Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Building an RV park: We had a bombshell dropped on us!

By Machelle James
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon when AJ opened his email and he received a BOMBSHELL email from our General Contractor. Here it is: “We would like to thank you for the opportunity to look at your project. Looking further into the documents that the bank requested, we are unable to meet their performance bond requirements. We are going to have to respectfully decline moving forward with your project.”

WAIT! WHAT? You’ve had our project for MONTHS! You had every piece of needed information since summer and now, NOW you inform us you can’t take on our project? You came out to our property three times with your contractors. You sat at our table and came up with a timeline and how we can proceed to open for business by May 1st. We were set to have the funds in about 30-45 days so we could REALLY break ground. AND YOU LEFT US HANGING?

The signs were there. We trusted this GC to do the job and they said they dealt with SBA loans all the time. They never gave the bank their P&L’s, their actual bid, the insurance requirements, nothing. They couldn’t vet them out as they wouldn’t submit the required information. How many times have I written about waiting for this company to submit the numbers to the bank. They kept saying, “We need it to be accurate so we can finish the project and not be short of funds. Then we will submit everything to the bank.”

We trusted them to do this project for us and AJ and I feel like we’ve been kicked in the stomach … the wind knocked out of our sails … the rug pulled from under our feet. It is devastating that they could let us down this late in the project. I thought AJ was going to be sick – he was crushed. You could see the hope drifting away from his soul. I was ANGRY. Angry that they strung us along for so long. Angry that they hurt my husband as he thinks our DREAM was falling apart. Angry that the signs were there for their numerous delays – and we trusted this was just part of the process.

So I did what any wife would do. I prayed and I got to work. I asked for guidance on who I should call for help. Who knows people that we could trust and work with? Who do we know that we could borrow funds from? Strangely, I get my best ideas and answers in the shower. So I take a shower not only to listen, but to stifle my tears as they run down my cheeks. I cannot let AJ know I am also scared – as I HAVE to have faith.

As I let it all out to the man above, I heard my answer loud and clear: “Talk to Dan.”  I jumped out and immediately texted our septic guy, Dan. I messaged him: “Dan, I’m sorry it’s 7 p.m. on a Sunday. Our GC quit on us today and we need help. Can you talk?”

Dan called me within minutes and listened to me as I talked privately to him. I didn’t dare have AJ join in on the call yet, unless I heard a voice of hope. I couldn’t bear to have more bad news delivered if Dan couldn’t help us. He said, “Yes, I can help.” I smiled, took a deep breath and ran outside so AJ could hear what Dan was going to say. Dan said: “I think him quitting was a blessing. I have trusted people that can do the work. Let me make some calls and I’ll call you back.”

As we hung up the phone, we had HOPE again. OK, so we need a new team and a new plan. We can work with that. Our dream will still come to fruition, just by different people. Dan called us back at 8:30 p.m. with good news. His guys will come on board and help us build our campground. I think I was holding my breath as I waited for him to speak. AJ and I looked at each other and let out a HUGE sigh a relief. YES! We can still move forward!

As Dan explained who we would be working with, I was intrigued. One gentleman is from Germany and has an engineering brain and thought process. He can “see” what the project will look like from our Site Plan. He already has ideas to save us on costs and will present them all to us in the next week. These guys are all very successful in their fields. Septic, excavating, grading, plumbing and engineering. My cousin is still on board for all of our electrical needs as well.

There is only one problem with all of these talented, successful men. None of them are General Contractors. How on earth are we going to get a loan through SBA without a GC, as they require one to oversee the construction process.

We finished our call with Dan, floating on Cloud 9. Then reality hit. We need to brainstorm on how we could raise funds privately and bypass the bank. The following days, we looked at our 401K, our savings and our house. We already took out funds from our 401K for the septic system last year. (Thank you CARES Act!) We are also in the middle of refinancing our home on the property. Housing prices have exploded in our area, so we hope this will help.

