Home is where the heart is: And blood, sweat and tears

Would you believe that my husband and I have built our own home? Twice! Yes that’s right, we’ve built our home from the ground up, start to finish. I don’t mean we hired a contractor, I mean we put in all the sweat equity ourselves.

When my husband and I were first married we had a five-year plan. That plan included a dream to design and build our own home. We spent the early years of our marriage researching and planning a layout. My husband is a civil engineering technologist and was able to do the blueprints himself. By 2003 we had found a lot and were ready to roll. I won’t get into the details, it’s a long story. But what I will say is that we cleared a dense, tree filled bush lot on our own. We then built our dream house in just four short months. We did most of it ourselves, just the two of us. I lugged cinder blocks, tarred the foundation floor, hammered, sawed and painted more than I ever imagined I would. We had lots of help from family and friends. I am indebted to those who gave of their time and energy forever.

They were the HARDEST, most stressful, tiring months of my life. I kid you not! Emotionally and physically harder than having a baby in very many ways. My marriage teetered on the brink of disaster. We almost lost it under all the stress and fatigue. But we persevered and for the first year we blissfully enjoyed the home that we made.

Then we had a baby. The location where we had built this home was less than ideal, but in our excitement to actually make our dream come true, we were blind to this fact. We both faced long, long commutes. Maternity leave illustrated very clearly just how isolated we were from friends and family. I knew, soon after my son was born, that we wouldn’t be able to stay. It was heart wrenching. This home was such a dream for us. It was us to the very core in ways most people won’t understand. So many people I loved had a part in making the dream happen. How would I ever be able to part with it?

We discussed our options. We knew we had to move closer. So…wait for it…we decided to do it again. Yes, that’s right. The project that nearly ruined us was on again. But it gets better, not only were we going to build again but, we were so happy with the house that we decided to build the exact same house for a second time. CRAZINESS! People laughed, were baffled and downright confused. The same house again? Yes, sir! Why mess with success.

We found the ideal location, but paid a premium for not getting it right the first time. This time we agreed we could not manage it all on our own, we did not expect friends and family to contribute, and we hired contractors to do much more of the work. I had a one-year-old to care for, my husband had a much more demanding job. We wouldn’t be able to do it all on our own.

So here we are today, just over five years later. We made the dream come true, twice! We are both so proud of what we accomplished. The second house isn’t done. I believe they never really are when you build them yourself. It can be stressful, looking at parts of your home that are unfinished, wishing you could find the time to get it done. But we also know that our children are young and we want to enjoy them now, not later, so the work waits. Every once in a while we’ll get a burst of energy and get another small project done.

Then there is the money. When you build your own home, the financing is all messed up. Once you close our your mortgage, the well runs dry and the rest needs to get done out of your own pocket book. Makes things happen a little bit slower, you have to wait even though you’d like for it to just be done already.

Now I am that much more attached to my home. I have literally invested blood, sweat and tears into my home. It is me, it is my family. It is home!


4 thoughts on “Home is where the heart is: And blood, sweat and tears

  1. Tracey says:

    Even if you don't build your own house, there is always still tons of crap that you want to do but don't have the time/money, etc. Trust me.I can't really explain why, but for some reason I feel like this is one of the best blog posts you've written so far. It's just really well written. And I'm sure you care what I think. 😉 Oh, and I love your house. Both versions.

  2. Tiffany @ Lattes And Life says:

    My family has built two homes. The first was supposed to be my grandparents retirement home. But they ended up moving north to get away from FL. The second was my Uncle's house, and he and his wife did exactly what you and your husband did. From blueprints on up, it was all theirs. My Uncle got laid off this year..and they fear they'll have to sell their house. I can't imagine the heartbreak. So good for you guys to be able to make it happen a second time! Love that!

  3. Sarah says:

    Wow! What an undertaking… twice! I could never do that (I'm too lazy). I'm a 'make-do' kinda girl, I guess. We've lived in our house for almost 2 years and I've painted one room – one (and that's not because the others are decent. :P)Good for you for following through and making it happen!

  4. Chantal says:

    WOW that is amazing. To build your own home. What an experience. I would love to do that. I often think in another life I would have been a carpenter.

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