Building a dream house – Addressing the address

Addresses equal your homestead and where you go each night to leave your shoes on a floor. It is your abode, castle and nest. It allows you to know where you live and wash dishes. As trivial and enlightening as it sounds, our future home became real when we received the 911 address the other day.

There are multiple addresses for properties, especially for those in rural areas. As the area turns and becomes populated, rural routes and post office boxes regurgitate into county road and farm market destinations. The government wants to know where to go when you have a fire or health emergency. Therefore, 911 address are created to be able to quickly assist your emergency need. This is a database not easily celebrated or embraced by “other” entities.

Confusion escalates when the utility companies, water, electric and gas, list the property address as it was initially presented. They appear to be unable to change it to the current or most recent label. It may even be an address unrecognizable to a current owner because the address they’ve been using for decades is different. We have actually purchased multiple properties with addresses to connect utilities were unknown to the current owner. They obviously used different information, previous account numbers, ESI ID numbers, etc to light up the house or flush a toilet. You are told when calling the utility to provide the “service address” as well as the “physical address” or the “911 address”!

To get the lights on at our current home, we had to call the previous owners, who had inherited the property and kindly ask them to search out a previous electric bill for an identification marker to get the lights on. This became the project of the week and a grand fiasco. Their search through a deceased member’s past, yielded an ESI ID. We relayed this info to the retail electric provider. Much to our chagrin and wonder, a security light in the back of the property became illuminated. The property had multiple ESI ID’s and the puzzle wasn’t complete until the one for the house was located.

To avoid mishaps like the previous, we worked diligently with the proper authorities to provide the “911 address” to use for hooking up temporary electric meters for construction purposes. The “911 address” was established by walking up and down the subdivision street and notating the current house number assignments. Obviously, where we will live has a “do it yourself” method for creating your new house number. You call the government agency assigning the 911 address and they ask you to provide the current house numbers. The rhyme and reason of next 4 digits did not apply to this application!

Building a dream house – Plans and planning

Plans & Planning

Plans & Planning

It took a long time to plan the move to the Paris area. Years of fretting over how to leave a city life behind. The decision actually fell into place with frustrating 2 hour commutes, road rage incidents,employment incidents, turning neighborhoods and the world we knew changing – as we changed.

There have been a great number of sacrifices, including leaving the locale of where our grown children live. Reality kicked in full blast with the lack of retail access to items we took for granted. It was beyond comprehension a convenience store would close at 9:00 pm before moving to Northeast Texas. The sidewalks roll up early here. If you want a Hostess fried pie – you’d better get your ass in the car before 8:45 pm.

We tried to buy a house here. It didn’t work for me. We bought our property before we were sure what to even do with it. Countless hours were spent searching the internet and home plan sites. We made the final choice of house plans about 4 times. The size of the house and how much bucks it would take to build it were the most prevalent factors. Sure I could pick out plans for a huge mausoleum but who was going to clean and maintain it. How could we afford a gazillion doors? With a few bottles of wine and endless conversation, we came to the conclusion, this new house would have to take care of us when we are unable to care for ourselves. Just as our first house raised our children and created the suburban dream.

Your house is never truly yours. I always wanted to create a fantasy world in my home. I didn’t want to be like my parents – which were the epitome of “The Wonder Years”. I didn’t want that but that is exactly what we created. We are – what we know. We did keep a bicycle in the vestibule and had huge acrylic abstract paintings on the walls but it was a mainstream house. The new house was initially going to be like an urban modern loft type of joint. Then I realized no one in Paris, Texas would want to purchase it when we truly needed a buyer. The taste of most homeowners in the Northeast Texas area points more toward kikker cowboy western motifs. So, we will be traveling the middle of the road type of hacienda.

The outside will be beautiful garden-variety by the home plans we purchased and will be to the liking of many. We have become minimalist in the sense we are tired of cleaning and packing and kicking around chachkis.  I enjoy them at other people’s homes but not in ours. The interior will be easily switched to unexceptional and standard when we are ready to exit the premises permanently. I am tired of painting everything country white, white-white and beige by all the names – eg: Swiss Coffee. Paint is easy to change.

We’re not going to go crazy and hang the Jeep Scrambler from the ceiling. It will be uncrowded, modern and artsy-fartsy. Less is best. It is not what has been planned, but rather what is disliked, discarded and eliminated. We now know what we don’t want.

The last of the brush and stumps on the house site.

The last of the brush and stumps on the house site.

