After a frantic rush to get all the paperwork to Chase as soon as possible, we now had to wait around for the appraiser to come look at the house. We also got an official good faith estimate, which I was shocked to notice had a $2,000 transfer tax on it. Tyson blamed this on the computer, and said it wouldn’t be on the finally settlement. We got the last of the paper work to Chase on March, 19th, and the appraiser came by about a week later on the 27th. He seemed nice enough and I went over all the improvements that we’d made to the house, and how much it had all cost and what not. He looked around, and although he seemed impressed by the inside of the house, I could tell he thought the outside looked a little shabby. (Not so anymore with its shiny new paint job!). A week later I send an e-mail to Tyson asking when we would get a date for our closing. He responded “soon”.
At the same time I sent out disputes to the two credit agencies that had the mysteriours $89 collection on my credit reports. Both Experian and Transunion make it very easy to dispute false items, which I suppose is necessary since it seems so easy to get false items on the reports to begin with. The Transunion response was very speedy, and they had removed the item after just a few days. Experian took a bit longer but by the end of April they too had removed the mystery item. I never heard any more from either one of them about what it was, or how it had gotten on there in the first place.
Throughout April we kept getting questions from our Loan processor Shirley Metatla regarding the ‘purchase’ by Jess of our house. It seemed that their underwriting department was vastly confused by this and was unable to handle it, despite what Tyson said. Shirley also told us that we would apparently need a lawyer for all of this, despite not even having one when we bought the house in the first place. So in May with my credit report cleaned up I decided to see if we could get it switched back to a regular refinance with both Jess and I on the title. Tyson seemed skeptical that my credit score would have improved enough to qualify, but he re-ran it anyway, and low and behold it was now over 800. He set it up to now be a refinance, and we scrambled to send him another giant pile of paperwork right away.
About a month later I still hadn’t heard anythign more from them, despite sending an e-mail or two to Shirley. At this point was quite fed up with the general ineptitude, as well as the extremely poor communication from Chase. Jess finally called Shirley on June 17th, and left a message, (neither Shirley or Tyson ever actually anwsered the phone, we always had to leave messages and hope for a call back) a few days later Shirley called back and said that our file had just gone to underwriting, and that they were averaging a 3-week turn around. So after waiting 3 months already we now had another month or so before it would be approved.
Coming in Part 3, we do actually close!
Last night we spent an hour finally closing on our new mortgage. Our previous mortgage had been done through a broker, and was promptly sold to Dovenmuehle mortgage, who in general we’ve been quite happy with. However with our rate at 5.625% when rates dropped to the 4.75% range I thought we should look into refinancing. In the beginning of March after looking around a lot, both online and making some phone calls it seemed the best rate we could get would come from Chase (technically JP Morgan Chase). Jess knew someone who had already started a refi with them and seem pretty happy with who he dealt with, so I gave Tyson Coon a call and started the process. Tyson seemed very on the ball, and very responsive via e-mail. He would generally respond in a few minutes and always on the same day. He implied thought that everything had to be done right away as things could change quickly. After discussing our options we decided to go with a 25-year loan @ 4.625% with 1.375 points.
We started doing the pre-qualification process and that was when the first problem arose. Despite what I thought was a perfect credit history, my credit score was around 700, not high enough to qualify for the rate we were quoted. It seems that since I last checked my credit report, about a year ago, some collection agency (Interstate Credit & Coll), I’d never heard of in a town I’d never been to had filed a $89 charge against me. Apparently they are the worst collection agency in the world, as I’d never even received a letter or a phone call about it, but there it was wrecking my credit score. Despite my wife’s ~800 score, they apparently just take the worst one, and go off that.
Since the house was in only mine name orignaly Tyson said that instead of doing a refinance we could instead have her do a purchase, where I basicly gave the house to her, and then she would qualify for the new rate. My name wouldn’t be on the title anymore, but that didn’t really matter to me. So I went out and ran around to get the paperwork to transfer it to her, as Tyson said it needed to be done right away. After a harried bit of faxing, scanning and e-mailing, we got everything squared away and just had to wait for the appriaser to come and then we would find out when our closing was, or so we thought.
I’ve started work on a new project, that I will of course detail in a plethora of upcoming posts. The first step of that project however was to cut some 4×8 sheets of plywood and MDF. My table saw isn’t up to cutting full sheets like that so I’m regulated to using a circular saw. For that I needed somewhat to support the wood, which led me to build a sawhorse. I had already built a sort of table stand thing a few months ago (it can be seen in this post), so I only needed to build a single sawhorse. I had some nice scrap 2×4’s laying around, so I used them for the legs, a scrap of plywood for the gussets on the side, and a nice big 2×6 scrap for the top. I’m quite happy with how it turned out, I made it the same height as the table so I can use them together, and with the nice thick 2×6 top I don’t have to worry about running the saw through it.
