[Britt] Mister Charles came over after supper with a couple of house books and pad and notepaper. He sat down with us. I said, "Mister Charles, I'm sure you have talked to Dad, Uncle Mitch, or both. Through them, you know we're serious and able. We also have some ideas to start"
Mister Charles said, "Actually, I talked with both. Charles caught me just before Sunday school started. He simply said to expect you to want to meet with me. He said you are able and serious as a heartbeat. He then said that he wouldn't have any further involvement in the house unless one of you had questions. He made it clear you two were my clients and I'm fine with that. I respect you both not least for the impact you have had on Tony. You two really are legends in this town. Building your home will be a feather in my cap. I want all my clients to be satisfied. I want you to be thrilled with the finished product. I talked to the Chief and he said basically the same thing.
"So, what's your pleasure?"
I said, "Wow! Chad and I have talked about things some to determine what we want. We want our land to stay as natural as possible. That land came from Uncle Mitch in exchange for the engagement ring he gave to Dora."
Mister Charles smiled. "I heard that story. It was a generous move on your part. Even better was when he made the loan permanent! I think he really had you two going when he did!"
Chad said, "Yes, sir. He did. Dora took pity on us and made him 'fess up. Getting that land was a heart's desire for us. We will show you our special spot that we want left untouched. Beyond that, we haven't talked about house placement other than we want to be pretty close to the water. We don't want a mansion or even a small one though we realize what we want will not be small.
"First thing is a big master with a big bathroom. We have a queen sized bed to put in it and want a small seating area with good-sized closets."
I said, "I would prefer a walk-in but that's optional. The bathroom needs a large shower stall and one of those big Jacuzzi tubs and double sinks. The lake is not the only water we want to play in." Mister Charles was writing rapidly on his pad.
I continued, "We want an eat-in kitchen, a large living room or great room, a separate dining room much like this one. The other common area rooms would be a rec room and a study. We will be going to school initially and both like to read. We will need desk space for two plus a lot of shelves in the study. We would like two other bedrooms with a connecting bath and a half bath for the common area.
"Outside, we want a two car garage with enough space for a good shop. The one here works really well and would be a good model.
"Have we put together a specific enough want list?"
Mister Charles said, "I understand better why you are both honors students and accomplish so much. You think things through. We can build that and I have some plans for a starting point. I have two questions right now. Do you want one story or two? Have you thought about style; contemporary, colonial, traditional or what?"
Chad said, "One story would be our first preference depending upon price differences and layout issues. We are more traditional types in our style though I would prefer low maintenance as much as possible."
I nodded in agreement.
Mister Charles said, "Let me show you what I brought to show you." He opened one book with larger houses in it... "While you're looking through those, I am guessing that you don't plan to move after you've started having children or for any other reason?"
I said, "That's correct. In the unlikely event, we live somewhere else for any time; it will make a grand lake house until we can return. We know that will be an issue while we get our college degrees. We will be gone from it a lot in the first years.
"Oh, we want it finished by the first part of June. We're going to honeymoon in it."
Mister Charles smiled. "I see. We will just have to finish it in time. I will not be responsible for delaying your wedding or your honeymoon! Have you thought of fencing it and putting in a gate?"
Chad said, "We might along the road. We don't want to be separate from Mitch and Dora's house or from the other side. There's nothing you can do from the lake side."
"True. There are some amazing things with electronics that can be done. I have a friend who can show you some of the things we can build in to make your home safer and more convenient to own. It's much cheaper to do it in the building phase rather than retro-fitting later."
' Chad said, "Before we build, I guess we should talk with him to incorporate many of those things into the design and as built-in objects." Mister Charles nodded.
I said, "I like the look of these two on the outside." I showed them to Chad who nodded and to Mister Charles who nodded, too.
He said, "That's what I had in mind by traditional.
"Let's look at interior designs for a bit. You're not trying to find an exact match to your desires but something close. You want an idea of layouts and the pluses and minuses of one story compared to two story plans. To get you where you want in terms of function and design will require a custom design. That's not as bad as it might sound. I build houses one at a time. I don't have a bunch of pre-set designs and fit you into one. We get a better product that is more satisfying to the client. That doesn't mean that we don't have standard items. A basic bathroom and a half bath are pretty much standard items depending upon layout. So are standard bedrooms. What makes a house special is designing how it all goes together and the compromises that have to be made.
"For instance, I use a supply company that designs the kitchen layout with the client, helps them pick the appliances and finishes for cabinets, floors and the like. We then fit it into the plan. Sometimes, we have to sit with all three parties to work out a compromise or make changes so everything works."
We looked at a number of pictures of interior layouts until we were getting dizzy. Finally, I said, "Mister Charles, let's stop. I know I need to look at more actual houses and talk to Chad before I can answer intelligently. Do you need to look over the property with us?"
"Yes, Brittany. It can be overwhelming. Let me suggest some things. First, we do need to walk some of your property to determine roughly where to put your home. Second, look at a bunch of houses with a measuring tape and take notes. You two are smart. You need to study this new subject. I will need about four months to complete the house. That means we have most of this month to look around and make decisions.
"There's one other thing I want to say. Involve others in your process. You are making long-term plans. I know you have a target time but don't let it hurry you into a mistake. There's a lot to consider and you can make it right with patience." He looked at his calendar. "Why don't we meet at Mitch's driveway Wednesday afternoon after you get out of school?"
