I want to share the steps we took, the duration for each step and the cost to give you a clear understanding of the entire process. One major lesson I have learned is that this takes time and having patience is absolutely required. I try to learn as much as I can with each process which has made it so much more enjoyable, becoming an expert every step of the way.

4/22/2016 – Application for Critical Area Design (CAD). The CAD is used to define critical areas on or near the project. In order to know whether the soil can support a structure and whether you will need to get further permitting due to wetlands, etc. This is step #1 after you have your parcel. You need this done before you can begin the septic design. We submitted the request with the county (in person) on April 22nd and it was approved on 7/21/2016. We needed our 2 parcels reviewed which cost $1,210 each parcel. We passed without needing further permitting – phew!

8/10/2016 – We submitted a request to have our property surveyed. Because our parcel had not been surveyed in quite a long time and the stakes were not clearly marked, we needed to re-do the survey. This was required by our septic designer to ensure he understood where to design the septic. We received a proposal on August 10th and the survey was completed on 9/13/2016. Although this happened VERY quickly and the turn around time was ideal, I do want to mention that there was a mistake with our survey that we unfortunately did not notice until December 10th. We noticed that one of our two parcels was surveyed incorrectly. We reached out immediately and the corrected survey was completed by 01/12/2017. Lesson learned: double check everything – everyone makes mistakes, even the experts. The survey included topography which was necessary for our designer. They also label any structure within 5 ft. of your parcel (setbacks). The cost of the entire survey was $3,100 [although they covered the $100 revision fee for the septic design – see below]

10/26/2016 – We began working on the plans for our house. We would scribble on napkins during date nights at local restaurants but finally decided we needed to commit on a designer. There are a lot of great articles/sites out there differentiating a designer and architect. I educated myself by reading articles online and attending the Seattle Home Show. A lot of this process is simply doing the research and asking questions – people in this industry are happy to help and get excited when you ask questions. There are books – Pattern Language is one example that can help a great deal when designing a home. We chose our designer quickly because we were close family friends and loved her style. It has been a perfect fit! There are certain reasons why you would or would not need a designer. Matt and I know very little about construction or how we would go about designing a house for that parcel. Our designer thinks of every little detail (where light switches should go, where to position the house in relation to the sun and where to put what rooms to maximize space and functionality). We have learned so much and have saved a lot of time using a designer so we are pleased with the decision.

I do want to go into a little bit more detail about this process because I really had no idea what to expect. We first met to go over the contract and once signed we met on site for her to take measurements of the parcel and discuss our vision – at this point we handed over the napkin drawings we had held on to for so long. We met with her and she presented 5 different preliminary drawings which was the first point in this process that I really felt excited. It seemed like this was getting real. We took all 5 of them and wrote down what we liked about each one. We chose the front porch from one then the staircase from another, etc. Once we had what we thought was close we met again and went over those plans. She compiled our wish list and drew new plans to incorporate those. We took a bit longer on this process because we wanted it to be just right as we are hoping to be in this house for a long time.

11/09/2016 – We met with a local engineer to discuss the foundation of the house. Because the house was built in the 1920’s we weren’t sure about the condition of the foundation. There are certain circumstances where doing a “remodel” is much easier than starting from scratch and certain costs and permits could be avoided. It turns out that the foundation was not salvageable and that it would be a better decision to demolish and start from scratch. The demolition permit will be done with the building permit.

11/14/2016 – We finally submitted the septic design to the county once we received the revised survey. Our septic designer needed the CAD information and Survey in order to submit the design. This cost $1,000 [$900 design fee + $100 revision fee because he had already submitted the design to the county when we noticed the incorrect survey.]

2/06/2017 – Next step was to finalize the title transfer which required some paperwork in order to finalize this process. In order to move forward with submitting the building permit this step was necessary. We worked with a close family friend and lawyer who walked us through this process. The paperwork we were responsible for were the: Supplemental StatementReal Estate Excise Tax Affidavitand the Statutory Warranty Deed. We needed to have the Statutory Warranty Deed notarized at the bank and then submitted. We received the invoice for the title insurance ($900)  and recording fees. We received the title policy in the mail shortly after and celebrated with a glass of champagne – almost 1 year later, we are finally homeowners!

3/26/2017 – We are now waiting to finalize the plans and then submit for the building permit…stay tuned!

5/9/2017 –  The plans are finished! We are now just waiting on one document we need from Water District 19 and then we can submit for the building permit.

5/11/2017 – We attempted to submit our application for the building permit today but the plans were rejected. The County pointed out that the lot was still consisting of 2 separate parcels and that they have not been combined, although we did this 6 months ago. They continued to explain that there is actually 2 ways you can combine your lots: The first is for tax purposes with the Assessors office and the second is physically merging them with the County. We were never explained this and wonder why King County wouldn’t mention that when we asked to merge the lots but tried not to think about that and move forward with what was needed…which was a lot.

  • They needed us to complete an Application to Merge Lots or a “Boundary Line Adjustment” form. The application required: $1,342, notarized signatures, lot numbers that you are merging and a legal description of the lots (before and after combined). The legal description of the lot was something we thought we had already but we didn’t so we had to call the surveyor and ask them to write that for us which they did for $75.

5/18/2017 – One week later – we successfully submitted our building permit today!!! We were missing one document (the Current Title Report) which we contacted First American Title for since they provided us with Title Insurance and they are processing for a fee of $385.35. We will have that submitted to the county directly.  We celebrated with a beer and a movie.

…..We couldn’t just sit around waiting for our building permit so we decided to travel a bit. In the 3 months that it took, we went to Alaska, Oregon, California, Nebraska and Missouri. Not to mention the weekends filled with family, friends, festivals and weddings. We certainly accomplished our goal of staying busy and enjoyed the time during this process when everything was out of our control and there was nothing we could do. Terrifying, yet relaxing.

8/16/2017 –  Building permit approved and ready to be picked up! We received the notice of approval via email and could not be more excited. We were ready to head straight to the County to pick it up until our Builder told us to wait. He explained that once you pick up your building permit from the county, the clock starts ticking and you have exactly 12 months to build the house or you have to file an extension and pay another $1,000. Instead of wasting precious time while we got out ducks in a row to head to the bank we figured we would wait until we can go straight from the County, to the bank and not waste any time in between.

9/18/2017 – DEMO DAY! Today we began demolition on the house which was bitter sweet. Our neighbor, Kenny watched with my mom and I as the house disappeared and  shared memories we had about our time living in the small beach house. We demolished the existing structure and got right into pouring the foundation. Because we had not completed the construction loan, we had to stop construction after the foundation. You can do everything but framing and the bank will have to come out and inspect because you close.

12/27/2017 – Today we closed with the bank!!! Papers are signed, sealed and delivered. This has been the most stressful part of the process by far. We began this process in September and started shopping around for banks and decided on HomeStreet Bank because of the interest rate and closing costs.

My advice: again, be patient and constantly check on the status….things magically get pushed along when you are asking for status updates and timelines regularly, as annoying as you might seem. It was amazing to me how long to the process took just because of the back and forth. They would give us a list of what they needed from us and weeks later give us another list and that back and forth lasted for months. It is also frustrating that you are working with the “middle man” at the bank and so there is so much back and forth.

The process: There were several pieces to the construction loan, 1) Paperwork – and lots of it 2) Conference call – with loan officer and builder 3) Closing papers 4) Champagne

After you close with the bank you are required to start construction within 20 days, which was not difficult to us because we were basically waiting – with hammer ready – to begin right away. Now, it is full steam ahead!!!



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