Working With Those You Love
Much discussion has taken place in real estate forums, including ActiveRain, about working with family and friends. My comment is, and has always been, that I wouldn't want my family or friends to work with anyone else - I want to be the one to take care of them!
That said, THE most demanding, persnickety, Type-A member of my family, has to be my hubby! He's sweet, kind and giving but, is a shrewd businessman! Building a home is not something that most couples do with ease. From the beginning, Ray said, "I really don't want to move so, this is your baby - I'm just along for the ride!"
My first thought was, "Yeah, right!" Anything to do with business and finance, he's a whiz at and WILL take control after about a minute!
I have 5 lender partners who I have trusted over the years and one of them specializes in construction-to-perm loans. We still let my other partners know that we were going to use the CTP lender and none offered anything other than, "That is exactly who I would recommend!" Pre-approval was completed and the process even required a trip to the lender's office as hubby wanted to do it the 'old fashioned' way! Step 1, a win despite the extra step!
After taking several tours of new construction homes together, we found a floorplan that we liked but, had no interest in using those builders, or living on the postage stamp lots that most of them were on. So, we presented our floorplan 'ideas' to one of my preferred architects and in no time, he had our dream home on paper - it was amazing to Ray that we could just 'talk' through the rooms & design and the architect could come up with a winning draft. Step 2, a win!
I've worked with several area builders in the past and have a great working relationship with each of them. Most only build custom homes and don't typically build more than a handful each year. So, we interviewed a few of them. I adore them all and they all build a quality product and provide the ultimate in builder customer service experience.
Ray knew before any of the interviewing began, which builder he wanted. His business mind voted with his heart and he selected a dear friend of ours! I also wanted our friend to do the job because he was basically charging a flat fee to take the 'responsibity' of the build and allowing me to use my trades with whom I had an established relationship. Step 3, a win, despite the buyer making a heart-based decision!
THE LAND PURCHASE
This was quite the experience but, the client was incredibly patient - especially since he didn't REALLY want to move! LOL I was looking at a lot across the street from the one that we wound up buying, 'previewing' it for him and he suggested I find out more about the lot we're now living on. The agent's sign was lying on the ground and so illegible that I had to look up the listing in MLS. Ray had been using Google Earth and we figured out that this lot was not even for sale - the listing had expired 2 years ago!
The agent was recommending that we use his builder but, we informed him that we had already chosen one, had plans and were ready to go. He worked the deal, despite not having an 'active' listing as he and his client had an ongoing agreement. Land deal - DONE! Step 4, another win.
Smooth sailing to this point and I expected nothing less than an exuberant client in the end - I could just SEE it! The builder had the trades for the foundation and the work began. I was on-site every single day, checking on the progress and Ray make the trip to the lot once each week. We ran into a couple of snafus, including discovering a dried creek-bed under one area of our house.
The city engineer required that 25-foot pylons be 'jack-hammered' into the ground throughout the entire foundation! We wound up with 87 of them, spaced exactly as the engineer required and that process was an additional $36K that we had not planned on. OH BOY, here we go! The fear of 'what's next' set in and where are we going to shave off the $36K. The builder and I explained that we would squeeze it from a variety of areas but, I knew that bottom line was going to need to be adhered to in order to keep the client happy! He was a tough one, let me tell you!
Doors, windows, stone, cedar and Hardy Plank were all selected (we built a craftsman style home). I took every single minute of my spare time, searching for lighting fixtures, selecting paint colors, faucets, toilets, sinks, tubs, granite, tile, cabinets, hardwoods...you know the drill - we had to pick it all! There was no builder designer, it was all on us! Thankfully, Ray trusted my design taste - he just watched the balance sheet like a hawk!
He took on the inspections and was the go-between between the builder and the lender, arranging each draw as we completed each tier of the construction process. The builder was paid and to the next phase we went!
I was the legs on the ground - delivering , faucets, towel racks, lighting, etc. to the house for the trades and did all of this between my other clients...87 of them that year! 87 seemed to be my lucky AND unlucky number that year!
I actually built chandeliers for my powder room and master closet myself so, there were many mornings at 2AM that I was threading crystals to get them done by my deadline!
*Building chendeliers in the wee hours of the morning!
I never once, missed going to the house each day to measure the progress. Again, I have no idea how I did it but, it really didn't seem that taxing to me at the time - in fact, I was enjoying it immensely!
