Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our Rock Wall

Here is a picture of the rock wall that Lighthouse put up yesterday. They claim that it is costing them 4k, which I find incredible and slightly in doubt, especially considering what we figured out about the appliances.

It looks nice, but there is definitely more work to be done on it, at least we hope. Currently, there isn't a "workable" path to the lower level, this was put up basically just to hold up the driveway for Sterling.

Apple Orchard

Just wanted to write about the great time and deal we got on apples last weekend. We went to an apple orchard in Prairie du Chien, WI last weekend and bought apples for 35 cents a pound. We got a large bag for $2.50. I haven't been to an orchard around the cities since last year, and don't remember the price, but 35 cents seems like a crazy good deal. We had a great time, btw next weekend they are having some sort of festival.

Our $23,000 appliances...

So as a result of using our house as a model, Lighthouse wants to upgrade our appliances. We had selected some very nice black maytag ones, that apparently didn't make the cut. Though I really doubt that they ever actually looked at them.

So the talk was that we were going to get stainless appliances that cost 25k, and we would only pay the 5k that we had originally planned on paying (which was actually more then we were going to get our for, but pretty close). I think the idea was that we would be so blown away we wouldn't ask questions and just be thrilled.

Why someone would buy appliances for 25k is beyond me, I mean the food is cooked the same... So yesterday Steve called and asked if we had reviewed them yet, we hadn't because we had been out of town. So last night we stopped by Warners Stellian and had a gentleman look up the order Lighthouse had placed on Friday. I am thinking Lighthouse wouldn't have wanted us to see the invoice, but he printed it out and said we could take it, and you can see the outcome above...

Now they are nice appliances, and you can see the MSPR that I found off the Bosch website. Lighthouse is getting the model price on the appliances, so that is why it is so cheap, still not 25k like they said though. In addition, our 5k appliance package included a washer and dryer, so we are going to have to figure out how we are going to rectify that.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Draw #3

Well, we were supposed to meet with Lighthouse tonight to go over a couple of things, but then I received a voice mail from Steve says that "Before you drive all the way down here, just wanted to call and tell you we aren't having a meeting." Kinda weird, and he sounded crabby about it, so I am not sure, what that was all about.

In addition, I received an email this afternoon with a draw request and an invoice that didn't match the draw request. It was the draw request for the Sterling package, about $112,000. The email stated that Lighthouse would reimburse us at the end for the additions to the package (due to the model house). I am not comfortable with the ad-hoc method they want to use for this, and requested an invoice that details the additions. As well as wording on the invoice to the effect that we will be compensated at the end for the additions...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Revised Draw #2

The last draw request had to be updated to exclude the well bill, because Lighthouse doesn't have the invoice for the well yet. Bohn still has work to do with the well, so it makes sense that they shouldn't be paid yet...

The draw was revised to 34,000. That should add about $200 to our interest payments per month.

What have you received as a Model Home?

I am wondering what other people have received as the result of allowing their builder to use them as a Model Home. It seems that we are getting a really good deal from our builder and I thought it would be fun to compare what others have received.

Model Updates #2

This is the light post that they are proposing to do at the curb. It will have the address on the front and back, and we will get to choose a light fixture for the top. They will have signs made with our last name that will hang off the side, as well as a Lighthouse one for during the parade.

Model Updates #1

Met with Steve last night quickly, he provided me with a couple of ideas that they were kicking around for upgrades. Mainly what he mentioned before, but this time with drawing...

The garage doors are upgraded and he actually ordered them already, so I guess he is kind committed to this already. The retaining wall is an upgrade, which he said is going to cost about 4000 dollars. The shakes above the garage are an upgrade, when we inquired as to the price to do that it was about $900.

Steve mentioned doing stone work all the way up the garage, but I would guess that will be out of the price range they are looking at... Also, he said that they wanted to upgrade our appliances, like double the price of them. That seem ridiculous, but bully for us I guess. I liked our selections. They haven't decided what they want to do about the sidewalk to the walkout basement yet.

Monday, September 22, 2008


So I have to say that the news I am reading/seeing in the last couple of days is concerning. Here is a graph of the average 30 year mortgage rate over the last year. Currently they are really good, historically as well as over the past year. I think that the big drop recently was in response to Fannie/Freddie bailout.

The very recent uptick is in response to the 700b/1t bailout they are talking about now, and the effect that will have on the value of the dollar (at least I think). Depending on what Congress comes up with this week will probably determine what happens to it.

Bankrate continues to say that people with good credit and jobs should be able to continue to get mortgages, but it is still concerning. Of course our stock holding have taken a beating as well, but I don't think we will have to tap into them for this project.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Proposed retaining wall for parade

This is the best view of the wall that I had, you can at least get an idea of the slopes that we are dealing with. The main wall that you looking at had to be put in to support the sidewalk that is running next to garage and attaches to a porch that leads to the front door. It is a little different of a design, however the layout of the lot necessitated a unique design to the house. What they are proposing to do it put a boulder retaining wall running about 10 feet away from the house, where the sidewalk connects to the driveway.

