Down the rabbit hole?
So we purchased a lot we love, and now it was time to take the first baby steps towards making it our home. We weren’t in any hurry — we didn’t plan to break ground until the following late summer or early fall. But I thought I’d get one or two things crossed off our list, starting with a survey. The home on the property was built in 1957, and there wasn’t a survey on file anywhere. So I ordered one up, and crossed that off the list. But hey, we all know projects beget projects, right?
We learned of two potential uh-ohs: the house did not meet current city setbacks, and we had a potential “wetland” on our property.
The first issue we could work with, because we had faith in our architect to create the house we wanted within the confines of the lot. However, we couldn’t know what those confines were until we determined if we had a wetland, and if so, what were its boundaries. So we had to have a wetland delieation study done. So we did. Our guy came back and said “hey — good news! No wetland!” Yeah, we thought — until the local government, in the form of the Minnehaha Watershed Districct, said “whoa, not so fast! We think it is a wetland.” Argh…
Wait — I bet you are wondering: what the heck is a wetland? According to the State of MN,there are various types of wetlands, ranging from seasonal puddle areas, to marshes and bogs. They matter for a variety of reasons — the number one being that the water in them can effect all the water in our 10,000 lakes (actaully, I hear that number is closer to 13,000, but whatever.). So our September study lead to their October response, which in turn led to a new report in November from our guys saying well, there might be a little water, but not that bad. Well, November leads to December,and, let’s face it, that’s winter anywhere you live, and in Minnesota, there is no doubt: nothing grows here in December. And the government folks said they’d love to resolve this, but nothing more could be done until the snow melted and the natural plants emerged (then they would look to see if any of the plant life was aquatic). Argh!!!!!
As my husband was steaming (seriously: I think I saw steam shooting out of his ears like in old cartoons), I decided to play the calm, cool, collected, I-wanna-be-helpful-and-do-things-right-golly-gee-whillickers kinda gal and visit the Minnehaha folks myself. I professed a desire to be educated, stressing that we did not want to do anything to hurt the environment, but was curious as to whether we would even be able to build on our lovely new lot (Rich was starting to think they’d find a spotted owl preserve somewhere next). The woman I spoke with was great! She reassured me that no matter what they found, she was sure we’d be able to build whatever we wanted. The problem, of course, was we couldn’t do any plans until we knew the boundaries of our little wetland.
So we waited for spring, like we do every year (as every Minnesotan does — except for the crazy people who love snow so much they’d like it year round. You know who you are…). But in case you didn’t pay attention, winter did not want to leave our lovely state this year. Normally, we call March the the month of mud, as everything is thawing out. But this year: we even had snow in MAY!!!! Seriously??? So my plan to be ahead of the game was quickly shelved by Mother Nature (probably shouldn’t have used that Parkay margarine).
Good news is, our little wetland was easily 50 feet away from where we wanted to build, which was more than two times the required buffer. Now we could actually meet with our architect and builder, and get started on the real plans. We had already spent countless hours drawing up potential floorplans on websites and software programs. Of course, his plans and my plans didn’t quite jive. It was the beginning of the want vs need discussions, and the my ideas are better than yours wars. Thank goodness our architect called himself a part-time marriage counselor!