Closed on the Land and Started Clearing!

Can you believe it? We closed on the 6 acres on Ridge Road in Glenville! Everything went relatively smoothly, and now…

I visited the property for the first time as the official owner, and started surveying and clearing the land. Funny part about it is that I started surveying and found that one of the property borders (the North side) has a stone wall the entire way up, so I won’t have to survey that. That will save me a TON of time.

I started marking where the driveway will be and realized there is a huge birch tree right smack dab in the middle of where we’re planning on building. We’ll have to revisit the plot plan. Which is right here, by the way…

It might be hard to read, as I have my own convention, but here is my best explanation…

  1. Black = driveway
  2. Yellowish Orange lines = 10 foot contour lines (yes… a steep hill in the back)
  3. Gray lines = 1 ft contour lines
  4. Green area = trees and brushed cleared
  5. Red area = only brush cleared (keeping trees)
  6. Red box (lines) = garden
  7. Blue areas = pool and pond
  8. Brownish orange lines = septic area
  9. Light gray thick lines = temporary fence for pleasing Amanda (fenced in area so kids can play). I don’t think we need fences (other than around the pool)
  10. Black lines = pool fence
  11. Light blue lines = detached garage / shed / poolhouse (it’s hard to see… just North of the pool)
  12. And of course, green lines = house outline

So like I said, I started clearing today. I cleared about 20 feet of the driveway (driveway is about 20 feet wide). So, I cleared 400 sq.ft. in the matter of about an hour. Check out the pictures…



I know it doesn’t look like much, but it was a pain in the butt with the machete. Yes, I’m clearing it by hand. We’ll see how long this lasts. For now, I’m going to ice my back 🙂


Bought the Land!

It’s been 2 months since I posted on this blog, basically because nothing much has happened. I’ve been trying out different design ideas, but haven’t really moved on the Bolt Rd. property.

Bolt Road was nice, but honestly we really weren’t in love with it, and it didn’t offer much Southern exposure, so we decided to pass. Actually, let me say this… Amanda really is the ying to my yang, as I wanted to buy the property but she kept insisting it’s not what we’re looking for and we shouldn’t compromise.

Let’s just say this is the second time she’s been right.

We found the perfect property. It’s close, it’s almost 6 acres, it’s as wooded as we want it to be, it has a small creek running through it, and it backs to permanently wooded (hunting) land. Ohh yeah, and the price is lower than anything else we’ve looked at! So we went, walked on the property, and fell in love.

It’s on Ridge Rd. in Glenville. It’s about 3 minutes away from Scotia Glenville High School, yet, you stand on the property and it feels like you’re in the middle of the Adirondacks. Complete with tons of deer and other woodland creatures. The neighbors said deer walk up to their back porch all the time. Ohh, and the best part? 2/3 of the property is flatter than a board – perfect for building. And the other 1/3 is an awesome sledding / skiing hill! No kidding, Amanda and I walked through this property and I think it was hard for us to leave it.

So we put in an offer yesterday, and come to find out 2 other people did as well. So we did the multiple offer thing and guess what…


No kidding… we’re now the proud owners (or will soon be after closing) of 5.9 acres of wooded property in Glenville.

Now time to start clearing 🙂

Financing Update, Lot, Timeline, and Rev. 2 already

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research around what financing is available and what I’ll need in order to buy/build our house, and am quite excited, because about 3 weeks ago I found a viable option for financing.

There is a bank in Rochester, in which they are the lender and servicer of their mortgages. Not only do they lend and service, they don’t sell their loans! So they are stuck with the loan for the rest of their life, for better or worse. Because of this, they are able to modify conditions of their loans so it is not-so-common.

Their name is Normandy Bank and they specialize in “self built” houses, which is exactly what I am doing. Here are the details:

  • Require 25% down payment for the land purchase (only the land purchase)
  • You can borrow up to 90% of the final value of the house (not the construction costs – IMPORTANT!)
  • You need to have 10% of the construction costs as cash reserves, but don’t need to put it down. This is so you can pay stuff before you take delivery
  • 720 credit or higher, 45% DTI ratio
  • You DON’T have to move out of your current house.

