Melissa Bahen

Building a Dream House: Stops and Starts

Hi! I’m Melissa. I write about food, family, and farm life at Lulu the Baker. My family and I are about to fulfill one of those good, old-fashioned life-long dreams: we’re building our Dream House.

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It has been six weeks since my last post about the Dream House, and lots has happened…and lots has not happened. When I started this series, I intended it to be a very straightforward, realistic behind-the-scenes look at building a house from start to finish–the good, the bad, and the ugly, so to speak. Unfortunately, this six week stint started out with more of the bad and the ugly than we would have liked. Remember back in October when we had to put all work on the Dream House on hold while we resolved some financing issues with the bank? It was mostly just a result of the bank taking forever to get things done and being surprisingly unprofessional, and then the problem seemed to resolve and we moved on. In the six months between then and the middle of April, we’ve been continuing to work with the bank on financing, all the while believing that everything was working just fine, that things were just taking a little time. Every week when my husband would call, he would find out that the bank needed another file sent over, or another paper signed, or another check for another inspection. It was really quite maddening, but we figured we’d eventually reach the end and be good to go. In the meantime, we paid for everything out of pocket–all that cement, all that excavation work–with the understanding that we’d be reimbursed once the papers were signed. And then, in the middle of April, the bank called to say that they were ready for us to sign the final paperwork, but they also let us know that they would be financing a significant percentage less than we had agreed on. The difference between the original loan estimate from the bank and the new one was enough that we just couldn’t make it work, especially with our savings depleted. So, once again, we put a hold on Dream House work. That same week, our contractor, one of the nicest, hardest working men we know, had to deal with some really scary, serious health issues. Everything was just sad and grey.

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There was a bright spot during all of this, and that was my father-in-law. I mentioned last month that my father-in-law is an electrician/math teacher, and that he would be doing all of our electrical work, which didn’t cost us anything, thank goodness. The timing happened to be just perfect to allow him to do all of the wiring and installation during this slow-down, and lots of the work we were expecting to happen this month (drywall and bead board, for example) couldn’t be done until the electrical work was finished anyway. We have our electrical inspection scheduled for the end of this week, and then we should be ready to move on to the next step!

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Thankfully, nothing lasts forever, even lame financing frustrations. Within minutes of the first bank calling us with that disappointing news, my husband had spoken with two other banks and begun the process of getting financing through them. They’ve been really great about speeding the process along for us, and we’re just waiting to hear from the underwriters before we sign final paperwork. And now that things are back on track, there’s been a flurry of activity at the Dream House once again!

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Within the past two weeks, we’ve finished the electrical work and installed the furnace, the fireplace, the windows, the skylights, the exterior doors (did you see the Dutch doors?!), the roof, and the siding. We’ve ordered gooseneck barn lights to go on the front of the garage and over each exterior door, picked out stone for the garage, the back patio, and the fireplace, and met with the cabinet maker to figure out the layout and design for the kitchen cabinetry.

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We’re excited to have all of that progress we were expecting in May to happen in June: insulation and drywall, interior paint, pretty light fixtures, and maybe a few appliances! We really feel like the end of this project is in sight, which is a little surreal after all these years. Despite the frustrations and slow-downs, we’re planning on moving in before Labor Day. When we walk through the house, even though we’re still in the stud and 2×4 stage, we can imagine what it will be like in a few months, with walls and doors and paint and furniture. And lots of happiness.

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