Friday, April 6, 2007

Urban Renovation

Over three and one-half months have passed since the purchase of the Canary Court house. It seems like six months. There have been numerous people and institutions that have crossed my path. I wish now I had taken a photo of everyone I've met in this process of assuming "home ownership."

Today the Bank's appraiser finally had a viewing of the house. He'll get back to me next week with the "comps" and the "as improved" values. The bank will base its rehab loan approval on this report. (You can click on the photo to get a sense of the interior condition and the lack of straight lines, especially that ceiling line.)

Last week I received the amazing Commitment Letter from the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for the long sought Lead Abatement grant. This grant amounts to about $13,985! Those of you who have been following this know that this money will go toward gutting the house to remove all traces of lead. Lead is prevalent in any house built before 1978. Mine was built in 1913. The assumption is that the house is reeking of lead paint. (A real problem if you plan on eating the house.) The funds go toward gutting and then replacing some of what is gutted. It is a great help. The biggest help the commitment letter provides is that we can begin next week to gut the house. Then, before the end of the month I will settle the larger amount the bank is loaning me. So the money part is nearly complete and the construction will begin. Scary/good.

I will only allow myself to carry a certain mortgage amount. Beyond that lies only agoraphobia (caused by the inability to leave the house because of the lack of disposable cash.) To limit myself, and also have ALL the things I desired, caused the reality crisis. So I have slowly, painfully removed some of what I planned. Which is ok. I will work things in as time and money allow. The big things will get done and that's what matters. Importantly, I will have the green features I want that will reduce my energy bills and help the environment a bit. Every bit counts.

Emotions. I do not yet feel like a home owner. I feel like a person in the midst of a design problem. The architectural planning has been thrilling for me. It has been an exercise in creating a functioning living environment within 650/sf. So far it has been a joyful design problem. I loved it! It is the financing that was the struggle. I switched to Chesapeake Bank and they have been wonderful. Very informative, warm and helpful---a welcome change from that damn 1st Mariner Bank.

More on all this as things begin happening on the construction level. So far there have been some moments of big fear, but mostly I have an enlarged understanding of what architects do and how complicated it is. I also appreciate that I have a sort of cohesive design sense living inside me. That feels good. I thought the process would be all consuming and over whelming, but it has been neither. So far its been like a long hike through a mixed landscape. By the way, I have a woman contractor, a Russian male Construction Supervisor/carpenter and a Latino finishing team. Whoo-hoo! More pictures to follow.

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