On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Monday, May 26, 2008

Building Our First Dream House

Unless the LORD builds the house,

They labor in vain who build it...

Psalm 127:1 (NASB)

It has always been something of a wonder to Lynette how differently our minds work. After we were engaged in the winter of 2002, we set about making plans to finally be done with apartment living and to purchase a home where we would begin our married life. Tom could not let Lynette’s parents think that he was moving their daughter 1200 miles away without a solid roof above her head. With the help of our friend (and newly certified realtor), LeeLee, we moved into a newly renovated 1930’s home in the city. It was a beautiful location in an older part of town with lots of stained glass incorporated into the beautiful tudor and eclectic style homes within walking distance of a lake. It was a lovely home on a triangular shaped 1/2 acre corner lot where we first entered the joys of home ownership and began our life together. Many firsts were experienced there - first dinner parties, first out of town guests, and first gardening experiences. As well as our first car, a new 2003 Honda Pilot SUV and our first puppy, Piccadilly, an Airedale Terrier - she was full of energy and quite a handful when she got to be 50 pounds.

It was also where we brought home our first child, Caedmon. However in the last few months of Lynette’s pregnancy, rather than enjoying a house that had been settled into, furnished, and made into a home for us over the course of the previous 3 years, we began to consider an opportunity to build a new home. Building a home was something that we had always talked and dreamed about but usually with the idea that it would happen several years down the road. However, our good friends Ashley & Amy,
whom we met while attending a Crown Financial Bible Study that Ashley led at our church, were beginning the process of building a home in a developing community. Tom was especially intrigued by the prospect of building a custom home, especially because of the opportunity to join with them, developing intentional relationships as Christians together in community. Also, we were realizing that our beautiful 2300 square foot, 3-bedroom home would be quickly outgrown with the addition of children and our constantly revolving door of company from our friends and family around the country.

Despite Tom’s excitement, Lynette was not quite as enthusiastic. She could not quite reconcile making a conscious decision to add more upheaval and change to their life as they were already preparing for one of the biggest life changes they had yet experienced in their married life - a baby! She could not imagine having to be worry about making sure the house was ready to be shown, moving out, and moving into a new home all while adjusting to their new role as soon-to-be parents. After 3 years in the city, she had also finally developed some good relationships with some girls in Bible study and at church. The thought of having to find a new church and new friends was not so exciting. While her wifely & motherly instincts were valid, the excitement and strong arguments from her ever-dreaming, adventuresome husband could not be overcome. Like the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” And besides that, we were in prayer about this huge decision and while God’s ways are not always expected, they are best, so Lynette humbly accepted the guidance of God and her husband.

Since we had no prior experience in home building, we used the same builder as the Hodges. Our new home was to be in the suburbs. Both of our families purchased lots in a new development. Our builder was unique in the way that he worked. His fee was $10 per square foot of the house size. All other costs came directly out of our pocket. In other words, we paid cost for supplies, labor, etc. We arranged to have architectural plans drawn, obtained a construction loan, and would see exactly where each penny of our money was being spent. Our builder convinced us that he was being as fair and transparent as possible. There was no mark up as we paid what he was billed by his suppliers and subcontractors. He felt that a house was a house and we shouldn’t have to pay any more for him to build a home regardless of whether it was a starter home or a multi-million dollar affair. It seemed like an interesting way to build since after the Crown Financial Ministry classes (which we also ended up being class leaders at the church), we were convicted to be better stewards of God’s entrusted money to us. For if we truly understand that that WE do not truly own anything, but that it is GOD who is the real owner & creator of all, then what we think we have has really been entrusted to us by Him... therefore we have great responsibility of God’s stuff. It seemed that this was an opportunity forus to make an effort to live as wiser stewards of all that God had blessed us with, putting into action the lessons learned from God’s Word through our Crown classes.

Just two months after we brought our new baby home from the hospital, our city home was put on the market by our friend LeeLee. Within the first week it was under contract, and we prepared to move into temporary housing in an apartment complex 3 miles from the build site. Unfortunately, the same week we were moving into our apartment, our contract fell through and we left our house empty but yet unsold (...fortunately, it did finally sell 4 months later - on the last day of 2006!). When we moved into our apartment, we were expecting ground to be broken on our home any day. However, several weeks passed and it was not until mid-September that construction finally began. In the ensuing months, we were at our homesite at least once a day but often several times. Caedmon spent much of his first year of life in the Baby Bjorn carrier helping mommy to supervise the building process.

We were assured the entire project would take no more than 6 months, but as the building began, we realized how inefficient, unreliable, and untrustworthy our builder really was. He made us feel like we were his number one priority when he was with us, but his real world actions proved otherwise. He lied to us outrightly on several occasions and would not return phone calls or emails for days (sometimes weeks) thereby making him frustratingly unreachable. We learned many things through the whole process, but one of the biggest lessons was how important it is to be a person of integrity! Our loan quickly became depleted and we were stuck with the accrual of high interest rates on a nearly maxed out building loan 3/4 of the way through the build. The winter came and past, and March was quickly flying by. Our apartment lease was almost over and so were the six promised months. However, while our builder continued to make promises of an impending finish, it was obvious that so did spring, and as the summer months approached we were given the go ahead to make plans for ending our apartment lease... so we moved into temporary housing at an extended stay hotel at $100/night. At this point we were under the impression that the house would be finished in a week or two. However, a few weeks quickly turned into a month and eventually 9 weeks! Imagine a nearly 1 year old toddler who was confined to a child-pen area of approximately 2 feet by 10 feet! We had a bedroom which we shared with his pack-n-play crib and a small living/dining area with a kitchenette which we really couldn’t usefully cook at. In fact over the course of the 9 weeks we had to leave the hotel on countless occasions at all hours of the day & night due to hotel guests setting off the fire alarms in their rooms, while awaiting the fire department to come and inspect the hotel. Lynette’s one hope was that we would be able to celebrate Caedmon’s 1st birthday in our new home. Both sets of grandparents had already purchased plane tickets for the celebration and again and again our builder told us it would be no problem to be in our new home by then. However, as the date approached, it was obvious that the birthday celebration would take place elsewhere. Caedmon turned 1 year old with a birthday celebration in the lobby of our hotel. The menu consisted of a spaghetti meal cooked out of a borrowed crock pot, bread and cake. It will definitely be a birthday that we’ll remember!

Eventually, after much persistence and frustration, we received special permission from the city inspector to move into a liveable (although unfinished) house on June 9, 2007. While we were excited to finally be in our permanent residence, the excitement was tempered by the daily convergence of workmen interrupting Lynette’s & Caedmon’s routine. Now, almost a year later, we have finally settled in but our house is still on the books as “unfinished!” Our last hold out is that according to the city inspector, the two doors which lead from our interior home into the garages are not fire rated. We are still waiting for the builder to provide the promised paperwork verifying their fire-rating or replacement doors and until we get that, we do not have official building occupancy approval...

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