The wood on the lot is actually still smoldering. It smolders slower in the rain. It hasn’t rained here for months until we needed to get ride of a bunch of debris. The extra dirt needs brought in. The next step will be to sit and watch it settle!

We are in need of a truss builder, either on-site or off-site. There are a lack of them listed in the vicinity. Hardly any craftsman have websites. It may be the lack of internet access. Still planning and researching where to find materials and construction experts. There is no sense of urgency among the masses here. I guess they’re waiting for a bigger job to come along – like cousin Eddy.

Building a dream house – The burning bush

When you cut down a bunch of trees, it leaves a lot of debris left over. There has to be enough room to actually build the house, move heavy construction equipment through and be able to park a bunch of vehicles. It has been determined, the man shop must be built first in order to store necessary items, like windows and doors, for the house. Like all female she people, my fear is out in the open that I may be living in the man shop if my general contractor gets tired of building after man shop is standing on it’s own. I certainly do not want to consider that option. I would be on the first bus out of here and headed back to the big city if that joke spontaneously continues to thrive.

During a drought, a burn ban is in effect. You can not burn huge trees when the wind is blowing 30 mph. We had the lots cleared for the man shop and house but had to wait for rain and the burn ban to be lifted. This project does not move as quickly as my heart wants it to. I certainly do not want to burn down our 8 acres of trees, nor do I want to piss off the neighbors by burning down their woods or homes. I like our new neighbors. They stop by to view the progress and are as excited as we are to see a home being created.

It finally rained last week. We verified the burn ban was lifted and proceeded to burn the ginormous piles of cut trees and debris left over from clearing the 2 lots. It isn’t as easy as one would think to burn green wood and keep the fires going. burning bush cThe supply list included a propane tank, diesel fuel, newspaper and the lighter we use for the grill! Every Girl Scout knows the rules when creating a camp fire. As a previous Scout, I know it isn’t as easy as it appears in all the videos to make a fire. If you don’t want a fire to start, the fear is always prevalent. If you want to start a fire, on purpose, all elements will be uncooperative.

Then my old lady anxiety kicks in. I shouldn’t be on site when fear factor hits. I could hear my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth with, “Be careful. Don’t stand so close. Is that going to catch in the woods?” I was obviously using my “outside voice”. Needless to say, this project has been going on all week. Thank God I have a few full-time jobs and extra curricular activities to keep me out-of-the-way, most of the time. I did make a mistake and tried to sashay the site in regular shoes instead of wearing the work boots purchased specifically for being on a construction site. It took the better part of an hour to clean them up. To keep me in check and shook up, everyone on site keeps telling me to look out for bobcats and wild animals. My weakness for not wanting to run into exotic animal life is apparent at all times. I took photos of what I thought were big game footprints, until our neighbor told us she walked her precious dog, Patch, down the driveway shortly after it rained!burning bush d

Moving the woods

Moving the woods 02-27-2013Technically, we had some of the woods moved or better stated, removed, to make room for the “dream house” and “shop”. The shop is going to be the ultimate man room. It must be completed first so we can store the necessary accoutrements required to have a civilized abode. The dream originated with a small outbuilding. It has been brought to my attention that toilets and tubs take up a lot of room!

There will be 21 doors in this new home. They will not fit in my car until they are ready to be hung.  That will be a lot of possible opening, closing and slamming action! 16 windows must be installed. One is approximately 8 feet high. It is not an item purchased off the shelf at Home Depot. We are building in the country with cows and ducks roaming around. The greatest immediate challenge is obtaining specialty items at reasonable cost, including transportation and freight. So, back to the “shop” – a building was required to store items, in close proximity, to the house building site. Yes, we need a shop. Yes, this is being written by a female with little to no understanding of the future need for a huge tool and man machine storage outlet. The massive trees needed to be run down with a bulldozer. The driveway to the shop had to be cut through. I had to double check to make sure the shop is not visible when I am in the new love nest.

Oncor , the conglomerate mandated to distribute and transmit electricity visited the home site this morning. Much to my dismay, they need 10 feet across to access and lay the required “stuff”, wires and cables to run electricity from the transformer to the the future shop and house. More woods to be moved out of the way. There is no way I can live in a house with no power. God knows what my hair would look like without access to a blow dryer with a diffuser. I knew trees would have to come down, but there’s a lot more trees than even my insane imagination could muster being felled. I had better practice some zen and meditation before the water company and phone company jump on the bandwagon.

