The Deal Is Done

The deal is done. We signed the final papers and gave the final check to the title company. We are the owners of 10.16 acres of land. I realized that this is the first thing I have ever owned that can't be lost, stolen, melted... it is REAL Estate. Now, I must build an estate.

It was suggested today by two completely unconnected parties that we consider hiring an Amish crew to build the first phase of the house. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe it's the new thing? We passed 4 Amish buggies on the road in the course of our driving today.

It looked something like this, but colder.

Now that the property is ours, I feel like I have been searching for a job and suddenly I have one - and I have a lot to do and 24 hours a day to do it. To make the most of the daylight, I'll be rising early.

Here's the math:

The sun rise = 6:53am
subtract 90 minutes for the commute = 5:23am
subtract 5 minutes to dress, brush teeth, chug 3 raw eggs (Rocky style), brush teeth again = 5:18am

I thank the decreased world demand for oil for the low gas prices ($1.53/gal) - I'll be burning 9 gallons per day for a while (there's no mass transit here).

We have until April 30 before our apartment lease expires, so we must have some livable dwelling ready by May 1. Even if we end up in a tent on an air mattress, the temperature should not be an issue:
May Average Temps: High = 78.0° F Low = 55.0° F

Even the dogs should be able to handle those temps. Well, maybe not Noodles so much.

She's undercover cause she's got not enough fur.

Clearance, Sale

According to the bank's website, the check has cleared. I had no idea that our Tennessee bank would require 11 business days to clear an out-of-state check. When we closed our California account, they sent a check to us which we immediately deposited in our TN account. If it was cleared sooner, we could have closed the deal on the property sooner, and started building, digging, etc. Oh, well. As long as the seller returns the sale documents to the title company on Monday, we'll be pulling a cashier's check for the balance and closing on either Monday or Tuesday.

Then, our plans are to build this:

Happy Holidays!

On your mark, get set, WORK!

Kelly discovered today that the money that we transferred from our Los Angeles bank account has arrived in our Murfreesboro bank account.

Don't blink, or you'll miss what i anticipate is the last time we'll have a five-figure bank account balance in a long, long time.

This means that we can do the closing paperwork on Monday. Kelly is still anxious that something's going to fall through. The boy is clearly paranoid, and driving me insane. Also, he's always got his tape measure in his hands, and he's constantly re-measuring the apartment to reaffirm his ideas of measurement.

Dec 2, 2008
Taken Dec 2, 2008

Dec 20, 2008
Taken EIGHTEEN days later: Dec 20, 2008

These are photographs, but as you can see they might as well be a live video feed. We are in HIGH research mode, reading everything we can get our hands on. Kelly's in charge of construction and design of everything but the kitchen, and I'm in charge of farming/gardening and animal husbandry. Typing that out makes me realize that it sounds like we've divided this up on a sexist basis...does it?
tangent rant: I grew up in a family of boys. When I was 6, Frank was 5 and Vito was 4. (Italian = catholic, if that clears things up...) I grew up hating that they'd get gifts you could actually play with, like drums/guitars or tomahawks or trucks and I'd get a put-on-the-shelf doll or a necklace. Why didn't my stupid relatives get all 3 of us the same thing, so we could play together? As we grew up, I was stuck in the house doing the inside chores, when the boys would be outside, working together. I did managed to convince my dad, once, to let us trade. I did fine pulling weeds and mowing the lawn (still by myself) but the boys did a really lousy job of washing dishes and mopping... and dad didn't like to eat off of dirty dishes and walk on a sticky floor, so that was the end of that. That baggage has persisted through my adulthood. One of the things that bugs me about networking groups and business associations that specifically focus on women is that by defining a difference, you make the differences that much more pronounced. Is that really productive? It makes women's networking like remedial P.E.: We'll all be nice and play easy games, we don't need to do anything complicated or strenuous. Whatever. Kelly has somehow managed to put up with me, and we put all that sexist division of labor stuff aside. I cook because i love it and I'm better at it. I'm in charge of the plants and critters because they're ultimately food. He's in charge of building because he's mathematically inclined, precise and methodical. Besides, if the measuring were left up to me, the house would look like Picasso was our general contractor...
Where was I...oh yeah: research! We've been checking books out of the library, but the ones that we can use as long-term reference books, we've been finding at and buying them for about $4 each including shipping.

