We decided to change up our plan of buying a bigger house after we got married, and updated our plan to downsize and move into the country.
This is looking at the shelf we are going to build the house on.
First thing is to clear the site!
And be sure to take plenty of breaks to enjoy the view.
Added wife for scale.
Over the years, a lot of junk accumulated on the property from family and friends. Items I preferred not to try and burn needed to be thrown out. First construction dumpster delivered!
Filling it up with all sorts of crap.
First dumpster is already almost full. Notice the remnants of a fiberglass boat we had to cut up. (See ya!)
New dumpster delivered, and in goes the last of the boat.
There were 3 small outbuildings that we had used for camping and eventually turned into run-down storage. No time for that garbage, so down they go!
I have to say, tearing stuff up was lots of fun. First building gone.
Second building being torn down.
There it goes.
One storage building left, but we left if for now. It's on a different part of the property and is water tight, so we can use it for temporary storage if needed.
The second dumpster has been conquered!
Just a few "fun" things we stumbled across cleaning up.
During the cleanup process, which took around a month (weekends only), we were coming up with our plans. We contracted with a small shed/homebuilder to build the shell, as I knew my wife and I could only do so much given time and distance limitations from our current house. This is our house at 800 sq ft. 2 bed, 1 bath, and an additional 240 sq ft of back deck.
Back on the hill now, they have begun digging the piers in solid rock. This was not an easy task, so I'm glad we didn't have to do it.
First post is set. We had to get a picture even though it was wet and rainy outside!
All piers set from the front.
Side view of the piers.
The beams and joists for the subfloor are now going in. Notice the incline of the hill, despite the shelf looking somewhat flat at first.
Looking out the front of the house. Getting excited!
Now we are ready for walls!
The company we went with to do the shell put this up in one day. All of the panels are built off-site in 8ft sections, and the siding is put on ahead of time. This is literally one day of work.
The second day, they finished up the roofing and tarped it off for us.
Preparing to take over and start our work now.
LIttle details were buttoned up, now it's to us!
The covered back deck.
We are all studs, no electrical/plumbing/anything of that sort. The ceiling sure is pretty though!
My wife doing some touch-ups on the exterior. Pretty proud of her for getting up on that ladder while I just watched and took pictures.
First thing we really needed was power. I looked up the specs necessary for connecting service through our utility company and began building the meter loop.
Putting it together, slicing knuckles along the way.
The utility company came and hooked us up. We have power!
Jump ahead a good bit of time. We spent a couple of months (again, weekends only) running circuits. This picture doesn't really do much justice.
Because we weren't fully sealed up yet, we occasionally did some 'fancy' camping to make sure we used all of the hours possible over the weekend.
Got our circuits hooked up and prepped. (Not the prettiest, I know.)
No more tarp. We put in an insulated glass garage door that rolls up.
We felt like we were looking pretty good at this point, although I can now see why some of my friends probably thought this was a little weird looking.
Time for the septic. Due to county regulations and the fact that we were dealing with actual poop, we left this to the professionals.
Solid rock, as expected.
Yep, bigger machinery was necessary!
A couple hundred feet down the hill is our drain field.
These are the plastic channels used in the drain field.
The tank is now set!
The house has such a high crawl space that I was able to run all plumbing after the shell was done.
Starting to hang up and glue together the DWV lines.
And now officially tied to the septic.
Since we are going 100% rainwater, we needed buy our water storage tanks. We went the 'cheap' route and picked up our tanks at the local feed store. 4 total tanks for a total of 10,000 gallons.
They are big, but relatively light. It looked cool, though!
Unloaded and ready to start trenching.
We took a week off of work so we could focus and get the most out of the tractor rental. Trenching the rainwater lines from the house to the collection tanks.
The house is a simple slant roof, so we only had to put gutters along the 40' on the back. I put in two downspouts to catch the rain. Here it is rigged up temporarily for fitment.
I continued the downspout line down and under the house, heading out toward the front.
And down the hill into my trench.
Everything getting laid in. Gravity will do all of the work of filling the tanks up.
Getting it all set up. It started to rain on us a little bit so I began catching what I could while I was still working!
Before being covered up.
A vent at the top of each. And some screen to keep the bugs/mosquitoes out.
I placed the pump under the house to pump out of the collection tanks. Then the water is filtered through this three stage system that includes the UV light sanitizer. I put this in the back utility closet for easy access.
Next was the electric water heater. In hindsight, it was pretty stupid to put this electrical unit right under the filter cartridges, but I shut it all off before I replace the filters.
We came up with a deck idea, and my wife told me we were too behind schedule for me to build it. We hired someone to build the front deck. We drove out after work, and I began immediately wondering if we had screwed up in making this design choice.
Really thinking that this looks strange as hell.
From the inside looking out….hmmmm.
The next day I was more sold on it. Immediately we had extra living space with the garage door rolled up.
It's a bit blocky, but having the extra space is worth it to us, rather than terrace the deck down the hill.
