Okay, it's time for a few details about our plans here at Cottage Dreamers. First of all, Jeff and I, for years, have wanted to live on a few acres of land that are at least fairly wooded. While we were in the business of building other peoples homes and dreams, we were far to busy to tackle our own. But now we have this window of opportunity to go for it.
Thank you Grandma Lois. We miss you and love you!
We've always been on the look out for ways to lower our bills and debts and have managed, one way or another, to widdle them down to as small as possible for now. You know the saying, "It takes money to make money?" Well, while that's not necessarily an absolute truth, it does help. After paying for a few things like medical bills, car repairs etc, etc...we were left with $15,000 of inheritance money from Jeff's precious grandma. Then came the challenge of figuring out the best way to use the money without "blowing it!" After considering things like early retirement, we decided it would be a great way to kill two birds with one stone and use it to greatly cut our living expenses and grab a hold of our dreams to build a house in the country.
We began our search for land on the Internet but everything was too far out of reach for us. There were also hurdles to consider like how to finance the land. Banks aren't usually too interested in loaning money on vacant land to individuals. So we turned to our local Penny Power paper and found an add for 5 acres of owner financed, wooded land with well and septic. It turns out the couple running the add have several lots like this scattered all around Southwest Mo. We picked out our favorite and paid our $500 down payment and $71 closing fee on the $31,500, 5.10 acre lot and got to work mowing down the tall, chigger infested grass on the building site. The land is beautiful! It's mostly wooded and very private with an area already cleared for a house by the family that lived there first.
Our lessons to be shared with you are one, owner financed land; if you can't afford to pay for it out right, it's a great way to go. We're pretty familiar with contracts on property purchases and theirs was very simple and straightforward. A small down payment which goes to the purchase price, no prepayment penalties and it's a 25 year loan at 10% interest making our monthly payments $282. The interest rate is actually comparable to banks for vacant land, and we can always refinance what's left on the loan into a traditional loan once the house is finished. Lesson two, well and septic. They are already on the land and functioning and while that plays a part in the cost of the land it's a whole lot cheaper than having to pay for them separately. It would cost thousands of dollars extra to put them in place on our own. Lesson three, find a county with limited building codes, restrictions, and inspections. It's not that want to slap together a jerri-rigged shack, we just want to be able to do the work ourselves to save money in labor. We are fortunate to either have the know how or know someone who does. For example, our friend JJ, who has already been helping us, is a real life plumber.
These are all important things to consider and anyone in SW MO interested in doing the same should check the Penny Power. The add is always there as long as they have land available and they've been doing this for 25 years.
We'll be building the house in phases with the first phase being get it livable by January. Our definition of livable is basically, four walls and a roof with a walled off, fully functional bathroom, bare necessity kitchen appliances, and a loft. I promise to share at least a rough draft of the blueprints of the different phases with you soon.
Before I leave I want share some pics to let you into our lives a little more.
Yep, she's holding one of our urban chickens. They're Ameraucana's or Easter Egg chickens. This fall they should be old enough to start laying pretty blue green eggs. Yea! I can't wait!
Did you know that a lot of cities allow you to raise these silly birds in your own back yard??? You should look into it, they're actually fun to have around. And yes, we currently live in the city...if you can call it that. Population, 1,010; intersection lights, 1 red blinky one; gas stations, 2 and they're right next to each other (isn't that convenient?) We do, however, live in a regular cookie cuter neighborhood and even though we are the only one's with chickens, I don't consider us to be hillbillies. Hey, Martha Stewart has chickens!
And here are the rest of the chickens in their coop. Just kidding. Those are actually our kids. Don't worry, the chickens hadn't yet visited the new coop when this picture was taken. What you can't see on the other side of this lean to are our rabbits. Mmm, Mmmm, good. Nope, still not hillbillies.