We set up a meeting with the builder and our Realtor to discuss how our dream home could be built on the side of that mountain lot. At that time, we also discussed the products the builder used in the homes he built. He also provided us with a sample of a log siding that people use on newer homes.
The siding gives you the look and feel of a log cabin, but no dull drab interior log walls. David and I both could imagine this siding on a house, but David was against it because of the maintenance required to keep it looking good. David threw that off the table (not literally) as fast as the sample was laid on the table in front of him. I kept my mind open.
During this meeting, we discussed the process of getting the money to build our dream home. Long story short, David and I would need to get a construction loan from a local bank, which would be converted into a mortgage once our home was finished. We discussed the loan process and we also were told about two clauses that would be placed in the building contract:
#1 THE ROCK CLAUSE: This clause pretty much said that if for some reason the builder would run into a large amount of bedrock while excavating and digging the house foundation, it would require more money out of our pocket. We would have to cough up the extra funds to deal with the bedrock.
#2 THE WELL CLAUSE: This clause stated that the builder would only pay for a well to be dug up to 400 feet deep. Any additional depth would be extra money out of our pocket.
David and I did a lot of thinking and had a lot of discussion about building our dream home on the side of this mountain. We had come too far and were too close to making our dream come true to chicken out now. Even with all the uncertainty, we would just have to do what we did all those times before: JUMP! We decided to go for it.
Before we were able to go back and meet with the builder and sign the paperwork, we went out and did some wine tasting at one of the local wineries. On our outing, we visited a new winery that had just opened up. When we pulled into the driveway, we noticed their tasting room was built using the same wood siding that the builder had suggested to us during our meeting. Seeing the siding firsthand on a finished building made us fall in love with it. It was gorgeous! David caved on his too much maintenance morals and we decided right then and there that we wanted this on our house.
The paperwork for our new house was adjusted to include the log siding and with the Realtor’s guidance, we signed papers with the builder. Next, we searched for a bank that would fund the construction of our new home. We took our time and researched our options. There were a couple of local banks that would do what is called a “Construction-to-Permanent” loan. This was ideally what we were looking for. This type of loan would start as a construction loan, with the normal draw schedule and once our home was built the construction loan would convert into a permanent mortgage. It required only one set of closing cost fees, which would save us a lot of money.
We met with a banker about the loan. We were nervous about this meeting. We just didn’t want to be told the word “NO”. We learned from the banker that our number one obstacle was going to be getting the house to appraise in the doldrums of the poor real estate market. We were also enlightened by the glorious bank terms and I began to feel a little overwhelmed and nauseous by them. We left the meeting with the banker saying we were going to think about it and discuss it between ourselves and we would be in touch. In reality, that meant: “HOLY CRAP, what are we getting ourselves into?!?!”
A few days went by, David and I were still a little frozen with fear from all those bank terms. We knew nothing was going to happen as long as we did nothing. Maybe that was a comfort for those few days, but it was really pulling on our heart-strings. We knew that we had to act or our dream house was never going to happen.
We decided the heck with trying to save a few grand, let’s just get this over with. We did not go back to the banker we met originally. Instead, I applied for a Construction Loan with a bank that our Realtor recommended to us. The new banker got all of our pertinent information, documentation, and signatures, along with a check for the appraisal cost. The appraisal was ordered, then came the wait.
Within a week or two, we were going to learn if our dream home would appraise in the bank’s eyes. To us, what we were trying to do was priceless. We were on the verge of finalizing a dream that we had fought for. A dream that took us on a pretty crazy ride from the days packing up and leaving Virginia Beach in a U-Haul trailer.
The bank could put any price on it they wanted, but it wouldn’t compare to what we had been through to get to that point. The appraiser for the bank wasn’t going to see that we left our home in Virginia Beach to live in the mountains. They wouldn’t see that we almost didn’t make it.
They weren’t going to see the turmoil we went through when we were struggling to stay employed. They weren’t going to see how we totaled David’s truck our first winter living on Bull Run Mountain.
They weren’t going to see the boxes we lived our lives around. The impractical of the houses we rented. They were not going to see our dream. They were only looking at credit scores, gross incomes, a building lot on the side of a mountain and a preliminary house plan on a sheet of paper.
All of which meant nothing without faith, hope, and a dream.
During our wait, we visited the building lot a few times while the appraisal was underway. On one of our visits, I randomly reached down and picked up a rock from the ground. There was nothing all that special about the rock I picked up. It wasn’t even all that pretty; it wasn’t smooth and it didn’t shine. I’m not sure why, but I put that rock into my coat pocket. Whenever I was wearing that coat, I would reach in my pocket and feel that rock. It was rough and weathered. I guess I liked the feel of it because it felt the same way I was during the waiting period of the appraisal.
After a week or so, we received word back from the appraisal. Our dream appraised, but not but a few hundred dollars over what we were going to pay to have our dream come to life. It wasn’t good. Long story short, it meant that we would have to use up all of our savings and the profit we had made on our townhouse (our safety net). If anything went over budget or if any complications arose that were out of our control, we could have possibly had to pay more money than what we had to give. Not to mention, the haunting “well clause” and “rock clause”. We discussed it a couple of days before making our final decision, but there wasn’t anything really to discuss. It was a huge gamble and we were not prepared to gamble away our whole savings on shaky ground. We couldn’t shake away the “What-ifs”.
I picked up the phone and called our Realtor. I gave him the disappointing news:
“I’m sorry, but there are too many risks. It would use up all of our savings and we just aren’t willing to do that. We do not wish to pursue this any further…”