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Beginning the Build

It is rumored that we are going to begin the foundation this week. Realistically, I suspect it will happen maybe next week. Either way, we are on the precipice of some major changes, and of course my anxiety is skyrocketing. Interestingly though, I am aware of it, and also aware of something I heard at that class I attended recently. “What if your anxiety is excitement?”

I don’t have the best track record with follow through in the face of anxiety. I have a tendency to get in my own way and self sabotage what I’ve got happening, and I no longer wish to do that. So it’s something I’ve been working really hard on especially over the past year and a half or so. So with the exciting news, I’m mentally kind of freaking out, but instead of letting it overwhelm me, I’ve taken the day to do some light reading. Ponder the immediate needs, and not try to manage ALL of the things in this exact moment. I had a moment of realization over the past couple of days that it’s not all or nothing all of the time. Everything is about balance, and if I worked for an hour this morning, it doesn’t mean that I can’t take part of the day to sort out my thoughts or take time for myself if that is my immediate need. So when I’m feeling less anxious, then I’ll make that phone call to see what the wait time is for the inspection. When I’m less likely to feel stressed, I’ll look up what I need to know to calculate the concrete required or to ponder how we’ll connect the sonotubes to the footer molds with the different sized holes. Now is the time to gain some clarity and to approach the upcoming surge of activity with a clear head and some focus.


We are excited to launch ourselves into this next journey of our lives, and I’m grateful and pleased that we have so many wonderful souls with us on this journey.

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The Cost of Building

So as we are finally getting to the build portion of our journey here, it’s time to talk dollars. I am doing this because it was difficult for us to estimate the cost of building this place because there wasn’t a lot of info the pertained to a kit house like the one we purchased, and we thought it could be helpful to others who are thinking about doing the same.

We started with purchasing the land. My current total for the cost of land & money we’ve spent on the maintenance up to and including the purchase of a tractor to help with the driveway is $144,937.50

The land was $125,000 for 16 acres. The well and septic are already in place, so we have no costs there. We purchased the 8n for I think $2500, and there’s a lot of maintenance costs to just allow us to STAY here until the house is built including $1285 ish in propane (our tank is 1000 gallons, was 35% when we filled it and they fill it to 80%). A note on the 8n. If we had to do it over again, we would have gone with something else. Our location has a lot of difficult terrain that is not at all suited for the tractor. So it’s been better than a shovel, but if we could go back we would have spent more and gotten something better suited to our property.
The house kit was $13,032.50 which includes the cost of delivery. We opted to set it up ourselves instead of having them put the shell up. Plans has to be tweaked by a local architect to meet code. That was $1570 total to reconfigure. She also helped me navigate the building department. I can’t calculate the value in having that help. Our soil testing ended up being a total of $1550. We ended up needing two tests because our first thought on build site wasn’t going to work. $600 for one guy and $950 for a different company.

So the above costs are BEFORE permits.  So here we are. Permits. Driveway permit was $50 for a driveway that is more than 150 feet. Pre-site inspection was $40 (for driveway). For the house, it’s calculated by square footage. So our house is 848 habitable space and 160 square feet for the deck.  The total cost for filing the permits was $1797 (including driveway permits). They were kind enough to break it down for me. $250 application fee, $928 permit fee, $150 Electrical, $200 Mechanical, $150 Plumbing, $279 to check over our plans.  So we paid about $1.78 per square foot. That’s for our county, each county will be different, and the website for ours was nice enough to have a permit calculator listed so you can go there and estimate your costs.

Power drop I covered in another blog post, that you can read here, and our excavation is going to be $4000 + a fuel surcharge which will be based on the number of gallons used. I’ll cover that breakdown once that portion of the project is done.

So I hope this info is helpful for anyone looking to do their own build with a little outside help due to lack of equipment. I think concrete is the only other thing that we’re hiring out, so everything else will be done by us.

Stay tuned! Things are finally ramping up, and I’m looking forward to sharing this journey. Thanks for reading, and I hope this is helpful.


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The Price of Power

We reached out to the local power company a few weeks ago to get started on the power drop for the house.  In order to get things going, there was a design fee of $100 plus we had to submit our site plan so that someone could prepare a visit and get us on the calendar for our drop. 

They sent out one of their engineers who walked the properties and staked out the location of the pole. So the costs we are going to incur will be for the cost of a transformer, pole, and the dig work for a drop of 54′ from the existing line.  That is going to cost $2926 for a total of $3026 to have power.

Once the power drop is in, and the house goes up, we’ll be burying the line between the drop and the house as that makes the most sense for where we are at.

All I have left to do is to run to town, print the paperwork (my printer died), write the check & get it off into the mail for them. So we’ll have power on the build site likely before the kit shows up.  This will be so huge for getting work done on the build. I’m super excited to get started!


