Saturday, December 6, 2014

Building A (Semi) Custom Home in Loudoun County

Here's the deal.  My husband and I have always kind of played real-life Monopoly.  We buy and sell homes like some do cars.  It started out as moving for jobs- Nine moves in our 14 years of marriage not including stints at my parent's house and friend's guest rooms...  We've done it all- bought our first home- a little cape cod for $127,000 (Oh dear me, how I wish we had that mortgage again!), bought in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia because housing was so crazy expensive in Loudoun, bought two foreclosures, rented to watch the market... and now we're building a house on land.

I've decided to blog about our experience building our home because a) some people have shown interest in the process, b) I'm an open book and don't mind sharing, c) It will be nice to get people's comments/suggestions with design, d) I'm bored as crap in our apartment.

So here goes nothing... a series of blogs following our building process.  This all started when we decided to sell our home that we loved because we saw the opportunity to make a profit and build our forever home, and honestly our house was huge, had high bills, our kids are doing more and more activities, and quite frankly, we felt like we were in the poor house.  After househunting in Winchester, we found a custom home builder that we fell in love with.  I would love to say we're getting a custom home- and in many ways I feel like we are- but nowadays everyone calls their home custom.  And really, this house plan wasn't designed especially for us- our builder just built it for another family last year- but we loved it so much that we decided to use the basic plan to save on architecture fees and tweak it to be perfect for our  family. Also, when I think of a custom home, I think of  something over the top amazing.  While this is  my dream house, I'll be the first to say- It's my dreamhome on a budget.  When I went to meet our kitchen designer, yes I got to design my kitchen from absolute scratch, but at the same time I had to pass on the cabinets that I loved because they were out of my price range.  While I was able to go to different granite shops and hand pick my slab of granite, I'm not able to get the $60/sq foot sea glass backsplash that I pinned on Pinterest and dream of because, well, Mama's on a budget.  But, I will say, every square inch of this house is my vision, my dream, and as I often joke is either going to be a hit or a miss--- and I'm hoping it's a hit- but I just won't know until we move in.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment- I know that I was always searching the internet for homebuilders, etc. when we began this- but most don't give you the time of day and very little information is out there.

We found a lot in Round Hill that we LOVED.  Our builder actually bought it for us, we gave a down payment, and he is taking care of the construction loan, etc... and that process has been easy breezy thus far.  What hasn't been as easy is getting the project off the ground.  Our builder is building in Loudoun County for the first time and getting permits has been slow.  We originally hoped to be in our home by October, but it just began framing the last week of November.  We didn't factor in a delay with getting the HOA to approve our home plans, a delay with engineering work to approve a regular drainfield over an alternative system, permitting delays, etc.... But it's finally moving... fingers crossed!

Would we do it again?  That's the big question.  Since we thought we'd be in our new home in 4-5 months, we had the bright idea of moving all of our belongings from a house with almost 7,000 sq. feet of room to a 1300 sq. foot apartment... Brilliant, right?  I mean, save on storage fees, save money for a few months, it's all good... Well seven months later, with three kids in a two bedroom apartment with every nook and cranny crammed with crap and we certainly have moments where we question our decision to move.  We miss our old neighborhood terribly.  We are driving our kids two and from school 25 minutes away and our one year old only gets a nap in her carseat because of the schedule.  Our kids miss their friends.  Just last night, my husband was upset we still have so long to go before we are in our house and he said, "I just feel so bad for the kids."  We got to talking and we really only have them for 18 years and a year has been wasted... no sleepovers, no playdates where they are running through the house, very few friends have been made, etc.... Don't get me wrong, apartment living has taught us many things- We could totally be apartment dwellers or a townhouse family- The ease of it is amazing and where we are living is really nice... It's just that we aren't unpacked, we haven't hung a picture on the wall- there is no room with all of the stuff we have here, and we haven't even attempted to make this home... so it doesn't feel like one.  On the bright side, we do see an end in sight, and when we walk into our new home the view out back takes my breath away... I see my daughter's getting married in our back yard, and I can't believe that this OCD Mommy is counting down the days to when my kids can have friends over for a sleepover and tear my house apart... Through this process, I've learned that a house is a home and one should live in it and enjoy it...

Ask me in two months... and I'll let ya know if we'd still do it all over again... this has certainly been a roller coaster... come along for the ride!

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