Monday, April 02, 2007

If it sounds too good to be true...

Today we met with the PRC to discuss our home, and we learned that it may not, in fact, be our home.

I found out about problems with the bid late last week, and so rather than doing the essay-grading and conference-paper writing that I should have been doing, I despaired over the revised layout they'd sent--one which lobbed off over 125 square feet, leaving us with a home just one small bathroom larger than our current one.

Today we were told that construction expenses have skyrocketed, which I don't doubt, but the figures we looked over were outrageous (perhaps those not in New Orleans could tell me otherwise). For example: $18K for a basic tongue-and-groove wooden porch (roofless). Another example: over $3K for trim and baseboard painting.

Because we are buying this home renovated (as opposed to doing the renovations ourselves), we're not in a position to haggle over numbers or get into the PRC's relationship with its contractor, but in order to bring the renovation expenses down into our budget, we have been given the option of providing some materials--doors, faucets, lighting, cabinets, etc.

I listened to all of these figures, and I thought about what it meant, and when we were asked how we felt, I started to cry. It's how I do. If I;m not doing well and someone asks me if I'm okay, then my chin quivers, childlike, and I can't contain it. So if you sense that I'm not doing well, you should not ask me unless you are prepared to witness Not Doing Well. In this particular case, I excused myself and came back to the meeting several minutes later put back together.

It's just that we/I have become so attached to this particular home. We go down to Holy Cross every weekend to peek at it, to dream about living in it, and to walk along the levee. And my obsession with the home-buying affair has been of bridal proportions. Not since our wedding have I been so invested in a project. I've researched every aspect of the neighborhood. I've sung carols at the neighborhood association Christmas party. I've been singing the neighborhood's praises ever since I discovered it. In fact, I introduced Holy Cross to a colleague who has since bought a house there.

So to learn that 717 might not happen... well... I don't know, but I am one sad woman. I don't know what we will do, either. I mean, how will buying all of these materials work for us? We don't have much money saved (we've been putting away for closing costs and a Pottery Barn sofa, but not for doors and windows and fixtures), and we can't borrow more because we don't want to be house poor.

So after we left our meeting, Simon and I ate a lunch of Vietnamese po-boys and discussed our plans and got nowhere, really.

I have my theories, but I don't want to publish them here. We do, after all, want this house. I will say this: I know that Operation Comeback's goal is to help people like us (low to middle-income and first-time homebuyers) move into Holy Cross. But if they are having a difficult time making this approx 1200 square-foot home work for us, how does that bode for their program, as a whole? In other words, if they are having to spend $138/square foot for renovations in a neighborhood that has NO AMENITIES, no services, and very few neighbors, how do they plan to serve the needs of the targeted buyers of their homes? (Disclaimer: the $138 is based on two basic additions, which we have been told makes all the difference.)
Maybe I am foolish and I really don't have a clue about money. (Disclaimer: I'm an English teacher, and when it comes to even dividing my students into groups, I can't manage the math). This is possible. Without knowing much about odds, I'd say the odds are good that I really am clueless about what homes cost. Which begs the question: should we/I be buying one? Should we trust those little mortgage-calculator-thingies? Those glowing Lending Tree projections of managable mortgages (someone needs to put together a New Orleans home insurance calculator to bring us back to Earth).

At any rate, I had a much more uplifting and fun post in mind, and then there was this meeting. I'll do the funner one tomorrow.

1 comment:

christina said...

hey sarah,
sorry to hear your discourgaing news. I sincerely wish you all the best with this venture. I hope you can find a way to move into a home, and neighborhood, you really love.