There has been so much of it lately! After the big push I documented in my last post, to get ready for the appraiser, progress has been reasonably steady on the doors and door jambs, but nobody has been to work inside the house but me, and I, obviously, have a lot of other calls on my time. I’ve just been scraping and refinishing when I can, and also got a bunch of plywood cut for the kitchen cabinet units.
The main progress has been practical, though. The appraiser came before Thanksgiving and sent his report to the bank right after the holiday, and the house did appraise high enough for me to get the HELOC I wanted. I think I talked a little about how I’ve been financing this early on, but that was a long time ago, so just to recap: I had been saving cash for a long time in case I didn’t have a job, so I had about $50K to start with. But the rest was a little tricky. There are two main ways to get a renovation loan. The first is to roll it into a mortgage, but I wasn’t getting a mortgage because I bought the house in cash for $1000. The second is to go through a pretty complex FHA-backed process, which I think is actually quite a good way to go because it means inspectors are really watching your contractors. But that was going to take longer than I wanted, and also would have required me to have a general contractor, and I didn’t think I had enough budget for a GC. If I hadn’t had any other option, I could have done that — in fact, I found a bank that would have done it with me — but instead I opted to take out a $40K personal loan, backed only by my excellent credit and high income. This, obviously, is a privileged situation, but I was in it, so that’s what I did. I also got a new credit card with a zero-interest-for-a-year deal so that I could buy materials and worry about that down the line. The personal loan had a relatively high interest rate, so the plan was always to refinance into a HELOC when the house was worth something again. This is what I’ve just done, so on Friday when the HELOC money becomes available I’ll begin the process of paying off the personal loan and the credit card, and will just have something resembling a mortgage payment. I imagine I’ll want to pay this off sooner rather than later, but I’ll probably wait to get aggressive with it until I’ve cash-flowed the last big projects for the house, all of which are slated for next year (the main staircase, the upstairs bathroom, new storm windows, and gutters.) I went with a HELOC rather than a straight home equity loan in part because the interest rate I could get was lower, but in part because I liked the idea of paying it down to avoid interest but still having it available just in case, since it’ll probably take me a little while to rebuild a cash emergency fund.
Second big piece of adulting was just completed this morning. In the contract I made with the city, I promised to spend X dollars in the course of the first year. Closing date was January 4 of this year, so last month I pulled my receipts together and sent them off, and this morning at a brief meeting of the relevant city department my evidence was accepted and I should receive a document shortly affirming that the contract is fulfilled and I have no more obligations to the city.
Third big piece was getting internet at the house. There was no line leading in, and I spent a long and frustrating month wrestling with Xfinity/Comcast’s various automated customer service options before giving up on Sunday and driving up to their store in Granger. I did a genuine, yet mildly performative, desperate yet very polite routine, and the people at the store were honestly great. They sorted out the issue that leading me to get nowhere with the automated system, and also scheduled a tech to come string the wires on Tuesday (two days ago). He had to get the new wire over the garage, and told me it was one of the hardest things he’d done in his ten years of doing this! But I’m online from home now.
Fourth big piece of practicality: I’ve now run three loads of laundry!!!!! The mudroom is still not done done — I don’t know if I’m ever going to do a big “reveal” of anything because there’s always still a list. In the mudroom, for example, I still have to strip the windows and trim and refinish those; put a storm window on the fourth window so I can take the plywood down; get a bench for taking off shoes; hang a couple of shelves for laundry supplies; get the ceiling light hung; find a cover for the electric switches; finish my little Guadalupe shrine; and rehang the ironing closet door. (And probably some more stuff I’ve forgotten about). And yet, I am very happy with how it is right this second.
Especially considering how it started!
So, finances, laundry, internet, and door jambs. Not the most glamorous of weeks, but very important!