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January 11, 2022

Building our dream house… the very beginning…

Let’s give a bit shout HOORAY that I even remembered the password to sign into this blog! I haven’t blogged either here, or on my photography website in a LONG time. In fact, I’m just a few weeks short of a year since my last post here. But, that’s ok… this is basically just an archive for us to look back on, so SEO and stats don’t really matter!

I’ll skip the life update, because, does anyone care anyway? Is it important that I share it with the interwebs… probably not. But, I’ve picked this back up because we have something fun and exciting happening… we’re building our dream house!

I want to document this for a couple of reasons 1) to look back on for ourselves 2) for others who may be using the same architect or a similar design to look to for inspiration, and also to have a visual of what a 2D drawing might look like in real life.

I honestly can barely remember the first steps of this process. We’ve always wanted to move to a cute little town here, but it’s hard to find land, and when you do, it’s expensive. That has always led us to finding somewhere else close by to live. We’ve also always wanted to build a fully custom home.

My brother-in-law and his wife decided to take the steps to move to above mentioned town, and we couldn’t let them go alone! Besides, they live four houses down in the same neighborhood now… I don’t think the kids (let’s be honest, the parents either) would survive being almost 30 minutes away from each other. So, we found some land less than a half-mile away from their house… and here we are.

If only it were that simple… I’m going to lay out all of the boring details here in case anyone is going through this process…

Looking for Land

So first let’s start with looking at what this process looked like. There were only about three lots in our price range that we would have considered. All of them had some things we wanted, and other’s we didn’t…

We really loved this one lot that was at the end of a very quiet street. It was about three acres, had a creek at the entry of the driveway, and would have been just BEAUTIFUL setting-wise. Lots of woods, very private. But, y’all… have you ever looked into buying a property with a creek running through it that would need a bridge and a whole slew of other things? It quickly became apparent that the work and resources need to make this lot happen were not going to be feasible.

So, we moved onto the second lot on our list. It was .86 acres in a typical neighborhood. We were seriously considering this lot, because the third option, the one we ended up purchasing, isn’t in a neighborhood. However, this lot would have needed a basement, which would have automatically eaten up almost 100K of budget. It also had a drainage area at the bottom, back of the lot and we weren’t sure what that would look like after rain, etc. This lot was also over-priced, and the realtor knew the owner and said they likely wouldn’t budge on price.

Our third choice, was a one acre (more on this later) lot that was along a country road. We were nervous about not being in a neighborhood with three kids and a dog. There also wasn’t a ton of privacy because, it’s what I assume, was once farmland, so there was only a line of trees along the back of the property. The reason we chose the lot, aside from having limited options, was that there are three one acre lots right next to each other, and the lot we chose has preserved land on one side of it. We figure our privacy will have to come from landscaping we add.

Putting In An Offer

So we put in an offer. These three lots are being sold by a developer, so they want to get every last cent, and they haven’t been the easiest to work with…

To not bore you with the details here, I’ll just stick to the highlights. The lot is listed as an acre. Kyle and I have used Procreate to scale things out, as well as something called Polaris, which is like a birds-eye view that shows property lines to get a feel for what our house would look like on that lot. We went out to the lot and used a measuring tape to try to measure things and something just kept coming up as not right. We did this at least three times.

After a lot of back and forth and finally getting a survey done, we realized that our “usable” lot is actually only .89 acres. They can list it as an acre, because technically, our lot goes about 30ft into the right-of-way ie: road. So, there you have it folks, we own almost that entire 30ft x 200ft section of the road.

Now, I’m not sure if the sellers were unaware of this, or they’re just trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, but we were pretty upset. It was a total bummer for us, because as it was, we were trying to distance ourselves from the road as much as possible, while still having a backyard. We just lost 30ft. If you’re dying to know, did we get some money back, etc. Yes, we had to renegotiate.

The only good thing I have to say about these sellers is that they let us have an extra long due diligence period to figure out all of the details that come along with building a custom home on a lot.

Behind The Scenes

While all of this was going on, I was busy scouring my “Dream Home” Pinterest board I had been working on for the last 5+ years. There was this house that kept coming up, that Kyle was finally able to track down the architect for. The house was owned by Plank and Pillow and designed by Frusterio Designs. We went to Frusterio’s website and fell in love. Their homes are beautifully designed and pretty unique compared to other plans we had been looking at. We ended up with a handful of designs we liked and our next step was to find a builder.

We met with four different builders and found one we liked. We also had our realtor help us with all of the pieces of building on land that needed to be discussed, like surveying the lot, figuring out utilities, etc. We needed a septic and well… (another frustration with the seller- they had listed in the description that it was city sewer and water, only to find out it was on the far end of the three lots and it would be two years before we could get someone from the city to come out and extend it.).

We were also starting conversations with Frusterio to determine if we wanted to use one of their stock plans as-is, modify one, or do fully custom.

Realizing we had to pay for septic and well (approx. 15-20K) was the first hurdle with this lot. Then we got the survey back and found out that it wasn’t actually an acre, and as of tomorrow, they’re going to have to do five or six, 6ft holes to determine something for the perk text (related to the septic and well). That should be the last piece to all of this in regards to the lot. So say a prayer that all turns out well! We started this process in October and it’s been a roller coaster already!


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