21 April 2008

Almost surreal

It all started 2 weeks ago yesterday. I was at the farm where I buy my milk and I nonchalantly asked the farmer's wife if she happened to know of any land available that we might be able to farm on. She answered that she did in fact read of some land that was up for sale as conservation land in a nearby town. She couldn't remember any other details and didn't know where her paper was that she had found it in. So armed with that minimal amount of knowledge, I called the town office and asked if they knew what property it might be and whom I should speak with. They directed me to the head of the conservation committee, who gave me the name and number of the committee member who was handling it. By Wednesday I had the info packet. Over the weekend the lady answered my questions on the property and I started calling banks to find a mortgage. Last Friday we went to walk through the land, which is beautiful fields and forest. There are multiple building lot locations available to choose from when deciding where to put the house. Today I got an appointment for this Friday to apply for the mortgage at a local bank, and we will be signing a purchase and sale agreement, and I will be dropping off some floor plan sketches to the local lumberyard for an estimate on building costs. We will be building the house with our own two hands as we have time and money to do so. In the meantime we will be camping out all summer on our own land.

There are two lots we have to choose from. One is 31 acres, the other is 25 acres. They have 8 and 7 potential building sites, respectively. There will be a conservation easement on all but 2 acres of the land to protect the groundwater since it is part of the town's watershed. The 2 acres is where we will put the house, the barn, the chicken coop, hubby's forge, and any other buildings we might need. The larger lot is about half field, half forest; the smaller lot is about 1/3 field, 2/3 forest. We haven't decided yet which one we will take. They are almost the same price.

I have been sitting with graph paper and pencil for a few days now sketching out floor plans of various sizes and layouts. The lumberyard offered a free review with one of their engineers to make sure that the design will hold up, eg. the carrying beam is strong enough to hold the second floor. We plan to model the house after the one I described a few posts ago. We plan to have a THWASPCO like Greenpa, a root cellar and a barn. Non-structures will include a compost pile and a nice, big garden.

The only challenge we have to pass now is getting a mortgage. I feel slightly insane trying to get a mortgage in the midst of a credit crunch, but the land is only $100k. I am hoping that a local bank will be happy to give us one even if the major national lenders are in trouble. The town wants to close on June 3rd. The mortgage lady at the bank said that is not a problem.

Honestly, I feel scared and exhilarated. We have been wanting this for 10 years now, and finally, it feels like it is just falling in our laps. The land is exactly what we want. Yes, it would be nice for there to be a pond on site, but there is a lake just a half mile down the road with a public beach that is really nice. We are exactly the kind of people the conservation committee wants on the land. It is in one of the two towns we wanted to be in. So now it just comes down to money. And that is what scares me. I am afraid we will be denied when we have no down payment. We aren't allowed to save up for a down payment, though. As soon as we have cash assets of $2000 or more, we are ineligible for food stamps or public housing, which makes saving up a down payment a bit difficult. I am keeping positive by reminding myself that we *do* deserve this. We have been pretty good about our budget for a year and a half. We have been on time with our rent payments for the last couple of years. That should count for something.

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