Then bring in more fill from that point and slope it down. The whole reason for all this messing around is that we are in a bowl shaped lot, which has a hundred year water line in it. We have to build 5 feet above that, and can't put any fill below that line.

I tried to draw in what I am thinking they are thinking. The blue line is where I guess the boulder wall will be, the red is the topo's of the fill they will bring in. I am thinking they will do that so that they have a better parking lot for the Parade. There is about a 10 foot difference between where the driveway is and the current grade of the land. So it would probably be about a 10x10 boulder wall. We received a quote from a guy once that was 35 bucks a square foot, so Lighthouse is looking at probably 3,500 for the wall alone. More probably since they are talking about putting in some steps down to the lower level and a sidewalk leading down there...

We will see on Monday what they are really going to want to do. Though I have to say that we have an ideal location for a parade home and a pretty nice design and lot, if I do say so myself.

Our big news!

Our big news is that Lighthouse would like to use our house as a model for the Spring Parade of Homes. What that means is that we wouldn't be able to move in for about 3 months after the house is complete. And we will have thousands of people wonder through our house.

On the plus side, Lighthouse is proposing the to provide at no cost to us the following items on the list above. Some of what they are proposing is quite expensive and should greatly increase the appeal of the house. In addition, they will pay our mortgage for the months that they are using it as a model. I have no idea what other people have received for allowing their builder to use their house as a model, but this seems like a pretty good deal. The retaining wall is especially appealing. I will write one more post today and discuss that a bit.

Our first interest payment

We made our first interest payment on the loan about 10 days ago, it was just under $700. The loan is about 114,000, which includes the remainder of the lot loan we took out about 2 years ago, the closing costs (which the bank rolled into the loan), and the first draw (though the interest on that should have only accumulated for a couple of days?).

Next months payment should be similar, since the second draw isn't for that much.

Money, Money, Money Draw 2

This is the second draw request that we received from Steve yesterday. Our preferred method of communication would be to get these in an email, have a day to review it. However, nothing is going to happen with the bank till Monday anyways, so I will review it and email it to the bank then.

The awesome news is that the foundation bid came in about 1200 less then bid (can't understand why, since we added a couple of walls).

Also, the waterproofing bid is about 1200 less as well, because they had bid in to do the drain tile as well and I guess the foundation guys had them done already. So I can't say enough good things about Poured Foundations. Maurice was the job sup and he was very friendly and answered our (I am sure) annoying questions.

Money, Money, Money Draw 1

I realized that I never put the actual first that was was provided to Lighthouse. I posted about the first draw they requested, however that one was denied and they submitted a much more appropriate one. As you can see they requested half the fee for the plumber, so he could put in the rough plumbing work so they could pour the slab. 375 for a slit fence.

The other two items were a point of contention, as they were not in our original agreement. We were only supposed to pay ~2300 to the city for permits, as we had already paid 1600 with McDonnald. However, the city changed it's mind and required more, this is more of a beef with the city then with Lighthouse though. However, Lighthouse did say on the phone that we wouldn't have to pay the upcharge. Then changed their minds... There is a previous post.

The 600 for engineering was discussed in a previous post, it was an expense we weren't aware of.

The reason I am posting this now is because we have the second draw request and I wanted to get this one up before writing about the new one. There is also another big news item to come, hopefully tonight.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Well Drilling

Thursday I stopped out to see what was going on around 2pm and found that we have a well now. I was standing by watching and water started gushing out of the pipe. That was cool, of course they were sending air down the pipe to clear the area. Still to me it seemed pretty cool.

I am not sure how the whole process works, but I they took the drilling shaft with them, so I am not sure what they left down there... Wikipedia could probably tell me.

After they took out the drill, they filled a large barrel with water and poured in mortar mix, then poured it in the hole. Guess that is for stability and pollution control?

Anyways, very cool and I am glad I got to see a bit of it at least. By the way, Bohn is the company that drilled it and the guys there were very nice and answered all the questions that I asked.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Basement slab

On Wednesday they poured the basement slab, I was just getting back from the trip and stopped out around 11. This is where they were at 11, smoothing the slab and walking on it. I wonder when they poured it. I also wonder if there is wire or rebar in there, I hope so. At least if it cracks in the next 10 years we should be able to have it fixed... They put crack lines in it already though.

Rob mentioned to us that before we seal it, we need to make sure that any chalk is off it, otherwise it will be there forever. And you should seal it if you are going to have pets, otherwise they will pee on it and it will seep in and stink (words of wisdom from a co-worker, with many pets).

Not much more to say, it is what it is.

Much activity...