We also had a candid conversation with a family member who is going to loan us partial funds. I will admit I burst into tears after they said they would help. It was a HUGE weight off my shoulders as I was having a hard time asking for help. This is not something I am used to doing and for them to see our vision and support it, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

We are getting our final numbers from our new team and I should have them in a week. We don’t know how much more we need, but we know it will be considerably more than what we have now. We did decide to not have the store built yet. This will save on MAJOR costs so we can open up and start generating revenue. The fencing alone has tripled in price since we had quotes given to us a year ago. So, friends, we are asking for help. Who do you know that can help cut costs on cedar fencing? Who do you know that offers wholesale pricing on lifetime picnic tables, fire rings, basalt rock or ramadas?

Who do you know that would help support us so we can open our campground this season? Please feel free to email me at if you have any ideas, if you want to see what materials we are using or if you want to make a donation to Lowe’s, Sam’s Club or even Zelle on our campground’s behalf. We would be so grateful and will honor you, here at our campground with a bench, a plaque or engraved bricks around our community fire pit.

I cannot thank you enough for following our journey as YOU get to really see what it takes to build a campground from the dirt up.

We appreciate you and See You in the Trees! And please leave a comment!

Update Saturday from the editor: Due to overwhelming advice from our wonderful readers in response to this post, Machelle has now set up a GoFundMe account. If you want to help these hard-working folks open AJ’s Getaway RV Park this year, please click here.

Read previous articles here.

Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.




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pursuits712 (@guest_111429)
2 years ago

Perhaps some creative financing, such as selling a type of subscription membership for camping for future dates? Timeshare sites? You will have to determine how much you can risk in advance since it will affect future income, but it will reduce debt.

Machelle James (@guest_111498)
2 years ago
Reply to  pursuits712

Hi Pursuits! This was a suggestion from a friend of ours. We haven’t said yes or no to this idea. We are talking with other Campground Owners who have this option and hear the pros and cons. We are such a small Campground and want to make sure we keep our vision of everyone having a chance to camp here. We are the only family friendly Campground here and want to make smart decisions for us and our campers. Thank you for your suggestion!

Jamal Washington Jones (@guest_111400)
2 years ago

After you all are done buying these fine people a campground, how about buying me one too?

Marilyn M (@guest_111319)
2 years ago

I don’t have much being on a fixed income after 28 years in the Canadian military but I’d like to donate directly to a Lowes etc. As I understand it doesn’t Gofundme take a percentage of the money? So if you can let me know the closest store? Thanks.

Machelle James (@guest_111322)
2 years ago
Reply to  Marilyn M

Hi Marilyn! You are very so very kind. And yes, GOFUNDME does take a percentage. There are other options like Zelle as well that doesn’t take any percentage away.. Can you email me so we can have a private conversation about Lowe’s? Thank you Marilyn!! 🙏🙏🙏

Machelle James (@guest_111404)
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Marilyn. I can’t respond to your email for some reason. Please know I understand you want to help out. I cannot in good conscience have you place a burden on yourself. Please know I appreciate your kind heart. Your sweet message is a gift in itself! 🙏🙏🙏🙏

WMTN (@guest_111245)
2 years ago

If everyone that views this site donates just $1.00 they would exceed their goal. Let’s support this couple and make their dream and our future RV site come true.

Machelle James (@guest_111294)
2 years ago
Reply to  WMTN

Thank you for your support and great suggestion! I’m so thankful we have great readers who want to help us succeed!!

Gordy B (@guest_111138)
2 years ago

Machelle, When the Lord closes one door he opens another. All we have to do is look around and the solution will show itself. The GC did you a favor this will all work out in the end. Maybe your septic man knows a good GC to complete the project. You and AJ have worked hard to get this going…. YOU WILL SUCCEED!!!! You have many friends and supporters in the RV World, we are all pulling for you!

Machelle James (@guest_111140)
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordy B

Hi Gordy! Thank you for the kind words and support. We are hoping to raise the funds ourselves and not hire a GC. That way we can bypass the bank altogether and save a ton of money. I am so appreciative we have so many people rooting for us and I believe we will be blessed with help from our readers, friends and family!

rvgrandma (@guest_111104)
2 years ago

We have been in parks where the fire rings are old wheels. They work great because the fire is kept confined, there are holes for air and you can put a grill on top if you want. 