I can’t believe it! This is the perfect loan and come late this spring, it’ll be exactly what we are looking for!

So… now I have a loan in mind. Now we have to find the land. Amanda and I looked at a parcel of land on 2 Bolt Rd, Glenville, NY. It is 2 and change acres and has already been site approved for a lot. It’s relatively close to civilization but far enough that we can get 2 acres and a decent amount of privacy. The lot next to it is for sale as well (any takers?)

Amanda is sort of nervous because it doesn’t have woods. She (and I) would love to have property back to woods. I was trying to make the argument to her that we can plant our own woods using privacy trees for now and planting shade trees that will be big when the kids are older. I’m not sure she’s convinced. Other than that, it seems like the perfect lot. There is another lot that is 5+ acres, but it’s pretty far out in West Glenville.

If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be putting a contract on the land in late-Spring with a due diligence period of like 4-6 months to get all of our permits in place before we actually close the land and start breaking ground.

Of course, it’s hard to wait, so I’ve been designing our house already. I started putting in every feature Amanda and I want in a house and I ended up with a 5,000+ sqft house! So I had to shrink everything and move some stuff around and came up with a decent first cut…

First Floor

First Iteration 2nd Floor

So I showed this to Amanda, and we talked through the design. She pointed out some really great things and for the first time, I think she was excited! I think she’s still a little skeptical as to whether this is actually going to work or not 🙂 Maybe I am as well… it’s a huge undertaking, a big dream, and there’s a lot of excitement but a lot of caution as well.

Either way, I took Amanda’s advice back to the drawing table (literally) and came up with a layout. Just a layout at this point, but what do you think?

Second Iteration First Floor

Second Iteration Second Floor

This post is already long enough, but I would love to share some of the details we’ve been working out about the house. I guess I’ll save that for a later post.

The Beginning…

This is it. We’ve finally made the decision that Amanda, Bryan Paul, Mady, Jamyson, and I are going to move out of our 1500 sqft. house and build our dream house.

I built this blog so we can record our progress toward building our house, and plan to update it frequently with pictures, posts, and videos that will be a way for us to not only communicate the status to our friends and family, but also to be able to show our kids as the grow up what it took to build the house they live in.

We’ve been talking about it for years, but were never in a very good position to pull the trigger. I’ll be honest – I’m quite nervous about this because it is a huge undertaking and there are a lot of unknowns.

First, I want to be the General Contractor. The benefits of being our own GC is plentiful. We have much more control, more options, more creativity, and best of all… it’s cheaper! We can probably save about 30-40% if we are careful, and can build the house the exact way we want it built.

There is one significant drawback to being our own contractor (also called owner-builder). Financing. There are very very few banks that will loan to an owner-builder, and those that do typically require that we own the land free and clear, or have to put something like 30-40% as a down payment in addition to the 6 months PITI and closing costs. We just don’t have that money laying around!

I did find a broker that specializes in owner-builder financing. They require 6% of the building costs upfront, which is very viable. There is one huge condition: you have to have sold your house before the bank will even consider you. Ouch! That means that before I can even break ground I will have to sell our current house and move into a rental with no guarantee that I’ll be approved for the loan or that the program will even exist at that time. That’s a big risk to take.

Regarding the land – most banks won’t loan money to purchase land, either. No wonder the industry is in the toilet! I did find a possibility, and without looking further into the details, it looks like the conditions require a 10% down payment (no problem) with a 5 year balloon. Like I said, I haven’t looked into the details, so I’m not even sure it still exists, or if it’s the remnants of an old website.

This past 2 weeks’ events have really put things into perspective for me. I saw a ton of devastation when helping to respond to Hurricane Irene, and it really made me think: now is the time to put this plan into motion. It may not be the ideal time, and money might be a stretch at some points, especially since we’ll have to put a lot of it down for an upfront payment, but I want to start building our memories in the perfect house both Amanda and I have always dreamed about.