During my childhood years, and all the way into my high 20’s I lived in the same house. I never once experienced a change of address. That dance didn’t start until I moved to the States: I am now in my 5th address since I moved to California in 2001.
Building a house wasn’t something I ever envisioned, for several reasons: there are thousands of nice houses already built, big, small, old, new, one story, 2 story homes, white, yellow, beige, gray (in terms of color that is about it- most people are afraid of color in this Country). Additionally, there was always another reason in the back of my mind: absolutely unaffordable.
I remember some 6 years ago, when my sister and her family bought an older house and remodeled it. It all sounded so grand: choosing tiles, kitchen appliances, bathroom and light fixtures. A lot of work but in the end, an enormous project that changed their lives and that resulted in a beautiful house that they now enjoy so much.
About 2 or 3 years ago, my husband and I were determined to move to a newer and slightly larger house. Our current neighbors aren’t exactly friendly, our street is too busy and noisy, and we needed extra room for guests that come visit. During the 11 years we have lived in this house, we have never felt a sense of belonging to a neighborhood, a closer tighter group of families, a community. Added to that, my mom moves around in a wheelchair: it is hard to accommodate her comfortably in this house. And that is something that I have always wanted, to have her stay with me instead of a hotel :(.
The fact that the kids don’t have a play area,- but take over our living room instead- doesn’t help either. So the search started for a larger house: we wanted something not so old (our current home is almost 20 years old) in a decent neighborhood and a good school district, on a cul de sac and close to town, and one story of course, because we are tired of the stairs, and with a spare room for guests and room for my home office, with a nice big kitchen…Now, since my husband was raised in the Midwest, he wanted a nice big lot, with room for fruit trees and maybe a chef’s garden! …a piece of land big enough to not have the neighbors 10 feet away on either side, but a nice buffer instead, surrounding our house.
Slowly but surely, after months of house hunting we realized our list had too many requisites; it seemed like what we were looking for did not really exist…within our budget anyway. I personally gave up on it, and resigned to live in our current house for at least the Elementary School years.
Some 4 or 5 months into the search, my husband and I found exactly what we were looking for. A 5 Acre lot (a bit over the size we intended) in an agricultural zone where only groves and homes are permitted. No large buildings, no commercial zone, no traffic. It overlooks rolling hills covered with rows of citrus and avocado trees. It sits atop a hill, which allows for an ocean breeze, a beautiful sunset view and, yes, it is on a small street that dead-ends. The drive to town, is only 12 minutes. The nearest hospital, 20- yes, I always think of the hospitals because of my son’s Peanut allergy :(.
While I have never imagined myself living in what will feel the “country”, I have to admit I am excited about the privacy, the silence, the views, the fresh unpolluted air that will surround us. The space, which for me, means relaxation and even meditation.
I am not entirely sure how our children will take this change, if they will embrace it or hate us for the next 10 years.
We purchased the lot in April 2014; it had 200+ avocado trees, most of them neglected and sick, yet bearing fruit. Also, along the front fence, some 50 very healthy grapefruit trees. The type of grapefruit (Ruby Star) that is so sweet, they have asked me if I inject it with sugar.
My husband had to read up on avocados, citrus trees, water management, disease, and who knows what else. It has been a year of dealing with the business of selling the fruit, managing the irrigation system, with some help from a neighbor. Me? from the moment our neighbor-to-be warned us about rattlesnakes in the area, I have tried to keep a distance and watch my step when I go pick grapefruit for myself and friends, who love the fruit as well.
I decided to read to the kids (and myself) about rattlesnakes, what they look like, so not to confuse them with the type of snake that is GOOD for the land (gopher eaters and such), how to react and how NOT TO react, etc
That same week we all read about it, my son and I encountered a good sized snake at the park, we were walking on the sidewalk, and it just stuck out it’s head a bit and stared, and we both did exactly was the magazine said not to: panicked, screamed, and took off running with our backs to the garden snake.
So, I guess we are still not ready to respond appropriately.
The plan after we purchased the lot, was to build a home a year later. The financial responsibility was huge, so taking it in 2 steps would help us plan better and save up.
So now, a year and a half later, this adventure is about to begin.
With the help of some friends, the help of our own 2 kids and the amazing speed of a chipper we rented, we cleared out the area where the house will sit.
After many hours of extenuating and back breaking work, in cruel summer weather, about 60 avocado trees were cut down and shredded to make way for the tractor to come in and start grading.
A week later the area was graded and I got the real feel for what we are about to begin: a life changing event, a project of our own, a dream come true -as cheesy as it sounds.
My eyes got a bit teary as I took pictures of the views and of the kids standing next to the tractor. A couple of will-be-neighbors have stopped to look, to say hi and to welcome us to the area.
It has been a bit stressful: applying for a substantial loan, making changes in our current budget in order to accommodate what is coming, making important decisions about the floor plan, size, layout, etc
Some of the decisions we are making now will have an impact for years to come, some huge some minor, still- they make you hesitate and wonder- did I choose right? Was that a good idea?
The fact that our economy – as a country- has been a bit unstable, not to mention the Real Estate Market, adds to the pressure. But the fact that both my husband’s and my job have been stable, provides peace of mind and confidence. Everything will be ok, we can make this happen, we will do it, and in the end we will love it.
The estimated time of completion – according to our carefully selected contractor- is 6 months. Therefore, we will be moving before the school year ends.
I am thrilled, I am nervous, I am stressed, and I am super super happy and grateful about it. Grateful that while I have close friends that have lost their homes or don’t have the certainty of keeping the one they live in, or extreme cases like the millions that live in tents in the other side of the world- displaced from their homelands, I am stressed about which tiles to choose for my new bathroom.
My intention is to document every step with pictures and writing on my blog about it.
Happy building to us