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Planning and Building A Dream Home

Updated on October 13, 2017

How I Ended Up Building My Own House

A number of years back I purchased a small six hundred square foot cottage on a one acre lot in an upscale neighborhood. The house sat on a beautiful almost level lot surrounded by four huge sycamore trees. I knew at the time of purchase that the house was way to small for a growing family of four. It was a tough decision but one huge deciding factor was that house was priced at less than half of what the lot would sell for vacant.

Money was tight but I talked the owner into financing the house at a really reasonable interest rate. The owner held a short term ten year mortgage for me that well suited my budget at the time. After moving in living space was tight but we managed to do quite well with what we had. My kids were very young at the time so we didn't require the space and privacy you would normally need as to having teenage children.

As time progressed we had paid off the short term mortgage and in place of purchasing a new car, had a small in ground pool installed and replaced an old shed type garage with a detached two car garage made of block and brick. After paying off the expenses of the pool and the garage we decided to take the plunge and build our dream home.

Our Original Little Cottage
Our Original Little Cottage

My Experience With Building My Dream Home

We opted for a twenty four hundred square foot two story New England style salt box. I hired a retired architect to draw up the plans, he was very affordable and I might mention easy to work with and good at what he did. Getting the required building permits was no day at the beach either, the borough had a ton of do's and don'ts required tearing down an existing structure and replacing it with a new one. We had to get a variance in the zoning law to tear the existing structure down, an approval on the building plans and finally a building permit was issued.

This took a couple of months so if time is of the essence when building your dream home allow for it. Allow extra time for weather set backs and special orders such as custom kitchen cabinets, granite counter tops and anything else that you may have to order for your project.

When the actual construction began I was fortunate that over the years working in the trades I had made a lot of contacts with builders, plumbers, electricians and laborers. My first step was the demolition of the old house. It was kind of sad in a strange way, over a few short years I had already built up some fond memories of our little cottage. None the less it had to go so we could move on to something bigger and better.

Let The New Home Construction Begin

Our first step in building our new home was to get rid of the old one. Our construction began in late October and living in Pennsylvania that meant that we had the upcoming winter to deal with. I assembled a crew of three laborers and myself a friend that had his own back hoe and a week and five full sized dumpsters and the house was gone.

We spent a little over a week with a crew of four digging the foundation, pouring footers and laying block. Next came the rough framing and roof followed by the installation of windows and six days later we had the shell completed and weather tight. We spent another week on the electrical, heating system and plumbing and finally had heat and water. This was a real treat because Winter was beginning to set in and the snow wasn't far behind. Another week was spent putting up drywall and painting followed by kitchen cabinets, counter tops, bath fixtures and carpeting. The crews were now gone and I spent the next six months doing the finishing touches myself, interior window trim, baseboards and all of the little things that were needed to finish the house.

Saltbox Style Home Similar to Ours
Saltbox Style Home Similar to Ours | Source

Our New Home Was Finally Finished

In conclusion let me say that I was well pleased with my newly finished home. It did cost me about thirty percent more than I had originally planned for unforeseen expenses and upgrades. I worked every day with the construction crews to make sure everything was being done right and also spent a couple of hundred hours doing the inside finish work myself. Building a house from the ground up was a daunting task but well worth it in the end.

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© 2017 Rusty Barns

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