It looks like our search for a building lot is over, and I’m surprised.
Leah and I have been looking for property to build a house so we can sell our current house, which is too large and requires more maintenance than I’ll be comfortable doing much further into the future (like next month). We had narrowed our choices down to four, and then two pieces of property in this general area. Both of the semifinalists are easy walking distance from our house. The closest property is within sight of our mailbox.
The owners of that property had paid a lot for the lot, at least for this type of rural property in this region, so they were asking a lot, although less than their purchase price. We had intended to use the proceeds from the sale of Leah’s parents’ house for the land purchase, but the proceeds turned out to be less than we hoped. We called our neighbor real estate broker and asked him to give the owners an offer anyway. We had an absolute limit that was nearly 40 percent less than the asking price. After a few days, the owners agreed to sell at that price.
We never expected the owners to take our offer; it was just too low. I had already started doing mental site preparation on the second of the two pieces of property. That property could have been bought for less than we had budgeted, so it was easy to make the mental transition.
Now I’m having to make a second transition, back to the original property we considered. Once it’s ours, we’ll walk the property lines and find the center, where we expect to locate the house. We’ll get our level out and see how much slope there is and whether we’ll have to have a basement. (Leah doesn’t want a basement. I’m neutral.) We’ll figure where a driveway goes. There will be much use of a chainsaw and an axe during this period, along with a 100-foot tape measure, yellow tape, and actual, physical marker pins.
Then we’ll start looking at house plans. Once my mother’s house sells, we’ll start construction. We hope to get a lot done, but the rest will have to wait till we’ve sold our current house. At that point, we should have a driveway, well, septic system and a temporary power drop at the new site, plus perhaps the foundation and some additional work. Once our house sells, we’ll move our travel trailer up to the building site and live there while we finish construction.
Leah is not looking forward to this, and, to be honest, it will be inconvenient. To say the least. But it will be a strong incentive to keep the construction moving along.
Right now the broker is preparing a contract. Unless something goes wrong, we will soon end up owning five acres down the street, and we’ll be looking at starting a process that will be long and a little intimidating.
I contracted our current house, and did a significant amount of manual labor during construction, including a good deal of site prep, digging and framing footing forms, moving and packing dirt and gravel, putting in the subgrade sewer lines and acting as the framer’s helper. My brother and I lifted many five-gallon buckets of concrete into a 10-foot-tall form where the wood burning stove hearth is in the basement. I contracted the plumbing rough-in, the electrical work, and the floors. Then with some help from family and friends, I finished the interior: paint, stain, trim, doors, bathroom vanities, toilets, and sinks. So I have a pretty good idea of what the process will be like.
That’s both good and bad.