By Machelle James
Last weekend our families went up north to see our property for the first time. They wanted to see the cabin and offer their input. They are convinced that, with everyone’s help, we can fix up the cabin to live in instead of living in our 5th wheel. AJ and I had already made the decision to live in our 5th wheel and put our funds into building the campground.
AJ crawled under the house and found that the foundation and floor joists are in remarkably good shape. The log walls are sturdy, and the roof doesn’t leak inside the house. It does leak badly where it hangs over the porch. We are going with a green metal roof now. The inside of the cabin will be an entire gut job. The wiring is exposed due to burst pipes and the old parquet flooring has come off. The porch needs to be replaced and all the doors and windows as well. We are working on a plan to restore the cabin and are in the process of figuring out which family members are good at doing what.
We are still patiently waiting to sell our house, trying not to mess it up or cook as we have showings at a moment’s notice. Our daughter, Jenna, told us she is tired of eating out and we agree with her!
In the meantime, we have paperwork do. The forms to fill out to acquire a Special Use RV Permit are not for the faint of heart. I about had a panic attack this week as the reality of what we need to do became quite apparent. I had called all the people on the list to get advice and what they needed from us. We are meeting with the Fire Chief and his crew on Friday.
We are starting to build relationships with the townspeople as we need their help. Planning and Zoning, who will be the ones to approve our park, asked for: latitude and longitude locations, setbacks, utilities easements, a letter from the water company stating they can service us, the method of sewage disposal, culverts, fire department approval and 12 more pages of requirements.
I am not going to pretend here: This is highly intimidating. I think I’m pretty smart and I can follow directions but I was so stressed out by what they are requiring that I had to stop. I am pretty sure I snapped at the P&Z gal and I feel bad about it. She needs all this by Friday for the Board to review, and it’s simply not going to happen this month. I need my RV Park engineer to help us now. Problem is, he is expensive – $35,000. I was told he is “cheap in comparison” to other engineers. We decided to put his retainer fee on a credit card so we can get started.
I am going to share with you numbers and the truth about what this is going to cost us on our journey. I think it’s only fair so that someone else who is thinking about opening a campground knows what they are in for. Also to know why the fees to stay at privately owned campgrounds are more than $50 a night for most campgrounds nowadays.
The 15 acres of land alone was $400,000, and we have an agreement with the seller of the land. We paid her $40,000 and we owe her $200,000 by May 1st. Then we have a balloon payment due in 2 years. The good news is we have equity in our home and that is why we have to sell it. She will get paid the $200K and then we can pay the engineer., as well as our credit card to retain him. After that, it is all commercial loans.
That is a very scary reality – that it is just us financing this project. We could have investors if we wanted to. As of now, we want this business venture to stay within our family.
So here we are, facing the realities to follow through with our dream. I was told if starting a business doesn’t scare you half to death, it isn’t the right business. I am here to tell you I may be scared, but I’m not a quitter. Fears, try to come get me – just know I’m going to punch that fear in the face. THIS IS going to happen!
Thank you for reading, and see you in the trees! Also please leave a comment.
Read the last post, Decisions, decisions. It’s showtime!, 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.