Eribeth Ballanfield

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since Feb 27, 2019
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Recent posts by Eribeth Ballanfield

Amy Arnett wrote:Long story, short: We tried to do similar and gave up before buying land. 

I grew up in the Champlain Islands and my parents still live there. I wanted to have my first birthing experience in my home state, so after seven years abroad, I returned home; with my husband (Japanese citizen). Since having my first kid in Vermont was set in stone, we thought we would try to make our life there. 

Ultimately, many factors drove us back to the warm embrace of Japan, but I will try to stick to those that will apply to you.

Financing and not wanting debt were the biggest contributing factors to our giving up. 
Credit scores are bull shit and all the banks(that we talked to) cared about. So I had been out of the US for seven years, so no credit activity for seven years. My perfect credit score all the years before that meant nothing. We were told, even with my "rich" parents cosigning, that we had to build our credit score for at least a year before we could be considered for a loan. So get your free, yearly credit report and start building your score if you are looking for a loan. 

A credit union I wouldn't recommend: NEFCU 
They are kind of posh...I'll leave it at that.

A credit union I would recommend: VESCU
They were the most willing to work with us, gave us advice about raising our credit score and what they needed to approve us. They give nontraditional loans.

Anything we found on the market that fit our, looking back, unrealistic expectations, was way out of our price range. Anything in our price range was too far in the boonies or needed major repairs. Since we were more interested in land (we wanted at least ten acres) than house, I used Landwatch as my primary searching tool. Smaller lots are listed on there also. You can fiddle with the search options and only return results with buildings. There were many lots when we were looking that had septic already and no building. 

Yeah, it only takes one person to start a fuss, and if it's illegal, you're done. 

North Hero, where my parents are, is ridiculously strict. I've heard of town official following trucks with sheds on them to make sure the owner has a permit for their shed and payed the fees.

Alburgh, the town next door, however is a free for all, do what you want, nobody cares.

Front Porch Forum is pretty popular in Vermont as a town email newsletter type thing. You can sign up with the address of the property you are looking to buy and read the back logs to find what people complain about.

If you searched north hero's you would find such gems as "who is the person inconsiderate enough to mow their lawn so that the grass blows onto the road and not clean it up?!" and "How dare a nonprofit supporting the arts buy a barn and restore it into an art gallery and event space next to us! It will be too loud and too much more traffic!"

Anyway, I was able to have a very positive birthing experience (highly recommend UVM and the midwife team there), and now we are living happily in Japan again. Vermont just wasn't for us. Hope you find what you are looking for!

Happy to answer other questions you might have!

Well, the good and bad thing we have going on I guess is we live here already?  We have an oddly affordable rental arrangement we are in at the moment (less than property tax would be), but we can't stay forever and want to plan for our next move.  At the moment we are looking at staying in this region of VT (work proximity--one of us does contracting for work so easily movable, but the other is in a service industry), but I know land does tend to be cheaper up NE of here.  Not suprised things are pricy/complicated out by the islands--but man, it is pretty up there.

Do get the FPF emails and haven't seen too much whining about stupid stuff.  Never thought to use it as a barometer if we move towns though.  That's a really good idea.  
Appreciate the credit union advice also.

I'm glad you got to have your kid here, hope you are pleased w/Japan.
1 year ago

Travis Johnson wrote:

A lot of people cannot "see" the final product, so they pass it by, or they lack the skills to rebuild a home, but it is too bad because "new and shiny" costs a lot of money.

We were pleasantly surprised because before moving into this 90 year old Tiny House that had been vacant for 11 years, we estimated that it would cost us $16,000 to move into, that being just making it functioning, but in the end we moved into it for $1700. (There is no missing zero there, one thousand, and seven hundred dollars). That included fully insulating, and totally rewiring the home. I do admit that the inside is still very, very rough though. For us, we wanted a place that was warm, dry, and functioning, and we would improve upon the aesthetics as we went.

Right, it doesn't make sense to spend alot on new and shiny if new and shiny isn't priority.

"Warm, dry and functioning" is  what we are going for and then improve upon as needed... though I doubt we could swing it for under 2K like you managed.  Some kinda Yankee wizardry you got going on.  Thanks for all the input.

1 year ago
One of the things we have been considering is plots with existing structures that may not be habitable in themselves, but have intact water/septic/ and maybe slab/foundation.  Obviously with this option financing is typically non traditional and that needs to be worked around.
It'll also require a different kind of work input (demo etc), and perhaps come with neat hazards like lead/asbestos and pretty much always mold (which is common here in general even in nicer places.)  All that aside, I also see potential for some amount of salvage (but also junk), not necessarily needing to do alot of grading to build, and having most anything we do be "value added."

...Has anyone gone this route and came out thinking it was a reasonable choice in hindsight?  

Any and all thoughts welcome.

1 year ago
The herb store fella might actually be right.  Without a GB to store bile, your body can't really deal with larger inputs of cholesterol (meat, dairy) within a short period of  time.  
Cut your portion sizes of these foods, at least by half of what you are used to, to start, and you may find things get a little more comfortable.  It's always been funny to me that most  docs don't prep people better to adjusting to life with a missing organ.  
Anyhow, if I were you I would stick with the lowest dose of dandelion while your system adjusts.
Good luck!
1 year ago
So, We're in the planning stages and would like to pick the brains of people who have done before, before we get too deep in the weeds.

We are located in western VT (Rutland County) and want to make a move to our own place in the next couple years.  
Structures that are winterized that also are not too much house, fit our budget, and come with a reasonable amount of land (2-3+ acres) are hard to come by.

Because of the specificity of what we are looking for, we have been considering building. Looking to do a "tinyish house" or cabin type structure (less than 700 sq/ft).   We do have a fair amount of building experience (general/electrical/solar) between the two of us-- Perhaps because of this, we know it's no small undertaking to get all this going.  We are considering it because we have more time than money at the moment.  

However, permitting and septic/well are a major PIA and expensive. Does anyone here have experience in navigating this successfully?  (From my understanding in this state you basically need septic, as greywater is considered blackwater, and composting toilets do not eliminate the need for a septic system)  Neither of us are engineers, and we know there might be an amount of contracting we would best outsource.
Any subcontractor recommendations (foundation/water/engineering, specifically)?

We have also been considering an on-wheels-tiny option, which has it's own legal issues.  I know around here you can get away with *a lot* if you don't bug the neighbors, but we're also looking to be reasonably in the law and environmentally responsible.

Any experiences with financing a non-traditional structure as a primary residence?  We don't have a huge pile of cash sitting around, so there would be a need for some financing.  But, we are pretty debt averse and looking to keep this number as small as possible.

Successes?  Failures?  Advice?  Good alternates we aren't yet considering?  Helpful online resources?  Any permie neighbors nearby?  

Many thanks in advance.


1 year ago