Back to Work

January
15
2014

 

I’m thinking it’s about time I get back to blogging.  With the holidays, and packing up for our move, writing has kind of fallen by the wayside.  But now there’s a little bit of progress to report, so hopefully you’ll see consistent articles in the future.

(I write that as if I’m not the one in control.  Hahaha.  Hopefully some blogs will get written, let’s look at the page and see if something magically appears.) 

We always go into the city to see the tree

We always go into the city to see the tree

We had a very nice, if low key holiday. We took our annual trip into New York City.  We went to the Shake Shack for the first time, then to Rockefeller Center, to the store in the N.Y. Public Library, and then to Bryant Park.  The weather was good and the four of us had a great time. 

This year I decided not to take down every single Christmas decoration since we weren’t hosting Christmas and, well, because I just didn’t feel like it.  Our plan over the past few months has been bringing down boxes from the attic, cleaning them out, and then packing them up for the “move” by putting them in the garage.  And our attic was stuffed.  So now it’s the Christmas boxes.  I actually still have them in the living room, some still need to be weeded through.  It’s hard getting rid of some of the old decorations.  They go back a lot of years, and even if I don’t decorate with them anymore, they still bring back memories. It’s not easy letting go. 

St. Patrick's is getting a makeover

St. Patrick’s is getting a makeover

We thought our metal building would be done by now, and we were going to bring down lots of our stuff, so that when we put the house on the market (target date is this May) the house will be somewhat empty, and when the actual move happens, there won’t be that much to take.  I’m not taking a lot of the furniture.  It fit in this house, and I’ve had it for 20 years but we’ll get new stuff for our waterfront house.  Which, you will probably remember, isn’t even built yet.  We will be moving into the “Crab Shack.”  Then, hopefully in the fall, after interviewing builders and finalizing our house plans, we will start to build!  It’s so exciting. It’s THIS YEAR that we’ll be building our new house!  I can hardly believe it!  It’s been 7 years since we bought the property, and the time is almost here!  Of course living in 1000 sq. ft. cabin for a year will be a bit challenging.  Especially because I’ll want to bring a lot of my “stuff” into the Crab Shack with me. (Winter clothes, small kitchen appliances (and I have a lot), all the stuff from my office!)  But I have a feeling most of it will be in bins in the garage.  I plan to mark them well, with “things to leave in front” actually placed in the front of all the other bins.  Will that actually happen? Eh, it’s a toss-up. 

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Skating is FREE!  You can rent skates, but if you have your own, it's totally free!

Skating is FREE! You can rent skates, but if you have your own, it’s totally free!

So, on to the metal building update:  we met with Nick from Diamond State Pole Buildings in October.  That’s OCTOBER, over three months ago!  We thought the building would have been up before Christmas.  And it was no fault of Nick’s.  He sent his guy to our town hall to apply for the permit, a service they provide when you buy a building.  But here’s the catch.  When you are building anything on the water, there are rules and regulations and protocols you must follow before anything gets approved.

The Chrysler Building had just that minute turned on it's lights.

The Chrysler Building had just that minute turned on it’s lights.

So did the Empire State Building

So did the Empire State Building

We needed to get a surveyor down to the property to map out the surrounding area, and presumably to draw in where the building would be.  But, this area has parts that are in the “buffer zone.” Yes, the dreaded “buffer zone.”  You are discouraged from building in the buffer zone, it would be a whole other rigmarole to get approval, and we had enough property that the building could be moved a little to make sure it was in the safe area. (Yes, maybe some of the regulations are warranted, it saves the shoreline from erosion and the Bay from pollution.  We get it.)

The water around the boat froze.

The water around the boat froze.