Chad said, "That works. I can get in with my car but it takes an old high center car or a truck to get in."
Mister Charles smiled. "I have a four-wheel drive truck. Where you lead, I can follow."
We shook hands all around. I realized that Chad and I had a lot of homework (pun intended) to do. We would have to move fairly quickly to meet our target.
Chad said, "Ladylove, I know our target but we can campout there and be happy. We want this house to be our home for many, many years. Mister Charles is right. We have to do it right."
I said, "I know. I would like immediate gratification though." We laughed and hugged. We joined the rest in the living room and I said, "This isn't going to be easy. We are co-opting all of you onto the committee along with others to help us reach the right decisions. We've already made one. We don't have to meet our target date. This will be our home for a long time, not just a honeymoon cottage."
Chad said, "The second thing we know is that we will not delay the wedding!"
Eric said, "I know I'm late to your party but how are you going to afford to build?"
I looked at Dad and smiled and nodded. He said, "Britt is the sole beneficiary of a large trust that permits the trustees to provide her with a home, education, marriage, and anything else the trustees agree would be beneficial. The trustees agree that a home on the property would be a good use of a few dollars."
Mel said, "Ric, what Dad is saying is that Britt is rich."
Eric said, "Oh!"
I said, "Don't get carried away, Eric. It's still just me.
"Now, how did your interview go?"
Eric had a big smile. "I have a job starting Wednesday. Mister Anderson, Ben, is a great guy. He discussed with me what he needs in the way of a trainee engineer and it's what I want to do." Mel jumped him hugging and kissing him. When they came up for air, we all gave him our congratulations, too.
He continued, "Before I was so pleasantly interrupted, I'm looking forward to it very much. He had highly complimentary things to say about all four of you. Mister Arnold, Missus Arnold, he says you two are the power behind a lot of the confidence that Brittany and Chad show the world.
Chad and I nodded slowly. I said, "The magic really began when Mom and Dad took pity on two teenagers and gave them an event to remember for the rest of their lives."
Mom and Dad blushed and touched their hands. After a moment, Mom got up and sat in Dad's lap. His arms welcomed her and his smile was very large. I eased up into Chad's lap so I could look at them with my cheek against Chad's. It was a long, very special quiet minute. Mel and Eric were even affected by it and they hadn't even been there!
Eric said after a long pause, "My next project is to find a rental. I want Dy to have a house to make into a home. I hope to find something by the first of February."
Dad said, "Would you be adverse to buying if that were possible?"
"No, sir. I don't have a down payment though. My parents don't have money. I will be helping Martha with some of her school expenses."
Mel said, "Dad, what are you thinking of?"
He said, "There is a house coming on the market that needs a lot of work. It's a foreclosure though the neighborhood is good. It just needs care and work."
Eric said, "Wow! I worked construction each summer. I can build, fix, renovate, or rebuild anything!"
Dad said, "You'll have help. I will help. So will Chad." Chad nodded. Your dad might be able to help and there are many people at church who will be glad to help you. Drop by my office about eleven. I'll take a long lunch hour and we'll have a look."
"Yes, sir! That would be great!"
The next evening, he and Dad came home to announce that it was a doable deal! Eric and Mel were thrilled. Dad said, "Now, this is the difficult part. Eric, you realize no bank would touch this deal?"
"Yes, sir. There will have to be some special financing to make it work. There will be some heavy initial costs beyond sweat equity. Mister Arnold, you obviously have a way. I would appreciate your help."
"Actually, it will be Mitch's and mine with Britt's permission. It will be strictly business. We can take a risk that a bank's numbers can't. You'll pay loan payments with interest. It's an investment." I figured it out and nodded smiling at Dad.
Dad said, "The trust will make the loan after you figure what additional upfront costs there will be."
Eric had tears in his eyes. "That will be fine. Brittany, it will be a good investment financially for you. Thank you all."
Mel said, "It doesn't bother you to accept charity?"
Eric said, "I will turn it down if you want me to do that. Otherwise, I will accept charity and I will pay it forward. Brittany and her trustees will find that house to be a good, solid investment and I will repay the loan. Dy, we will make a home for us and it will be one we can be proud of. Britt's trust will have done a good thing and even made some money."
Mel jumped him. She was in his lap hugging him and kissing him vigorously. She was also crying through her joy. Chad hugged and kissed me. Mom and Dad leaned over and kissed over the end table. Dad suggested that Mitch and he negotiate with the bank on Eric's behalf.
Eric said, "Thank you. I have a feeling that you two will be able to get a better deal than I could hope to get." Mel gave him another hug. "My parents taught me that it's harder to receive than give but there is nothing dishonorable about charity. However, they had help starting out and have helped others since then. It's like Missus Thornton's honorable pity, it can be a win-win with good ramifications continuing for years." Mel was sitting on his lap with her head on his shoulder crying helplessly.
I could hear her mumbling, "Thank You, God. Thank You for bringing him into my life. Help me to be worthy of his love."
Mel finally came up and said, "I am taking this wonderful man to my room. We need to talk. We will see you in the morning!"
Dad smiled. "I'm glad we waived the rules. Lois, let's go upstairs and make some joyful noises of our own." Mom's eyes were shining as she nodded eagerly.
They left us there as they also almost ran up the stairs.
"Beautiful man, would you take me to bed and love me?"