14 February 2006 by Published in: General musings 4 comments

WARNING: Today’s post has absolutely nothing to do with the Civil War.

After three-plus months of inexplicable delays, Susan and I today began our grand adventure.

As I write this, the excavators are finishing up the digging of the hole for the foundation for our new house. The process of building a house is something entirely new for both of us. I grew up in a condo complex, and the house we live in now was built in 1969. Susan grew up in two houses–one more than one hundred years old, and the other more than fifty. Consequently, this whole process is pretty alien to both of us.

We’re building in a very small but rapidly expanding community. Five years ago, it was a small, rural town of perhaps 2000 people with no recent development. However, the inevitable spread of Columbus’ urban sprawl has reached this little town, and in the past several years, there have been at least four large subdivisions begun. Two, including the one we’re building in, are for larger, more expensive homes. One is for mid-sized production homes by a large developer, and the other consists of very small, densely packed houses that I call, not lovingly, “cheeseboxes.” All of this explosive growth–and there WILL be more–strains the infrastructure of this small town, which has only one guy responsible for building permits, plan approvals, and inspections. The poor guy is probably swamped with work most of the time.

Initially, it took forever to get the construction loan approved. Why? We’re building the biggest house in the area in years, and they had a difficult time finding comps to make sure that the value would support the price. This added a month to that process. Foolish me. I assumed–incorrectly–that if I signed a contract to build a house, that was the price, and that was the value of the house. WRONG! In reality, they still do a full appraisal–even before the house is built, based on the plans–to ensure that the house will have sufficient resale value to support the contract price. That was a real eye-opener for me. I had no idea. The thought of appraising something that had not yet been constructed simply never occurred to me.

Then came finalizing plans, etc. They were supposed to dig on February 1. However, the permit guy (see above) was hospitalized, and there was nobody to sign off on the plans and issue the permit. Then, we got bumped back to February 9. No permit yet; it finally issued that day, too late for the work to be done. So, the excavation had to be rescheduled again. They FINALLY commenced digging the hole today.

They tell me it will be six months from today to closing, plus or minus two weeks. We have a LOT to do between now and then to get the existing house ready to sell and to unclutter our very cluttered lives. We will keep everyone posted.

However, for now, it’s a bold new world, and one I’ve never visited previously. To say that it will be an adventure is an understatement…..

Scridb filter


  1. Wed 15th Feb 2006 at 10:43 am

    Sounds like you ran into something that I deal with quite often, as an insurance broker – the construction details of new homes. Sorry I wasn’t aware of what you were dealing with or perhaps I could have helped a bit. Yep, appraisals on these things are done as-built, which means there’s nothing to appraise except blueprints :-0 We do the same with the insurance – which reminds me, make sure that they’ve figured your Homeowners coverage the same way (replacement cost based on as-built) and that you have the Builder’s Risk or Construction Materials rider on it (not sure what they call it in Ohio). That rider covers any loss or damage to materials, installed or not installed, because typically YOU are responsible for them once they are brought on site. There are exceptions, but usually you’re on the hook for most everything. The rider last six months and is renewable if need be.

    It’s an exciting time. I haven’t yet built my own house, but hope to someday once we retire south.


  2. Wed 15th Feb 2006 at 11:15 am


    All good advice–thanks a lot. I will follow up on it.

    It’s going to be an adventure, no doubt about it.


  3. CR Simmons
    Wed 15th Feb 2006 at 12:26 pm

    Good luck on the new home. My wife and I built our current house when she was pregnant with our third child. Given the inevitable problems that arise during construction, I was quite glad to have a semi-crazed, pregnant woman to browbeat the general contractor on a daily basis. We would stop by the site every two or three days and ensure everything was going well. Woe to the GC if it wasn’t because he would get a visit from my highly agitated wife (we were supposed to move in two weeks before her due date).

    I found that contractors are wholly incapable of arguing with a pregnant woman and almost invariably agree to whatever she demands. About three weeks before closing, they told us they would have to charge us $4,000 for the brick work because they had miscalculated the cost. I’m an attorney and not afraid of confrontation, but I just sat there in silence as she crawled up one side of that guy and down the other. By the time she told him he could keep the house and suggested that he do something anatomically impossible with it, he offered to throw in some extra finish work for free.

    I love my wife.

    But sometimes I’m afraid of her.

  4. Wed 15th Feb 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks, Clay. I appreciate the tale, because my wife is much the same, just not pregnant. She’s the daughter of an architect and the granddaughter of a very prominent construction contractor, and she made it known that she intended to be all over the contractor like ugly on an ape. I’m perfectly content to just sit back and let her have her fun with it.

    And like you say, I love my wife, but sometimes, I am definitely afraid of her. 🙂


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