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Posted by Angela in Fort Worth, TX on 10/7/2009 11:29:43 PM

Our schematic design was suppose to be finished last Friday for me to see, but our architect didn't like the way it looked, so she is still working on it. She's been pretty great to work with; she is very patient and understanding and seems to really be trying to figure out what we want. She said she is drawing up two ideas for us, so I'm excited to see what she comes up with.

I've been reading all of Sarah Susanka's books lately on the recommendation of a member from the forums. The first book, The Not So Big House got me really excited, everything looked so beautiful and cozy, exactly what I'm trying to go for. Now I'm on the third book, and I feel like I'm reading the same thing over and over. It's all really great, but I wonder how much everything costs. Dropped soffits, differing ceiling heights, sunken rooms... it all seems expensive. It does look beautiful though, and I wouldn't mind cutting back on the square footage. I do feel a little silly asking for a three-bedroom house for our 'future' children when it's just the two of us and we're not even married yet, except that I've dreamt of a room all to myself filled with bookshelves since I watched Beauty & the Beast as a little girl. For now, I'm just trying to relax and let the architect do the work. It's too confusing to try to figure everything out on my own.

We've also silently decided on the land in Blooming Grove. All of the utilities came out costing the same, and there's a water line available; so no need for a well! The only thing I haven't been able to cost out is the price to bore under the FM road to bring the water line to our side. No one can give me an estimate or even a price range except for "at least a few thousand dollars"! I've requested for the water company to put in a work order to get an estimate, since they won't give me the number of the subcontractor that they will use. I'm not holding my breath for that one to come through fast.

Now I am contemplating ordering a private appraisal on the land for a few reasons. 
#1. I'm pretty sure that it's overpriced. They are asking $4,200 an acre when according to a local bank loan officer that I was interviewing for land loans, nothing has sold in that area for more than $3,500 an acre. There is no recent appraisal done because it has been in the family for 70 years before being bought by the current owner a couple of years ago, and I think the seller knows it's not worth what he's asking so he won't get an appraisal to confirm that.

#2. If it does happen to be worth what they are asking or more (which I doubt) I will be the only one receiving the appraisal, and might be able to offer them 80% of the value (regardless of asking price) which would eliminate the need for a down payment, since my employer's credit union loans 80% of land value, not just selling price.

Then again, if it turns out to not be worth what they're asking, I can offer full value, but we will still have to come up with the 20% down payment that other banks require who loan 80% of selling price. I just hate not knowing the appraised value to be able to decide which bank to go with, and how much money we need to save before applying. For $400 the peace of mind might be worth it. I will have to call the bank in the morning to see if they will use the appraiser I got the quote from or their own.

I spent three hours today calling around to different banks, mortgage companies, and credit unions to try to find someone with a lower down payment requirement than 20%. I found multiple places online boasting of 100% lot loans only to call & find out that they don't do them anymore. The economic downturn is finally affecting me. I haven't been touched by the recession as a nurse at a hospital until this and the recent announcement that we won't be getting our merit raises this year. At least I still have a job and the resources to build a house. I did find one credit union that is still doing 100% lot loans. I got SO excited... until they said that I or an immediate relative had to live in the area (southern TX, but not all the way south to Seguin where my grandparents live) to be a member to be able to apply for it. Dangit! At least I tried.

I also downloaded the National Cost Estimator free 30-day trial and man, did it make my head spin! I don't know if I can figure out all of the required components to accurately estimate my house, but there were a few general guidelines, like an electrical 'rule-of-thumb' for $$/square foot. That should get me started, and hopefully prevent me from being ripped off. But then again three+ bids for each thing should prevent that as well. I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit, I should probably wait for my plans to get finished.  :)

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