Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An RV Port Outside an RV Community--How Will It Go Over?

On November 17, we had a slab. On November 21, we had wood in the air! Things are going much more quickly once the city inspectors had their fill of blood and left behind a green tag on the foundation. Richard Teske, the builder, and other experienced house construction types said this was the mother of all foundations. Unknown to me, my architect had specified a foundation design with far greater depth and reinforcement than is customary. I guess that's why it took ten concrete trucks to pour an 1800 square foot slab. One thing is for sure--it's probably not going to give me any problems with cracks in the future.

We have a slab!

Wood in the air!

So far, I haven't heard a single adverse comment or even seen a raised eyebrow when I talk with neighbors-to-be about the fact the house is being designed as an RV port. My guess is they are still in a bit of a shock, as no one has built a new house in this neighborhood for fifty years! Thurman and Amy Clay, who live next door to the south, seem genuinely thrilled that we are going to be their neighbors. Thurman is a very nice guy, in his mid-seventies, who is a retired carpenter. He seems to know a lot about building a house, and he's always close by watching the construction. If Richard doesn't happen to be on site, Thurman often calls him when a delivery arrives or when subcontractors show up. He also adjusted one of the floodlights on the side of his house to illuminate our property. I'm very glad he's close by, and we're looking forward to knowing Thurman and Amy better.

Dennis and Marilyn Leonard, who live around the corner, are very friendly and are sort of in the same stage of life as Sandy and I--empty nesters who decided to downsize. They bought one of the existing homes on a beautiful treed lot and have done a lot of work to make it very appealing. They didn't blink, either, when I told them what we were building. We think they will be very good neighbors, too.

June Graves, the widow next door who sold us the property, is said to be a bit depressed that the lovely treed lot her husband tended for so long is now covered up with a house. I'm not too worried about that, though. By the time Sandy gets through charming her, she'll forget all about her depression. Nobody doesn't like the irrepressibly friendly Sandy Mills!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Part Timing vs. Full Timing - The Great Dilemma

Well, we have moved into a nearby apartment while the new stick house is being built. I must say, we are pleased that the sale of the big house went so smoothly and amicably and that we got what we wanted for it. With the state of the national housing market as it is, we consider ourselves very fortunate.

We're also pleased that we were successful in selling it as a FSBO. It was nice not to have to pay the extra twenty thousand bucks in a realtor's commission. Lucky again, I guess.

Now if Mindy were out of college and I had reached social security age (another year away), we might not be building this new house, but moving into Homer and hitting the road. But, the time is not right for that, as mentioned before. When the time does come to retire, at least we will be able to make a judgment about whether we want to keep the new smaller house and do part-time RVing or to chuck the new house and really fulltime it. I must say, I truly can't imagine what we will decide, ergo, the dilemma. In the last year or so, I have become almost obsessive in my quest to get rid of the incredible constellation of detritus--as I am calling possessions-- that seems to have crept ever larger into our lives and is, well, smothering.

One unknown is the fact that the house is designed so as to incorporate a real RV garage, unlike a house with an RV port tacked onto it. Because of this, it will always look like an RV house, as it cannot be remodeled economically. I do have a concern, therefore, that its uniqueness in the neighborhood may diminish its potential for resale. On the other hand, an RVer would just love it! Just think of it...a home designed for an RVer, right in the heart of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex! This is almost impossible to find unless you look far out in unincorporated areas to avoid the zoning restrictions that thwart keeping an RV in most metropolitan areas. Furthermore, we have noticed that RVs are kept at several other houses in the neighborhood, but none of the other houses were designed to incorporate an RV garage as part of the design. I've always made money on my real estate investments, but this one...well, I'm not so sure. I've just decided not to worry about it and build what I want.

We bought the lot in midsummer, and progress has been pretty slow up to this point. We couldn't commission the architect to design a house until we knew the dimensions of the lot, so he didn't start drawing the plans until after we purchased the property. That took a couple of months, and the city of Hurst has been maddeningly picky about every little thing they inspect, and they seem to inspect EVERYTHING. You'd think we were building in downtown Manhattan, for goodness sake!

Since Hurst is a city that has had all its available land largely built out, I'm convinced there's just not that much for the inspectors to do, so they come out and give us a hard time. I'm convinced that some of the hoops we've had to jump through are based solely on the inspectors' whim or opinion rather than on bona fide building code requirements. So, we've had to decide whether it's better to accede to their petty requests or make an issue of it and risk even more problems through retaliation. So far, we've just chosen to go along with them. It has cost us at least a month's extra time and untold frustration, but at least we got a green tag today that will enable us to pour the foundation.

October '07 Foundation and Plumbing Rough-In