The current progress meter stands at septic drain field and tanks in, electric in, driveway grading, basement slab. I don't know what they are going to do now till the house gets set on the 1st of October. I am going out there in a little bit to capture some pictures.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back a day early

So we finished our business in Israel a day early and got to come home sooner then expected. We still took a day and toured the Sea of Galilee Area and Nazareth. Quite a bit or money for only 2 days of meetings, but it was a requirement of the contract, i think... Much has been going on at the lot, so from that perspective it is very good to be back. The picture is Mary's Church in the Nazareth.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Just wanted to note that I am in Israel this week on a business trip. Kind of a bummer with the build going on and all, however, I don't think too much is going to happen this week. Though they will probably put in the septic, well and run the electric...

Here is a picture of the West Wall from when I went last time. We are in discussions to take a day trip to the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth. Hopefully we will be able to fit that in. We scheduled our meetings so we would have to stay Tuesday night, with no meetings on Wednesday, so...

I will be back on Thursday morning.

Couple of updates from last week

Lets see, not too much happened last week. The electric company (Dakota Electric) came out and put in little white flags to mark where they would run the electric to the house. In addition, they placed a stake in the ground for a large green transformer that is required.

Unfortunately, they placed it very close to where we might like to incorporate a turn around in our driveway. Fortunately, I stopped out Friday and talked with Bill from Dakota Electric and he had no problem moving the stake for me. Not sure I love where it is now, but how much are you going to love a 4x4 green box on your property...

Tom (excavation, whom we can't say enough nice things about, he really is a nice guy), had to put the driveway to grade so that Dakota Electric can know how deep to bury the cable, so I think the driveway is at about the correct grade and location now. Just need to bring out class 5, I think.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Good news.

We had some good news, as well as puzzling. Steve called and told us that the foundation work came back 1300 less then bid and the waterproofing came back 1200 less then bid... So awesome, but discerning that they had incorrect bids.

I guess the waterproofing company had bid to put in the drain tile, however the foundation guys did that. Why the foundation work came back cheaper is a mystery, we thought it would be more, because they had to add another wall in to support the sidewalk... And it was a big wall.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mice !!!!

Well, I thought I would add a word about the problems we are currently experiencing in our current house... MICE.

Every fall it starts, we hear them climbing around in the walls and it freaks us out. I don't know what you can do it keep them from coming in, but our only solution at this point is to set up the trap lines.

My wife loves to set out the traps and check them in the morning, she won't however remove the dead mice from the traps. That is my job. Not such a bad deal in my options, except when you find a live one... ohhh.

We started the trap lines on Monday, found 4, 3, 0, and one this morning, does that add up... Nope I guess we put them out Sunday night. We are hoping to not have as many problems with the new house, at least for a couple of years.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Filling in the Hole

Today Tom the excavator did the opposite. He filled in around the foundation and created a much more walkable site. We also discovered our beautiful steel window well on the property as well. This was a pretty neat day to see the progress and get a much better feel for how the house and surrounding land will feel.

Lighthouse also floated the idea of using our house as a model home while they are building their real model. We might be open to the idea, though the thought of people walking around in our new house is a bit off putting. We will have to see what they end up offering us. Of course it would be dependent on our not selling our current house.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Clearing for the Septic

Not really sure what our purpose was in this endeavor. As you can see we have a jungle right next door to the house, and we were told to clear it for the septic installers (we have been saving money by clearing ourselves, not sure I would do that again...). Now the area in question is rife with grape vines, buck thorn, and other "difficult" plant life. We figured they would just come in with the backhoe and mow it all down.

A possible reason we were given for this, was so that we could tell them where we wanted the drain field to go. Now personally, I don't really care where it goes as it is in an unused part of the lot and out of the way. We will see.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Great cartoon...

Waterproofing and Insulation

Today they put on the waterproofing and insulation. Not too much more then that, we also were told to clear out the part of the lot that will contain the septic drain field.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


They pulled all the the forms off over the weekend and took them away yesterday. I noticed that some drain tile had been added in the sidewalk section. Other then that they haven't done much since last Friday.

Today we found out that they won't "set" the house till October 1st now. That is a full 2 weeks of slip. Bummer.

Also, I went out and talked with Steve this morning and he presented me with a bill for 600 dollars for the engineering of the concrete wall to hold up the sidewalk. That is just the engineering. I have found out that if you agree to something before it is done, expect the price to be double what it would have been had you negotiated before hand.

Needless to say it hasn't been a great day concerning the house. Though they are putting in the rough plumbing today, and the guy out there was very nice. We added a drain under the stairs in case we want to add a wet bar later. We will see what that adds up to...

Finally, we have the issue with the window well. They forgot to dig out the window well and couldn't back back to do it after the basement was excavated. So we agreed to do a fiberglass one that would look better anyways. Well it turns out those things are a huge rip-off, so now Steve wants to do a metal one... But it will save us 400 bucks, so with the 2000 he got off the electric we should about wash. Ug, I want to throw something.