"Do you still want to do the Dream?"
Lee asked me that when he came home (to the RV) last night. I was startled.
"The Dream?" I responded, wanting to be sure that he and I meant the same thing when we said that.
"Yeah, the Dream -- where you and I build our home together."
"Haven. Yes! Of course! I do!"
He was worried about a conversation we'd had by phone earlier that evening. We'd done a fine job of not being clear regarding what the other was saying, fearing what each other might mean, and being anxious about what we feared. Miscommunication can be like that sometimes.
Tim, our mortgage broker, cannot find a lender willing to finance the property with the creek that is our current top choice. The problem is two "dwellings", even if one of them is a really small cabin-style guest house. The larger problem is that money for lending is very tight, and Tim says that nobody is financing anything that is out of the ordinary or imperfect.
I was trying to avoid a profound depression, since that description might well apply to almost any property we would be interested in for Haven. I was also angry, feeling like the mainstream lending system was attempting to force us into a mainstream McMansion on artificially landscaped -- or scalped -- land, rather than anything suitable for Haven.
Originally we had planned to buy more-or-less bare land with minimal development -- a well, roads as needed, a stream.... But bare land loans require 40% to 50% down, and substantially higher interest rates. We have a good-sized down payment set aside, but still such requirements severely limit our ability to get suitable bare land.
Our other choice was land with some kind of building suitable to provide temporary shelter to live in while we build our cob homes. But if the building is not a dwelling, we are back to a bare land loan.
And if it is a dwelling, then the financiers require that the dwelling assess at a value that is above a certain percentage of the value of the property as a whole -- they want the value in the house, not the land, in other words. Which would saddle us with a house that increases the cost of the land more than we wanted and that is not the energy-efficient, earth-friendly, solid, strong, healthy, hand-built-the-way-we-want-it home we dreamed of making.
I have tried to make that work. Our dreams for Haven have included building a strong local community, in part through making strong connections with our neighbors, and in part through sharing the land, Haven itself, with friends who would share the vision and help to manifest it. One part of Haven that is central to such community-building is the Haven Common House and Brew Pub (as we came to call it).
The Common House is the building where neighbors and other visitors would drop by for a home brew (coffee, tea, ale, mead, wine...) and talk; where Haven's residents (Scott, Shannon, Lee and I) could hang out together; where we might hold classes, workshops, indoor rituals, social gatherings...
If the house that is foisted upon us is suitable for the Haven Common House, that might work. (As an aside, one of the things that made the fit difficult between us and Bo, Erin, and little Miles was Erin's understandable insistance that they get the existing house, so she would have a house for their child Miles. The most imposing building in the community setting should be the shared Common House, not the private home of one of the residents. [The fact that we are Pagans, and they are not, and that Haven would be stewarded as sacred Pagan land, was also a factor, of course.])
But sometimes that house is hard to make suitable for a Common house, even if the land might work. Sometimes the house is an expensive nightmare. Sometimes its placement makes designing Haven around it extraordinarily difficult. And all this before even getting into the issues of zoning!
How I wish we had enough funds to simply purchase the property we want outright, without having to seek financing! Sometimes it feels like every new thing I learn about the current status of getting a mortgage loan, is an unpleasant thing. How many barriers are placed before us as we strive to find land to build an earth-friendly, sustainable, self-sufficient, local-economy-supporting, future-positive, very "green" Haven!