Homework Textbooks

I've also been taking photos of stuff in the ones not worth buying and making an inspirational wish-list.

this is a very nice layout, I've cooked in one like this.

doors leading from kitchen to dining room

poured concrete island

roll-out breakfast table

kitchen pantry

range hood

privacy mailbox

I keep trying to focus on the end results, because this whole sinking-treated-posts-into-prepared-holes-with-concrete-footers is just not exciting to me. Kelly has said before that this is his ultimate fort so it's VERY exciting to him.

I'm trying to be motivated and patient at the same time. These two states of being are very difficult.

Today I learned: that everything from the Beatles is an excellent soundtrack for kneading bread. I'm making baguettes with wholewheat flour, one plain, one with fresh rosemary from tiny christmas tree i bought at Lowe's reject rack for $1.

We have an address.

Last week, we contacted the E911 guy to request that he provide an address for our soon-to-be home. Based on the location of the driveway, he determined that our address is 427 Stella Road.

I don't know why, but 427 seems like a good number. I like it.

Chevy enthusiasts will likely remember the number easily.

5 days to closing. And counting. Then digging. Lots of digging.

How big is 10 acres? WITH PHOTOS!

It's quite a lot of space, actually.

Every time people ask me if we have photos of the place, I joke, "well, have you ever seen a forest?" because there isn't much to take photos of: Tree. Tree. Tree. Pond. Tree. Tree....

Anyway, here are some pix with the future owner in for size perspective. (to see larger version, click on the image, and it will pop into a new window.

Today I learned: that i don't know how to hold my cameraphone to make the pictures come out straight without tinkering with them later.

Meeting Mr. Hatfield

On Friday, we drove into Pulaski to meet with a County Environmental Specialist to discuss the septic system requirements. Mr. Hatfield was a very cool guy, offering lots of advice while chatting with us quite casually. No rush, no pressure. I think we all enjoyed each other's company. After I mentioned that I was planning to do as much of the work as possible, he offered to provide the rules and regulations for installing a septic system. I am still surprised at how helpful everyone is, and how it seems like they are eager to do their jobs. And these are all government employees! Don't they know? I love Tennessee.

Once our discussion was over (30 minutes past the office closing) we asked him where we should try for dinner. He corrected our use of the word dinner - "'cause in these parts, dinner is the second meal of the day, what y'all call lunch. What you want is called supper." He recommended we try Sarge's Shack for their All-You-Can-Eat Catfish Dinner. As he drove past us in the parking lot, he called out to tell us to order the Hot Slaw (which turned out to be pretty good). The catfish was good, too.


On Thursday, I drove to the property to meet with the Highway Dept guys to look at the water situation. They were on time, pulling in right behind me off the road at the predetermined location. We drove up the road a bit to the location of the water hydrant from which our water line will start. The two guys, Barry and Steven were really cool, and really helpful. One item to note: practically every one of the men I have shaken hands with have huge, puffy, weathered hands. My smaller, softer hands will soon be a-changin'. So, the highway guys told me that I can run our private water line along the road as long as we don't mess up the road by using a backhoe or other heavy equipment. No problem.

After they drove off, I started unloading the 4 fence posts from my trunk. The posts are for temporary markers of the septic field area - a recommendation from the soil scientist. Before I finished unloading the stuff, a car pulls up and a woman steps out. She started talking about the property, and then I realized who she was. She was the soil scientist that canceled on us Tuesday morning. I guess she thought we had rescheduled, but I thought it was more of a suggestion she had made when she had called to cancel. I had even tried to call her the day before to let her know that we had used another soil guy, but there was no voicemail on her line. I never thought she was going to show up. Oh, well. I sent her away with my apologies for the miscommunication. Lucky for her, she didn't travel far from home.

