If you have not read Part One of our house story, you can find it here.
As we sat there in our little cabin with our friends at the dining room table, they began to talk to us and suggested that we should just build our own house. At first, like anyone’s reaction…we both laughed. We’re not builders, nor are we rich!
Our friends, John and April build homes for a living. I can’t even begin to count how many they have built and I don’t even want to share the number of homes they completed during the time we were building ours. Ha!
Then Rodney said, “wait, what? Are you serious?”. John laughed and said it wasn’t hard and that with some simple instruction he felt confident that we were capable of building our own home.
We sat there at the table and John asked for a pen and paper and he sketched a simple house plan/size. Rodney’s brain started to kick into overdrive and he began asking John tons of questions. I think smoke may have even been pouring out of Rodney's ears at this point. Well, what about this? What about that? How do I do this? Where do we even start? Don’t I need a license/permit? And the list continued. However I sat there laughing and I think my eyes rolled a few times. This is never happening, it's impossible, were the thoughts rolling through my mind.
Rodney often likes to call me Sarah. In the bible Sarah overhears that she is going to give birth to a child. She laughed because she did not believe God because she was incredibly old and had been barren her whole life. Sarah doubted God and His promise. But of course Sarah ended up having her child, just like God had said. I laugh a lot, especially since I am married to a man with such wild and crazy ideas. I once told him, “I don’t know how you do it, but you always seem to pull it off.”
Rodney and I are both similar in this. If we have an idea and say we are going to do it, we do it. Maybe this was why I laughed. We surely can’t build our own house, or CAN WE!?
So John told us the first step was we needed to see if we could be approved for a construction loan. Because John has built so many homes, he knows numbers incredibly well, so well that as we sat there he drew the dimensions of our house, told us it would be two stories and gave us a number that we needed to be approved for in order to build it.
The next day we called many banks and finally landed on one that was very familiar and good with construction loans. We began the long process of paperwork and after jumping through all those necessary hoops (and there was a ton) they approved us for the amount we asked for. WHAT!?
So now what!? Do we like go buy some hammer and nails? Ha! It was very daunting to see such a large number sitting in our bank account waiting and staring at us and depending on us to slowly turn those dollars into a finished and functioning house.
We immediately called John once we got the approval and he said, “Congratulations, now go start looking for land”. Looking for land is a whole other ball game. We have spent months looking at homes. How in the world do we pick out land? So we started driving around to all the pretty neighborhoods we knew. Because John basically gave us the dimensions and he set up what the bulk of our house was to be built like, he also broke down an easy budget list for us. He said you have “X amount” to spend on the land, framing and drying in is going to be “X amount” and etc. He stressed how important it was to stick within that budget or we would find ourselves nearing the end of our house building with no money left to finish. John also gave us a deadline in which we needed to have the land closed on in order to be in a good timeline that will have the house dried in (windows, doors and roof) before snow came.
Rodney and I would drive around at all hours of the day and night looking at land. One of the benefits of the midnight sun and looking at land at midnight was the land was vacant and our risk of being shot dropped dramatically. We would narrow our list down and then call John and take him with us to the ones we liked to get his opinion. He would say, “this one is perfect, but you might end up spending more on a driveway. I would stay far away from this one because this and that is going to give you trouble, etc.”
Days and weeks began going by and we still had not found our land. We found plenty that we liked, but of course they were not in our budget. We began to feel discouraged. We are going to have to settle. John was even getting frustrated. He was like, “just pick land!”. Rodney and I are both very slow to do things. We don’t make quick and non thought out decisions. We really wanted to be high up in the hills with a view and all our budget was leading us to was land low in the marshy wetlands surrounded and towered over by trees. We just didn’t feel like we had seen where our house was supposed to be yet.
One night we decided to follow an ad we saw. It went against all the rules. It was on the most expensive side of town, it was at a high elevation and it was over our budget. Were we just wasting our time dreaming? It wouldn’t hurt to go look and dream for a minute and then we’ll go and look at land within our budget. So we hopped in our car and typed the address into our phones. We began getting closer and closer, but we accidently took a wrong turn on an unmarked road, we turned one road too early. We decided to keep going down the wrong road for fun to see where it would take us. In the distance we saw that it was a dead end, as we approached the turn around, I said “Hey, wait, I think that is a for sale sign hidden and grown over by trees down there in the ditch.”.
Rodney put the car in park and shut it off, because an idling car is a magnet for mosquitoes! We both got out and I smelled the air. I told Rodney, “we are high up, I can smell it”. Rodney said, “I wonder if there is a view!?”. He began to climb down into the ditch and he moved two heavily leafed sapling trees and we both gasped!
He asked me if this was the land the ad was to and I said “no”. We had stumbled upon it by accident. At that moment as Rodney was in the ditch and I was still standing up in the dead end turn around, we both finally had that feeling at the same time. This is where our home is supposed to be. Rodney said, “This is it” and I said, “Yup, I think you’re right”.
Rodney began climbing back up from the ditch and I yelled back down to him to put those trees back the way they were. Ha! I didn’t want anyone else to drive by and see the hidden gem that was hidden on the other side of the trees. So Rodney stumbled back down into the ditch and put the trees back and we hid and protected our precious find.
Next day rolls around and we immediately called our realtor and told her we found our land and we want to submit an offer. We came into her office and she wrote up the paperwork and then asked what our offer was. We gave her the exact amount that John told us we could not go over and we also threw in that we would pay the closing costs. She put her pen down and looked up at us and said, “I do not think it’s a good idea to submit an offer like that”. We both said, “that is what we want to offer, not a dollar more.” She again tried to advise us and warn us that we do not want to offend them, and that our offer was an extremely offensive offer and she was very confident in telling us that there was no way on Earth it would ever be accepted. We continued to say, “That is the amount we want to offer.”
First of all; that was all we had to offer, we could not go over according to the budget plan John wrote for us. Rodney and I left the realtors office that day both with peace in our hearts and confident that the land was ours.
We waited the mandatory 3 days and we received a phone call from our realtor to come into her office. I am not sure why she wanted us to come in and why she didn’t just tell us over the phone. I think she was in shock and needed our emotional support. Haha! Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?
We came into her office, sat down and she told us, “They accepted your offer”. She said she has never seen anything like this in her 30 year history of real estate. They didn’t even counter our very offensive offer. It bothered and perplexed our realtor so much that she had to do research to settle her own thoughts. She discovered that the land was owned by an old man that was nearing his days and his grandson was next of kin and lived in Oregon and he was just trying to liquidate his estate as soon as possible before he passed. The land had sat for sale for a long time and the old man would continue to refuse offers that came in. The grandson was just put in charge of the estate a few weeks before we put our offer in.
The day we closed on the land, we took the kids up to it, pulled out our ax and as a family we took turns at chopping down our very first tree on our new homestead.
I am a 30 something year old single mom of two. I have a 16 year old son and an 14 year old daughter. They are keeping me busy and on my toes in this new phase I call "Teenagedom".
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