Thinking about buying a home, but not sure how to afford it? Welcome to the Down Payment Diaries, where real people spill about how they saved and splurged on their path to homeownership.
Marital status: Married
Occupation: County treasurer and public finance consultant
What was your home experience when you were growing up?
I grew up on a 150-acre farm with my family’s house in the middle. My grandmother, who has been a huge inspiration to me, lived five minutes away by car. She bought her first house at age 18 and fixed it up. That was the start of a long career of renovating houses.
When did you start thinking about buying?
I casually had been looking for homes when a local woman approached the town council where I work. She was a member of a church whose membership had dwindled to five constituents, and they didn’t have the funding to keep up with repairs. She asked if the town would be interested in accepting the church as a donation. The town said absolutely not; the consensus was it was too big of a liability.
She then reached out to my family and me, because she knew we had a history of restoring old homes and buildings. Initially, I said no. But the next morning, I drove past and said, “Why not?”
What were you looking for in a home?
I had planned on buying a really affordable starter home that I could work on. I wanted a project.
Was this more of a project than you realized?
I knew most of what I was getting into. Before I committed, I knew it needed a new roof and new belltower. I also knew I was going to have to replace the foundation—a crack in the foundation ran the entire length of the church—but I didn’t realize that process would result in another hugely expensive repair.
For the new foundation, they had to jack the building up, remove the old foundation, reconstruct it, install French drains and then lower the building back down, ensuring it was level. Prior to that process, I could open all the windows; afterward, I couldn’t open several. That’s because the floor was now slanted, like in a theater, so that the openings for the windows no longer lined up with the windows themselves. From the back of the church to the front, the grade difference was 12 inches. We had to rip out and replace the entire floor, which cost an unanticipated $11,000.
How much did you pay for the property itself?
The purchase price was $1, which is the minimum legal amount to transfer ownership.
How did you pay for the renovations?
I invested $75,000 out of pocket to get the home into solid, structural condition. I did this so that a lender would give me a construction loan to complete the rest of the work. What’s tricky about the church is that it didn’t have a kitchen, a bedroom or any of the typical rooms that make it compatible with home construction loans. Most banks said that the only way they could loan me money was through a commercial loan, offered at a higher interest rate. I didn’t want that. Luckily, I found a local bank that said I simply had to let them know my plans for where the kitchen and bedroom were going to be.
Did you eventually convert to a more traditional home mortgage loan?
Three years later, once the home was completed, that same bank let me convert to a traditional home mortgage.
What is your favorite part of your home?
I love just looking at the ceiling and reflecting back on what a crazy project the whole thing was. From the outside, my home very much looks like a church, but inside, it’s a very comfortable, spacious home. In some ways, you couldn’t tell that it was a church, although with the tall ceilings, it does have a very grand feel. I also love that this place has its original windows. I’m a preservationist at heart, so these things have meaning to me.
Do you have any regrets?
I never wanted a house this big, but I have it now. The only time I regret the size of the house is when I am mopping the oak floors. My two giant schnauzers shed a lot! But really, most of the time I just feel fortunate. I could never have built a house like this for what I paid, nor would my savings have been enough to buy a home of this size. I recognize, too, that the layout we chose wouldn’t suit everybody. If I ever sold the home, I would have to reconfigure the space to add a few more bedrooms. My wife and I don’t plan on having kids, so for us right now, this home is a perfect fit.
>>> Read full article>>>
Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the linked Source : Realtor.com – https://www.realtor.com/living/down-payment-diaries/clarington-oh-church-home-renovation/