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March 23, 2022

Our Custom Home Build Timeline [nearly two years in]

Custom Home build timeline with Annie Miller

Buying land and building a home was always in our plans (God willing). We weren’t done traveling the world in 2020. But the rona sent us home early – April 21, 2020. Once our jet lag wore off, it became clear that the “unknown” in the realm of international travel was indefinite.

Thus, the plans to buy land and build a home got expedited to like, NOW.

We were driving through Slovenia in 2018, listening to a podcast and the host mentioned the phrase “location independent” – owning a home/having a home base, but traveling for months out of the year as well. That was it. That was what we wanted. So we knew that when full time world travel ended, that was the route we would likely explore. We simply didn’t expect it to be in 2020.

Our flight home from Japan landed on April 21, 2020. Not but three weeks later, we were searching for land.

The search begins

May 12 – Tell my sister we decided to entertain looking for land and building a home. She promptly sent me a property on Zillow and said something along the lines of “what are you doing? I am picking you up and we’re going to look at this land.”

If you can’t tell, my family very much so breeds action takers…it is very difficult for us to have an idea and not look for ways to make it happen, immediately. So, on May 12, 2020, our journey began.

Nate and Annie Miller looking at land for their custom home

Lucky for me, my cousin is a big wig in land development and construction in the area. So she pulled some docs and info for me. Based on that, we put in an offer, but there was just too much to be done with the clearing of the trees, and mitigations (payment for replacing or relocating plants and wildlife).

So, we moved on.

Buying the land

Before even looking for the land, we actually found the HOUSE we wanted to build. I don’t recall how we came across it. But I have to assume we were searching for modern farmhouse plans and fell in love with this one.

Custom home inspiration for Annie Miller

May 22 – Find 2.5 acres right off the freeway. The land was in an IDEAL location but was basically a giant ditch. So the front and back of the acreage were elevated, but the middle of the land was a massive drop. We didn’t love that for building and long term maintenance. The first two pieces of land quickly taught us that perhaps we DID NOT want hills, and trees and water on our land. Maybe in the long term (as in we plant the trees, make the hills, and make the ponds). But for construction, it appeared a nice flat piece, clear piece of land was in fact what we needed.

And that, three days later, is what we’d find.

Searching for land for home build with Annie Miller

May 25 – Visit the property we would put an offer on shortly thereafter.

June – put in the official offer on the land, and start moving forward (getting all county docs verified on the land [septic, any land mitigations, property lines, wetlands]

The Millers land!

Secure a builder

July – Meet with, and interview 5 builders out at the land (putting the cart before the horse a bit because we already had the initial house plans).

In order to use these plans, the builder we chose let us know we needed to change these plans a given % to use them without paying directly through Masscord. To essentially use the public plan as a template to expand from. AND THAT WE DID.

Throughout this entire process we were meeting with the builder, finalizing our designs and learning a ton. No specific dates, but know that the home design was happening in tandem with all of this.

And we bought the plans outright (out of pocket) so we could take those plans and build on any piece land, anywhere we wanted.

Sept 22 – get notification of land closing date

Sept 29 – close on land! (promptly have a photoshoot with @paigemajorcreative because she was in town for a branding shoot for me).

Annie and Nate Miller on their land
The Millers on their land
Annie and Nate on the land their custom home will be built
The Millers
Annie and Nate on their plot of land

May, June, July, Aug, Sept (5 months): Find, get approved for, cross the T’s, dot the I’s, purchase the land.

October 2020 – Feb 2021 – wait, and wait, and wait and dream and wait.

The season of waiting

We knew that our taxes (me, being self employed) were a big deal if we wanted to qualify for the loan required to build our house. That is why we secured the land first. We knew we wouldn’t meet the requirements for getting an all-in-one construction load (land and build combined).

Due to my income increasing exponentially each year, we wanted to take advantage of 2020 filing so that they could use 2019 and 2020 vs 2019 and 2018. We will talk about the loops self-employed humans have to jump through to buy or build a home in another blog! Let us move along.

But first, context. It is now one year into the pandemic and the market is…starting to react. Just when we were gathering information, and contacting banks to apply for our build loan, lumber was at nauseating highs. With that, the market was volatile. Thus, we postponed the build, again.

Fact was, we had no clue what would happen with materials and labor. (I can confidently tell you, waiting didn’t make a difference – two years in and markets are still rising and volatile).

Securing the build loan

Due to the above statement, we said screw it, let’s do this. After living with my gracious mother for a year (which was supposed to be three months between bouts of world travels), we bit the bullet and moved into a rental.

May 19, 2021 ** Brief pit stop for drilling the well. After realizing how far we’d have to run the water line from the public source, we decided on drilling a well. Which turned out to be a huge win. That was also assumed due to all land owners around us having drilled wells successfully.

Wells are a gamble (in our area anyway) because you pay for however deep they have to drill. PERIOD.

Water was 80 feet shallower than expected (saved us money) and busting through at 50 gallons/minute (10x more than required). ** see well being drilled on the left.

Drilling a well on the Millers land

May 31, 2021 – Move into rental (this was risk/reward due to rental prices also going through the roof – but ultimately it was the best decision knowing we’d be 12-18 months out from having our house built).

We began the application process in July 2021.

July, Aug, Sept (3 months): back and forth with docs & letters/waiting to close the loan.

Sept 29, 2021 – Secure build/home loan

TO THE DATE, exactly one year after closing on our land. Not planned. Just a fun coincidence.

The build begins

October – Once the loan was secured, it was go time. We had every meeting for the house in the last two weeks of October: final budget meeting, hard surfaces, lighting, plumbing, appliances, etc.

The Millers choosing finishes for their custom home build
designs for millers custom home
Choosing features for home build
Planning the home build with Annie Miller
preparing for the custom home build with Annie Miller

Nov 15 – Approve placement of house on land (squint real hard to see hot pink stakes in the ground – good thing we affirmed because it was 20ft off in one direction). Measure twice, cut once my friends.

Choosing location of house on land for Annie Miller

Nov 17 – Break ground

Breaking ground on custom home build with Annie Miller
Annie and Nate on ground breaking day for home build

Dec 17 – Foundation complete

They had to build the house up several feet higher than planned due to the house placement being in more of a “hole” than shown on the topography map of the land. Which worked out awesome for us – massive crawl space, and better views.

Foundation of custom home build for Annie Miller
more foundation of home

Jan 5 – Framing begins (base flooring)

Jan 15 – We have dinner in our “living room”

Yes, I realize this is super cheesy. We had driven out mid day to visit the land and on the way home Nate asked what I wanted for dinner. Without hesitation I said “A salami, cheese and wine date at our land.” So, we did.

having dinner in their custom home build with Annie Miller

Jan 26 – All walls are finally up (it took a hot minute to get the central great room “dormer” walls up”).

Framing for the custom home build with Annie Miller
framing the house with Annie Miller

Feb 3 – Trusses and porches begin

Custom home build updates with Annie Miller
The Millers custom home build
Custom Home build timeline with Annie Miller

Feb 5 (1 month later) – Framing is nearly done (roof is missing some plywood)

That’s where are for now! Stay tuned for more updates in the future.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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