Build a house, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
A couple of years ago I talked Aldo into the idea of (eventually) moving to the suburbs under his one condition: we live on a lake. Okay, I thought, now this is one condition I can get on board with. So, naturally, I thought we’d start poking around to see what’s out there. But have you met my husband? Once this idea was in his head and agreed upon by both of us, there was no “poking around.” We were doing this. So we (mainly he) went full speed ahead with our search. He looked online, every night, in all different areas, and we recruited our good friend and realtor, Brett-the-bearded-realtor-Jennings to find and view properties as well. We checked out this lot on our first trip and knew it was the one, so we put in an offer and closed a few months later. Our intentions weren’t to build right away, but we wanted to close on it quickly because affordable lots on Lake Ray Hubbard were few and far between. We closed in September 2016, excited to one day start the process of building our brand new forever home (#ourfloreverhome).
Fast forward two years, a wedding, and a baby later, and all we have to show for it is our house pad (mound of dirt) and retaining wall. (Insert eye roll here.) Remember how I said we weren’t in a rush to start building? Yes, that was before we knew it’d be this slow! But I must say, though this is all we have to show visibly, we have accomplished a lot and jumped thru many hoops to get to where we are. Below is a timeline of our house building adventure so far.
September – Closing day on our beautiful lake front property!
April (thru end of year) – Developed house plans and drawings with our architect. This was a long process; there was a lot of misinterpretation with the architect and he was slow to send back revisions. Aldo ended up drawing in (to scale) several of the changes on his own because 1. we weren’t getting back what we wanted, and 2. it was faster. Ultimately we reached out to Aldo’s uncle (who happens to be an architect) for his input and to help make final adjustments.
November – First meeting with our builder, Mike Mishler, to review the project and house plans.
December – Received the final plans (finally!) and boy were we glad to close this chapter with our architect. We worked with the engineer to request a setback change with the City, and began the process of requesting the facade material change. The City of Rowlett development code states new buildings must be made of only brick, stone, and/or masonry, and we are requesting to use cementitious-fiber board because have you ever seen a modern farmhouse made of brick? No, us either.
February – Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting. Aldo went before the Planning and Zoning Commission to speak on why we’re requesting alternative building materials for our house when the development code states new buildings must be made of only brick, stone, and/or masonry. Mike attended the meeting to answer any questions from the Commission, and I played the incredibly important role of Vanna White, holding giant poster board renderings of our house, front and back. Aldo nailed it with his presentation, giving logical reasons on why this material should be approved. For example, this material has been approved for other developments in Rowlett, we had letters of support from each of our neighbors, and if Rowlett wants to keep up with current trends among other cities, they’ll need to start considering alternative building materials. In with diversity and out with cookie-cutter homes. We left this meeting feeling very positive, and I was one proud wife. Heck, he even made an appearance in the Rowlett Lakeshore Times, check it out here.
Lesson #1 Get support letters and signatures from your neighbors ahead time when requesting alternativebuilding materials. We didn’t know to do this until right before our meeting, and almost didn’t. This was one of his biggest deciding factors for the commission and would have set us back even further had we not done this.
March – City Council Meeting. The alternative building material has been approved. Another win for us!
May – Closing day number 2. We closed on our construction loan and mortgage.
June – The builder has begun clearing the land and trees, staking the lot, and bringing in the dirt. He was getting the dirt from other construction jobs at no charge, so it took longer than usual to finish this part, but, it saved us a good chunk of money.
Lesson #2 Take advantage of free dirt available from other construction sites, but add in calendar time because this does (or can) take significantly longer!
So that’s how it all began and where things stand now. I’ll share more progress on the house soon!