Last Post.

I have to admit that I haven’t been able to even look at this blog for a year now. Yes, I’ve been busy playing with the beautiful new house, but even more, it has been the painful separation from the idea of the York House–the planning, the meetings, the hoping, the relationships we had built with everyone involved with the house, the idea of how we envisioned our future…

This blog belongs to our time with the container house, and when that time ended, the blog had to end too. I’ll keep this site alive to meet the needs of people looking for information about containers and the process of building with them, because tons of people are still landing here daily.

Nowadays, I’m over on Pinterest. If you want to reconnect, or follow along with my new rock n roll problems and daydreams, I’d love to see you there.

Moving On

Everything has happened so fast around here.  It’s amazing that we spent three years planning to build, but the entire process from the day we saw our house to the day we got the keys took less than three weeks.  Now we are in the midst of moving in and moving on.

While moving on is really difficult, it has to happen.  We are a jumble of emotions–happy, sad, excited, disappointed–but for now, we’re obviously going to spend our energy on our new house instead of planning for another round possible construction someday down the road.  There is so much to like about the new place and so much that we can do to enjoy it even more.  I’ll work on getting the details of finding the house and falling in love with it on here soon.

So what does moving on mean for this blog? Well, this blog helps me organize my thoughts and ideas–it’s super cathartic to have a space to keep all that stuff.  Therefore, I think that Rock n Roll Problems will shift focus with me from containers and building to modernist houses and fixing them up.  I don’t think that means everything has to change, though!  If you were along for the first couple of years, you saw a ton of ideas I’ve posted for the house…it’s only been this past year or so that’s chronicled our losing building experience.  You’ll probably be happy not to have to hear all those gory details anymore anyways!  I hope you continue to follow and comment and share your experiences here too.

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More Sweet than Bitter

Well, have you guessed what’s going on yet? My posts on the porch, windows, sidelights, and roof are all referring to a house we’ve found and fallen in love with. This is a little bittersweet to announce, but we are buying a house. It’s not completely bittersweet, though, because we are buying a house that we really, really like!

The house is exactly what we were looking for three years ago. It’s a gorgeous, well-kept midcentury mod full of personality. We’ve decided that if we can’t build the home we want, we’d like to live in this house instead.  Check it out below…option pending!!

9-9-2013 10-14-45 AM

Are we sad about the fact that we aren’t going to build? Of course, and I’ll share all of that soon. But, you guys, the wave of relief is so much stronger.

This has happened incredibly fast, and more details are coming, but I need to get packing!

Metal Roof

image from Magazine Milwaukee

image from Home Ideas

 image from Remodelista


Jalousie Windows


image from Apartment Therapy

image from Hawaii Renovation


image from Casa Cara


image from HGTV Remodels


Screened Porch

image from Laura Casey Interiors

image from Home Away

image from Retro Renovation

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What Would You Do?

While hoping that our container house could possibly gain funding, we’ve seen every other house out there for sale that falls into our perimeters (3 bed, 2 bath, small yard, garage or other studio space) within our chosen area around the city.  We’ve even increased the boundaries of the areas we’ve been searching, and there’s just nothing that works for us.  Things are too small, too far gone in disrepair, too expensive, too far away from work, or too boring. This past weekend, while standing in house #4561 and discussing what we’d need to do to make the house work for us, our realtor suggested that we give construction another hard push.  This was likely a not-so-subtle hint that we are wasting her time, but she may have a point.

Here’s what I think she meant: we were spoiled with the promise of new, affordable construction that was designed around our needs and with us specifically in mind.  Nothing we ever look at in this market will ever be that.  It isn’t possible, especially in a 50+ year old home.  While we are willing to do some work to make a house more functional for us, we are limited in funds if we’re paying more for it already than we would have to build, which would be the case with almost any house we find these days.  For example, that house we were standing in with our realtor last weekend is in a decent area (meaning, near friends, bars/restaurants, and within a reasonable commuting distance), but the place needed work.  It has a studio and three tiny bedrooms, but both bathrooms needed immediate attention, and the kitchen needed work too.  It also needed all new flooring.  All of that adds up quickly, and it was already listed $50k more than our house would cost, just like all the homes we see in our area.

Yes, lengthy discussions and pros/cons lists were involved here.  In fact, I even downloaded an app to help me with the decision.  The app tells me to go with the container house, as does my gut.   The only real positive thing about buying the older home we saw was that we could move in immediately upon closing…so 1 month vs. 6-8 months (that is, if the container house can appraise with the new bank, and that is no small feat).  Is time a big enough factor to forego our dream house?  So far, it hasn’t been…

What would you do?

