House Building: Plan Approval

Last Tuesday, the planning and zoning commission in Ridgway decided that my plans for the house were okay with them even though they differ from the home design standard a little bit. It was nerve-wracking although clearly it turned out okay. I treated myself to takeout Thai in order to celebrate.

That means that I spent the rest of the week giving the draftsperson the go-ahead to finish up with the plans, lining up an engineer, and starting the loan application process. I spend almost 30% of my nights in a shed and the other 70% in a rental house, I would really like to get this process going, you know?

This all feels so surreal. It also feels strange to talk about publicly because so much at this point leans on my finance and in America we don’t talk about finances because people feel bad about money and it’s “impolite.”  (I’d argue that dollars are just facts/numbers not value judgements but alas…)  So, here goes, if this whole house plan grinds to a halt at this stage, it’s because it’s tied up with my financial situation.

In the meantime, here’s the elevations and floor plans. Architect is … me.

Home Depot Credit Card

When we bought our house we violated one of the many rules that you’ll find on the “buying your first home” advice pages all over the internet: don’t spend every last dime on your down payment because your house is going to need stuff. (Actually, we violated several of these like “Use a real estate agent.”)

Our house needed a lot of stuff. An estimated $8,000 worth of stuff. There were somethings we splurged on (like faucets) and others we went cheaper on (laminate flooring) and in the end I’m happy with what we chose to do. At the time, we were planning on staying in our house for a good long while and wanted to buy the nice stuff.

When we bought our house, we wanted to put down every dime we could but we were buying a a house that had huge single pane windows (one broken), no heat, exposed subfloor, and no working toilet. And it was December and about 20 degrees outside as a high.

Home Depot consumer credit card to the rescue. They gave Forrest an $8,000 credit limit, no problem even with a few credit dings. We bought most of our supplies during a promotion where any purchase over $299 was interest free for 12 months. This was laughable. Since it’s a long drive to the store, we’d make mega purchases so if we made it out of Home Depot for less than $1,000 we were shocked. We were also told that if we had purchases over the $299 threshold after the promotional period could almost ALWAYS be converted to promotional purchases simply by asking at the service desk. (Not to mention that Home Depot runs the promotion at least every two months…)

Since we had the interest free option, we were also able to tackle more projects (like my windows!) at the cabin this summer and spread it out over time. We calculated our minimum payments to get out of this thing with no interest paid as interest accrues during your promotional period at 17.99% that they will more than happily hit you with when the period ends.

Today, after a year and a half of using Home Depot for their lovely interest free help, we’re paid off. The ability to borrow $5,984.31 interest free in the period from December 2010 and today was key to our renovation!!

Note: The credit card was also awesome because we tended to buy every little thing we thought we might need (and still missed things, of course) because HD is 80 miles away…and then we just returned ’em. So we charged even more than the $6K but just made a return of the “extras” every trip.