Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Green Acres

I have heard it jokingly said that building a house is the single largest cause of divorce.  I think I believe it!  Whew, this process is barely off the ground and the stress is outrageous!  As if committing to purchase a large parcel of land at auction wasn't stressful enough right out of the gate, the hits just keep coming.  Does anyone ever say, "Sure, we can do that.  No problem at all"?  Maybe they frown on that in contractor school.

So, we own a beautiful field of clover and alfalfa (scroll down for pics in my layout "The House that Love Built). We have a friend who bales it two or three times a year and trades us beef for the hay.  That's not the stressful part. Actually, that's pretty awesome.

Anyway, we picked a site where we'd like to build our house. It's on the edge of a ravine so I can have an overhanging deck with a view of the floor of the woods and the canopy of trees.  That means the fall of the land is wrong and angles toward the house--bad for water run off.  There's good news and bad news about that. It's no sweat because we have to scoop out 700 or so feet of driveway down to eight inches to make a road base and we can use our own dirt to build it up.  Sweet.  Apart from the cost of filling that 700' X 8" with whatever it takes to make a decent road base, anyway.

Now the stress begins. We decided we need power, right? So we called the power company and the first thing the young lady answering calls said was that she already shows us with service.  Uh-oh, not the brightest bulb in the box. Yes, we already have service AT OUR CURRENT HOUSE.  We want to build a new one, that's why you heard "new building site."  Never mind that the bill goes to our post office box and not our physical address (which apparently is an unusual and confusing situation), that's how we want it, please DO NOT correct it!  Can we please talk about THE NEW HOUSE??  It turns out you can't get power until you have a 911 address.

So we got a 911 address.  I'll spare you that laborious story, except to say this: If you want one, start early.  Someone has to get out from behind a desk and measure the distance (while walking it) from the nearest major cross street to your building site and then calculate what the address would be from that.  We now have an address with so many numbers and directions I can't remember it anyway and have to dig through my purse for the little paper I wrote it on.

THEN we called the power company again and they were quite prompt in coming out and checking out our site the following Monday.  Unfortunately, they decided we needed to purchase something called a "pad transformer" for several thousand dollars.  I'm not sure why, but I DID understand that we (as the first builders in the area) would own the power coming through the transformer and everyone else building after us would purchase their power from us.  HUH?  Ummmm, NO, NO, NO.  I so do not want to be responsible for paying for ALL the power and then trying to get the money from everyone else.

Enter the Hub's best friend's dad, who is an electrician extraordinaire.  He said they always try to tell new builders this because it's better for them if you take on the $12-15,000 extra cost for the transformer.  After the power guy saw a guy who understands the hazards of country power, suddenly there will still need to be a pad transformer, but they own it and not us. (This disturbed the Hub, but I am female and have dealt with many men who think I don't know squat.)  Now we just have to decide if we want to have the power overhead or underground....Price tag? $10,000 or so to run it to the site. Oh, and that's just for access...that doesn't include hooking it up to anything.  That costs more.

Well, then we decided we'd better check out a well. What good is an address and power if there's no water, right?  OMS! (that's OH MY STARS!)  Water tables, nearest neighbor stories and three contractors later, we have a consensus.  You can't drill a well.  Oh, there's water.  Plenty of it, actually. It's just that the soil is very sandy (something about dead river bed, blah, blah, blah) and the sand comes in and fills up the well in a few years and you'd have to keep taking care of that issue.  We need a "bored" well...because they bore it out, and, yes, it took me a week to realize it wasn't made of boards. :)  It's not as good an idea, because it's shallower and susceptible to crop run-off and other stuff.  So we'd have to bring in drinking water.  But, we probably would have done that anyway.  We are considering, at this moment, drilling just for fun to see if we hit anything and, if not, doing the bored well.  It's less expensive if we hit (and a better well) and, if we don't, at least we know for sure, I guess.  Cost? $5-10,000.  Probably closer to ten if we do a bored well, which is more expensive anyway, which makes no sense to me if it isn't as desirable.  Go figure.

So, that's the scoop so far...and we haven't even broken ground yet.  The poor Hub is under so much stress worrying about the dang well, because that's the critical issue at the moment.  It's going to be $30-40 thousand before we even break ground. Who knew?....Weeellll, the Hub knew. He tried to warn me, but I'm a jump-in-the-water-looks-great kind of girl.  Problem is there's rocks under the surface of this pond!

Hopefully (hysterical laughter) things will go smoothly when we actually start the physical building.  I'll keep ya posted. ;)

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