Country Farmhouse Build Update: Building A Foundation, Floor Plan Changes, and Expensive Electric Poles

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Today I am sharing an update on our country farmhouse build and my thoughts on building a foundation, making a million changes and unexpected expensive electric poles. Settle in, I have a lot to share with y’all!

country farmhouse update

If you are new here, we are building a historic inspired farmhouse on a small farm in the country. We are building on family land that is about 15 acres. We have been working on this for quite a while and this is because we are building this ourselves and the goal is to build it with cash only. We have the help of our parents but we do not have a builder and we are only hiring out the work that is absolutely necessary.

It is really hard but my dad has built numerous houses and buildings and between Keith and I and our parents, we have quite the team built.

I certainly feel that I should share some realities though. While this was our dream and we are so excited about this endeavor, I never want to romanticize any sort of build so I have chosen to share updates along the way of our build to show the ups and downs.

With that said, I really want to stress that we are not professionals and in no way is this a how to or am I encouraging anyone to do what we are doing. While I think learning the skills required to build a home, putting in the work yourself for something like this and attempting to do it debt free is invaluable, I cannot speak for everyone and say this is what should be done. I also know that we are not professional builders and some may disagree with some of the decisions we make or ways we build our house. This is something we have already ran into and we have strategically done everything with our final goal in mind. We may not do certain things exactly how a contractor would, but we have years of experience (our parents, not Keith and I alone) standing behind the work we are doing and only wish to share our experiences with y’all.

Sorry to add in the disclaimer, I am just looking to share what we are doing without having everything we are “doing wrong” pointed out, which happens regardless of how we do anything- wrong or right.

Our Country Farmhouse Build So Far

Well friends that last time I shared I think that I had shared an actual update back in January of this year. I have shared a few antique/thrift hauls and talked about the house some and I may have even shared some in a vlog on YouTube.

I haven’t shared an actual update in quite a while and really that is just because this process is not fast and even though a lot has happened since then, there’s just not a lot to show for it. We are just getting to the parts of building where you can see the physical changes.

The last time I shared, I shared how we were in the stages of starting to build our foundation. Poor poor Elizabeth. You had no idea.

I had also shared that we were having issues with a burn pile and had another tree that needed to come down all before we could start actually building and we were deciding on if we wanted to get the subcontractor to come back out for this.

Last I shared our final floor plan. Again, poor poor Elizabeth. You truly truly had no idea.

Check out all of our farmhouse updates on the blog so far.

Our Country Farmhouse Build Update- Building A Foundation

While it doesn’t seem like much has been done, we have made some big jumps in building and so I have quite a bit to share. A lot changed, things didn’t go how we planned but this is all a part of the process.

Final Floor Plan

The first thing we did was finalize our floor plan. And by “finalize”, I mean we have decided on a few specifics like size, window placement, and general room layouts. I am pretty happy with how it is right now but I also don’t want to say it is drawn exactly how we will end up building because I know better. We have changed our floor plan so many times at this point and I have notebooks full of drawings we have considered and changed.

I shared our floor plan in the last update and it is completely different now. So it still could change SOME but once we start walls and windows, it can only change so much without messing up all of that.

I thought that would make me nervous but I’m actually excited. I’m ready to be somewhat locked in and have a plan that can’t be completely flip flopped again. I’m very indecisive naturally and having endless options really overwhelms me. So being forced to stick with this general plan is taking a load off my shoulders.

This is the beauty of doing this ourselves- no expensive floor plan purchase, no paying an architect. However, we started to build Jay’s plans at freefarmhouse.com and even though we aren’t exactly anymore, I have learned a lot and used a lot of the concepts he gives out for free. If you are building and looking for plans, he has some really great ones.

The main reason we are no longer building from his plans entirely is that we are building this ourselves and a two story was just more than we were ready for. A full two story anyway. So we altered the plan and decided on a one story with a finished attic. It’s actually funny because we didn’t decide on this until after we had finished the two story foundation. Well it definitely wasn’t funny at the time. Still kind of not funny now but I’m sure one day we will laugh about it, right? *cue the nervous smiling*

We had already purchased our framing materials so to make the best use of it all and to simplify this as much as possible, we just doubled the original foundation, making it twice as wide and essentially just placing the second story right behind the first. This had a few benefits besides the ease of building.

This allows us to have a main level master. Since we are building this house with the intention of never leaving while my parents are still living here (on the 15 acres) as well, if at all, this is important because this is potentially our forever home. Our original plan was to be upstairs with the kids until they were older and we had the cash to add a main level master but this is just more cost effective and allows for more growth sooner. Bring on the babies (once the house is livable of course)!

Building A Foundation- Crawlspace

We finally got the massive burn pile taken care of and the tree I had mentioned halfway taken care of. It is at least down and we have started cleaning it up. All of that work allowed us to start building a foundation which is the majority of what we have done for this update.

