Friday, January 29, 2010

Closer We Are to Fine ...

It looked like we were going to have to pull the plug on this earlier this week. The seller--Pacific Valley Bank--was running out of patience. There was a potential back-up buyer down at the planning department asking questions, wanting to know if he could turn the house into offices downstairs and living space upstairs. The underwriters for Prospect Mortgage found out the insurance amount we needed at close had been miscalculated and they weren't sure we had enough in the account.

Then Perfect Friend Terry put a wish in her Tibetan Wish Box, muttered some sort of half-Irish, half-Japanese incantation over it and told me to calm the hell down. (I made up that last part. She really handed me a valium, patted my hand and said, "there there.") And yesterday, after one more freak out with the insurance company, came the phone call from Prospect we'd been waiting for. You're CTC--clear to close.

Documents have been ordered, we sign on Tuesday and close on Friday.

We're in San Francisco for the night, the annual birthday trip to one of my favorite cities. Usually the boy children get left behind, but they got righteously indignant at the idea this year, for whatever reason, that I didn't want to celebrate my birthday with them. So after a lecture from their father ("We're doing everything that mommy wants and nothing that you want, so no complaining, no fighting and just deal with it,") off we went. Lunch at Delfina Pizzeria (good, but expensive), a walk to 826 Valencia and the famed Pirate Supply Store (San Francisco's only independent pirate supply store, of course) and dessert to go from Tartine's.

The skies opened up between the Pirate Store and Tartine's. Hopefully tomorrow will be clear, because I'd like to hit the farmer's market at the Ferry Building before we leave. I dragged everyone to see "Legion" at the Metreon-I'm a sucker for religious Apocalypse flicks. Everyone kvetched about how bad it was, but how can you go wrong with Paul Bettany in body armor?

So. Next Friday. We close and then the fun begins. It's an FHA 203K rehab loan, which means the clock is ticking on the contractor--he has six months to get everything on the list done, and he can't take any draws from the loan until he's hit certain benchmarks. We picked the kitchen, pantry and laundry room tile -- very simple, relatively inexpensive, easy to install and, as Grady says, it goes with everything.

I'll start posting more pictures as we progress. But for now, we're happy the light at the end of the tunnel isn't attached to a freight train anymore.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welp. Hmmm.

Just when we though we'd given everything to the lender, got the reappraisal completed satisfactorily and were waiting for the closing documents to be ordered, the mortgage company emails to say it needs documents that we already provided to them a few months ago because, get this, "the fax was fuzzy."

We're on the clock with the bank. And I'm so tired of having the twice-weekly conversation with my mother about why we haven't closed yet. Today's conversation mostly entailed me saying, "I don't want to talk about it. No, I don't want to talk about it." I haven't explained the intricacies of what we're trying to do because it's more trouble than it's worth. But at least she's stopped asking me to explain the Internet to her.

If we lose the deal, we get our escrow money back. My birthday is on Jan. 31. If we lose the deal, I'm getting on a plane next Friday with my husband and we're going to Vegas for two nights so I can drink fruity drinks from the gigantic wall of alcohol-based slurpee machines at the MGM Grand, eat cheese, pay homage to Bouchon and lay in the whirlpool tub and cry.

And then we're coming back here and getting busy finding a new place.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Budget Items

I haven't actually sat down and gone over the contractor's proposed budget for the project item by item yet, because the project is still in a state of flux. We haven't even been clear on whether or not we need an entirely new set of plans-the bank didn't get the plans assigned when it foreclosed, and the previous owner is holding the rights hostage for an insane amount of money.

I hope they look nice decorating his walls. That's about all they'll be good for in another week or so.

Designer Friend Grady asked an architect friend to meet with the city to find out what it wants before we can proceed. According to him, the city wants a site plan review and all the mechanical drawings, but given that nothing in the exterior is going to change, we don't need to do all the elevations. The architect also said the city is "giddy" that we're doing three units instead of two. I've met some of the city folks--giddy is not a word that comes to mind.

Under the FHA rehab loan we're finally approved for (a few more i's to be dotted, then we're through) we can take half of the total of the house price for redoing the house. Here are some of the contractor's budget items. (This is by no means a comprehensive list.)

Gutters (repair damage and install downspouts): $1,265
Priming and painting exterior: $17,100
Dry wall installation, tape and texture:$19,480
Interior paint: $10,850
Tile (side entry, bathrooms and laundry room): $5,030
Bathroom vanities with marble tops: $4,265
Kitchen cabinets: $11,900
Pest fumigation (tenting the whole house before the work starts): $4,753
Permits, plans and fees: $11,427

A lot of this is going to change. We're going to do the interior painting ourselves, so the labor portion of that item will go down. I thought the bathroom vanity item seemed high until I started looking at vanities online. Grady suggested we hit the salvage yards around San Francisco, and another friend of ours knows a guy who knows a guy who knows another guy who does marble. What seems low is the kitchen appliances-$2,900, and that doesn't include a frige. I think we're going with IKEA cabinets in the two rental units. We had them in the kitchen of the guest house at our old place, and they looked good and functioned well.

Any suggestions on good salvage places around the Bay area?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tales to Tell (No New)

Waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. The loan is in underwriting, although it's supposed to be finished this coming week, and we're supposed to close on Jan. 8. Although we were supposed to close last Wednesday, but the loan was still in underwriting. And it's entirely possible they will have new questions or documents needed on Monday and thus won't really be out of underwriting at all.

In short, no new tale to tell. The bank that holds the deed has extended us to Jan. 15.

We made a decision on Saturday that seemed a hard one at the time, but now makes sense. We've decided, at least until the chimps are gone, to not go the B&B route and instead rent out both the two-bedroom basement apartment and the rear unit of the first floor, or what was to have been the master suite. It's about 700 square feet, and had the original owner finished the project, it was to include a kitchen. Now it will function as an expanded studio or small one-bedroom for someone, with a good sized bathroom, a kitchenette, bedroom and living room with fireplace. Our downstairs space will include the main kitchen, family room, dining room, laundry room and library. Upstairs are four bedrooms and two baths--we'll take one of the front rooms and the bath, and each chimp will have a rear bedroom and share a bath. The other upstairs bedroom will be a guest room or office.

Assuming we can rent out both spaces--the basement for $1,100 and the back suite for $800, a large portion of the mortgage will be covered.

So given that we don't own the place yet, there wasn't much to do over the holidays except dream. Our friend Grady Harp, who has better taste than all the rest of us combined (including you, dear reader), came over and made some suggestions--for example, the bizarrely placed powder room on the landing of the staircase will become a very large storage closet. The garage that Chuck badly wanted to knock down? Grady has convinced him to keep it, because it will cost less to jack it up, pour a new foundation and put a new roof on it than knocking it down, carting it away and building something new. (I don't think the garage was built with the house in 1890, but it does have a cold-storage room for canned goods. Given that Chuck's canner is usually in use, it's a good room to have.)

And we spent a lot of time walking the yard, planning this and that. Rather than fencing in the front, I'm going with box hedges. The potager will go in the front yard on the left side because it gets the most sun. The urban chickens will go in the back yard along side the alley, and the croquet course will go along the yard opposite the potager. I've been told that goats aren't allowed in the city limits; we'll just have to see about that.

More pictures are posted here.