Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Building Our Own House - Part 1

So, the blog has sat dormant for quite some time. Here is a bit of a catch up as we have been super busy with our latest crazy project of building our own house. We moved out of the beloved "Sanctuary" (as the chemtd's called it) almost 2 years ago as Jeremy took a new job at a bigger school. We looked at the housing market in our new location and were so discouraged by the limited options and the much higher prices. Our first week at our new ward we were kindly taken to a newer neighbourhood in a nearby town in which several members had decided to be their own General Contractors and given a tour. Their homes were beautiful and the money they were able to save simply by being the one to call the trades in, was incredible. That was that…building seemed our only option. We quickly found and purchased a 1.2 acre lot just on the outskirts of our new town and had planned to start building right away until we ran into our first little snag…. AGREEING ON BLUEPRINTS. Jeremy and I had very different ideas of what type of house we were going to build. I had always thought that if I ever built a home, it would be exactly like my Grandma's old two-story farm house. Ask any of the children and grandchildren that spent portions of their growing years at that house and it is unanimous…that house had a special sort of magic… Though it was old, and not very large (which is debatable…it is about 850 square feet per level (3 levels) so plenty of space)…, each room, each railing, each doorknob, each nook and cranny of that house held sentimental value to us.
Absolutely charming and beautiful! However, Jeremy had actually fallen in love with one of the homes on our little tour. A bungalow that was 1800 + square feet.
Beautiful as well. However, learning quickly that it is much cheaper to build up than out, I was not to excited about a large bungalow. Jeremy, on the other hand, felt a bungalow would have better resale, fit better on our lot and make more sense for our family. Deciding on our house plans was made even more complicated by the fact that we were both determined to pursue a very energy efficient design…perhaps the most rigorous model for energy efficient design…Passivhaus Design. What ever blueprint we decided upon, it was going to have to make sense within the Passivhaus Design constraints. And each plan had pros and cons within these limitations. So, the battle began… And it truly was a battle. We could not agree at all. We drove down and walked through Grandma's house…Walked through the other house numerous times, drove by and behind it even more times like some creepy stalkers… ultimately, I decided, if we can't agree on either house, lets just find a house we both can agree upon. So for the next year I poured over hundreds of blueprints online, spent countless hours sketching and printing off "other options"…still to no avail. We were at an absolute stalemate. At this point my main requirement was cost and energy efficiency. I wanted as low of a mortgage as possible, a small square home, that checked the boxes for energy efficiency. Jeremy, with his attention to detail and attraction to quality, felt that if we were going to build a house we should do it right the first time…build a house we can enjoy for a long time, that made sense on the lot we had purchased. Well, this battle continued over the next year….and though looking back I see how absolutely stubborn we both were, we finally picked a plan and moved forward…(albeit almost a year behind our building schedule now). To be continued….

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