It was never our intention to build a house right now. When we decided that we were going to move back to the US, we chose mid-June because it would allow the kids to have a summer break, give us time to buy a home and move into it as quickly as possible, get everyone settled, and get into a school system before fall rolled around. But we didn’t do that. Instead we put in only one offer, and it was on a house that was only a foundation and some planks. We saw the floor plans and proposed finishes and made our decision based on that. We didn’t even have a chance to stand in a “shell” of a bedroom to get a sense for how big it would be. We looked at blueprints and had our tape measure out, but it wasn’t ideal. It was a bit of a risk.
When we were looking at homes online from London, we were surprised that there weren’t many available that had the layout that we wanted. Or that I wanted, anyway. I had a top three or five homes, and before we were ever able to walk through any of them they went off the market. My favorite had been listed for 250+ days, and sold two weeks before our move.
Three days before we flew to the US we saw a brand new listing, for this house. The foundation had just been poured five days earlier. It would be finished WAY later than we were hoping for. It would be kind of silly, really, to buy a house with our family in this state. (Me pregnant, the kids starting new schools, us trying to get plugged in and into our new routines asap.) I forwarded the listing to my friend and we texted back and forth about it all day. I couldn’t shake this house.
We arrived in the US on a Wednesday afternoon. On Friday morning we met with a realtor and viewed six different houses, including the lot for this house. On Sunday after church we went back to this lot and one other house that was also new but would be finished by the end of July. The prices were too similar to push us one way or the other, but the pros and cons were not.
Even though Chris and I are both long-term gratification sort of people, annoyingly so, sometimes, this was going to be a stretch. The logistics would be tricky (our huge school commute and gas bill, moving in when I’m 36 weeks pregnant, us not being able to get plugged into our new community, etc.) But I couldn’t shake that it would be the wrong decision to move somewhere good enough just for the sake of convenience, when a few months of extra patience could reward us with our most perfect option.
So we went for it. We put in an offer on Sunday and ended up signing the contract electronically from Florida.
This was late June/ early July. We were told that we were about 90 days out, and that we should be in by mid September/ early October.
But then it started to rain.
At the time we were in Florida where it rained every day for almost two weeks. There were periods of sun, or just clouds, but there was lots of rain. As it turns out, there was lots of rain in Kentucky too. There was more rain that June/ July than there had been in over a decade. It rained for almost three weeks.
Now, rain when you’re on vacation is kind of a bummer, but rain when you are at the very early stages of construction…sigh.
It turns out that all of this rain at this stage of the game pushed us back about a month and now we were looking at the beginning of November. But we pushed on. Really, what other option did we have? And slowly but surely things started to come together.
In some ways building is fun. It’s great to stop by periodically and see what progress has been made. To send each other excited texts about things that don’t seem exciting. The insulation is in! They are mudding the drywall! The railing is up! The kids started getting more excited about the progress too, asking to stop by and see the house instead of protesting a visit. Their bedrooms were obviously interesting to them, particularly their closets, which they did not have in London. They were very pleased that their closets were painted and always wanted to close themselves inside their closets, “because I want to see just how big it is!” I don’t know.
It’s also fun that instead of working with what we’ve got, which is what we have done in each of our other living situations, we get to choose what we get in the first place. Instead of figuring out how to spruce up cabinets that we don’t like, we start with the cabinets that we like. I spent four years washing a light-colored kitchen floor with white grout twice a week to try to keep it clean, and I vowed never to have that kind of kitchen flooring again, and now I don’t. I want some carpet on the stairs, even though it’s less beautiful than full hardwood, because it’s not a matter of if my three children will slip down the steps, I’m just trying to make sure that when they do slip, they are as minimally injured as possible.
It feels a little like magic. Magic that we are paying for, but still.
It’s fun for me anyway, because I have been the one to make all of the decisions. Interior and exterior colors, lighting, flooring, cabinets, appliances, counters, tile…all me. Chris doesn’t really care about these sorts of details, and left it in my hands because I do care about these details, and he trusts me. He exclusively handles the important things like insurance and loan forms, and just tells me where and when I need to sign, and I took a similar approach to the house stuff. I imagine that this might not work with every couple, but it works great for us. This way we can each take on a set of responsibilities and not both have to be stressed out about all of exactly the same things. I probably don’t need to say that building is equal parts exciting and stressful. Choosing small details when you haven’t seen the big picture can make you feel a little crazy. Managing various budgets and trying to make sure that they balance out is not great when you are already dealing with a considerable loan. There is a lot of giving it your best guess and hoping for the best, which is not really how I like to make decisions. There are lots of emails, and vendors, and showrooms, and days when you spend three hours looking at drawer pulls online trying to decide which size and shape will look best on a drawer that hasn’t even been built yet. There are places where you want to make a change but can’t, and days when you need to make decisions about things that you couldn’t care less about.
But you keep doing it, and eventually you get close to the end, which is where we are now. Chris went by yesterday after they had just installed a few prominent features and came home absolutely beaming. He gave me a big hug, told me that I had done a really great job, and showed the kids pictures from his phone which I refused to look at because I want to see it in person first. The kids and I will go by today after I pick Jayce up from school to check it out, and I’m excited, because I think that this is going to be one of the good parts. 🙂