... or how you gonna have a dream come true?
My mother died June 2002. Long story, won't bore you with it here. But, in the process of the whole mess, I lived in her house for the complete summer, while I closed her affairs and handled matters.
Mom's house was very large. Four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, full basement, formal dining room, living room, family room, study, screened in porch. Lovely landscaping. It was too dark for my personal taste, but there was much about the house that I liked and admired. Particularly the Peace. Enough storage space for everything. Beautiful things unobscured by , well, less beautiful things. Comfortable chairs ready for occupancy without having to dig them out, first. That kind of thing.
As the summer wore on, I found myself both sorry and glad to be going home. And I realized that I really, really, wanted to pick up on the old dream Clif and I had when we first got married of buying land and building our own house. So, I promised myself I would be in my new house in 5 years, told Clif we would make it in three, so we'd keep each other more or less on track to the original schedule. And now, in 2007, we're in construction. We probably won't make it in by August of 2007, but we should be in by spring of 2008. Close enough.
We'll skip over four years of depression. Suffice to say that I'm coming out of it. Not only that, but we discovered, my doctors, my husband and I, that I suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. One CPAP machine and three months later, I'm not as sleep deprived anymore. I can string sentences together, again. I have energy, again. This is a Good Thing.
All this new-found and pent-up energy had to go somewhere. Had life gone as I wished, I'd be pouring it into children. My one deep regret in life is that I was denied that joy. Believe me, I would trade a hundred houses for one child.
But, as it is, I poured all that creative energy into dreaming about what I really wanted in a house. And I roped Husband into the process.
First, we had to find the land. Easier said than done. We found lots of lots, most of them in developments, which just isn't our style. Why people plow down perfectly good trees to set up houses in blazing bare sun is and will remain beyond me. We wanted at least 5 acres. Ok, we wanted 150, but refused to settle for less than 5, and hoped for 10. Those lots were harder to find. Especially at our budget. Especially if we wanted it to be above water.
Meantime, we're hunting for a contractor. As a good friend once told me, "Friends don't let friends build houses." As Husband put it, "I know lots of friends who have built their houses. Not one will recommend their builder, but they all can recommend their lawyers." But Luck, for once, was looking out for us.
It didn't seem like luck at first. I tore my rotator cuff in my right shoulder, and went for some months of physical therapy. Pain. Ouch. But, my physical therapist had another client who was a massage therapist, and we both thought the massage would do me good. The massage therapist (Barb) works out of her brand-new (5 years) house with her partner. And they LOVE the house, they LOVE the builder and remain friends with the entire family. So I hired Eric (of Ib V. Jensen and Sons) to replace the deck on our current house that has been off limits since we moved in.
The work was great. Husband paid attention to how they chose boards, which ones they returned as inadequate, etc. I paid attention to how neat the workers were, how well they cleaned up, and how well they received all the lemonade I bribed them with. All left the experience happy with one another. Suddenly, Husband went from "Maybe we [read, Carol] should keep looking to see what we can buy already built, hm?" to "No, I don't want to buy someone else's house. Let's build." It's all Eric's doing.
It was Eric who recommended the land we bought. He is friends with the developer, so we got in at the ground floor. Lew is a different kind of developer: He loves nature and trees, weeps each time he has to cut one down, and plans developments on wooded and hilly land so that one house is usually hidden from another. He recommends only two builders, one of them Eric. Each house will be custom-built; no cookie-cutter land for Lew. This development was an 80-acre farm he split into 12 lots, ranging from 2.5 (smallest) to 25 (largest) acres. Some trees had to go for the private road giving access to the lots from the main (dirt) road, but as few as they could possibly manage. Because of the lay of the land and the slopes of the hills, the 25-acre lot was split into two pieces by the private road. Had both sides passed perk tests, I'm sure he would have split the lot into two. But, as only one side perked, the entire lot went for a bargain, and we grabbed it!
So there we were, with 25 acres of just about everything except salt water and mountains. Most of the lot is wooded, some of it is meadow and/or alfalfa field, and at each end is swamp. The northern swamp is home to a family of sand cranes and other interesting wildlife. The meadows and woods feed countless deer and who-knows-what-else. The house will be built on the highest hill in the deep of the wooded area. I'm in love.
With land in hand, so to speak, it was time to start designing the house.
Dream on, Carol; dream on!