negotiated a new, lower,  price for the lot. We had come full circle, and we were getting very very dizzy. No wonder I had a bout of vertigo!

POST 4 I understand about indecision, but I don’t care if I get behind…..Part 3

I made a call to our realtor on the Lincolnshire deal. With apologies, I explained that our attorney would be drafting a letter informing the sellers that due to the Dryvit issues we would be retracting our offer. I don’t think she was happy with us, and I am sure the sellers and their agent weren’t either, but we couldn’t buy a home we wouldn’t be happy with. After all. we still loved our current home.

And then a surprise call. The realtor for the Thorngate lot called to say the lot was going off contract, and he would not object to our making an offer, even though he would not get a commission, potentially saving us quite a bit on the lot purchase. Barb and I talked it over. We called the sellers directly while standing in a parking lot, and within a few minutes we had an oral agreement to purchase the lot in Thorngate. One more coincidence, the sellers attorney was the brother of a former classmate of mine.  Small world once again.

But we had a new dilemma. We knew designing and building a house would be at least a year long project. Should we accept the offer on our home, with a closing in 6 weeks or so, and rent for a year? The offer was a good one, maybe better than anything we would get down the line. Or should we stay in our current house while we built, and take our chances on selling in 2016. We looked at it from every angle; financial, convenience, emotional. We talked with a few trusted friends and relatives. And decided. Yes, we would sell now, move and rent for a year.

We arranged with the realtor with the great buyer to come to our home on Tuesday with the contract, while we busied ourselves and the realtors assistant looking for rentals.

The Tuesday afternoon after Mother’s Day. I am about to leave my lab and head for home. Barb calls from her car to tell me about her day, and we have a long cell to cell talk. In that call, the world’s axis flipped again, and by the time we hung up we had decided not to sell. What’s more, we had decided not to buy the lot!  We were going to stay put, enjoy our home, and not think about moving for another five to ten years. My last remark to Barb? “I feel like we just avoided the worst mistake in our lives! I feel like I can breathe again.” I picked up some flowers for Barb from Mariano’s, just in case she felt differently about the latest flip flop!

POST 3 I understand about indecision, but I don’t care if I get behind…..Part 2

There we were, with two viable choices, assuming we really wanted to do anything at all. And that get a move on train seemed to be rolling out of the station…

Barb called the realtor for the Thorngate lot.  He explained he was also a builder, and would be happy to sell us the lot AND build us a home.  The next day that conversation was followed by a bit of b’sherit. Do you know about b’sherit? A Yiddish word for destiny, fate, unexplained things happening, but for a reason. Barb playing tennis, talking to a new opponent, mentioning the lot in Thorngate.  Her opponent stopped, looked across the net, and said “I own that lot!”  It felt like destiny, but the lot was a bit pricy, and building is never cheap.

So we dragged Stan our kitchen man to the existing home in Lincolnshire. “Yes”, he said,”I can update this kitchen just the way you want it.”  And walking around outside we were impressed by the lovely landscaping, and a nature preserve down the block. That night in early May we made an offer. A little give here, a little take there, and a day or two later we had a deal with the owners. But we did include a clause to have the condition of the Dryvit checked out. We had heard more than one horror story about that surface.

Buying in Lincolnshire meant selling in Long Grove. We decided to interview two or three realtors before choosing one to list our home. On a Tuesday evening, the first realtor walked our home and said “This house is beautiful. You don’t need to sign a contract with me, but I can sell your house tonight at a good price if you let me bring over a couple I am working with.” In shock, we told her to go ahead. Within an hour, a lovely couple came to our door. Looking for a new home for their family of five, interested in our school district, and in a hurry to move, they seemed the perfect fit. Thursday evening they were back with the whole family, and by the end of the night, we had an offer from them to buy our house.  Quick work! We explained we would not accept the offer until the Lincolnshire house had passed its’ Dryvit inspection.

Several days before Mother’s Day, the report came in. Some damage, some rot. Repairable, but a sign that significant ongoing maintenance would be an issue. Barb and I took one more thoughtful drive through the Lincolnshire neighborhood and decided to withdraw our offer. A lovely home, but it was not to be ours.

Was it time for b’sherit?