Friday, April 2, 2010

Bank Blues

So, I'm learning in our quest to get construction financing that (1) there are not a lot of lenders that lend for single-family new construction, and (2) prefab is apparently a dirty word.

I have had two lenders tell me that they will not consider lending to us because their loan committee is scared of "prefab" housing. Somebody actually asked me, "What happens if something needs to be fixed?" Huh? Oh, of course, you bring the house back to the factory. Duh! Anyway, part of the problem, as you may have guessed, is education. Jeff has suggested that I do not tell lenders that the house is prefab, and perhaps that is the right way to go, but it is ridiculous. Jeff did contact an Illinois Manufactured Housing Association rep about this and she stated that she had never heard this as a problem, although the banks we have been considering were Chicago banks, so it is possible that they have never dealt with this before.

So, in the meantime, we are working with Jason Pachl at Land-Home Financial that has a modular financing program. They are based out of Minnesota, which is fine except that I really wanted to use a local bank.

In other news, and this may be a boring topic, but we really wanted to find a "modern" fence to surround the property to go with our modern house. This is a lot harder than you would think. What we have decided we like is a horizontal slat fence (see above). I actually found this picture on a website for Advanced Fence and Gate, which is a local company, but the sales rep kept telling me how expensive this was and that we would be crazy to do it. That's not the spirit I'm looking for. We are talking to a few fence builders to see if they can accomplish this for a reasonable price.

The other item that we may have to forego is the custom garage that Jeff had designed. It is just going to cost too much to build, and we could save $5,000+ on getting a garage company to build it. Good news is that we can upgrade to Hardie board that matches the house, so it won't be too boring, but it is a disappointment.

As to timing, we still have to select the General Contractor. I won't go into all the nuances that is delaying our decision, but we hope to have a selection by next week. That will be a relief.

All in all, we are still calm, knowing that we are doing something new and that it could have a larger impact on the way sustainable and affordable housing can be built. We knew there would be a few snags. In any case, keeping positive.


  1. Hi Kathy. My wife and I built a Wee House in Oregon. We worked with the Land Home team in Minnesota and were very, very happy with them. When our project was delayed they had every right to raise our rates, but they were very understanding and chose not to. Imagine that! Nice people. Great service. It was great to have them on our side.

  2. One more thing--don't let a contractor say they'll only work on time and materials. A foundation is a foundation. We made the mistake of agreeing to T&M and ended up finding that everything was twice as expensive as it needed to be. If I were to do it again, I'd insist on firm bids.


  3. Hang in there! When this is all over, you'll have blazed a trail for lots of other Chicagoans who are holding out for an affordable, stylish single family home.

    Also, I noticed another reader, Sarah Elizabeth, posted a comment a while back that she'd love to meet you some time and hear all about your experience. I'd be happy to pick up the tab if you want to make it a group outing and meet us for a bite to eat some time! I know I have at least one or two friends who love reading your posts and we're all very excited for you. You can email me at if you like.

  4. I would love to set up a time to meet up and discuss. My email is Thanks for suggesting!