Machelle James (@guest_111116)
2 years ago
Reply to  rvgrandma

This is a really good idea! I like inexpensive repurposing ideas!! Between this and the wash machine drums, we may have some very affordable options!

Ed D. (@guest_111283)
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

The Washing Machine Drum works very well. We have a year round spot with our 5th Wheel in NC and we have one there. They not only work well for ventilation but they generate a lot of heat from the sides for those cooler months and evenings!

Machelle James (@guest_111295)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! I absolutely love this idea! We are getting such good feedback on this that we are going to start looking now for the wash tubs!!

Ed D. (@guest_111362)
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

My Brother in Law works in the appliance repair field. I can see if he has any. I just don’t know how we would get them to you.

Machelle James (@guest_111379)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

What state is he in?

Ed D. (@guest_111384)
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

We are all in Florida!

Machelle James (@guest_111403)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Oh boy!! We will find a solution much closer to home!! Thank you for trying to think outside the box…there are several items we found on Offer Up that may work!!! I’ll keep you posted!!

Ed D. (@guest_111431)
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Thanks and good luck!

Gordy B (@guest_111432)
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Check with truck stops that have tire repair, many rims are damaged too much to go back on the truck. You may be able to purchase them for scrap price and hammer them close enough for a fire ring, but not good enough for a truck. I have one such in my back yard, looks good but not quite round.

Machelle James (@guest_111499)
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordy B

This is a good idea too! I am really getting great advice for wash machine tubs and big rig rims. Thank you Gordy! I think we hit gold with this advice!

Thomas D (@guest_111098)
2 years ago

I hope Chuck and his crew repeat this story tomorrow.I now see a go. fund me has been started but how about those that read the story and don’t come back to see this important article.
Lets make this dream come true!

Machelle James (@guest_111109)
2 years ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Great Idea Thomas! Thank You for this very smart idea!! Diane is on it!!

Karin (@guest_111077)
2 years ago

Sounds like you dodged a bullet there, and you’re actually better off now with your new team in place. Start up a GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaign, and let us know the link. I’m sure you’ll be on your way in no time flat!

Machelle James (@guest_111084)
2 years ago
Reply to  Karin

Hi Karin! Thank you so much for your support! I think this new team will be fantastic. I cannot wait to see what they come up this week as far as how to cut costs!!!

Thomas D (@guest_111072)
2 years ago

May i suggest using treated lumber instead of cedar. I built a fence 30 years ago of treated and it’s still in great shape. My neighbor built a similar fence to complete the look on hjs property of cedar and it fell ( rotted ) apart years ago cost difference will be substantial.
Will the bank accept R O C licenced contractor’s. Or must there be a general contractor? In Wisconsin each contractor can pull their own permits and supply their own performance bond. Go fund me sounds great.
Your story today brought tears. I’ve been there when trying to build my home. Excavator pulled out at the last minute. Not as earthshattering but still.

Machelle James (@guest_111079)
2 years ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Hi Thomas! I can definitely check into the wood types. Also, with an SBA Loan, you MUST use a GC and there is no way around it unless you pay cash. Or take out a different style loan. Hence we are fundraising to get the fencing material now.
Thank you for understanding. I mean truly understanding. You’ve been there and is a traumatic experience until you can figure something else out. It hurts. I’m glad you figured it out too!

Jim Soper (@guest_111061)
2 years ago

Good luck. We are glad things will work out.

Machelle James (@guest_111075)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Soper

Hi Jim! Thank you! We are so thankful too. The emotional roller coaster is just crazy. It will all work out in the end!

Diane Mc (@guest_111033)
2 years ago

Machelle, so sorry to hear about the loss of your GC. But happy you found help. For the money part, open a Go Fund Me account. My husband and I will gladly donate.

Machelle James (@guest_111074)
2 years ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Thank You Diane! I just set it up and hopefully it will be posted on my article. I truly appreciate you and your support. Here is the link in case it doesn’t come up for awhile.

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