How Hard Can it Be?

How Hard Can it Be?

We’re not even in our airstream yet, and I’m constantly thinking about life after the airstream. You know, that time in our lives when we won’t be traveling gypsies, moving from one parent’s home to the next. A time when we won’t be living in an airstream. A time where we’ll be living in our newly constructed straw bale home. And yes, if you weren’t already aware, we’re building a house with straw bales. Not just straw bales. We’re just using them as the in-fill for all of our external walls. They are actually extremely efficient, incredibly safe and sturdy, and no, they can’t be blown down by the big bad wolf. But one thing they certainly do have a problem with is financing. Banks are terrified of them. No matter how much evidence is presented to a conventional mortgage lender about the benefits of building with straw bales (or any unconventional building technique), it’s apparently pretty much impossible to get one financed with a traditional mortgage.


I get it. Rules are rules. And rules have become much more strict since the collapse in 2008. From what I understand, lenders are governed by federal lending regulations if they have any hope of reselling their mortgages on the secondary market. So comps are king. If there aren’t any comps in the area that compare to the home you want to build, then it’s a tough sell. They don’t want any fishy loans for any weirdo houses that would stick out like a sore thumb in a big ol bucket of mortgages. I understand. That’s fine. Better to play it safe than sorry. But what other options are there for perfectly qualified people to get funding for a home they can afford to build that makes perfect environmental and structural sense, yet it doesn’t fit into the mold?


This is a question whose answer I hope to find quickly. If we indeed can’t manage to pursue the traditional mortgage route, we will most-likely be pursuing what’s called a portfolio loan, which is an in-house bank loan that stays with the bank. It’s not re-sold on the secondary market. It’s generally for a shorter term and a variable interest rate, but it’s not subject to federal mortgage regulations. That all translates to higher interest interest and higher payments. We’ll either pursue that, borrow from family, or rob a bank. Hahaha, just kidding. We would never borrow from family.


Another view of our home design, by architect David L. Boeck.

Another view of our home design, by architect David L. Boeck.


Like I said, we’re not even in our airstream yet, and we’re already ready to move into our non-existent house. We finally have a great set of floor plans with more detailed construction drawings on the way. We also are on the cusp of landing an incredible opportunity to get some great help with our construction process; something that has been a dream of mine for several years (fingers crossed)! But it’s all for naught if we aren’t able to find an affordable loan to make it happen. And soon. But banks are stubborn. These problems would all go away if banks would just quit being stubborn and write conventional mortgages for homes built outside the norm, or if we decided to scrap the whole straw bale thing and just build a traditional stick frame house.


But guess what. I’m a Taurus. Stefanie is Taurus. And we are as stubborn as they come.

Beau Leland

Beau Leland is a video editor working in Oklahoma City. He has worked with his wife, Stefanie Leland, on various documentary projects, and now focuses much of his energy on developing their 20-acres into an organic farmstead.

1 Comment
  • Debbie Leland

    You got that right! Love you guys and your vision. You definitely walk the talk. Makes Mama Leland proud.

    September 2, 2016 at 5:32 PM

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