Photography by Visible Style
When I met Daniel, he shared that it had been his lifelong dream to build his own home with his own hands. In fact, we were cleaning our garage out recently, and came across a paper he had written in high school about his goals for life. One of the five listed was to build his own home! He is very creative, artistic, loves working with his hands and definitely likes to do things his own way, not easily falling into the conforms of society.
I grew up with a father who completely renovated my childhood home over the course of 20 years, so DIYing and working hard was in my blood. Many Sunday afternoons in my childhood were spent hand-picking rock from mountainsides that my dad would then turn into beautiful fireplaces, rock walls and garden beds. My parents never subbed anything out, if they didn’t know how, they learned! That’s just how life was in the hills of Southwest Missouri in the late 1900’s. Thinking outside of the box, being resourceful and working hard to make thing happen seemed completely natural to me, so when Daniel told me his lifelong dream, I immediately fell in love with it and it became our dream!
We thought it would happen pretty quickly. We immediately began looking for land. However, Daniel was self-employed and we had made the decision for me to stay at home with our children, so most things we found were out of our budget! So we made the tough decision to move in with his parents for two years. This would allow us to focus on growing his business and keep out living costs minimal so we could save up for a down payment. The only problem was, while his parents live on a gorgeous, river front, three acre lot, their home is only 1200 sf! We were family of 4 and their daughter was still at home at that time! So we decided to purchase a camper! We found an amazing family that was willing to owner finance it for us. We spread out the payments so it would be paid off right as it was time to move out, meaning we could then sell it and add the profits to our nest egg. We also sold our vehicles and bought his parents’ old suburban for Daniel to drive to work.
At the end of the two year mark, we began looking for land again. However, we still could not find exactly what we were looking for. Five days before we were supposed to move out, we stumbled across a rental listing not five minutes from his parents. It was on an acre and a half of one of the most beautiful lots in our area. We immediately fell in love! We moved in and were tempted to give up on our dream of building. We ended up living there for almost seven years. Though it was an older home, we loved the character it had, loved our neighbors and of course, the beautiful property! But something kept us from buying it. Each time the lease came up for renewal, we just didn’t feel we were ready to give up on our dream of building, so we would sign another year. We also added two more children to our family during this time, so we were bursting at the seams in the 4 bedroom home.
Then one day, I spotted a lot close by for sale. I texted it to Daniel, telling him I didn’t think it was the perfect lot because it looked low-lying and had no trees. He responded that he was not interested, however, he had been driving on this particular road the week before and noticed an undeveloped lot at the very back on a cul-de-sac. It had so many beautiful trees, including three sprawling oak trees in the very center. We went to take a look and I immediately fell in love! We found the owner’s information online through the counter appraiser’s website and drafted a letter to mail them. We explained who we were and our dreams for building our home. However, I never got to mail that letter. The very next day, Daniel called me. He said he happened to be right near their home and wondered if he should just stop by and talk to them. I told him they would either love him or shoot him, so to talk fast!
Daniel had a great conversation with them and we were elated to learn they might be interested in selling! We frantically began working on all the pieces of the puzzle we knew had to fall into place to make our dream come true. It took us two years to secure our financing and get everything ready for our build! The couple was so kind and held the land for us the entire time, even though they were offered cash, double what we were paying!
So why? Why did we hold so tightly to our dream, despite of 9 years of challenges and setbacks? We knew we could build a brand new home that was exactly what we wanted, for less than what the house we were living in would cost us. While we didn’t have tons of money, we had other resources we knew we could use to build our dream home. We knew we had the work ethic, ingenuity, ability to research, creativeness, and most importantly, we had the time. Owning our own company put us in the position to allow us to focus on building our home while appointing key employees to keep the business functioning smoothly. More than the financial savings building our own home would provide us, the sentimentality of crafting our own home and bringing Daniel’s lifelong dream to fruition, pushed us through on days we felt like giving up and just settling for the easy route.
Pursuing dreams and goals in life isn’t always easy. We were told we were crazy. We lost friends who didn’t understand why we had no social life for two years. We sacrificed financially, emotionally, mentally and physically, working dawn to dusk, seven days a week. Looking back now, was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! We know every square inch of our home is built correctly, with no shortcuts or sloppy work that will cause problems in a few years. We built it for far less then its appraised value, putting our family in a better financial situation. We learned new skills that we now use in our business. Our marriage grew as we learned to work together, and our appreciation for each other deepened. Our children learned firsthand how hard work and sacrifice can make your dreams come true.
Is building your own home for everyone? Absolutely not! However, the principles used to achieve our dream can be used for any life goal. Having a ‘why’ that motivates you, no matter how long it may take you to achieve your goals, is so important. There will be detours and speed bumps along the way, temptations to give up on your dreams just like we were tempted by the house we lived in for seven years, times when your dream feels impossible and unrealistic, but I firmly believe that where there is a will, there is a way! It may be unconventional, people may look at you like you are crazy, but it is your life, your goal, your dream, and your responsibility to relentlessly pursue it.
This is the first of a series of blog post explaining the why and how of building our own home, primarily with our own hands. Stay tuned to learn more about how we brought our home to life!