A House In A Field

Great Expectations

One of the questions we’ve asked ourselves since making this journal public is “how much and when?” While we want to record our progress, we also want to respect the decision making process

And today was definitely one of those days.  Our expectations were a simple discussion around driveway and the house orientation. Instead, Rob walked in and said “I really got into this one.” We spent the next few hours walking through a notebook full of drawings from driveways to workshops to closets.

Give us a few days to…..”absorb” it all….

Current Tenants

We’ve been trying to drive by the site at the beginning and end of the day to get a sense of the light.

And it appears that we have at least three existing tenants…

“Remember, you can always find East by staring directly into the sun” – Bart Simpson

With everyone back from vacation, Rob, Deb and I had a quick meeting last week to outline “next steps.”

First up — we’d like to get a driveway and power into the building site by the end of year.  That might seem like a stretch given our “adventures in electricity,” but it will make a Spring start date far easier.

And in order to get electricity, you need to locate the driveway.  And in order to locate a driveway, you first need to locate the house.  We’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks trying to get a sense as to how light flows across the field during the course of the day and — especially — early in the morning.  Or as Rob’s latest email points out :

“The tree line shadow extended 50′ into the field at 9 AM, 10/11.”

Bartol Field has amazing south facing exposure, but better understanding how the light reaches the site in the morning will make a big difference in how we orient the building and ultimately the comfort of the house.

Another discussion will be the exact location of the driveway.  The town of Freeport was kind enough to tell us where they wanted the entrance, but getting up the hill in snow, sleet and hail will require a little more planning.  There’s more slope than we first anticipated and the thought of a 300′ luge emptying out on Lower Mast Landing has limited appeal.

First House Purchase

For most people, it’s a bottle of wine or olive oil. For us, our souvenir from Italy is a giant door knocker.  Caused a bit of a commotion coming through customs, but it should be an excellent starting point for the masseria that we’re going to build on Bartol Field.

And “yes,” the “Young Frankenstein” jokes were running wild….

Maybe Judy Garland can toss in a few bucks…

Maybe Judy Garland can toss in a few bucks...

On this fine note, we’re off on vacation. (Seriously, if a rainbow on your site isn’t a good sign, what is?)

Things will be a little quiet here for the next few weeks. The project will gear back up in mid-October.

And, oh-the-fun-we’ll-have…..



We had the field “bush-hogged” today. It’s far too late in the season for hay. Instead, we’re mulching and recycling the cut.

And. it. looks. awesome.

Third Time Lucky

This will be old news for the four of you that have been with us since the beginning, but it’s been a long summer for the Fullers.

We started to bid on a house in South Freeport, only to have it go off the market for “sentimental reasons.”

We staged, primped, pimped and prepped Flying Point Road expecting it to take a few months to sell.  Only to have it go under agreement in 72 hours with a really short close.  Yet after an anxiety fueled week of inspections, packing and alternative housing, the buyers flaked out — probably for “financing reasons.”

That all changed yesterday.

In exchange for pushing a pile of money across the table, we received title on 34.8 gorgeous acres here in Freeport and a payment book.  Maybe just a smidge anticlimatic after all we’ve been through, but satisfying nonetheless.

Things will only get more interesting from here.  After a short vacation, we’re starting work with Rob the architect on October 11th.  Our first goal is to get a driveway and electricity into the site before snow flies.  After that we’ll tackle the house plans with hopes of an early Spring groundbreaking.

Third time lucky.

Yet, It’s Never Too Late For A Real Estate Deal To Fall Through…

The Lemonade Appraisal

Red letter day for the sellers, the real estate agents, the bank and the Fullers. For some of us, the waiting has been about anticipation.  For others, it might have been with a bit of dread.

Because today was appraisal day.

Part of the challenge was the “uniqueness” of the lot.  A 34 acre parcel this close to town doesn’t come on the market too often.  Or as the report reads “The appraiser researched all towns in Cumberland, York & Sagadahoc Counties over the last 2 years and there have been NO closed sales of similar quality and size.”  And given that the process is highly dependent on those comparables, it required just a smidge of creativity.  In our case, they ended up using a 37 acre sale on the Hunter Road here in Freeport, a 28 acre sale in Scarborough, a 28 acre sale in Saco (yes, Saco) and a 35 acre “listing” in Brunswick.

The Hunter Road and Scarborough’s appraisals were marked down for “lack of ocean/water influence” and “lack of utilities.”  The Brunswick listing took a big hit because it’s still on the market.  (And having a parcel that has been on the market for at least two years included in comps is nothing short of crazy talk…)

Highest & Best Use” was also a consideration.  This paragraph sums it up nicely :

“The highest and best use of the subject property ‘as vacant’ would be to be improved for use as multiple residential house lots.  On the day of inspection, the subject parcel was not subdivided into separate lots.  Since any subdivision has not yet been completed, the highest and best use of the lot currently is as surplus land, bringing a much lower return on value than it would as subdivided lots based on research and and sale prices of smaller lots in similar settings.  It is unknown how many lots could potential be subdivided from the parent lot and if the water and soil samples would support subdivision.  Any subdivision into smaller lots would be speculative in nature and not taken into consideration in this report.  Per the listing broker there has been no subdivision plan or survey completed on the parcel.”

That’s a big paragraph that boils down to “speculative property.” (Or Ramblin’ Rose) Which is why the bank gets nervous.  Toss in some ugly national events around 2008 involving overvalued property and appraisals have been trending low.  Red Sox winning percentage low.

So I don’t think anyone was shocked with today’s appraisal number.  Not terrible, but definitely less than we were expecting.

And that’s where a good realtor and the process kicks in.  We pushed the appraisal back to the seller and her realtor with a “we’ve got a problem here.”

Bottom line — we covered the electricity, the driveway and part of Rob’s fee today.  Our appraisal lemons got turned into lemonade.

Closing next week.

Saturday Afternoon Flyover

This guy was circling the field for hours while we were visiting the site. Just cruising on the updraft.

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