Thursday, April 18, 2013

Setbacks, New Starts, and Plan B

I've just started this blog, and I'm already behind. I'm sorry about that, but I'm telling you I have a great excuse... if there is such a thing.

Originally, I planned on doing an update twice a week and gradually increase my updates as time went on and allowed. At the time, I already had my second post topic in mind - I was going to introduce you to our land. I had taken some quick shots of the property from different angles and even some of Ariel (our dog who we love like a child) trouncing and bouncing around it. Oh, what the heck, I'll post the picture anyway! Here she is:
"I can't wait to have a yard of my own!"
However, before my fingers could hit the keys, I wanted to make sure we had closed on the land, and after some investigation, I learned we hadn't. I decided to delay my post until we closed. But after a couple of weeks, that day still hasn't come. So now, I sit (virtually) before you with a new topic in mind - our first setback.

Start the back story:
When Chris's dad, Willie, who is a general contractor, mentioned building us a house back in February (oh, where has the time gone?), I originally didn't want to do it. I was set against it for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason was I didn't want to go through the process of finding a parcel of land. Not to mention, we live in Hampton Roads, an incredibly developed megalopolis, that doesn't have a lot of land to offer. I didn't think we'd be able to find something affordable in a city we liked.

However, Willie quickly proved me wrong when he quickly found a 1.1-acre plot in York County.
I was shocked - it was a large piece of land (more than enough for Princess Ariel to enjoy) in York County, which has some of the best schools in Hampton Roads, for an affordable price. Sure, it had some downsides: less-than-desirable neighboring houses and some brush that needed to be cleared. But in the grand scheme of things, I couldn't think of finding a nicer piece of land in our price range. After some soul-searching, dozens of debates with the husband, and several intensive interviews with every one of my parents, I finally sided with Chris, who had been in favor of building since the first suggestion of it. The land in York County was a big motivation for me, but last week, we found out we might need to say goodbye to that land.

Now to the story you've been waiting for:
For the past three weeks, I knew we were hitting some roadblocks in the closing process, but we aren't leading the effort. We made an agreement with the father-in-law (FIL) that he would purchase the land using his equity and build the house, and once completed, he would sell us the house - just as if we were purchasing any other house. The big difference would be we were going to make all the decisions about the building.
So, FIL has been working to close on this land since we made the decision to build at the beginning of March. It's now mid-April, and still, the closing looms because the seller is dragging his feet (weird, right?!). He previously said he thought things would work out, but last week, he had a disheartening conversation with Chris. The seller of the property is being uncooperative, and FIL can't seem to motivate him to get this deal taken care of faster. If we had all the time in the world, it might be OK. But we don't have that kind of time - we're aiming to have this thing built by September - November, at the latest. So, FIL made this suggestion to us: look for a plan B.

After a day of pouting (I didn't want to start the process over again), we did just that. My always-diligent hubby managed to find several other pieces of land scattered across Hampton Roads - some were in our current neck of the woods of Suffolk, some in York County, others in Smithfield (home of the ham), and a couple in Williamsburg.

We looked at the York County properties first. We had decided on York County originally, and we thought it would be best to move forward with that plan still. But the land out there was either smaller, pricier, and/or sketchier than the 1.1-acre lot we wanted.

On Saturday, we drove to Williamsburg, with my mommy in the back seat, to see the land out there. Most of it, we found out, was in a gated community, called Fords Colony, that we couldn't enter (not fancy enough, I suppose). But we did see two pieces that seemed appealing. Both were smaller than the York County land but not by much - not to mention, they were both cheaper and in nicer neighborhoods.

The first one we saw was lovely and in a wooded neighborhood with quiet streets and friendly folks living next door. However, it was on a severe slope. We could have probably make it work, but it would cost us. So we decided it was a no-go.

The second was a little more mysterious. It was listed as for sale on the website, but there wasn't a sign out, yet. This made it difficult to figure out where the property lines were. The land was either on a slope like the other piece, or it included a nice flat section, perfect for house building.
Fortunately,  when we looked at the property lines online, we found out it was the latter.

On Sunday, we looked at Suffolk and Smithfield, but we were still smitten with the Williamsburg land - no matter what we saw. Williamsburg schools are well-respected like York County's, and there is something incredibly beautiful and charming about the area (I'm sure you know what I mean if you'd been there). Also, we would be very close to the interstate. I would have a longer drive to work (to downtown Newport News), but I was starting to think it would be worth it.

When I approached Chris, we knew at once we were on the same page. If the York County land fell through, we wanted this property. We informed FIL, and we should know by the end of the week what will happen.

Either way, I think we'll end up with a great piece of land on which to build our home. I haven't decided which piece is my favorite, so for the time being, I'll just be happy to close on either.

Side note: I'm going to keep my promise for sure this time to update twice a week from now on.

Positoovely yours,

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