Today we bought a piece of land. And on this land, my husband is going to build us a house. He has never built a house before, though he is a builder, and from this day forward I will learn to trust him to do this incredible thing. He will build a house. From scratch. On his own. It will not fall down half way through, or leak, or be condemned. He will not fall victim to multiple catastrophes and on-sight injuries. I hope. No matter what happens I have promised above all to keep a sense of humour. And we shall see what we shall see.
To say we “bought” land might be a bit of an over-statement... today I changed my facebook status to: “I am buying land. Woo hoo! Housewarming party in, um, about two years.” The project of course will be a long haul. But even buying the land is a bit of a long haul. Today we agreed on a price with the seller (a relatively easy process, with only two back and forths, which of course means we begin today with the self recriminations... what if? How low would they have gone?). Now we have 3 weeks to clear all the conditions – a “cooling off” period in which we can decide that the notion is too scary, the land too high up, the cost too prohibitive, the radon leaking from the ground too poisonous or any other such thing. I am, you will find, obsessive, slightly compulsive, and definitely a worry wart, and so I think about these things. Ruminate about them. Lose sleep over them. I am positive – absolutely positive – that at some point months down the line we will realize oooooh, this is the native home of a rare frog and so we can't build a house on our land. Except of course it won't be that – it will be something I haven't thought of. Yet.
But first we must get an accountant, and a lawyer, and wrangle through the paperwork of how, exactly, to buy this land. If we pass the 'cooling off' date with confidence, then we slap down a $15,000 deposit, and wait for April 1 to pay the rest of the cash (all startling $211,000 of it) and 'take possession'. I think this will mean sleeping on it in a tent. If the snow has gone by then.
The land is in a beautiful spot – a smallish building lot, about 7,800 square feet, on a rocky knoll on a road (Greenwood street) that ends in a cul-de-sac. It is a corner lot, with what will be the front door facing east, down the valley towards the mountains. What will be the living room (in my head) faces south and the towering Mount Currey. In winter the sun never rises above this edifice, but peaks out around the side for some 30 minutes in the afternoon, before nipping behind the hill that sits above our local lake. Westward is the back of the house, and what will be the garden. Somewhere across the road you can hear a small waterfall. North is the other road-side face, with a view over the house across the street to yet more mountains. Yesterday, after we put in an offer but before we agreed on a price, we tromped around this land in knee-deep snow, assessing the views, imagining rooms. In the back there is a little cluster of trees in which I can see an outdoor bath – just a bathtub on the lawn, which I'll fill with a hose in summer to sit in the cold water and listen to the birds. Above these trees sits a little knob of rock, on which Stef will build a tiny island of deck for watching the setting sun. I suggested that Stef pee on the snow to mark his (our) territory... so that if the seller backed down, we could say: you have to sell it to us. We peed on it. But we didn't.
Yesterday we also explored a bit of the local surroundings, finding a staircase that led promisingly up the cliff face from town. We followed it up, then along, up and down over rocks, and up again, winding on a magical path through a snowy wood, and popped out, surprisingly, directly in front of “our” lot. It was fate.
When we first decided to buy it, visions of houses danced in my head. Like a kid, I grabbed paper and pen and started to draw dream homes, mapping out the rooms. I know what the perfect house will look like now, though sadly all the rooms are a bit too big, the hallways insanely wide, and the garage too small (it's very difficult to get proportions right). Of course I can't design a house, not for real. I have run out of patience making quilts, let along something that will take 18 months...
Yes, 18 months. That's how long we have, according to the rules that come with our lot. The clock will start ticking in early May, when we break ground. We have bureaucracy to wade through, designs to make, foundations to lay, fights to have, and a dream to build. We shall see what we shall see.