Back to the beginning
I suppose I should explain why we are building a house. Lots of folks ask us, because our current house is just fine. We bought it 16 years ago, when our son was not quite one year old. My husband worried it was too big for us — and it was, but I knew our family would grow in number and stature, and I swore I never wanted to move again unless the company moved us.
I am eating those words now, and hearing his echo in the back of my brain, because the then 10 month old is now 16 years old, and his sister is 13. Within five years we will be empty nesters, and the house will not only be too big but impractical. It’s three stories (including the basement), and my knees hate it. He swears his don’t mind, but my husnaband is a marathon runner, and it is inevitable that at some point one level living will look mighty fine to his legs as well.
So we have been looking, talking and thinking for years. In the mean time, we have done tons of improvements: quadrupled the size of our inefficient laundry room to be the cadillac of mudrooms; added a screened porch to enjoy the wonderful Minnesota summer evenings without being the main course for the mosquito, our state bird; added built-ins and a fireplace to our master to make the 6-month-long Minnesota winter bearable; and redid our whole basement, transforming it from kidland to a teen and adult haven. But there are some changes we want that we just can’t make in this house, like a luxurious spa bathroom, ginormous master closet, and that all-elusive first-floor master.
Last year, when property prices fell, we looked in earnest. I interviewed architects and builders, and put together a team we love. With the help of our trusty Realtor (hi Mike!), we looked at vacant lots, teardowns and fixer-uppers. I wanted a decent piece of land, with enough space that I didn’t always have to close my curatins if i needed to walk down the hall not quite ready for public viewing. But I didn’t want anything too big. I am a social person (ok, I hear some of you giggling about that understatement), and I need to be in a neighborhood so I can hear other voices besides my own.
I also wanted to make sure we didn’t make too much of a location change. We love our friends, neighbors and schools (and my husband likes his short commute), and have no need to leave them behind. I literally took an old-fashioned compass (shades of HS geometry), and drew a circle on a map around our current home. I wanted to create a search radius, so that we made sure we didn’t move so far from our frineds that they would not feel inclined to refuse last minute invites, or fear a late-night drive home.
Took a few months, but we found a place we thought would work. It had only been on the market a day, and I dragged our builder and architect over to see what they thought. They liked it, and the lot’s possibilities (it’s a teardwon — I’ll get back to it another time). We bid, but so did someone else, but we bid better. So, last August, we purchased the starting point for our forever home. And that was just the beginnning.