Brrrrr

Brrrrr

However, we now needed another guy to come down and draw up where the buffer zone actually was, and to test the soil to make sure it could hold the weight of the building.  And this is where we lost track.  That person was unknown to us, it was around the holidays, and nobody but us cared about the time factor.  We lost a month waiting for him to get down to the property and submit his drawings.  When that finally happened (two weeks ago) we realized that we now had to add plantings (trees and shrubs) to the property in the amount of square footage of the building.  You take away with one hand; you have to give back with the other.  So I researched plants native to Maryland (a requirement) and drew up a map of our property placing the trees, large and small, and the shrubs, and we went down to Maryland to our town hall to submit our plan.  After meeting with three different people in two different parts of town, we got verbal approval.  However, the actual permit won’t be issued for two to four weeks, at which time Nick will order the building, taking another two weeks to get delivered.  Seeing the pattern here?  SLOW.  Everything is slower than you want, and you need a lot of patience!  I said to John that when we move down in May we should start applying for our building permit for the house, which we won’t need until October.  And hopefully we will get it in time!  

Lots of geese flying in

Lots of geese flying in

Ice is gone, all is well

Ice is gone, all is well

 

We found property, now what?

April
17
2013

 

Our beach at sunset

Our beach at sunset

 

So, now that we found the property of our dreams, what do we do next?  As I mentioned, we wanted pure property, and the place we found had three buildings, but for our purposes, these buildings were coming down, so an inspection wasn’t necessary.  If you’re looking for a house, of course, an inspection is a must.   For property, instead of an inspection, a land survey is done.

The first step, though, would be a property search.  Our realtor, Eva, did all that work for us, including finding out the tax records, the assessed worth, the zoning, how much the owners paid when they bought it, etc.  We were in competent hands.  We also needed to know if we could knock down the buildings and build a new house, which she also found out for us.  Another important bit of information would be –  is the land “perked.”     If the property is not serviced by the city sewer system,  it must be perked.  This is a test supervised by the County (usually the Health Department) that measures the liquid absorption of the property.  Your septic field is based on this test.  If it does not pass the test a building permit could be denied.  For us, since there already was a house (albeit not one we wanted), we already had a septic system and a well, which saved us a considerable amount of money.

You could also get a second opinion, and hire a civil engineer.  He or she would assess the lot, would address the layout situations if you want to build a house, and can tell you the condition of the land and drainage issues.  We didn’t do this because as I mentioned, with a house and two other buildings on the property already, we already knew the answers.

The next step would be to get a lawyer.  Since we knew nothing about the area, Eva gave us a list of recommendations.  We liked that she didn’t just give us one name, you always wonder if they are in partnership somehow.  Maybe that’s a bit cynical of us, but truth be told, if she had only recommended one, we would have thought it.

Then came the haggling.  All done through Eva and the seller’s agent.  Thank goodness.  In our case, the seller’s were already losing money based on the fact that when they bought the property, it had a fully functioning house in great shape.  When we were looking, the house had been completely damaged inside by the owner’s mistake of not winterizing it, having the pipes burst, and also by a storm. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The house was completely uninhabitable.  Another factor determining the amount of our “offer” was how many days the property was on the market.  When we bought it, it was just at the beginning of the economic downturn, it had been on the market for a while, and really, how many people were looking for just land and were willing to buy a uninhabitable house to get it?  At that time, two…. us.

So, we made our offer, subject to the survey and a clean title, and went back and forth a few times.  We typically make offers up to 20% less than the purchase price.  And it has worked in our favor twice.  Both times the realtor was a little shocked, and once the realtor was actually trying to talk us out of it!  But, why not? They can only say no, and we have proved it does work.  If you can have your funding all set already, (such as the offer not being contingent on selling your house) and can close quickly, you are in a much better situation.  That’s how it went for us.  We were not selling our home before buying this land, and we were able to close within the month, and they finally accepted an offer much lower than they were asking for.  And although very hard to do, once you’ve fallen in love with a place, if you can treat it like a business deal, without all the emotion, then you’ll get the best deal.  Of course, I realize that’s easier said than done.  And truthfully, if it’s something you’ve decided you HAVE to have, well, it’ll be worth it even if you do pay a little more.  You’ll be happy, and the seller will be happy, it’s a win-win.