I climbed up the slope to the septic site and rammed the 4 posts into the ground. It has been a while since I climbed uphill carrying 60 pounds of extra weight, and my heart was pounding. I didn't die, so that was good. Then, I walked around the property, eventually repositioning the marker flags that define the house boundaries. It's hard to imagine exactly where the ideal location is going to be, especially when we will be removing some trees to open up the area. Mainly, I wanted to move the house away from the unprotected north side of the ridge where the prevailing winds would chill us in winter time. A little to the west and south looked better to me. How often can you move your house?

Good Earth

Yesterday, I called a soil scientist to arrange for a meeting on the property site. I was glad when she said she could meet us there today at 10am - such short notice! JoAnna and I got up early (for us) and headed out to Prospect. We were about 45 minutes into the 90-minute drive when she called and reported that she was having car trouble and would have to postpone until Thursday. She also said she was sick with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and was planning to go to the doctor tomorrow. We did not want to wait, so we immediately called a different soil scientist based out of Columbia, TN. Luckily, he was able to rearrange his schedule to meet with us, setting us back only 1 hour from our schedule.

The delay allowed us to enjoy breakfast at Johnson's Bluebird Cafe.

Norman was great. He listened to our ideas and offered his advice. Using a manual auger tool that digs a hole and then holds the dirt in it for examination upon extraction, he dug 6 or 7 holes around our proposed home site. He told us that our soil was very good for water percolation, and there is plenty of area with that type of soil. So, I guess we can expect his report to the county authorities will be accepted. Hurray! Norman was kind enough to give me 6 marking flags that we used to mark the corners of our imaginary house. We planted the flags on the corners of our 1200 sq. ft. house, 40' x 30'.

Stepping back in time a bit...

When we first arrived at the property today, the herd of 30 or so goats and sheep from the pasture next to our land were seen evacuating from our property back to their own. The fence between the 2 properties has not been maintained much, so the goats and their canine protectors have been visiting our land as they pleased. That's OK with me, as long as they are fertilizing as they browse. I did not see any damage to trees which goats often resort to for food, so that's a good thing. Another benefit is that they appear to have been drinking the water from our little pond, so we have decided to skip the testing of that water. "If it's good enough for a goat..." - you know the rest.

We met the owner of the goats today. His name is Bobby, and he is looking forward to a restaurant in the area. He was a talkative man, probably 60 years old, and very friendly - just like practically everyone we have met in the area. It looked like he made a fix to the hole in the fence today where the herd had been getting through, so he's responsible, too. A real nice man. He told us that he had heard that quite a few dogs in the area have died from rattlesnake bites over the years, but he had never seen a one. I'm hoping I never see one on our property, either.

Next, we drove over to the Minor Hill Water Utility office. Our intention was to obtain a written guarantee that the water line that does not quite reach our property can be extended (at our cost). Well, it turns out that the Utility will not run the extension at all. We will have to hire a private contractor to provide the water line from the current end-of-the-line. I'm not sure if the contractor will be the one to get permission from the county to dig and run the line, or if that will be up to us. Either way, it needs to be sorted out before we can close the deal. I have no doubt that it will work out.

We sent a fax to our California bank yesterday, requesting that they close our accounts and send a check to us for the balance. We will be using that money to pay for this property. Once we close the deal, we will be cashing in our IRA accounts to use that money to build the house. This can be done without penalty for first-time home buyers, up to $10,000. There is also a government incentive that has been called a tax credit, but it is actually more like a $7500 interest-free loan that one pays down through taxes over the next 15 years, $500 each year. Seems like a no-brainer.