A Glimmer?

It’s been a month or so since my last post, and there is no change in status.  The new bank we’ve submitted to is looking over our information, and we know by now that banks don’t move fast. However, this (absolutely, positively final) bank, Texas Loan Star, has given us a glimmer of hope for financing, as foolish as that might sound…

The first step is always going to be the appraisal of the home and land.  This will be the hardest part, but the bank looked at the past appraisal and they told us that the appraiser didn’t do a thorough job–he listed our container home as a “ranch” with “concrete walls.”  Yeah, that’s not right, and I’m embarrassed for not catching that myself, but appraisals aren’t my specialty.  Texas Loan Star says we need to compare our home to other metal construction in the area, and that it needs to be free-standing (not the attached metal townhouses you see everywhere in this town).  This might be difficult, but there are some out there.  So far, Texas Loan Star seems to be more on top of appraisals and what is required than BBVA was.

If the house can appraise, Texas Loan Star recommends a 15 year mortgage, rather than 30.  They are pushing this because they have only two plans for mortgages: a 5 year (which is then sold to another bank and reappraised for refinancing a 30 year mortgage) or the 15 year (they handle this mortgage, so no other appraisals for other banks will be necessary).  Besides the awesome thought of paying off our house in 15 years, we won’t have to go through this appraisal nightmare again.  This is positive because we won’t get in a bind if another bank feels the same way BBVA does about alternative methods of construction.  Because we own the lot, paying off the house in 15 years won’t be much more than what we would have spent on monthly payments on any house we purchased out there with a 30 year mortgage.

Years back, I said that I never wanted to live somewhere more than ten years, but we’ve been in our current place for over 12, so I think I could handle 15 years in a brand new home.  After 15 years, we could keep living there on the cheap, or we could consider selling.  If we were to sell, we would have to consider the problem above about a bank possibly not funding the buyers…but maybe in 15 years banks will catch up with the times and embrace it.  We could also consider keeping the house as a rental.  I think lots of people would want to rent an unusual home, and the upkeep as landlords on this kind of home would be minimal.

It’s hard to talk this way after all the disappointment we’ve experienced so far, but I’m always trying to remind myself of this blog’s title.  While this experience of trying to move out of our old house and build anew has been nearly impossible, it’s still just a rock n roll problem.  We still have a roof over our heads, albeit one we don’t want. More importantly, we still have one another; we have our health; we have jobs; we have our loved ones. There’s a way out of this mess, and a glimmer of hope is a start.

No News Isn’t Always Good News

Remember the appraiser who declared himself incompetent to appraise our house? He didn’t stop with that, he included a note to BBVA that he didn’t think a home made of shipping containers would be wise for a bank to finance, because he couldn’t understand the livability and couldn’t envision a resale market for a container house.

Apparently, this is what has been holding up our appraisal at the bank for so long. We found this out only because our developer camped out in the loan officer’s office until he provided the information (worst customer service award right here). Furthermore, our little loan garnered the attention of the president of the bank and national construction manager, who has decided to cancel our loan possibility and says this:

I’ve recently seen an episode on HGTV that highlighted this type of cargo container construction for residential homes. While I understand the borrower’s desire to build this home and the reason why, we will not allow this type of construction because of the unusual construction.

This is pretty sad, since this bank was previously honored for the “unusual” and sustainable construction methods they used when building our city’s soccer stadium and “eco-friendly design and state-of-the-art technology” on their own corporate building here. Plus, there are other container homes in this city that have been financed through banks. But, hey, the guy did his research and watched an HGTV show, so he must be able to make a solid decision on our construction, right?

We are expecting a refund for the appraisal we never received the second time around, and we should get one for the first appraisal as well, as we agreed upon an appraisal under the grounds that the company would finance unusual construction; in fact, they championed it in a face-to-face meeting months back.

This is pretty much the end; I can’t really see this house coming to fruition. But, in the spirit of keeping all options open and not being able to let go of this easily, we are considering putting the refunded appraisal funds towards one more bank for one last shot. It’s no more money out of our pockets, and it’s as simple (like all that paperwork and intense scrutiny of your finances is simple!) as transferring our information to the other bank. But I don’t have high hopes.

So the deal remains that we are on the hunt for a house. If we find one before (or if) a bank approves funding, we are buying it and ending this waiting game.


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