Welcome to the Playroom at 14 Peonystreet!

Why we call it the 'Playroom': the place whence objects pleasing to the eye are brought from the drawing board to reality, after much discussion with the ancestors.....

Friday, April 29, 2016

Advice on Building or Buying a House

I can’t help but try to give some advice to others younger than I, about building or buying a house.  There’s so much information out there and a person can get real confused, real fast.
But after going through this a few times, and being stressed out beyond my wildest imagination, I sure wish I could help someone else through this process.

I guess, to start off with, not everyone will have as hard a time as I have with this, but then again, you may.  Things have really changed, since Dodd-Frank, and the housing collapse of 2008.  Banks are extremely picky who they loan money to for houses, and it’s even more of a picky process when you want to get a construction loan. 


1.  Know ahead of time, that you’re going to need certain information for your application, whether you’re buying or building.  Things like recent bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, 1099's, identification cards, and of course all your debt information.  Basically, by the time they collect every financial piece of information you have, they’re going to know everything about you: where you live, where you have lived in the past, what jobs you’ve had, how much money you make and have in savings, what all your assets are, how many kids you have, etc, etc, etc.  There’s no way around giving these people your complete information.  It can be rather disconcerting, until you build a relationship with your banker.  You have no choice but to trust them with your financial information.  It’s awful, but you must do it.  Be ready.

2. If you can find a good house, in a place you like, you’re probably going to be better off doing this for your first house buy, rather than building a house.  

3.  Building a house, and all that goes with it, is about 20 times more stressful than buying a house that’s already built. 

4.   If you’re going to have a house built, do it when you are younger, rather than older, because of the stress factor.  If you have a bad heart, or bad nerves, building a house is not for you, unless you know how to deal with extreme stress.  It can be as stressful as going through a divorce, or a house fire, or a natural disaster.   Those are all over the 10 level of stressful events.

5.  No matter what you think you are going to do in your life, no matter how certain you are that you’re never going to move, or this is going to be “the house you live in forever”, always, always, always buy your house or have one built with resale in mind.  Don’t do anything wild to your house that will make it hard to sell in the future.  This point will be debateable for lots of folks, because why shouldn’t you do something really to your liking?  After all, you own it, right?  The thing is, not everyone has the same taste.  A wall painted purple is not everyone’s preference.  The other point is, you most likely will sell it sooner or later, no matter what you think.  It’s just a fact.  You can’t ever say never.  I’m proof of that.

7.  If you’re buying a house, have it inspected, and also inspect it yourself.  Don’t think about offending the seller by looking into every nook and cranny.   If they do get offended, I’d suspect they have something to hide, that they don’t want you to find out.  By law, all defects are supposed to be disclosed, but not everyone is honest.  
a.  Be very careful if the house is being sold “as is”.  This should be obvious, because you’ll probably be getting into some serious repairs.
b.  PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO HAVE INSPECTED IS GOING TO THE BE THE SEPTIC SYSTEM, if the house has one.  (Homes built closer to towns, may have a public water and sewer system.)  If you’re out in the country, DEFINITELY, have the septic system inspected, and make sure it’s not going to be something you have to replace, unless you have the money to replace it.  Septic systems are now very crazy, all over the US, because the authorities are convinced that septic systems either: contribute to the pollution going into the ocean, or polluting the drinking water, or both.  So- this means an incredible expense - for a nitrogen reducing technology, that also requires a five year maintenance contract, after it’s installed.  
c.  Also, if living in the country, have the drinking water tested.  Most places not within a township have a well.  Get the well water tested.  It’s probably okay, otherwise people wouldn’t be living there, but get it tested anyway.  Most county Health Departments will do it for free.



8.  If living in the country and you’re building a house, you have to make sure the land will PERC.  This is a water drainage test, to see how well the water drains from the pipes from your septic system into the surrounding dirt.  Mountainous places don’t have a good history of PERCing.  Check to see if a piece of land was PERC’d previously, by asking if the previous owner has anything on file with the county.  The office that has those tests on file will be your county’s health department.



