The ANDs and BUTs of Construction


A year or so ago I started the process of adding a major expansion to my house. At this point, it is nearly a reality - construction *should* be starting in earnest within the next few days. Getting here, however, has felt like one road block after another. On the other hand, for every road block (AND...), there has been a BUT that takes care of the issue. It's getting to the point where I'm wondering if there might be more going on here (read: spiritual warfare) than meets the eye. Here's what's gone on so far:

It all started with me writing a letter to the owner of the property next door that I wanted to build on....

...AND another, after I got no response for a couple of months

...AND I got no response to that one for another month or two.

BUT...I was able to dig up his phone number on the internet, and a phone call quickly put me in touch with him

...AND he didn't really have any interest in selling

BUT...I was able to convince him to sell, as long as I was willing to buy BOTH lots that he owned on 23rd (more money, but nice to have)

...AND he asked way more than I was expecting to have to pay, and arguably more than the lots were worth

BUT... I was able to dig up the cash in spite of the higher than expected price, and purchase the land.

So money was transferred, paperwork filed, and the land was officially mine. On to getting the loan...

...AND I was faced with a choice: bank a, that would give me the loan no problem, but at a 7.5% interest rate, or bank b that offered a 5.5% interest rate, but was only willing to go up to 75% of final appraised value, which wouldn't be enough (unless the appraisal came in way higher than expected)

BUT... bank b was willing to make an exception and go up to 80% of final appraised value, thanks to my excellent credit profile.

...AND then the appraisal came back - a good $40,000 less than I was hoping for, leaving me $35,000 short of what I needed to complete construction, more than I could cover

BUT... a good friend stepped up and offered to loan me $20,000, enough that I felt confidant I could cover the rest.

...AND then I was told that I'd have to pay an additional $5,000 up front to cover an AHFC loan that I mistakenly believed would have been fully forgiven 5 years after my initial purchase of the house in 2008 (in fact, they only forgave $2,000/year FOR five years, leaving $5,000 payable upon sell or transfer of property)

BUT... after getting ahold of the proper people at AHFC, we found that there was a clause that allowed them to re-subordinate the loan if 100% of the money from the new loan was going to home improvements.

...AND then the title company rejected the existing plot plans because they were too old, preventing me from getting the loan until we got new ones (at a cost of $1,100)

BUT... the company I called to do the survey was able to perform the survey that afternoon, and got the survey back to us the following business day (and, of course, I had the money available to pay them)

...AND then the title company decided they didn't like how the transfer of ownership paperwork had been filled out for the land purchase, and we couldn't proceed until that was taken care of

BUT... I still had the previous owner's cell phone number, which I was able to supply to the title company easily, and they were able to contact him and get that sorted out within a few days (I received the corrected paperwork in the mail one week later)

...AND then I found out that the construction loan I was getting was a reimbursement plan, in that I had to pay for the work first and then the loan would re-imburse me, which meant that I have to have sufficient funds in-hand to cover all construction costs as they arrive (I thought not having the funds was the whole reason for getting the loan in the first place. But I digress)

BUT... the friend who had offered me the $20,000 loan said "no problem, I'll write you a check today", so I should be able to use that money to cover the immediate costs, and then get re-imbursed before the next bill is due

...AND then the underwriters at the bank came back and said "since we aren't loaning you the full amount, we don't know how you are going to complete construction, so we don't want to give you this loan"

BUT... (although this one is still up in the air) I'm pretty sure their numbers did not include the loan from my friend, which was now in my bank account, and as such pushed my balances up high enough to cover the difference.

So that's where things stand at the moment. Waiting to hear back from the underwriters if my new higher bank account balance satisfies them. Meanwhile, my contractor is fighting his own battles with the borough regarding what paperwork needs to be filed before we can begin work.

So yeah, there have been lots of ANDs on this project, slowing things down threatening to derail things, but every one has been matched with a BUT - and sometimes one could argue that the end result is better than it would have been otherwise - getting two lots of land, rather than just the one that I strictly needed (more land is always nice), and the smaller loan means that I will have that much easier of a time paying it off. The only downside is that I will have to skip out on some amenities I wanted to put into the expansion, like an HRV or replacing the flooring across the entire living room/kitchen area rather than trying to tie the new into the old and make it look good. But I can live with that :-)

Hopefully most of the ANDs are done with at this point, but I have faith that even if not, there will be associated BUTs with all of them!

Israel Brewster 2011-2016