4 years ago

Its official!

This blog—after just one week of experimentation—has moved to theurbanbunker.com. Tumblr just wasn’t cutting it, and so I’ve spent the last two days migrating to my own URL. Right now it’s sort of ugly, but I will change that shortly. 

Please visit me at theurbanbunker.com for exiting updates on our random house building venture. I promise to pepper each post with self-depricating humor and great visuals.  

Oh, and commenting. Now that works on the other site. I’m sure it will be highly entertaining as this ball gets rolling.



4 years ago

substance over style

I have four floor to ceiling bookshelves organized by subject (plus some spillage, but I try to keep it to four). You give me an author, title or subject, and I can find you the book without blinking.

But if I weren’t so anal, I’d love to do something this cute. Maybe we can do a shelf.

4 years ago

old + mod

I know nothing about this adorable little re-fab cabin other than the fact that the images are by Sarah Blee on OWI.

All the better to allow me to pretend it’s mine. Remade structures like this serve to remind us that there’s more to aim for than just austerity. Our place needs a little soul, too.

4 years ago

Anti-Social Media

I’ve tried to enable comments (due to requests! OMG!) by installing DIQUS. Now, if you click on a timestamp and go to a post, you’ll see commenting is totally available. Neat.

However, the comment functionality doesn’t appear on the main page. This week, I’ll probably migrate to a direct URL where I can have more control over these things.

4 years ago

A converted 15th Century barn off the coast of France. This might be an all time favorite.

A converted 15th Century barn off the coast of France. This might be an all time favorite.

4 years ago

a great dilemma

We have offers on two adjacent parcels of land after only two weeks of looking. We love both, but they are even more perfect when looked at as one piece of land with two possible building sites. One parcel nestles in by a creek, thick with thistle and Oak trees. The other sits over the whole valley overlooking the town on a perfect hill. They both have utilities. Together, they are exactly what we were looking for, but could never expect to find within our price range. The problem is, we actually can’t afford both.

For both, we’re about 35% over our land budget. But we get twice as much. But these are bank owned parcels, so they have to be paid by check, every penny, the day they are purchased. There’s no financing dirt, and this dirt is selling for a quarter of the asking price during boom times. We are on the right side of the economical swing, if we can just swing a little more ourselves…

So could we do it? We could scrape it together. Would it delay our building a little? A little. Are we impatient? Uhm, we have two offers in after just two weeks.

Uncharacteristically, I am rooting for delaying instant gratification. For buying both while the getting is as good as it ever is going to get. For not being in the position of saying, “WTF? Why didn’t we have the patience and foresight?” Of holding one piece and reselling the other through owner financing just to make the 5% interest a bank will never see. I am playing a Cassandra to our future regrets.

But Mark is an advocate of starting small, staying on budget and on timeline once we have the property. Of not biting off more than we can chew. Of spending less than we anticipated on one parcel, and putting the rest into the house. He argues we would be happy with either parcel.

We are both right.

The decision seems daunting and immediate, but the reality is we’re far from needing to make it. Who knows if the bank will accept either offer? All the inspections have to be completed in just 10 days, and who knows what they will uncover? In the meantime, I will brown-bag it to work with my fingers crossed.

4 years ago

Mid century marvelousness by BassamFellows.

Mid century marvelousness by BassamFellows.

4 years ago

the view we could wake up to

4 years ago

These Form & Forest flat-pack cabins are one of the many reasons I’m crossing my fingers for the two parcels. And I know it’s slightly ridiculous, but I’m a sucker for the cabin names. This one is The Settler.

These Form & Forest flat-pack cabins are one of the many reasons I’m crossing my fingers for the two parcels. And I know it’s slightly ridiculous, but I’m a sucker for the cabin names. This one is The Settler.

4 years ago

can’t tell a cricket from a horse fly: our first bid

Despite the hundred-and-something degree heat yesterday, Mark and I spent the afternoon viewing raw properties with our agent, Janet. “Viewing” is a strange word, really, because it’s just a matter of actually finding the properties, which we were unable to do on our own last weekend. Few of the properties in our price range are currently accessible by car, and the definition of accessible up here is fairly loose.

After meeting at Village Real Estate in Sutter Creek, Janet is driving us to view a property at the top of God’s Hill, which is nearly impossible to locate. Mark and I tried (and failed) the weekend before. As it turns out, the seller has had four property signs stolen, but they’ve just erected another for our trip. This one too is gone. Janet’s jotted directions take us into the back hills of Amador Country, off a main road, onto a dirt path and still further out. But regardless of being obviously lost, Mark and I stay quiet, enjoying the scenery neither we nor our Audi could access on our own.

Out the front window of her truck, I watch a giant bug land on the side mirror. I am delighted. “Look, it’s a cricket! We don’t get those in the city.” Janet just looks at me, the practiced poker face of a real estate agent letting a chink of sadness slip through. “Sweetie, that’s just a horse fly.” She speaks to me slowly.

We turn around at a farm house, and return to the original road junction, where we ask a gardening woman which of the three roads will lead us to the property that’s up for sale. She ignores us, now watering with a scowl. But Janet is not put off, and finally gets the woman’s attention. After a long, embellished sigh, she scowls more and says,

"Yes, the property is up that road…MY ROAD…but there is an easement, so you can drive it, even though if you drive up there you’ll block my driveway. And I don’t know if you have four wheel drive, but it’s too steep to go without it. And I don’t know what kind of shoes you have…"

She peeks in the Pathfinder and spots my heels with delight.

"But you’ll need boots. And it’s a long hike. And there are snakes, so watch it. I killed two rattlers just today."

The snake killing sign thief sneers into the Pathfinder at Mark and me. I expect her to continue the laundry list of rural threats, but she just returns to her watering.

At this point, I am too scared to view the 10-acres, despite the promise of a 360-degree view. It’s not the snakes or the hike, but the thought of neighbors worse than even the ones we have in the city. Mark and I ask to see the next property.

Janet tells us that just off Highway 49, there are a few foreclosed parcels, and a ten minute drive later, we are on our dream land. It is in our price range. There is water and power. There are stunning views. There is only one neighbor. We’re not out of the car, and I tell her we will take it. Mark and Janet laugh. I am serious.

An hour later, Mark and I hike up the property on our own. We’re dripping with sweat by the time we reach the top and arrive next to a ranch fence. The views are incredible. The building site is perfect. I was right; we will take it.

We immediately drive back to Village Real Estate and put bids on two of the three bank-owned parcels. The papers are signed. Mark is shaking. I convince him to overbid on the parcel we really want, and underbid on the adjacent parcel, which would be nice to have. We are done.

Or so we think.

Later that night, we’re walking the grounds with our potential future neighbors who are the perfect opposites of the sign thief, and they politely inform us that we’ve bid on the wrong parcel and misread the county assessor’s map.

We are so city.