In conclusion, buying or building a house is not for the weak-hearted these days.  Do your research.   You’re going to have to be a fast reader and make decisions quickly at times.  Familiarize yourself with the lingo in the real estate and banking markets, so you know what is being talked about.  Also, take the time to read through your contracts before you sign them.  One thing, among many others, is to see if there is a prepayment penalty, if you pay your loan off early.   It’s also a good idea to have a lawyer look over your contract before you sign it.  You should never feel pressured to sign a lengthy contract the first time you read it, especially if you are a first time buyer.   Be assertive and get what you want.  Remember: you are the one who has to pay the mortgage and interest, not the people who are selling you their house or property, or the bank who is loaning you the money.

Take care.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mockingbird Story

WARNING: SOME OF THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS ARE GRAPHIC.  YOU MAY NOT WANT TO VIEW THEM, IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH.

This weekend, Harper Lee passed away.   You know her- the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and Go Set a Watchman.  She was a lifetime resident of Monroeville, Alabama.
Oh, Al-a-bam-a! A true southern state.
Mockingbird eggs

I have wondered for a while if it really was wrong to kill a mockingbird, and what the title of her book really means.  The answer I always find is that it’s audacious and a sin to kill this bird that sings so pretty and entertains us so.  I observed the mockingbirds closely on our farm in Tennessee on a yearly basis, so I knew their habits.  It’s not pretty, folks.  I’ve wanted to tell this story for a long time, but put it off til the right time.


There’s mockingbirds here too, at the Mason-Dixon Line.   I observed them closely in the south, and knew their habits.  It’s quite gross.  I guess you wouldn’t believe it.  I hate to put these pictures up- because I know some will just protest and turn away, but these are the facts.   Mockingbirds hang up their dead prey in trees to come back later and eat them.  I have found frogs, and snakes, and even a poor bluebird or indigo bunting.   So I guess, to kill a mockingbird is supposed to be a bad thing (?).  But in truth, they must kill to eat.  It’s just a fact of life in the wild.

~~~
An unexpected turn has been feelings of sadness of leaving the south.  I can not explain it, but only can say it is a closed phase of my life that I grew to love.  I will not miss the tornado weather, or the unbearable summer heat, the dusty roads that made me cough all night, and some other things.  I think I will just miss the slow pace of life, the musical vocal accents, the BBQ, which is plentiful, and the mild winter.  I like the feeling of the south, knowing that you’ll be getting good biscuits for breakfast, and some pretty good lemon pie for desert, and Red Velvet anything.  I guess I’ll just have to create my own southern everything, here in my new/old home!  I will be alright–“You alright?”   “Bless your heart!” and rest in peace Harper.  No matter how mockingbirds really are, you made a difference in the world with your books.  Thank you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Reflections

It's Going to Snow--Today!

Okay, so it was 70 degrees here on the 15th of December.  It's never been this warm at this time of year, ever, as long as I've lived anywhere near or above the Mason Dixon line.  It's ALWAYS been cold-er by Halloween. At least 30 degrees.colder.  I'm not very old, but you can't tell me things haven't changed in the last 50 years.  Oh yes, the weather was v-e-r-y un-usu-al. Wearing sandals with thick socks, but still keeping my feet warm.
I bet most of you reading this can't remember when:
~~TV first came out, and everything was in black and white.
~~The moonwalk.
~~Phone booths.
And speaking of phone booths-- how about party lines?  If you don't know what that is, ask your parents, or someone significantly older than you, whom will tell you stories more interesting than you can find on the internet.
And as long as you're asking about that, have them tell you about painting the town red.
Well, enough of that memory lane.

Our dirt road in TN-- Mud road.
~~~
Christmas is past, again.  Last year about this time, I was sick and sleeping the winter away.
Then the decision was made to move back home, so here we are.
From this......
....to this:

Still no replacement house yet, but a farm for sure, several different mountain views, cool air, paved roads, and kitty kats.  Four kitty kats.  Miles of paved roads.  Miles and miles of ALL   PAVED   ROADS.  of trees, everywhere.  I even hear them break and crash in the woods at night.  Yes! Trees that fall in the forest at night make a loud noise, even when no one is watching, just in case you were wondering.
~~~
So far, a very mild winter, but we are predicted to have snow today.
I'll have my winter, finally!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Greetings

Merry Christmas
and
Happy New Year

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