Keith and I worked our booties off digging 18 holes that were about 24 inches deep, some deeper, for concrete footers. Then just when we got all of our block pillars set we decided to double the footprint and go one story so we started it all over. Have you ever dug 36 holes, 24”+ deep and roughly 2 feet by 2 feet wide? With 2 shovels and a pick axe? In early summer in the South? Don’t do it. Just please don’t do it.

holes dug for footers on country farmhouse build

Was it good for us? Well we learned how to dig footers and had one heck of a workout. Or workouts. So I’d say yes. Would it have been better to have machinery to dig it? Most would say yes. I think hard work is good and it definitely makes us appreciate that house a whole lot more.

The next step was to pour concrete to help with stability, strength and settling. This is another area we saved money by not having a truck come out. One thing to note is that where we live, most contractors charge an extra fee and it can be hefty just to come out because of how far out we are. So we bought concrete, used a concrete mixer my dad had and ran wheel barrows of concrete to each and every hole.

girl holding wheel barrow while concrete is poured into it
girl pouring concrete into footer hole for country farmhouse

The next step to building a foundation was then laying our block pillars by hand because again, cash builds don’t give a lot of wiggle room for buying or renting or paying others. Another good workout and we learned a lot.

This required stacking the blocks in altered directions so they lock in place. The two middle rows of blocks were always one row lower and we added half blocks.

crawlspace pillar foundation for country farmhouse

Again, all of that was done in two stages because we had changed our plans after the first set was done. And because we did this, we ended up building our floor and footers in two pieces as well. So this is far from a how to because I don’t think this is how you would do this normally, this was circumstantial.

Next came the frame for the footers. My husband, father and father in law mostly did this on their own. I did help with the second round of footers. Basically the long sides of the frame running the opposite direction of the footers (where the footers are attached to the floor frame) is a ‘T’ built out of 2×8’s and the seams are staggered. Then 2×8’s connect the ends to form the outer rectangular frame. Then 2×8’s are nailed every tw0 feet apart for the footers. Last, another ‘T’ was put down the center to brace the center of the 2×8 footers. We basically built two of these and then attached them at the center.

baby standing by foundation for farmhouse

As we built all of this, we checked that it was square by measuring from one corner to the opposite corner and making sure this matched up with the other two corners across from each other, in an ‘X’ shape. Once done, we adjusted blocks in the pillars to make sure the entire surface was level. This took quite a while and was very frustrating. Then we made sure it was square again at the end and decking began.

The most exciting day was decking day. My in laws and parents spent half a day with Keith and I laying the first layer of our plywood decking down. This went way faster than I expected. We basically unloaded the boards onto the footers and they just laid them out and nailed them in place.

girls laying decking for farmhouse build and building a foundation
boys building a foundation and laying decking on farmhouse
full foundation and floor for country farmhouse building- building a foundation

Temporary Electric Pole

Once we got this done we went ahead and reached out to the electric company about a temporary electric pole. We wish we had done this sooner but we’ve never done this before so we just didn’t know. We had been using battery powered tools and a generator for anything we needed to run but it was getting expensive and honestly just plain irritating to load that thing up and drag it down there every time. We still don’t have power to the pole but the work order is in and we are just waiting for them to come.

We had to get with an engineer from the electric company who came out and had a forty foot wide trail for our pole. He told us where to put it and we had to have a pole made at our local Yeager’s which is an Ace Hardware (this was more expensive than we expected) and install it before submitting a work order to have power installed.

Items Bought For The Farmhouse

Of course with my love of thrifting and antiques I have bought several items for the house. This is mainly because we will need them before we know it and with the style of house I want, it will take time to collect the fixtures for it. You can’t just go to Lowe’s and pick out the appliances, sinks, faucets, lighting, etc all at once. I couldn’t even do that if we were to purchase online at different stores. I want a collected, country design and that means collecting things when I find them. So far I have our kitchen sink, stove, some lights and several other items. You can see all of that in my antique and thrift hauls. Here is the latest antique and thrift haul video and blog post!

Next Steps

Well, after that long monologue on what we have done so far, the next steps are pretty straight forward. Building a foundation is done and it is time for exterior walls to go up. We start framing walls this week, Lord willing, and we are looking at window quotes. We are also on the list for our septic to be installed now that our house has actually been started. From here, we will be working on the land and yard by getting it cleaned up and raked. It is in really rough shape since it has been cleared of woods and the dug up a few times. And we will start our framing and get this girl in the dry.

I’m not sure if this is something people are actually interested in but I have gotten a few questions about where we are at with our house so I thought it was time to share an update. While not a traditional build by any means, we are getting our farmhouse built one step at a time and I love sharing the process of it.