To Pastures New
We signed papers a few days ago to officially put our house on the market to sell. I know these things never go according to plan (I know only too well, as we’re still in the process, one year later, of selling our rental home in Roseburg), but in a best case scenario we will get an offer, sign closing papers, and hand over the keys to the house in 60-90 days.
I am both excited and utterly terrified.
We have gone back and forth so many times, whether to renovate what’s already there or to build something new. We thought we’d already come to a decision to build a new house, but having finally talked to the county land use and planning department and utilities estimators, we now know for certain: We can’t build a new house in the upper field. The land can’t be subdivided in order to place a new house. A new house couldn’t be built anyway without essentially tearing down the old one, which would be a shame because the farmhouse still has good bones. And even then, if we somehow got a permit approved for a new house where we want to build one, the cost of bringing electricity to it (never mind the cost of wiring the inside) would be close to $40,000. So. Our decision has been made. We’ll renovate.
Even though, for various reasons (mostly involving just how BIG the farmhouse is), it wasn’t our first choice, we’re actually extremely happy with that. She really is a lovely old thing, and we’re looking forward to bringing her back to life.
First things first, we’re moving forward with drawing up new layout sketches and lists of potential contractors, architects and permit requirements. We’ll start getting bids together, materials we want to use, discounted appliances that we can store until they’re ready to install. Having no experience in the home building world, our plan is to have professionals replace the siding, frame up the new rooms and stair placement, install an HVAC, water pump and filtration system, new windows, a wood stove, insulation and drywall and do the wiring and plumbing. We’ll tackle all the finishing details ourselves (floors, molding, painting, etc.) to hopefully save money. Depending on what the bids come in at, we may or may not excavate the basement and add a root cellar, while the state and, ahem, legality of the septic tank remains a mystery (although I’m told it’s less than 10 years old and perfectly fine), so there may be that to deal with also.
It’s nerve-wracking for sure, thinking about all that will need to be done to make the house habitable. Not finished. Habitable. Because until it’s habitable, I’m not exactly sure where we’re going to live.
The tentative plan is to buy a small, cheap pre-owned camping trailer (mainly for the bathroom and kitchen it provides) and park it in the garage. The garage is large, and boasts large windows, a loft and sliding glass doors in the back. We could store all our belongings there with us, make different living areas outside of the camper to hopefully keep us from going absolutely stir-crazy, and install a wood-burning stove to keep it all cozy. It wouldn’t be glamorous, or ideal really for a family of four (plus myriad animals), but it would be only temporary. Hopefully.
The problem is that even in our best-case scenario, it will be winter. It will be cold and wet, and the garage isn’t insulated. I’m not sure how watertight it is. There is a lot of rodent activity. Also, it is already full of stuff that isn’t ours. Right now, there is absolutely no room for our belongings, never mind a trailer.
I stood in the garage the other day and tried to visualize how we could make it work. I’m not afraid of hard work or elbow grease, but the task of getting it ready for our family, coupled with the task of getting our current house ready to sell and fixing up the farmhouse seemed almost more than I could bear.
I don’t know what our alternative plan is if we can’t find an affordable trailer to buy or clean out and fix up the garage enough to live in it for a few months. The area we live in is facing a housing crisis, so finding a rental is pretty much out of the question. I don’t think anyone we know has enough room in their homes to host the bunch of us for a few months. Basically, there is nowhere else. We have to make it work.
I know certain family members and friends think we’re nuts to be doing this, especially with our kids in tow. To sell our beautiful home. To fix up a farmhouse that is in a very bad state of disrepair. To have no concrete place to live in the interim. Honestly, I think we’re nuts, too. But I have to keep reminding myself that this is our dream. That there is never “the perfect time” to chase those dreams … there is only now.
And if we don’t do it now, then when?