The mister and I extensively discussed whether to lay cable for a telephone land line. We do not currently have a land line or permanent residential telephone line. There is no need for one in this day and age. We previously utilized a land line for a fax machine. A fax machine is now an obsolete item in my world now. Everything transmitted from our residence is scanned and emailed. We live in a community that is not technologically savvy. The majority of my acquaintances do not know how to text or have the service on their cell phones. S Continue reading

We are building a dream house

Our decision to move from a major metropolis to east of Egypt has necessitated the building of a home. We knew this a few years ago when I began the optimistic search for a perfect love nest for our cohabitation. There are very few homes in Powderly, Texas from which to choose.

I am an experienced real estate agent. I know how to research and find the flawless and elegant abode to meet any prospect’s heart’s desire. It really helps if you have more than a handful of choices. I know there are great homes here. It is evident the current owners wish to continue living in them! Our choices have resembled Elvis Presley flocked wallpaper decor, no hallway or privacy floor plan – you have to walk through each bedroom to get to the next bedroom (heard they designed the home themselves!), the 4 bedroom, 1 bath house and omg there is a “huge” built-in pool included with the listing! We’ve had a pool. No one had time in their schedule to clean it. Everyone swam in it the first 2 weeks and then it became this “thing” we had in the backyard to look at. I remember cleaning it, in the dark in my corporate blue suit and running all over town trying to find the correct size filters for the pump. If we ever have a home with a pool, it will include a guy named Sven, wearing a speedo. He will know how to mix a chilled Cosmopolitan and instinctively know when to turn the pages on my trashy magazine as I lay in a chaise lounge blabbing on my phone.

We came to the conclusion, we are going to have to have a home built. Is there nothing that will please me? I don’t need a horse stable or RV port. I am tired of remodeling and gutting the joint to the bricks to replace all plumbing and electricity. I’ve sucked up more sheet rock dust than a contractor. I am not in the mood to fix a slab foundation which is cracked in half. Weighing out the pros and cons, starting from scratch will at least be a different adventure.

Eight years ago, after sustaining damage from Hurricane Rita and a 21 hour car ride to escape her wrath, we purchased 8+ acres on a wooded lot, in a subdivision which includes a private lake, in Powderly.  It is beautiful. I have scoured countless websites and bought books with floor plans. The most difficult real estate agents are themselves. My husband was a commercial builder. I, actually worked for a residential builder for years. We think we are experts. The more we research, the less we know. We have agreed on the perfect set of plans, 3 times. Yesterday, we had to commit to the perfect floor plan and elevation so it could be presented to the man trying to plan the foundation work. The husband and I have agreed, after 2 fights, to be our own general contractors. We are building a dream house.We are building a dream house

My cousin-in-law asked me how many fights we have had over this decision. She is keeping track. I, initially, wanted to commit to a builder. Give them the plans and tell them to build the house. Challenges with this commitment occur when they insist on their own vendors. There are extreme limitations with cabinet, woodwork, tile, counters and window choices, to name a few. The husband does not want to put up with shoddy work, inferior product and the front door facing the wrong direction. We have talked to a lot of people with having their home built by the name brand contractors in the area. The majority were very pleased with the final project but admitted there are limitations.  I am a little picky. Personality plays a primary focus for the project. I would rather fight with my lover than a stranger. He is more handsome and I always win.

So, the project truly begins today – the floor plan is being dropped with the concrete man. He has already walked the property. We are calling the bulldozer guy, again, to clear additional trees and brush. The driveway was cut in last year, as was the initial clearing for the house.The survey was verified – to make sure the front yard is not on the guy’s lot next door! In fact, the house will sit almost exactly in the middle of the 8 acres. Trenching for utilities will chunk a huge bite of the budget but privacy does cost a few bucks.  Honestly, it was more important to want to sit half naked on a back porch eight years ago than it is now, but what the hell!

I know there is hope for this endeavor. In 2000, we purchased a home on Crystal Beach which was hand built by a retired couple. The neighbors conveyed stories of a menopausal woman, hammering shingles on the roof of a home which sat on 10 foot pilings. The beach house was literally created with this remarkable couple’s bare hands, in 1973. This little fortress withstood the wrath of Hurricane Alicia and Hurricane Rita with countless tropical depressions and storms in between. On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike came to shore with a direct hit to Bolivar Peninsula and wiped our dream house off the face of the earth. If a house, nailed with hand carried lumber and shingles can stand for 35 years with the coastal environmental challenges it faced from the Gulf of Mexico, we certainly can be our own general contractors without choking each other to death. I wonder what their fight count ended up being?