Saturday, 10 September 2016

Looking for a builder

As we described in almost the last blog for Take Five , Andrew and Christine visited a number of possible builders at the beginning of July whilst Mike was in York. By the end of the evening we had decided which builder to talk to first.

Somewhat to Mike's surprise, the clear recommendation was for Stem to Stern (Phil Herrington) in Stafford. Surprise, because this name only came onto our shortlist as a result of seeing it on a list and was one that we had not heard of before. Phil has a good background in boat building and relatively recently set out on his own again with the aim of producing good quality boats. He has a factory unit on the edge of Stafford so that the fitting out takes place in good working conditions and timescales will not be subject to weather conditions - unless snow prevents people getting to work! However, in the end, between the final shortlist much came down to intangibles and how the interview sessions went.

He was not working on a boat at the time of the visit (he was doing some camper van conversion work) but arranged for us to see the last boat which is now moored in Sawley Cut. We did try to arrange to call on him on our way back home from Swanley Bridge but alas he was working elsewhere that day.

We continued to discuss details by phone and email and set up a visit, together with Andrew, to see Stamford at Sawley on 29th July on our way up to Leek for a couple of week's break. We did say to Phil straight away that he was our preferred builder at that stage.

We now had a better handle on the cost and so quite a bit of the intervening couple of weeks involved sorting out our finances. This did present a bit of a surprise. Our initial intention had been to use the ability under our Santander flexible mortgage on our house in Wadebridge to cover at at least some of the costs. We had done this several times before including purchasing Take Five. Everything seemed possible until we started to make the arrangement rather than general enquiries. The mortgage ends in just over a year's time but we had expected to be able to extend it - after all there is plenty of equity in the property! After the first few questions were settled, the matter of our ages came up. It seems that banks consider anyone over the age of 75 to be wholly uncreditworthy and, as our 73rd birthday arrives in September, they were unable to take the matter any further.

We had come this far knowing that we do, in any event, have access to sufficient assets for the project but that it will significantly reduce our liquidity. However, we will stop paying monthly mortgage payments quite soon.

In any event, further recent trends in the financial markets (don't mention Brexit!) make the holding of our investments of little immediate benefit - at this rate they will be charging us to hold them rather than the other way around. Just think, when we did such retirement planning as we did (not a lot!) we could rely on long term interest of around 6% and probable returns on high quality investments of up to 10%! Will those days ever return? It certainly does seem as if saving is no longer seen as a virtue - at least until you hit 75!

The upshot was that we had to spend a little time liquidating some investments so that the whole of the project cost is now in place. (Phew!)

No comments:

Post a Comment