Building Our Farmhouse: First Steps

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We are what?? We are building a house!! I could not be more excited…and scared. Follow us along in the process to see how we contract our own farmhouse and do some work along the way.

Deciding to build our farmhouse

Phew. This is a big decision to make. We have always said we wanted to build a home but did not intend to do it now. I would love to buy an old farmhouse and fix it up. I love old houses. The charm, the projects, the possibilities. Ahhhhh. BUT with an old house comes a lot of work. Been there, done that. K is not a fan. Which is funny because now we are building a house and planning to do it (mostly) on our own. His reasoning? A new house is easier to build/work on than an old house. Fair enough.

Anyway, we went in circles trying to decide what to do. When we decided to sell our previous home we kind of sold it on a whim. We were sick of living in the city with neighbors surrounding us. The market was also really good. Our first plan was to move to my parents property and fix a small home up to live in temporarily and pay cash.

If you are planning to build, I highly recommend talking to people who have done exactly what you want to do. This is partly why I am writing this. We only know one family that has done what we want to do, just with a different style of home. The idea is very overwhelming (especially if a lender is getting involved). Those who have actually done it can help ease your fears, answer questions, and show you it can be done.

Where to Start

So we decided we want to build now. Now what? We know nothing. So we started with the obvious and just asked questions from there. I’m not going to write this like I know what we are doing and I am going to tell you how to do it too. This is more of a follow us along and see what happens. Eeek. But I am hoping by the end of this, those that wish to do the same can read through and see what we did right and wrong, the process and feel inspired to build their own home if they wish.

Step 1A: Land

This is quite obviously one of the first steps to building. Find where. Not only do you have to have a spot to build but so many factors regarding your land can determine the final outcome of your house and the cost to build. What kind of soil do you have? Will it need extra work to clear and level it? Is your property in the middle of no where with no rules to guide you or is it in a subdivision with an HOA? So many things can effect the upfront costs as well as how your house will be built.

Woods
Yard

We are building on hand me down land beside my parents. The total family owned land is around sixteen acres but we will only have a half acre for our dream “old” farmhouse. Our soil is rocky, which may require a little extra work to prep for our build. It is wooded currently but we are working on clearing it which I will talk about shortly.

Step 1B: Finances

This is also a safe starting point. How do you plan a house if you do not know your budget or lender requirements? You don’t.

Bless those that have enough to begin the process with no lender. From what I have heard, they usually get it livable and in the dry before moving in then all interior finishes are completed over time, slowly and with cash. This would be our ideal plan.

Unfortunately, it does look like we will be taking out a mortgage. Our goal, however, is to limit the amount we take out and hopefully pay it off quickly. We plan to do this by:

  • Building simple and upgrading/adding more farmhouse charm over the years
  • Doing some work ourselves including contracting
  • Using things we have around the property (which surprisingly is several things)

Getting Started

Step 2: Clearing Land

The first step to building is having somewhere to build. I know that sounds obvious but we are working step by step to avoid overwhelm. Plus, this has been a process on its own.

I’m not sure if it is this way everywhere, but in Arkansas it is really hard to find anyone that is not booked out for ages. We tried calling multiple people before we finally even got a return call. At this point in time, we have someone coming out to quote our land no later than this Friday (yay!).

Clearing land

Since it took so long to find anyone, we thought we might clear at least some land on our own until we can get someone out. Worst case, we clear it ourselves. K has worked really hard to clear it to the point that it is at. This land is mostly underbrush and small trees but full of thorns that don’t want to be moved. The tractor is a no go due to thorns and we have no other fancy equipment, so it is taking some time. Once this is cleared, we will look toward the next step in the process.

Moving Forward

I would be lying if I said I knew the exact next steps. We are still in the process of getting the land cleared and determining our budget and lending situation. The control freak (I call it excitement) in me cannot help but work on floor plans and farmhouse design now. Less to do later, right? This is the fun part to me and I am living for it. I will share these ideas when we get them finished and get to that point, of course. Until then, we will move forward and determine where we are at once we can see our yard.

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