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18 months. We’ve been living in and building our off-the-grid cabin for 18 months.
When we were dreaming and planning for our cabin we were positive it wouldn’t take us more than a year to complete. And not just to complete the inside but to have the basics of the outside in place also. Maybe even have a nice little yard in place.
I laugh uproariously when I think of this now.
We are still a long ways from finished.
There is some serious stress involved with completing a house, especially while living in said house.
Another neighbor is also completing their place. Like us, they had the shell done by someone else with plans to complete the inside on their own.
Like us, they are living there during the process. The two of them have been working about four months work 40 plus hours a week, each, on their house. We were trading war stories the other day and both of us ladies commented that we were sure we’d be done long before now.
The truth is everything seems to take longer then we expect. And many of the things we are doing are new experiences. We’d done remodeling before but nothing on this magnitude.
Building a house together is definitely a stress-filled challenge for us. We sometimes don’t see quite eye-to-eye on how a project should progress. And one of us, who shall remain nameless but starts with an M and end with an E, tends to be a little more nit-picky on things than the other.
Working on our marriage is something we are doing right along with working on our house.
Most people have blue-prints, sketches and more for building a house. We didn’t really have this and this does add to the stress we encounter.
Our house is a log cabin built in a basic rectangle. It’s 24 feet wide and 30 feet long. We had a basic floor plan sketched out on notebook paper when we started. Our friend/builder used that to construct everything. When he finished his part we had a large rectanglular box.
The floor plan is pretty much the same as our original sketches but we did move some walls here and there by a foot or so to make things flow better. As we work on each room, things do tend to change from the original plan to “oh, let’s do this instead”.
Right now we are working on the kitchen and discovered once the wall of cabinets/counter was in we had space to add another cabinet on a different wall. This is a great change but has taken extra time since we decided to add it after having purchased and stained the other cabinets. It would have been so much easier to buy and stain the cabinet with the original set.
I’m okay with these changes because it does tend to result in a place that is better suited to our needs but the delays are frustrating and definitely adding to everything taking longer.
If you decide to take on a self-build, know that changes come up as you go along. Even my friends who have had houses built using a contractor face these changes. Cabinet or floor materials they picked out early in the build may no longer be available or tastes may change slightly. It happens!
Sometimes as we’re working on the house I’m reminded of the 1986 movie The Money Pit with Tom Hanks. A couple buys what they think is the perfect home and discover it needs an insane amount of work. It’s a funny movie but so real to life in many ways.
While our house is a new built it we can still often fall into the ‘money pit’ mentality. Because we’re building over time we didn’t start with a full budget. Our budget tends to flex from room to room. Yes, more stress.
Without having a full plan we’ve changed our mind on things along the way. So far we’ve purchased several cans of paint and stain in the wrong color, a sink we changed our mind on, and insulation that wasn’t quite right. While none of these have been huge budget breakers, these little things can add up. Even my example of changing our kitchen plans mid-stream had a cost since we needed to drive an hour and half to pick up an additional cabinet.
The Money Pit is real!
Joe and I are quite different in how we approach things. He tends to need to focus on one thing only. I like to have a complete plan put in place with each step figured out.
This difference often results in Joe needing to work on his own on part of a project and I’ll do something else. Either within the project we are working on or a different household need. Not always working together works best for us.
We also have a meeting every several weeks to go over where we are. We especially have this meeting when we are starting on a new room. Ideally, we’d like to finish one room before moving on to a new room but this doesn’t happen. Because of sales on needed items or seasons we find we have to work on things as we can.
A great sale came up on the range I wanted for the kitchen so it seemed the right time to move on to the kitchen even though we hadn’t finished the guest room and main bath yet. We could have bought the range and stored it but we don’t have the room for storing things. And, truthfully, I’m excited to have a functioning kitchen so the timing seemed right to move to the new project.
Our friends have been able to make this a full-time job (at the moment) and realized early on that they needed to pace themselves. In the beginning, they were working on the house seven days a week. After a couple of weeks they determined the need to take time off. They started taking Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday off. What a difference! While the weeks are still long knowing they have down-time coming has been very helpful to them.
Joe and I both work a full-time and a part-time job in addition to having a small farm and working on the house. The time required to complete all of these things means we tend to have less down days.
What is (sort of) working for us to have long work days Monday to Friday and then shorter work days on the weekend. Every few weeks we’ll take a full day off from everything except farm chores. We try to make it a special day off where we can have something to look forward to.
This past weekend, Labor Day, we took Saturday, Sunday and Monday fully off! We went down to see three of our children and pick up some things we still had at our old house (one daughter is buying that place and has graciously been storing our
We had a wonderful visit and then ended the weekend away with hiking Sunday evening and most of Monday. Well, I call it hiking. Joe calls it archery hunting. Either way, it was a fun and relaxing time and very much needed.
When the stress starts to overwhelm what do you do? Share your favorite stress relievers in the comments.
My friend Jen at Healthy Moving is always sharing ways to help manage stress. Join Jen at Healthy Moving for a free class. These community classes are always full of great tips to increase your movement and help decrease your stress.
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