Coming from our previous home of 7 years, I have to say that the ONLY thing that I was going to miss about that house was the landscaping! We had done every bit of it ourselves and it truly resembled an English garden that even Roy Kelley would have been loved! I hated starting from scratch and working the red clay, once again.
We interviewed several of my preferred landscapers and finally found the perfect plan and went with it. We sodded the entire yard and created several bed areas. After we Closed, we added a waterfall and completed the landscaping with some fairly mature Arborvitae to give instant privacy on both sides of our lot.
With paint and all other 'home' choices made, I began my decorating journey as the contractors had their jobs to do. I have to say, I was very lucky to hire some of the best in the business with regards to trades and they were all very communicative and extremely reliable.
But, the 'fun' part was ahead of us...err, me! Hubby wanted no part of the decorating but, regardless, I ran everything past him with the exception of having his grandmothers' antique couch and chair reupholstered! That's another story for the books - it's taken him 3-1/2 years to get over the couch! LOL
He was wonderful about making intelligent observations about some of the items that I was in love with using and we did, ultimately, wind up making the selections together. He later laughed that he was just being a 'good sport' and giving me an opinion to 'shut me up!' He couldn't believe how everything came together and frankly, I can't either!
I consulted with friends who have amazing style and they always gave me sage advice. I gave one friend cash to spend on a few items and she totally rocked her choices!
THE LOAN PROCESS
Throughout the process, the lender paid us (via the contractor) at different intervals. The draws were paid in 12 different intervals, I believe, and Ray took care of paying all of the subs/trades their invoices. At the end of the process, because we already owned the land and were obtaining a construction-to-perm loan, we were able to move into our home once we acquired the CO (Certificate of Occupancy). Nearly a year later, we were gleefully moving in!
The final appraisal was done (and came in nearly $300,000 more than our actual costs to build the home. The cost of building a home when you do it 'yourself' is considerably cheaper, giving us instant equity in our brand new home - a considerable amount. We Closed on our home about 2 weeks after moving in - the deal was done!
THE FINAL STEPS
When you obtain a construction-to-perm loan, the interest rate is a bit higher than a normal conventional loan. So, we immediately began investigating re-financing and knew that we wanted to reduce our mortgage from a 30-year to a 15-year loan. One of my preferred lenders had just personally bought and sold over $1.7M with me so, I returned the favor - his rates were the best as well so, that appeased Ray! We wound up with a 3.5% jumbo loan that we'll never refinance!
We have thoroughly enjoyed our new home. We entertain in it each and every week and absolutely love the flow that we created - it works perfectly when it's just us and perfectly when we have small or large parties. In fact, we hadn't been in our home and had a house full of AR guests (about 15 or so) the second week we were there! Week 3 we had another party with a group of girls I used to work with at the hospital...it hasn't stopped since!
I adore our location - right in the heart of Charlotte - and my commute time has been reduced by about 75%, I kid you not! That gives me so much more time to do the things I enjoy doing and enjoy just being in my home as well.
One thing that I did learn - when you design a home, knowing exactly what you want, you STILL miss something that you wish you had added. Two things - I let Ray and the plumber talk me out of a pot filler at my stove. Having a kitchen island with the SINK in it, a pot filler would have been the perfect finishing touch for the countertop where we keep our coffee machines, not to mention filling & heating large pots of water.
The second thing we missed - it would have been more beneficial to us to have a door or hallway from the garage entrance to the front door than planning a large drop zone. We were planning more for resale and that one thing has driven me the craziest! I have to walk from the garage, past the drop zone, through my kitchen to my front door. It's something so silly but, I wish I had thought of that when working with the architect.
So, you see, even when you meticulously plan features in a new home, you don't have 'a perfect home!' I see a lot of buyers looking for that perfect home and I share this example with them - we can certainly make those changes but, still haven't done so. The lesson to me is that, even if you think you want it, you'll survive without it! Go for the needs, not the wants when buying a home!
Also, Ray didn't really want to move but, he has said repeatedly since we moved, "This was the best move we have ever made - I love the convenience of in-town living!" Those words are music to my ears. He also didn't 'take control' but, instead, we worked together, leaning on one anothers strengths and that worked beautifully for us.
Working with the ones you love is not always easy but, it is what you make it. We made it work for us and we actually had a great time doing it!
© Debe Maxwell | The Maxwell House Group | CharlotteBroker@icloud.com | Working With Those You Love