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Archive for May, 2010

heartbreak and renewal

May 30th, 2010 by

People warned us about this.  Oh, they didn’t say “prepare to have your heart broken,” they said “we had trouble finding the right piece of land.”  They told us about architectural review committees on which one member decided the slant of their proposed roof wasn’t right, or land deals all but decided when something legal fell through, but they never talked about the emotion.

It’s an emotional thing, building your own home.

You’ve decided nothing else out there really fits; you have, as a couple (assuming you’re part of a couple), determined that your life together will fit best in something custom, rather than an off-the-rack set of outerwear.

And as you look for the perfect site for this custom suit, you form a picture in your mind of how your refuge will look.

Mine was a shade-dappled sunny place, tall trees all around for peace and privacy.  A stream nearby would be nice, with all that happy burbling.  Birds would sing in the tall trees’ shade; we’d hear the leaves rustle, too, and no neighbors would be able to look in our windows.

Thought we’d found it–it seemed we had–but, like nearly every other custom-building couple we talked to, we had our hearts broken by technicalities.  An easement, an odd boundary.  A seller who was ambivalent and, finally, threw up too many roadblocks for us to believe our peaceful place would stay that way.  Didn’t like the windows, or the number of them, or how they were placed.  Not too sure about that roof.

To be honest, I didn’t think it had affected me that much until the other things we’re dealing with began to seem like bigger problems than they really are.

But I woke up this morning with a very old song in my head, and realized I was sad about losing that peaceful green place.

From Three Dog Night’s “In the Country:”

Before the breathin’ air is gone, before the sun is just a bright spot in the nighttime:

Out where the rivers like to run I stand alone, and take back something worth remembering.

a mock-up of a preview of a sketch of a concept

May 14th, 2010 by

So, assuming we get to build Fred on the piece of land that my beautiful bride fell in love with, what is it going to look like? Well, perhaps nothing like these pictures but, just maybe, a fair bit like these pictures.

(Click on the images for a large view)

These are the very first conceptual sketches that our architect has shared with us. Our main motivation right now is to understand the potential price of a certain type and size of building, how the building might fit on the aforementioned land, and to check all of that against our budget. It will be interesting to see how much the final design—which we probably won’t settle on for at least a few more months—varies from these very preliminary SketchUp renderings.

BTW, I love SketchUp, so I was really psyched when I found out that our architects used it for these quick conceptual renderings. Now I just have to keep myself from “improving” the drawings that were done by folks that actually have architecture degrees and certifications. Yeah, whatever.

With that being said, SketchUp is pretty easy to learn, and there are tons of tutorial videos on YouTube. The price of the software is the ever-popular “free to you from Google”, so there’s not much risk in trying it out. If you ever want to play architect for a few hours—and don’t feel like dropping $10k+ on AutoCAD—you can do some amazing work with SketchUp, especially when you start downloading all of the house components that they have in the 3D Warehouse.

Anyway, back to Fred! We probably want a few more windows, and we really haven’t figured out all the internal spaces yet—these are just shells so far—but the single story, courtyard style is definitely on the right track.

Assuming that we build on that piece of land. Stay tuned for updates on that!

a feme sole: of options, alternatives, and offers

May 1st, 2010 by

“A feme sole” is not misspelled, or in French.  That’s from North Carolina real estate law § 47‑69 pertaining to a married woman who “was a free trader by her husband’s consent” (anyone else see the contradiction there?) at the time of transfer of real property (read:  land).   Circa 1913.  She’s a “feme sole” when she trades freely—by her husband’s consent, of course.

This is just to illustrate how arcane and confusing law is in general and specifically around real estate.  As we ponder making an offer on a piece of land in North Carolina, we’re learning about Alternative 2, and option fees as opposed to earnest money, and when to offer how much or how little.

Alternative 2 is something apparently particular to North Carolina, wherein a potential buyer can put down a small chunk of money to hold a house or piece of land while they ponder whether they want it, then—after a specified amount of time—they can say “nope, changed my mind” for any reason or no reason and walk away.  Leaving the chunk of money behind.  Word is that Alternative 2 will become the only alternative soon in NC, but in the meantime we’re having to decipher what sums to pony up for that option fee, which isn’t the same as earnest money, which is the option that’s actually an Alternative, which is still not the actual Offer, which makes me Wonder what our Options really Are.