Many wise people told us, going into this house building project, to hold on to our hats and boots, because things were fixing to get crazy. And they were completely right. The last couple months I have been absent from writing about our home building process, simply because we have been working on our home.
We have discovered that permits, driveways, foundation prep, plumbing and finally slab pouring take a lot more time and effort than we ever could have imagined.
As you know, we strive to be DIYers in basically every project we’ve ever tackled. Building our home is the first time we have ever actually out-sourced any contracted help.
We hired a wonderful local contractor to do our slabs and to erect the steel frame and metal sheathing of our modern farmhouse and Preston’s new workshop. We also had the power company run a new power source, (Ouch, that one hurt the pocketbook), and have hired a septic engineer to design our septic system that we will install, and we hired a well company to drill a new well where we are building. Also, we have experienced the beautiful, (Um, can you hear the sarcasm), process of filing permits. We have come to the conclusion that, even though we have been blessed to work with some wonderful professionals, it is far more stressful to let go and let someone else do something when you are used to being the doer. The not knowing a timeline, not knowing exactly what the process is, and just not knowing in general has been very hard for both of us. We have definitely felt the stress, but I feel that we are growing, and learning a new facet of ourselves through it.
So what all has happened? We finished hauling in base and gravel for our new 1/2 mile long driveway, which is absolutely as beautiful and perfect as we imagined it would be. Already, the dogs and I end every day walking this winding drive way and watching the sunset where are soon-to-be-home will sit.
This driveway was no easy feat. Preston spent hours doing stump clearing, box-blading tractor work. We had to install 4 drainage pipes for low water crossings, and then the gravel hauling began. We brought in about 20 large dump-truck loads of base, and Preston spread them all with the tractor, packing and spreading. He put in many hours of work, but the result is amazing.
Once the driveway was done, our contractor began the slab prep. After that, Preston and I and the kids installed the slab plumbing. Texas graced us with some of the hottest days we’ve had this year during those plumbing days. It was hot, sweaty, muscle numbing work trenching holes into that packed-pre-slab, but we got her done. Our contractor said it takes a professional team about 2 days to do a job our size and it took Preston and I 4. I’m pretty proud of that. We know it’s done right, and that’s the most important thing about a job like that.
Shortly after we finished, our contractor brought in his slab crew and poured our foundations. Can I just tell you how amazing that was? We have been dreaming and planning and saving for years for this home, and those slabs were the first solid manifestation of it coming to pass. To most people they are two hunking chunks of concrete sticking out of the ground, but to us they are a gorgeous reality of a dream.
As I type, Preston is on the hill building a meter box so that the power company can come back out and install a meter. I have always marveled at Preston’s amazing endurance and his ability to tackle a project and teach himself how to do what he doesn’t know as he goes, but he has blown me away at his tenacity and drive on this project. As always, he has been a rock, and I am so proud to stand by his side while we build this home.
So, those are the major happenings. The smaller things have been much more fun. Like picking out and ordering windows. Scavenging for the perfect vintage doors. Upcycling old buffets which will be our new bathroom vanities. Watching God put amazing deals in our path, and His favor on our steps. We have acquired a gorgeous professional range, a brand new water heater, and found a great source for free back fill and road base. All of these things have literally fallen in our lap, presents from God.
In the next month, our house exterior and shop should be complete, and then the real fun begins-the interior finish out. Preston and I will do this completely on our own, from studs to cabinets, electrical to shiplap. It’s sure to be a full and adventuresome summer, but I am so ready to get my hands dirty.
In the mean time I am purposing to breath, enjoy the little bits of downtime we get. Purposing to soak in the slowness of the farm this year, spend time reading on the tree swing, and listen to my kids ponder life.
I am such a driven person, feeling the need to constantly have something pushing me forward, needing something new and exciting to dig my life into. But I am finding the wisdom in contentedness. I am learning that it is good to have plans and excitement on the edge of the future, but it is necessary to be in the present and enjoy the moment of now.
I am often reminded of the song that Pa sang in the Little House on Prairie books:
Golden years are passing by,
Happy, happy golden years,
Passing on the wings of time,
These happy golden years.
Call them back as they go by,
Sweet their memories are,
Oh, improve them as they fly,
These happy golden years.
These words are ringing louder and louder in my brain now, as I realize that the years with my husband are flying, the years with my children are speeding by. As excited as I am for our summer house building project, I am equally anxious to slow down and soak up the now. I do not want to get to the end of my life to find regret that I spent to much time always rushing towards the future.
One other note about regret. I have felt some regret at the size of our new home. We are currently living in 1,500 sq ft, and our new home will be 3,000. On paper it did not look nearly as massive as the slab that is sitting on our hill. My minimalist mind was reeling at this realization. But the concrete was poured, and I begin to feel myself withdraw, regret on our choice of size falling on my shoulders before the first wall was set up. I carried this for awhile, not understanding exactly why I didn’t think through the size more. Why, when all I want is a simple life with minimal things, did I plan this massive home? These thoughts plagued my mind for several weeks, but, with no knowledge of what was I was secretly foreboding, Preston began to share how excited he was that once we finish this home, our dream of adopting a sibling group could become a reality. We would have the space to properly house a large family. He began to talk about having people in our home, having a space to host, share love, and open our arms to those in our life. I am so thankful for his words. They put everything back into perspective for me. Yes, our house will be much larger that I think we need at this moment, but it will also enable us to fulfill the bigger dreams and desires in our heart. And isn’t that really what a home is for? To be used? To be a tool for your life?
So, though our house will be a big footprint, it will still be minimal in it’s contents and design. It will be simple. It will provide space for little things with great love, as Mother Teresa says best. And that is exactly what we want.