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Fall Update: We Are Getting Desperate! (video)

As fall is very rapidly heading into winter, we are becoming very concerned about finishing our project on time. We have to be done and refinanced by March 14th or else we stand to lose everything. I’m beginning to become cranky with contractors who completely fail to get back to us. Mike is considering renting a backhoe and doing the work himself because nobody can seem to be bothered to return our calls, and we’re becoming frustrated. GAH! We have 5 months to completely build a house with 1.5 people, because let’s face it. I am a little too gimped up to do a LOT of the physical stuff. I always do my best, but I’m limited in my capacity due to my health crap. So everyone keep your finger’s crossed and send out into the universe positive vibes and intentions that this place is done when it needs to be, and that we don’t lose our home because people refuse to return our calls! One positive is that the home place is finally getting ready to ship our house out. If I get a shipping date, and nobody has called me back about our excavation, then we’re renting the damn thing ourselves.

Watch the video by clicking the link here . Don’t forget to like and subscribe! Every bit helps!

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New Website!

Since you are here, you’ll know that I made this here website. YAY!

Great things are on the way. I have been working hard behind the scenes to bring forth a Patreon account, which should be starting up in the next couple of weeks. My laptop died, so that had to be replaced, and we’ve been up to our eyeballs with other things being weird for a few weeks. We have had some turnaround though with some new hardware for stuff like video editing and websites, and I’ll be working hard to bring forth some content and also be recording pretty much everything we do from this point forward because the house will be coming soon!

Super excited to share our journey with you all.

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Yeah, It’s been a while

So It’s August, and we have a lot to catch up on.

The depression monster has been making life difficult for a couple of months, but we’ve also been pretty busy over here.

In June I took a trip to Illinois with my dad and older brother to visit the hometown and see old friends. I hadn’t been back in 18 years, and after the loss of my son my dad felt it would be good for all of us to go back home and reconnect with our old friends and also spend some quality time together. I don’t get to see my family very often as we live so far apart.

After I returned, we finally gained some forward momentum on our project. I have taken a break from the goats because I just have been struggling for awhile. She e mailed me a couple of weeks after I began my hermiting, and wanted to give me the name and number of a friend of hers who is an architect. We had been having so much trouble sorting out drawing stuff.

As it turns out, her friend used to work at the planning department and was the person I had spoken to back when I first tried to pull permits. She had left the planning department and struck out on her own. So she has worked the past couple of months to try and get us what we need and want in the house. I’m pleased to announce that we have drawings in our possession! She even met with the planning department already to go over the drawings to help us get them through. I have everything filled out, and now I just need to get some copies made of a couple of things and then drum up the funds to pull the permits! Once we file those, it’s go time! So guys! We’re getting ready to get the house delivered! We’re getting ready to build!!!!

lots of crazy screeching

We are finally moving forward. We are down to 7 months to get this place finished. It’s going to be down to the wire.

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Soil Testing!

Soil testing came back and our build site is a go! HOORAY! Now we just have to get with Arched Cabins and get our drawings done, get permit paperwork squared away, and then go pull permits for our build site! Finally beginning to move forward. I just want to have everything in place so we can get those holes drilled and foundation done and get this show on the road!

So what happens now? With the soil test we have to drill all of our holes for our foundation (post and pier foundation is what we are using for the house) and then we will likely use a block skirting around that. Once the holes are drilled, we have to have someone come out to inspect the open holes before we pour concrete, and then I believe the pillars have to be inspected, but don’t quote me on that yet. The soil report was around $950, they pulled 2 core samples to send off to the lab, and we got a full workup and recommendations on the foundation design based on the post and pier foundation.

Always read your report carefully, and find out exactly what kind of testing they do. We pretty much wasted $650 on the first test at the site where the house currently sits. The guy didn’t take any core samples, and he just eyeballed the hole. We could probably get away with using it to put down something else up there, but I don’t think we’d get the permits pulled in time for a second house. We do plan to put a cabin somewhere eventually for Mike’s mom to come and stay in whenever her heart desires…

When we got this report, they did it for the wrong foundation type, so it took a couple of extra weeks to get that all sorted out. I’m just waiting for Mike to do a quick mock up of a floor plan to send off to Arched Cabins. It will be another $800 for the engineered floor plans and full foundation plans that the county requires. Eventually I will have a breakdown of costs. I just need to sort out a few things with my excel skills. AKA I have no excel skills and I need to sit down and watch some tutorials and such.

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Step 2. Jumping through hoops for permits. Soil testing and drawings.

Depending on what county you live in, you may be required to do various testing before you can proceed with your projects.

Ours requires soil testing for pretty much every project. Septic, well, buildings, driveways, etc.

You have to get permits for EVERYTHING. We do have permits on file for 1 septic system and both wells have a permit through the state because wells are state level and not county. We will have to file for a new permit for the driveway, and all the crap that’s in place because the previous owner again, did not.

