the one about the tree house: bidding, demo, getting the loan

I promised I would try to keep an updated account of the house progress. Some weeks, there will be lots of progress. Other weeks, there will be nothing to report. This is truly a learning experience for us as we really don't know anything about this process, but we are forging ahead, and I wanted to share what has been happening so far.

In a nutshell, Luke and I are serving as our own general contractors. I say this loosely as we are getting a ton of help from not only our primary carpenter but also our architect and Luke's dad who also happens to be an architect. I could not be more impressed with Luke. The man watches tons of videos and reads articles and truly tries to gain as much knowledge about this process as he can...on top of his full-time job as a family physician and a father to three energetic girls and a husband to probably the most emotional pregnant lady who ever lived. My brain can only handle so much at once before I shut down and throw things, so for Luke to be handling a lot of this overwhelming stuff is a true gift to me.

Because we aren't working with one general contractor who can do all of the bidding and quoting and arranging subcontractors (electricians, plumbers, heating/cooling, etc) for us, we are the ones responsible for doing that. This is a job in and of itself. Distributing plans, talking on the phone, arranging meetings at the house, and following up with everyone is so time consuming. So far, the process has been decently smooth, and we are really close to having all of our bids in from the subcontractors. Again, this is an area that Luke and his dad have really handled because I can't imagine trying to tell an electrician what I need done in this house. Uhhh.... I just need lights? 

The process of acquiring bids from subcontractors has taken about 4-6 weeks. This part has taken longer than we were expecting, but the holidays were in the middle of that, which does slow things down a bit.

Along with the bids from subcontractors, we have had to think about how much we are going to spend on flooring, appliances, windows, doors (interior and exterior), bathrooms, and other hardware/finishes. While all of this sounds super fun to think about, when you are trying to pick what you would like in your forever home, it is very overwhelming. Nothing has to be 100% decided right now, but I don't want to estimate wrong and come up short with our financing. There's a big difference in price in the type of bathtubs you pick out and even the toilets you choose and what kind of faucets you want. We are trying to do our best to plug in realistic numbers and hope that we come as close as possible when we actually go to purchase these items.

Very soon, we plan to have things ready to give to the bank. We have been told it is a minimum 30 day process to get the loan secured. Since everything has taken longer than we had originally hoped, I will assume it will be more like 45 days. Regardless, our goal is to be able to really "get started" in March. As in, old house comes down and new house starts going up in March.

That seems really far away, but we are already halfway through January, so I don't think it actually is too far away. Until then, so that we can feel like some progress is being made, our carpenter has been getting everything out of the house that we will not need or use. The flooring has been scraped up. The walls in the basement have come down. Some things the former owner had left behind have been removed. We are going to reuse the kitchen cabinets by having them refinished or painted, so those have been taken out. The house already looks very different!

Kitchen: Before (excuse the dark photo)

Kitchen: After Step 1 of Demo (cabinets removed so we can refinish them, appliances & island removed)

Original Family Room: Before

Original Family Room: After Step 1 of Demo (flooring & trim removed)

Basement: Before (the basement was previously broken up into several smaller rooms with these plywood walls)

Basement: After Step 1 of Demo (all walls removed, all doors removed so we can *hopefully* refinish and reuse them, all flooring scraped)

One thing we never really took into account was how difficult it would be to make all of these decisions while being parents to three young girls who need our full attention. Have you ever tried taking children to a hardware store? Or a kitchen/bath showroom? Or a window store? It is truly a "special" experience. It is impossible to focus on anything or get anything accomplished when you have to have your head on a swivel at all times. So, we have tried to make the most of the time the girls are with their grandparents, but we also have had to rely heavily on babysitters. My rate for watching all 3 girls at once is $15 an hour, so that adds up quickly when most of these meetings and appointments last two and three hours at a time. We should probably add a babysitting allowance into our construction loan! It feels like just as great of an expense. I have found, however, that it is absolutely necessary for us to be without our children when we are making these important decisions.

A question I get a lot is, "So will you be in the new house before the baby comes?" The answer is abso-freaking-lutely not. Had our original contractor not bailed on us, it was a strong possibility that we would have been moved in before his arrival, but since we had to go back to the drawing board and have not even begun the true demo process yet, we will not be remotely close to living in the house when the baby comes. This wouldn't really be a problem if we weren't toying with the idea of selling our current house in the spring before the baby is born so that we don't have to pay double mortgage, electric, and gas bills for an entire year. Due to the inefficiency of the current home, the gas and electric bills are more expensive each month with no one living there than the gas and electric bills for our home that we actually live in. Over time, these expenses will add up and cut into our savings and the money we could be spending on things we actually need for the house.

So, where will we live if we decide to sell and move out before the baby comes early this summer? Well, one of our options is moving in with Luke's parents (who are a 22 second drive down the road from our new property). There are a lot of advantages to doing this, but I am certainly nervous about invading someone else's home with three small children and a fourth one due shortly after. Our other option is to stay in our current home as long as we can afford it and just hold tight until we can get it ready to sell. My nesting instinct has to be put on the back burner as I know I won't have a nursery to bring him home to, regardless of where we are living when he is born, which kind of takes a little of the fun out of finally having a boy.

I am nervous about all of the changes and transitions taking place in the weeks and months surrounding his birth, but I am truly trying to stick to my mantra of "one day at a time." I can't predict nor foresee the future. I have no idea how any of this will really go. I only pray that it brings our family closer together and that the overwhelming amount of changes taking place won't bring unnecessary stress to our children. It actually may be a good thing that I have the birth of a baby to distract me. I can see how this house might become all-consuming, and focusing on new life coming into the world might be the perfect way to keep it all in perspective.

I am an open book-- obviously. I am happy to answer any questions regarding what we have done so far with this project and what our plan is going forward. We have learned so much, and I am happy to help anyone else. Feel free to ask a question or provide advice!

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