Six years ago my husband and I decided to act on our dream of building our own home. We mocked up various floor plans, all of which kept getting larger and larger, including stained glass windows in our hand carved mahogany front door, and terracotta tiles imported from Italy. Oh yes our dream kept getting more and more extravagant with every new sketch. Then we came to our senses and re-membered our dream. To live in a cozy cabin on a nice piece of land.
First step shopping log cabin kit manufacturers. My husband wanted to buy a forest, cut down the trees, drag them out of the woods; debark each one and use a chainsaw to cut and fit the randomly sized, shaped, logs together. Come up with some way to connect them so the house didn’t topple over, and finally chink between each one to seal it all up nice and tight. Although the idea sounded wildly western [I'm from the west originally] and kinda romantic, I nixed it straight away. We picked a plan and kit that suited our long-term goals. I agreed on just purchasing the logs and windows and doing everything else ourselves.
Then we set about finding a piece of land. We live in the country and wanted to have at least a couple of acres so we could spread out a bit. We walked several swathes of wild woods in our quest to find the perfect place to root. I had one stipulation. Well two, I wanted a stream, and if after walking the boundary lines I had a tick on me, then it wasn’t the right piece of land. Needless to say it took a while before we made it out of the pucker brush, bug free. Finally after far too much de-ticking, my son sent us searching in an area that he thought might suit our fancy.
We got up early, climbed on our Harley’s and rode off into the sunrise to check it out. Three acres that had never been lived on. As we weaved our way back and forth across the land, checking the condition of the soil, the trees, reading our way through the understory, we stumbled upon several old trillium bursting with blossoms red as Merlot. Found three different areas bounteous with Lady Slippers just starting to lift their heads; open their voluptuous pink faces to the dappled sunlight of the wood. When all was said and done, not one tick. This was the place.
Next came a loan. Gulp. My husband was never married before he married me [twelve years ago]. At forty-three he had managed to avoid all ties that bind; including a regular job where you report all your income and things like that. I had managed to ruin my credit, mostly because I honestly had no idea there was such a thing. I was so caught up in my pay check to pay check, robbing Peter to pay part of what I owed Paul, I never thought about such things. Needless to say we were behind the eight ball. Fortunately the ‘getting banged around alot’ position, didn’t dissuade me from going after what I wanted in life so we forged ahead. As luck would have it our neighbor put us in touch with his cousin, who called a friend, who knew a guy, who set us up with very charismatic crook. We qualified for the dough by getting a no doc loan and we were off and building!
Two diesel trucks piled high with logs pulled onto ‘our land’ late that summer and my heart sank. I couldn’t imagine how we were ever gunna get it done in six months. The time alloted for our construction loan. After that the interest rate goes up exponentially. But my husband, who is a builder, and an eternal optimist assured me that he had everything under control. Did I mention that he is also fiercely, stubbornly, independent. Which means he wanted to do the whole thing himself.
Meanwhile back at the loan sharks office Mr.Fox packed everything up and disappeared. We got a call from the Texas mafia, aka, the mortgage company who was funding our construction account. He informed us in a godfather, you will find a horses head in your bed if you don’t do as I say, tone of voice, that we had four weeks to finish before all funds dried up. We were not even close to being able to pull that off. Destiny on our side the appraiser was a local guy who had it in for the Texas gang. He helped us stage a closing which allowed us to avoid having to replace our mattress. Since that time our mortgage has been passed around like a cheap hooker at a bachelor party. Once a year without fail we get a letter instructing us where we are to drop off the loot. A clever way to keep from being followed I suppose.
Recently I decided to be done with the riffraff and refinance our loan. Get a legitimate FHA approved mortgage. Leave the laundered money family. Going back to the part of the story where my husband assured me that he had it all covered. That he could get the house done in six months no problem; has been a problem. We are six years in and finally doing the detailed finish work. It has been an adventure to say the least.
At times, I have wanted to hire someone from the family that gave us the original mortgage to take my husband for a little ride. Shake him up, inspire him, but don’t break his fingers, he needs them to get the damn house done! I have to confess though, this house is built like a work of art. All the wiring run and stapled, neat, colorful threads of electricity bringing things to life. The plumbing is like a plastic sculpture. In a log house you have to be very creative as you don’t have many walls to bury things in. We have a central vacuum system and a heat recovery ventilation system. Which makes up for the dust and ash from the wood-stove that we both enjoy immensely. The counters are tiled with beautiful amazon rain-forest marble. In the master bedroom the vanity and shower are tiled with authentic river rock sliced flat. All the trim is douglas-fir stained in mahogany and the cabinets are wild-looking hickory. The logs are a natural golden pine and the whole building was built with green materials. It’s a healthy house. We tiled the hearth with slate and then inlaid hand painted ceramic leaf tiles. Each tile took over two hours to set. My husband using a tiny diamond dremel to cut the shape of each leaf into the twelve-inch slate base tiles. Everything is custom. Most of which we could never have afforded had he not been able and willing to do it himself.
Getting this new loan has been a bit more challenging than the first one. Anyone who has borrowed money legitimately knows what I am talking about. There was only one thing that had the potential to interfere with our forward movement and that was the appraisal. We are almost there but not quite. To get a FHA approved mortgage is tough these days. We worried like a guy who knows he has betrayed the kingpin. But once again luck was on our side. When the appraiser came to do an inspection he was a local guy who was also in the same process. We got the call today. Our new loan has been approved.