Soil testing. This was all over the place. The first guy came out, drilled one hole and looked into it. Charged us $600 and that was it. I was told we couldn’t build on the site we picked. I searched for another soil engineer. $600 to look at a drilled hole and no samples didn’t help. I called and got a bid for $1800, that person comes and drills two holes and takes samples to send to a lab, except we had to pay the drilling team on top of his fees of $1800. Another larger firm in Colorado Springs quoted us $950 or so for two holes, two samples, and the report. Same as the $1800 guy, but there was no difference in what was provided. So when you need to get testing done, ask the county exactly what is required for the test to be accepted by the county and make sure that everyone provides the same services. We’re basically out $600 because the guy didn’t really do enough and when I asked questions about the report he gave me information which actually wasn’t correct.

Same with plans. Know exactly what the county requires on your plans and make sure that every detail is on there and make sure that your house follows exactly those plans or they will reject you outright.

I thought I had everything squared away, but the reality is that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing and I had virtually nothing to work with, so months spent on paperwork and planning was wasted. It might even be worth the money to hire a person to do all of this crap for you because I’m just as confused as I was when we started, and am still flailing around trying to figure out what to do next. This time though, I have a ton of notes from the planning office and an idea of what we need, but I’m sure it’s going to be one of those 6th time is the charm things.

I recommend if you are doing the project with a partner, have your partner also attend these sessions with planning department or include them on e mails with service people because they may understand information that you do not. We’ve been attempting to have me deal with the phone calls and administrative tasks, but then I don’t understand something that he does and we lose money on the project as a result because my decision was based on knowledge that I didn’t quite understand. So communication is key.

Research what is required of you. Understand the reasons behind the testing, plans, drawings, etc and make sure that everyone understands what it is exactly that you need from engineers, architects, inspectors, etc. Know that they will not remotely bend the rules. even if something is off by 1″, you will have to redo everything. Be precise in your communication and execution of plans. I’ve wasted so much time, energy, and money by not making sure I understood the process.

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Step 1. The Realtor and Finding Your Property

The beginning of our house hunting experience began with searching for properties on sites like redfin and zillow. Having never purchased a house before, I had no idea what to look for, how to figure out what was in our budget, etc.

I started looking to purchase something on my own at first, and even tried to purchase this place on my own before we eventually purchased the place, but I had trouble with financing the property due to issues with the property, but we’ll get into that later.

I found a mortgage calculator or 12 online and started there. I put in what I had for down payment + income, etc etc and it spit out a dollar amount that I could afford max. That became my max price in search parameters. Once I narrowed it down to a group of properties, I wasn’t sure about how to pick a realtor, so I let one of those websites just assign me one. That was an error, and actually I let it pick my second realtor as well, but I did a little bit of research on her before we actually went with her.

The first realtor was from Colorado Springs, and was great with stuff in the Springs, but knew pretty much nothing at all about rural areas. The problem we kept running into and ultimately what has made this process difficult is that if there is a trailer on the property as the main home. It can’t be older than June 15, 1976 to be considered a home due to lead and asbestos use prior to that date. Our trailer is from 1971, so you can’t finance this property as a residence because of that rule, even though after testing there were no harmful substances found in the trailer. We couldn’t finance the property on a land loan either because of all the structures that are on the property, so eventually we had to go with owner carrying the financing until we are able to refinance when the house is built to get a traditional home loan. Even that isn’t guaranteed. So it’s a risk, and I was heartbroken when I couldn’t put the offer in because I couldn’t find financing anywhere.

So we tried again, we looked at the house again, with the new realtor. I e mailed her and explained the situation that I ran into when trying to purchase the property, and she had been through all of this before. She lives in the area, and knew all about the rules in the county, how to get around the issues with the trailers, names of all sorts of people to help get rid of the trailers, she knew what she was looking at on the property as to what was good and what was bad. She told us not to submit an offer above a certain price because we could get a property that was a completely clean slate for less and it would cost less to bring everything in than it would for us to fix up this one. We sent in a lowball offer, and were shocked that it was accepted. So find a realtor that knows the area well, living there is preferable. Have a realtor that understands what it is that you want to do with the property. Look for reviews, look for people who specialize in the type of property that you are trying to purchase. Listen carefully when he or she gives advice about the properties that you’re looking at.

When you find a property, research it. The previous owner didn’t get his permission slips for anything, so we’re having to start from scratch even though there’s a house up here that’s been here for probably 30 years or so. Search county records for permits, and spent the $10 or whatever fee it costs for them to do a paper records search of the property. Know what permits are already in place. Look for the well and septic on file is applicable and KNOW what the septic is rated for as you don’t want to purchase a place with a septic in place for a 1 bedroom house when you’re planning to do a 3 bedroom house, and think you can keep that septic system in place. They’ll shoot you down before you can blink.

What is your well rated for? household use? can you use it for livestock as well? Think about your plans for homesteading, does the county allow you to keep livestock? if so what kind? Building codes? Want to build outside the box? Make sure you can follow the county building codes.

SO much to consider when looking for a home! If you’ve never purchased before, how the heck do you know what to look for? So think about what you want to do with your property and make sure the place that you choose will allow those opportunities.