General Mom

Mom-of-5, building a home in California, step by step, with Faith and Feistiness ~ by General Mom Contractor

Month: March, 2013

Impress the Banker

If there is anyone you need to impress on this journey, it’s the banker. He has the money!

Since the mortgage industry changed so much with lending since our last house in 2004, it’s harder to find a local bank willing to lend to owner builders. Most want a GC who is licensed and its their career to build homes. Taking a chance on an owner is risky in their eyes.

So, I went “old school” and started our meeting with a copy of my résumé for the construction loan senior Vice President to start the meeting out. Why should he put his money on me? It shows 18 years of recruiting experience at several Fortune 500 companies. I have a long history of hiring the best in class people. I recruited all the subs on our last house that we built successfully and I plan on doing that on this house. A lot of prayer for direction is key!

So far, I have hired the best design firm, civil engineer, surveyor and septic team. I have been interviewing and getting quotes for all the hard costs on the house. Those numbers go into a cost breakdown worksheet for the bank.

I gave W-2s and all assets info to the bank to see what kind of loan we qualify for and an appraisal of the house plans and land will play into it as well.

I am hopeful the banker will take a chance on us as owner builders. Good news at the end of our meeting he said I was quite a dynamic lady!



Family Pictures at the Land

We had our family pictures taken at the vacant land before all the construction starts. It was a glorious Sunday at sunset. This is a great shot my hubby got on the iPhone. This will be our future family room with that amazing view! “And the heavens declare the glory of God.”


Get The Whole Family Involved

Our dog Bailey is helping me check the plans!


Design Review *Cha-Ching*

Design review of building plans here in Santa Clara County is to show the visual impact of your house from the visible valley floor. They look for the height of the roof, color of the house and what impact the septic makes on the land. We tried to avoid this process, but once you reach a certain square footage then you are required to submit it. It’s a royal pain and I would advise against it. You are socked with fees upon fees and it’s a huge time waster. The county doesn’t even tell you all the fees you will incur to really assess if going over that square footage is worth it. If you want a copy of the “real” costs that you will incur, leave a comment requesting it.

Christmas Eve 2012, we submitted our plans for design review. I met our designer, Scott, at the office and followed him to the county with a huge stack of paperwork. See that paperwork in the photo? All ours to submit. The County office is in downtown San Jose and all the planners were bored at the desk and wondered if anyone would come in on Christmas Eve! We thought this would be a good sign of getting this approved in record time. However, the opposite occured when our planner went on vacation and then the next planner who needed to finish it got a two week flu bug. Three months later, we are still waiting and making changes that the county needs. We hope to have approval after the next hearing where the neighbors are invited to go and complain if they would like.

We have to put up story poles like in the photo, **Cha-ching**, 10 days prior to the hearing. These are wooden poles with orange snow fencing built to show the outline and height of the structure. This allows others to get the idea what it will look like. Then we prepare to submit the plans for Plan Check which is when we can get approved permits to build the house. That will take three more months! Our old house we built in Illinois only took two months for the county to give permits and the house was finished 7 months later. It takes 7 months just to get permits here!

Let’s just hope we will LOVE the extra 700 square feet that threw us into design review! I think I will call that part of the house **Cha-ching**! Maybe I’ll even make a sign, “You are now entering **Cha-ching**, please tell me I was not crazy for keeping this space.”