It’s long process when you’re building your farm from the ground up. I knew this when we chose this route–we could have bought an established homestead with less hassle that would have given us a jump on our farming ambitions. But with land in the family that we are historically tied to, leaving Burns Road just was not an option. So we’ve been working to finalize the blueprints for the house, gathering all of the necessary estimates and permits, and yesterday Keith and I went back to the bank to meet with the representative there.
Having never taken out a large loan before, the whole process is new to the both of us and we learned that when the bank qualifies you for $85-thousand that’s all they’re going to give you–not a penny more. Since Keith does not make a lot of money at his off-farm job, and while Runamuk is still in it’s infancy and bootstrapping along, our loan is based on our meager income with our acreage as collateral.
We had two different designs for the Runamuk homestead–the first was based off Hammond Lumber’s housing kits, while the second was designed by David Blake–a local contractor from Starks. The former design came in at nearly $92,000 and David’s came in at $101,000 with all of the materials for both coming out of Hammond Lumber. After speaking with the bank representative we realized there’s no way we can manage David’s design, even if it was the one we preferred.
The most important thing is to get something out there–a foothold to grow the farm from. We can always expand or embellish later on.
Now we’re fine-tuning the materials list, trying to pare it down. By scouting locally sourced building supplies, such as locally sawn lumber, buying our windows through an alternative supplier than Hammond, and choosing to go with a metalbestos chimney pipe rather than a masonry chimney (with the intention of putting in an elegant stone chimney later on), we can save a fair chunk of money. Those are just a few examples of ways to scale the list down to where we need it to be.
We also learned yesterday that if we can manage to scale that list down far enough, we’ll be able to incorporate much of our closing costs right into the loan, which was very good news for us. Having already spent a chunk of money on the septic-system design and the building and plumbing permits, and facing an apiary expansion–we’re on an incredibly tight budget.
But it’s doable.
As far as the apiary goes–things were looking rather grim for a while there–the house must come first this year; above all else. And with very little money to spare, it was beginning to look like I might not be able to expand the apiary at all this year.
However I’ve been coordinating with Ann Dorney, one of our Somerset County representatives, on this beekeeping project at the county correctional facility, which has yet to come to fruitition, and with swarming season upon us, the project has been put on temporary hiatus. The equipment for the 10 hives that had been bought for the program and stored in the barn here at the “micro-farm” has been divided up, and I managed to make a deal for 3 of the hives. 2 of the hives are going to Mr. Ernie Hilton (a strong supporter and advocate for Runamuk–I’m so grateful!), and I will be managing them at Hyl-Tun Farm with his assistance, in exchange for a portion of the honey. The other 5 Ann has found a home for and she will be managing them herself as a new beekeeper.
So with my 3 new hives, and with the addition of the 2 that I will be over-seeing, that brings me up to 11. I’m still optimistic that I might manage to come up with the money for at least a couple more hive set-ups, possibly bringing us up to 14. It’s not the 18 I’d originally hoped for, but it’s an expansion just the same and I’m thankful.
I’ve even made a deal with my goat farmer friend, Ed Wynn, from 5-Seasons Farm in South Montville, Maine, to trade him a Nuc in exchange for Runamuk’s very first goat! We’re super excited about it.
So while things may be slow to start, we are making progress, and I’m still optimistic that we will be able to move into our new home by September. Stay tuned folks!
If you have any suggestions for saving money when building a house, or know of suppliers of building materials local to the Anson-Madison area, fee free to leave a comment to let us know! Every bit of help and advice is appreciated!