On-going feasibility challenges

We had to get an extension on the feasibility period on our land offer.  We now have until February 6th to decide if we are going to move forward with purchasing the property.  Christina and I met with the architect firm that is doing the feasibility this morning.  We had a consultant from an environmental firm out last week to look at the property and unfortunately learnt that much of the property will be considered wetlands.  Fortunately this doesn’t necessarily put our building plans at risk, as the part that is considered a wetland critical area is the big field, which is not where we were planning building.   The problem is that there will be a buffer around the wetland area that may encroach on the area we wanted to build.

Our architect and the environmental consultant will visit the county planning department on Thursday to get a preliminary feel for how flexible they will be and then we will need to make a decision.  Unfortunately we can’t get a definitive answer on where we can build until we officially apply for a ruling and that will likely take six months, so we eventually will have to take some risk, but we want as much information as we get before we make that decision.

Good news & bad news

We have been making good progress on the feasibility phase on our land offer contingencies.  Unfortunately this has turned up a few problems.  The first is the current well, which is clean (approved by the health board) and high volume (~40 gallons per minute) is likely out of code.  Too close to the pond and maybe the property boundary.  So we will likely need to drill a new well.  We are going back to the owner with a price adjustment to cover the costs of the new well.

On the good news side the Geotech company said they saw no problems and advised against any further analysis on this front until we are ready to build the foundation.  So that is that out of the way.  The company that was reviewing for septic systems also indicated there were a couple of decent spots for septic systems that will cover the size of house we are planning to build.  This also conflicts with the current well, so we may have had to move it anyways.

If we can get the well issue resolve the only other challenge ahead on the feasibility front is getting the county out to review the site for critical areas.  We will likely have a consultant come out first to see if they see any potential issues.  Holding off on that until we get the well issue resolved with the seller.

Update on feasibility study

I wanted to give a short update on our progress over the last week.  We are in the feasibility and finance contingency period on the land sale.  We heard back from the bank early in the week and have pre-approval on both the land and construction loans. Financing land and construction is a lot harder than financing a non-custom home.  We have our current mortgage with Wells Fargo and recently refinance down to a 3.5% interest rate.  I have been very happy with Wells Fargo and even transferred all of our personal banking there after we got the mortgage.  However, they won’t do a land financing and their terms & rates for a construction loan are pretty bad.

Fortunately our real estate agent Joe has been proactive as usual and found us a great banker at Banner Bank that is very experienced in both land and construction lending. We met them last week and they pre-approved us for the land mortgage on the spot, they sent all the forms for electronic signature and pre-approved us for the construction loan a few days later.

If you are looking for either a land or construction mortgage or both contact: Bruce Briton @ Banner Bank.

We also met with the architect firm that will be doing the feasibility study on our land earlier this week.  They didn’t see any major issues with the land and the area that we are thinking about building the house.  They have arranged a geo-tech study and a septic system assessment that will happen over the next two weeks.


My thoughts about the new House

I have not really told many people about our plans because I am a worrier. I don’t want to say anything until we know for sure everything is going to happen. At this stage everything is moving smoothly and closing on the property looks like a sure thing.

I was not really enthusiastic to build a house because when I think about it I think about the million small things you need to do before they house is ready to move in such as: Find the land, find a spot to put the house, make sure the house you want can go there, get permits, get contractors (also hope they are reliable so you are not let hanging), agree on a home design, pick out flooring, fixtures, doors and every other detail and a whole lot of other stuff. There will be many meetings and as Steve has to work to pay for this house (which I am sure will be amazing and I will love) that leaves me to be the one that will likely end up having to go to the meetings and make decisions based on what Steve and I have talked about. Of course I could just do what I want and say you weren’t there so I just had to make a decision.

Steve did what he often does when I am not completely on board with something he wants he starts talking about it and when I resist he drops it for awhile then brings it up again. He finally found a piece of land I could not really find fault with. He also said I could have a separate building for my craft space. I think he did that to convince me to do this knowing I would really like that and because he hates all the stuff in the house that I have now. It worked.

As this process goes ahead I think the difference in the way Steve and I think will be very prominent. He thinks big picture and I think all the small steps to get there. He already has a clear vision of what our house will look like I do not. Hopefully the two different ways of thinking will both be an asset to the process.

When we are all done we will have a house party and in the summers there will be lots of picnics and play in our big field. Maybe even some fishing in our pond.

House Construction – The Beginning

Hi.  We haven’t been using this blog recently, but thought this was a good time to get started again.  For the last few years we have been looking for land on the Eastside to build our dream house.  Well we finally found a place that both Christina and I agreed on and was in our price range.

Our criteria really reduced the number of properties that fit and so the processes has taken quite a long time.  We wanted 5+ acres, close to our current house (Redmond Ridge/Union Hill area of Redmond), relatively flat to provide a lot of usable space and around $500K.  About a month ago I saw a place that met all of these requirements and last week we made an offer which has been accepted.  We are now in the feasibility phase, more about that later.

Here is the listing of the property:  20849 NE 116th Street, Redmond

Cute Pond – Crystal Clear Water with Catfish

Large Field for Kids & Horses

We have been working with the same agent for two years, he has been very supportive and has never shown any frustration with our slow pace and reluctance.  Now that we have something under offer he has been very helpful in guiding us through the process, helping get the inspection done, etc. He joined us at both the mortgage broker and our first architect meeting.  Both of these proved very helpful as he had a lot of experience and had a lot of useful questions to ask.

If you are in the market I would highly recommend him: Joe Meisenheimer.

Although we aren’t quite sure what we are going to do with the existing houses in the near term (we will almost certainly tear down everything on the property long-term) we had a full inspection of the house done.  Turns out it is in pretty bad shape, given that it is over 60 years old this wasn’t surprising, but we were kind of thinking we might rent it.  That is not likely to happen given how much work is required to improve it.

The inspection company was recommended by Joe and they were great.  We quickly scheduled an appointment, they showed up early, did a thorough and diligent job.  Total cost was $490.

If you are in the market for a property inspection I highly recommend them: Property Inspectors

It will likely take about a month to close on the land and we won’t be starting the design phase until that is complete.  We are currently working with an architect in Kirkland that will do the feasibility study as part of our property contingencies   We are hopeful that they will also be our architects to design our house, but we haven’t made a firm decision on that front yet.

We are currently working with Thielsen Architects in Kirkland.  I can’t recommend them yet, as we have only just started working with them, but so far we are happy with their experience in building in this area, what we have seen of their design portfolio and the quality of work they have done so far on the feasibility assessment.

We met today for our first meeting with the architects.  I was hoping that if everything went right we could be in the new house by Christmas next year.  Turns out that is probably too optimistic.  They said that usually the design stage takes six months (2 months for preliminary interviews and design, 2 months for drawings and 2 months for permitting).  We won’t start until the property closes, which is early February, so that means we will be done the design phase around July, when we can start construction.  Apparently the best month for pouring a foundation is September, so that will give us roughly two months to prep the land and start construction in September.

Given that it will likely be spring before we can move in.

That should get everyone caught up.  We will continue to post updates on the blog and hope this is a helpful resource for people thinking about building a dream house.