The Tiny House progress has taken another sharp turn into a brick wall.
I received the plans for the larger build back from the architect and he met the expectations of the expansion: The house is now 1120 sq ft. 500% Larger than the average tiny home and 50% larger than I had planned to pay for. So it should have been unsurprising to see $160k contract price for the plans from the builder (and that’s not including the lot), but alas, I lost my shit all the same.
I wasn’t angry with the builder – it’s his estimate on how much the house would cost to him and his company build, and I can understand that. I was just irritated that this felt like a trap due to the zoning requirements. However, due to this heavy-handed slap in my face, two very important pieces of information surfaced from subsequent conversations with my broker and my lender.
1) The variance, for which I had been whole-heartily pursuing, had faltered due to the pressure of the looming closing deadline and, up until that point, the lack of having a legal version of the house plans. When I spoke to my broker about this, he brought up the point that I would not be able to apply for the variance at all, as the lot was not in my ownership.
Wow, that just flipped this whole thing on its head. Here I was thinking that I needed the variance before closing in order to get the right plans used for the loan. But if I wasn’t going to be able to get the variance until I closed on the lot, then no matter what, contract had to be based on the larger build. This brought me to my next conversation with the lender.
2) Would I be able to sign a contract with the builder for the larger plans of the house, close on the Construction-to-Perm Loan and the lot, apply for the variance, and THEN back up to the (hopefully) approved smaller plans of the house – refunding the left over funds back to the bank? This was the million dollar question (or really, the 190k dollar question) and my lender gave me a solid, yet cautious answer:
Yes, this could be a possible solution for me to get my tiny house.
They would declare the larger build as the ‘worst-case scenario’ and would need the copy of the new zoning permit if the variance is approved before using it, of course – but there you have it. I would still need to close on a larger loan, but with respect to how much less we would be using for the smaller build, all that I would be really doing is putting down a larger down payment. This felt like I just cleared the last hurdle and all that was left was the finish line. The only thing that could trip me up now is the variance.