housework: the werk continues...

Busy, busy, busy...
  • Financing: After talking to our bank and calling a couple banks the builder recommended, we've thrown up our arms and are going to use the mortgage broker we used to buy the lot to help us find financing. We weren't finding what we wanted, and the options/rates/programs were starting to get dizzying (as were the sales pitches from the banks). Looks like a single-close to 30 is a no-go these days...
  • Action items: Sent the builder, the architects, and us a list of action items from last week's meeting. We talked about a lot of topics, so I felt the need to write it all down and get it all out. In general, this is a good thing to do no matter what you're working on. The challenge is getting people to read the darn emails! In short, what needs to get done:
    • Builder
      • price out storefront for the whole house 
      • price out custom cabs (can they use IKEA fronts? can they reproduce the look of thermofoil?)
      • price out the driveway, sidewalks, and Mies wall
      • price out an ERV system for the house
      • update the bid sheet with our allowances/upgrades
      • send over a contract
    • Architects
      • any issue with a wall-mounted toilet in the powder?
      • do plans need to be revised for storefront?
      • need details on the metal eyebrows
      • do the overhangs need to be re-detailed?
      • revise the electric plan once we provide comments on low voltage items
      • start permitting once we're under contract with the builder
    • Us
      • Figure out what we want for low-voltage and send to architects
      • Figure out what needs to be changed on the budget allowances/upgrades
      • sign contract with builder
      • get financing
  • Allowances: We've reached a point in the process where the process shouldn't be stopped while we figure out the rest of the specs. Therefore, we'll have to go forward with some allowances. However, we can put in more realistic (for our tastes...) allowances given what we know now. For example, we haven't finalized tile choices, but we have a pretty good idea of price points at this point. 
  • Landscaping: Got a bid back from the landscaper: 40 grand (gulp!). Take off the back wall, and we're probably at 30K. That's a lot of dough, but probably in the ballpark of what'll get spent to build the landscaping plan all the way out. Still thinking about how to proceed on that one...
  • Solar: Heard from a sunny pal that the solar rebates have gone dramatically down (she got this from one of the firms she had do a site evaluation on her house). Another sunny-in-a-solar-kinda-way pal said, yes, rebates are now lower, but only to reflect the better prices for solar. She also said what the city will pay for solar power is now better (probably has something do to with the recent electric rate increase). Sunny pal #1 said that the first company that looked at her house said that her place wouldn't qualify for the solar rebate; the second company said that it would. There you go...
  • Electric/low voltage plan: Got that done this afternoon. Whew!


  1. Question: Can the landscaping cost be rolled into the construction loan and permanent mortgage (assuming the appraisal supports the value)? Steve and I were trying to talk through that question, and we weren't sure if it would be possible if the landscaping work wasn't rolled into the construction contract (which could trigger paying the architect's and/or builder's fee on top of the $40k...so it could become $50k or $60k...gulp-and-a-half).

    Should you choose to tackle your landscaping (or parts thereof) yourself, I'll help you if you help me. : )

    1. Yes, the landscape can be rolled into the construction loan and perm mortgage. I'm not sure it has to meet the appraisal; I think the bank wants to see that the appraisal minus the homeowner's cash in the project is at least 80 percent of the value of the appraisal (this based on recent but still incomplete discussions on a construction loan). And it is possible for the landscaping to be pulled off the project. In fact, we're thinking about just that. And as you note, the builder's fee gets added on top (out builder splits his fee between fixed costs and a 10 percent "profit". So whatever the landscaping costs, he adds 10 percent on top.

      I'll help you once you get those trenches dug...

  2. what are the tradeoffs of using storefront windows everywhere? The places in San Antonio that have them use them for large fixed windows with a northern exposure to reduce solar gain.

    and have you seen this?


    from one of your local builders?

    1. That dude (Risinger) is a local builder! Love that guy! But hadn't seen that video. Much appreciated that you shared it.

      Storefront all over is considered the poo (i.e., sooper cool) here in Austin regardless of the side. However, they're expensive, especially if you want one to open. Hadn't thought about how they're installed...

      One downside of storefront is that they're almost always (always?) aluminum, which is great at transferring heat from the outside to the inside (at least here in Texas). You can get thermally broken ones, but they're still not as good as fiberglass and vinyl. Storefronts can be made to (nearly) any size, so they don't have to be goofy huge. All the windows in our house (including the teeny-tiny one out the master closet) can be done in storefront if we so choose.

      Risinger was one of the builders we interviewed. Unfortunately for us (but good for him!), he was too high end for our budget (his minimum price per square foot was way higher than we could afford [without having a teeny-tiny house]).