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7/13/08

casa ti update

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know!
Believe me, I have been waiting for this longer than any of you. ; )

So here's my update on our zero energy casa ti being built in central Virginia, in response to a reader's question today on our own experience with building loans and how we, personally, did what we did.

"...Where do I get info about getting loans for buying land and building. Right now I’m pre-approved for a FHA loan.

I hope I’m wrong with my assumptions but I have a feeling I can get a loan that's good for building a (green modern kit?) home.
thx

-Sarah"


Dear Sarah,
This is what we did, and I would love for those in the business of green loans to chime in:

We did tons of research then found our land on UnitedCountry.com. I looked for areas close to history and culture and within 20 miles of infrastructure (hospitals, jobs), where rural land was available but where people were of a mindset to preserve instead of develop, and community was strong.

Got the mortgage through Colonial Farm & Credit. They are great because they are a co-op, and when their entity makes money, we got a check at the end of the year as "shareholders"! I would look around for a similar land cooperative in your area.

We paid off the land for a few years, and enjoyed camping there, then saved up for (My! Yes, disclosure: I'm GreenModernKits.com and GreenCottageKits.com) our passive solar modern house kit. And even then we didn't jump on it.

For the past year I've been throwing extra money to the factory, so that by the time we ordered our kit... it was paid for! AND I've paid off the windows!

But that's obviously not going to *finish* the house.

We decided to refinance our primary residence instead of going for a construction loan because... well, let's face it, Virginia is not the most progressive green building state. A lot of the things we expect to do... well, have not been actually accepted yet by traditional construction loans. By using a re-fi loan, we can do more cutting edge things and then wait for local zoning to catch up since it is not yet our residence.

When the children are older we will sell this house and use those funds for our financial security. This is not just about "being green" and preserving land where you can purchase those parcels already on the market to preserve; yes, it's all that, but it's also about financial freedom, making different choices than many who have a similar income to become debt-free. And telecommuting is on the rise; so our move could easily be sooner than later.

In the meantime we will spend the next years helping the land: practicing crop-tree release, encouraging quail and other wildlife habitats that have been in decline, gently working through no-till agriculture to grow food yet encourage quail in existing fields, and dismantling a dangerous falling-down tobacco barn for reuse on the property.

What I will love about living in an off grid house is that I can be older yet secure about not having to pay those $500 monthly heating bills, and that by selling our city house we will have everything paid off, living debt-free and not a burden to our children.

Ah... but how's the project going now?

Well, my fabulous contractor is back from vacation.
: )
And really, he's worth the wait because I trust him and it's not his fault my husband did a last minute (I hate being married to an MBA!) systems audit / foundation plan audit that held everything up 6 weeks since he then only did it on the weekends. (Ah, my cute, sweet, dear, thank- goodness- he's- handsome- or- I'd- really- be- letting- him- HAVE- IT- right- now husband.)

(Grrrrrr)

So... onward!

Oh p.s. though: As of this week: We have a barn! Not very mod but made by the Amish in the area, therefore supporting the local community.
: )

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