you know how when ...
i could make an album. or not.

adventures in a two-year plan

i know i've mentioned that henry's school district changed all its start times, and now we're on a ramped-up quest to move into the district before he starts middle school in two years. we need to be in a place where he can just hop a bus at 7:15 a.m. and i don't have to drag myself or harper out of bed any early than necessary, given that she doesn't have to be at school until 9:30 a.m.

we've toyed with the idea of buying an existing house near to or on the lake and then renovating, but given what we experienced when remodeling our 40-square-foot bathroom earlier this year, i can honestly say that would probably be a bad idea, mentally speaking. not to mention we'd have to sink our entire budget into just buying, and renovating would be several years away.

so then we started to look into building.

now, to do this requires a fair bit of pro/con list-making. the neighborhood and house need to be such that they suit our needs for the next 15 years minimum to get us through the kids' schooling, and barring anything that comes up that requires a relocation. so the lot needs to be nice, and the location needs to be good. however, i can't handle cookie cutter communities. i get claustrophobic. and i need air to breathe and some trees. it needs to be a place we can see ourselves enjoying as much the first year as the 15th year.

our neighbor recently built in a neighborhood just off a lake that we had no idea existed, just four miles from henry's school. when we drove out to look at it, marc and i both went, "oooohhhhh .... !" since then, we've become fairly smitten with one lot in particular.

in the past two weeks i have started exploring our building options in earnest, and in the past seven days we've met with two builders and spoken over the phone with a third, and we've picked out one or two plans from each builder that suit our needs. we've gotten the figures from all three, and all go over budget because the lot was want is independent and therefore costs more. however, we're more willing to downsize house to get the right lot.

and today, we went to the lot again to see if we really love it $XXK more than a builder's lot, and yeah ... i think we do. it's a corner lot, facing the neighborhood park, and just up the hill from the lake. a real lake. that we could see from our bedroom window in the morning.

were we to build on it, here's our view:


(sorry for the photo quality ... i didn't take the big camera; these are all courtesy of the iphone.)

across from "our" corner is the model home, hence all the cars. it is on the market now, so at some point it will be just House.


marc, exploring, ahem, "our" yard. look at all that breathing room!!


there will eventually be two houses between us and the existing neighbor, who happens to actually be our former neighbor. you can see how far back the lots extend, and ours actually goes back further. but he has trees.


we could sit on our front porch and send the kids over to the park to play. sweet.


another view of the lot, and the peeks at the lake.


the lake sits about a quarter of a mile down the street from "our" lot, which comes with access to public docks, picnic areas, boat launch, etc.



the next step is to look into custom builders/general contractors and see if buying our own plan and going that route would gain us anything price-wise. there are a lot of elements about building through a builder that i would want altered or eliminated altogether, but builders don't give allowances. they just build, and use whatever vendor is supplied.

i'm too picky for that.

sadly, the reality is that what we end up doing will all come down to money and what is in the bank in 18 months. we're pretty sure that building is what we'd like to do, and this lot is where we'd like to do it, and as such we need to look into buying the lot now and hanging onto it. whether we'll build a house or pitch a tent in 18 months is the bigger question mark.

does anyone out there have experience with building? what questions should i be asking? does anyone know the pros/cons of using our own plans and builder vs a community builder? this is all too exciting, and too nerve-racking at the same time! if only some magical money fairy would swoop down and eliminate all our concerns over losing three years' worth of savings account growth! oh well ... it'll be worth it when we can stick a kid on a bus ... or have actual closets and spaces for storage ... or a bathroom we don't have to try and fit four people in to brush teeth ... or an actual space to put guests versus the couch in the basement ... or windows that don't rattle in their casing when you try to open them ...

then again, no matter how much space we end up with, this is still what we'll wake up to on a saturday morning.


ultimately, this is what makes a house a home. no matter what size the house is or what school district it's in.


Michelle LaPoint Rydell

I love your story, and your lots looks beautiful! That last photo is a treasure!


Sounds like you're having a fun time planning your future home - wishing you all the best!


Exciting stuff! THe lot is beautiful. Hope it all comes together easily.

diana albright (moonlightgrrl)

oh Michele... i love it!!! i hope all goes beautifully - that you buy the lot and find an appropriate builder to give you the home of your dreams... or at least one you can live with and love in for the next 15 years! so exciting!!


Very cool! Dying to know where exactly in PL you are looking! Dinner this weekend?
That last pic...priceless.

april foster

congrats on your lot! looks great! i'm sure you will love it!


Love the lot pics! Good luck with finding the right builder/plan for you! We live on 13 wooded acres (moved from a townhouse) and love it!


WAY cool!! We did talk to several builders when we had considered tearing our place down to the basement and rebuilding. Really liked 2 or 3. Can't remember the names, but I will go through my files if you want and find them. You do have to pay attention to design (architect) and design/build firms (easier to deal with the latter, better design from the former). Keep me posted!


so so true....loved your last sentiment. i hope your dream house building come looks fantastic!

catherine feegel-erhardt

modular sister ! modular ! built in a factory... no drunk trim guys pissing in your back yard and the assemble it in ONE day.
worth checking out anyway....
well, I say that NOW... since ours arrives in less than 12 hours and we will move into her in 2 - 3 months later I really DON"T know what I am typing about.... but so far I have been PLEASED ! Not sure if I get a "refer a friend discount" but ?>>>?


OK so I have never built with them but i worked a couple of Paragde of Homes with them. I know they are custome builders, they do great work, they have great designers and work WITH the customer. They don't do cookiecutter.

i will say it was a milliondollar house that I worked in....just saying however. don't know price range you'd be interested in.

Sue Thomas

Michele, it looks like a wonderful place to build a home! I'll be watching to see what happens "on the home front."

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