When we switched to doing things The Right Way™ a big part of the reasoning was that it would simplify the project and save time. By moving into the basement we would be able to completely demo the second floor in one step, and nearly all the work done by contractors could be done at the same time. That last part will translate into some cost and time savings, but it has the unfortunate side effect of putting all the big-ticket items into one big chunk. We’ve paid for the project out-of-pocket so far, but we’re looking at a rapid succession of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, spray foam, new roof, drywall, hardwood floors, cabinets, and appliances. Simply put, it’s not in the budget. At the same time, we’re at the point where we want to get the project finished and not spend the next twelve years picking away at it.

The other option is to take out a loan. While these big-ticket items are a year or more out, we’re also looking at some big expenses with the basement, so I figured if we’re going to have to take out a loan anyway, why not just get it now? I looked into a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), but after talking to lenders it seems the only way to borrow against the house is if it doesn’t need any work done. So I found a second option, a HomeStyle loan (which sounds like a breakfast side), where they appraise the house based on the completed state and pay out as inspections verify the work. That sounds like it would work for us, but there’s a couple catches. While it’s possible to get a HomeStyle loan that allows you to do the work yourself, most of them want contractors lined up and ready to go. Because it’s based on the completed state, the house has to actually be complete when they’re done, and finally, the process can’t take more than seven months. With all the work we’re still planning to do ourselves, there’s no way we could get the whole house done in that time.

Instead we came up with a modified approach. We’ll pay for the basement work out-of-pocket, as well as the demo, framing, and windows on the second floor. When that’s all done and we’re to the point where all those previously mentioned big-ticket items are looming, we take out the loan and get everything else done. We’d leave the attic and basement unfinished, as well as a lot of the trim and finishing work, but the rest of the house would need to be livable, meaning drywall, bathrooms, and kitchen. In fact, while we’re at it we’re hoping to get a few other big-ticket things done too, like the front and back porches, the siding, and the garage. The result is that the project gets put on fast forward.

We have a lot of things to figure out to make this happen, and a lot of work to do before, during, and after this process, but the idea that we might be able to get the house so much further along so quickly (relatively) is exciting, even if it means we’ll have a bigger loan to pay back. If everything goes to plan (caveat: it almost certainly won’t) then we could be living on both floors of the house in just eighteen months. Since we’ve been living in the house for four years already, that’s pretty amazing. Now if I could just get some plumbing quotes, we’ll be on our way!

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