The family room is the second big house project I’ve undertaken, and I’ve realized that when I get going on a big project I tend to neglect the other little things that go wrong with other parts of my life. For instance my car has developed a few minor problems, that I’ve put off until finishing the family room. Well finally a big enough one came along that I had to take care of it. The window regulator on the driver side door broke, meaning that the window wouldn’t go up or down. Which of course was a problem since it was currently down. Happily, its quite easy to fix, with the new part being about $100. While I was at it, I decided to replace the very worn and cracked shift boot, as well as the center arm rest. All the work I’ve done on my car has been quite easy to do, thanks to the excellent design of my 325i. As such after a couple of hours I had everything swapped out and looking good. I didn’t need to run and get any special tools, or spend hours trying to get a rusted bolt off, which seemed like the norm any time I remember watching my dad to work on our cars.
Last Friday the guys from the Rubino Service Company came by to install our new AC. Looks to me like they did a pretty good job, certainly worlds better than the old install. The new unit has a Lennox XC1, and an Aspen coil. I won’t be able to tell how well it works until it gots hotter and I can check out our electric bill, however I can say that it is impressively quiet. Its not silent, but its pretty darn close. It’s quiet enough that with the windows closed (which is pretty much all the time its running) you can’t here it running, and you can’t here it in the back yard at all.
The installation seemed to go pretty smoothly. It was generally a one-man job which surprised me a bit, but a small parade of other folks stopped by too. In addition to the guy who did most of the installation, another guy came to help move the unit and do some of the plumbing. A few hours after that an electrician showed up to check on how the wiring was going. Next the owner of the company stopped by to check on how things were going and then lastly the salesman showed up to make sure everything was done to our liking, and of course to get our credit card information. The only thing left now is to wait for the two rebates to show up.
Our old central air conditioner has reached the end of its life. The name plate on the compressor is gone, so its impossible to tell just how old it is, but our home inspector thought it was more than 20 years old. It worked reasonably well for the first half of last summer, but it cost a fortune to run. Then around the beginning of August, the coil started freezing up. Reading up it sounded like the unit was probably low on coolant, and although that would be pretty easy to fix, we decided to get a whole new unit. After doing some reading everyone seems to say that the installer is the most important part of choosing a new AC, so we got quotes from three different contractors, Hutchinson Plumbing Heating and Cooling, Mount Laurel Heating and Cooling, and Rubino Service Company. We acutaly called a fourth company P.R. Sanders, but they didn’t call us back.
Unfortunately since we have a four year old furnace, that only has single stage blower we couldn’t get the most efficient AC, but we got quotes from each installer for both a high (~SEER 15), and a low (~SEER 13) efficiency unit. We also looked into getting a heat pump, but found that the NJ CleanAdvantage rebate, that would be worth ~$400 on an air conditioner, wouldn’t cover any heat pump we could get, which therefore made them far to expensive. I think this is a real travesty, as a heat pump is a more efficient solution, which is the whole point of the program. I made up a spreadsheet of the quotes, which can be found here, if anyone is interested.
Although all three of the installers seemed quite competent, and the prices were all similar we decided to go with the Rubino Service Company. They impressed me due to their excellent record keeping, as they were able to tell us that they had visited the house before (many years ago before the current system was put in), and what they did on what dates. And while the other two salesmen seemed to know their stuff, the Rubino guy was just a bit better.
When we had our inspection the inspector noted that there was some water damage in the roof over the garage. It looked like someone had tried to fix it with a can of Great Stuff foam. Clearly not the optimal fix. However, since it was over the garage, and didn’t ever leak really badly I had put off fixing it until now. This weekend I ripped off a bunch of shingles to see just how bad it was, and surprise surprise, it was pretty bad. The sheathing over the area was mostly rotted away, and most of the rest of the sheet was delaminated and in poor shape. So I ripped up the shingles in the area, and replaced the piece of sheathing. Unfortunately I’m not sure that this will really fix the leak. It appears that the leak was actually occurring somewhere farther up the roof, where water was getting under the shingles and running down the top of the sheathing, until it got to the edge where it would then go into the garage.
Unfortunately I can’t tell where the source of the leak was, but I’m hoping that it was from the piece of wooden trim on the corner of the house. This piece was entierly rotted away. Where the base meets the roof (which you can just barely see in the top of the picture) there was nothing to prevent water from getting under the shingles. I’ve since replaced that with a nice new piece of pressure treated wood, and I’ve caulked it to the shingles to prevent any leaks underneath it. I’m hoping that between these two fixes it will stop the leak, at least until we get a new roof in another few years.
As always all of the in work pictures can be found in the gallery.