Looking good! The deck is about 400 sq ft.
We are getting close!
Stain added to the existing back deck.
And stain added to the front.
Front deck from the side area that will eventually have a fire pit.
Back to the inside. Now that we've toiled away and finished rough electrical and plumbing, we put up the insulation. We went ahead and insulated interior walls as well. Each room has a ductless mini-split for heating and cooling (you can see one in the top right of this picture).
This went pretty quickly.
It had now been several months and the clock was ticking. We committed to some friends to rent our city house out by a certain date, so the pressure was on to finish the house and get moved in. We opted to pay someone to throw up the drywall because I value my marriage. I couldn't let drywall be the thing that made my wife snap!
Feeling more like a house now!
I gave the location of the recessed lights to the company that built the shell so they could run the rough wiring in the spots I indicated. They used a pencil and marked where they left the wire for me. I measured, tried using a stud finder, and then finally thought "there's no way they would put the mark right on a stud, knowing these are recessed lights". Well, first one – Yep, that's a stud. I had to move the hole over and did my best to hide the mistake.
Recessed LEDs going in!
Early in the project we decided we wanted to do something fancy with the electrical finish out, and that when it came time, we wouldn't talk ourselves out of it due to budget . I wanted to go back on that sooooo bad, but my wife remembered every word. I do like the way these switches and plugs look, though.
A couple of months earlier we went and designed our kitchen at IKEA. We waited until they had one of those 20% off sales and bought everything.
We had to store it all until we were ready. This is truck load 1 of 2 from the city house to the new country house.
We had several full days and late nights with this kitchen.
The skeleton is mostly put together now.
The countertops delivered! The blue film is a protective covering for the cabinet faces.
I got the appliances set and ready for hookup.
Those countertops are sexy!
Bathroom time – We also opted not to do the tile work, since my attempt at putting the schluter shower system together turned into a costly and epic fail. I have burned all evidence of that which is why there are no pictures.
Bathroom floor going in!
Exactly one week before we had to move in, and I just got the toilet set at midnight.
Getting our mirror and sink stuff mounted.
Started laying the bamboo flooring.
This started fast, but was still pretty time consuming in the end.
Big win – we can now wash and dry clothes! I vented the dryer out and got the water all hooked up to the washer. This is the closet directly off the kitchen.
The house was a mess. I strategically used shadows to hide the huge trash pile out front in this picture, but we barely moved in in time. My city house is now rented to a nice couple.
Over the course of the build, I let my beard grow out (for strength, obviously). People at work were really starting to wonder what the hell was wrong with me. Even though the house is far from done, we were now moved in, and therefore this was the last day of the super beard.
Waking up to the sunrise the first week of being in the country definitely convinced us we made he right decision.
Do I really have to go to work?
The dogs also began to settle in.
Dottie enjoying some yoga in the morning.
But, back to reality. Like i said, there was a lot left to do. Moving in a rushed panic, especially into a smaller house, meant we had shit everywhere.
More IKEA. We bought our wardrobe system to put in the guest bedroom/office.
Putting it together. I can't wait to clear some floor space and finally hang up some clothes.
Long day, but all done. You can see the reflection of some of the crap laying everywhere.
We were in the house for about a month without a fridge. The day it was delivered was one of the happiest moments ever.
I started to stock it with beer, immediately.
I turned to doing the trim around the windows, finally. That was all roughed framed still.
We called the tile guys back to do the backsplash. I hadn't yet forgotten my shower disaster.
Once I put in lights, it looked pretty good!
Framed out the rest of the windows in the house.
Framed the doors and added baseboards. Stained the wood doors as well.
Started buying furniture and hung the TV on the wall. It articulates so it can be watched from the front deck.
Our nice trash pile I mentioned earlier. Getting rid of this was super fun. I have a timelapse of us hauling it all off piece by piece.
The large truck that came to pick up the above-mentioned dumpster popped a tire, crushed our culvert, and then drove into our septic field.
Of course he sunk into our septic field, crushing some of those plastic chambers you saw earlier.
This is septic company back fixing the damage.
They knocked this out pretty quickly.
And here we are now, no more trash!
Setting the deck up for lounging.
From the kitchen looking out.
Hanging out on the deck.
Shower. I put in an off-the-shelf door system from Home Depot.
Living room to kitchen
Living room to kitchen. We still need to add the pendant lights above the island.
Living room to kitchen
Living room to kitchen
Bedroom. It's still a bit stark. We haven't added any art, and we're deciding on some color stuff.
Window shades are in.
Some Pinterest inspired sconces by the bed.
Back guest bedroom and office that leads to the back deck. Still a room in progress.
Back guest bedroom and office that leads to the back deck. These are our wardrobes.
Looking out to the back deck (still in progress)
Back deck (still in progres)
Back deck (still in progress)
One of our neighbors captured a pic of some of the local wildlife. Bobcats are pretty animals!