Most of you have seen bits and pieces about our house project… but I am excited to officially “announce” on the old bloggity that Ben and I are building a house! Like, from the very start to the very finish, building a house. And I wanted to share a little more of our story today for those who maybe don’t know more than just the occasional Instagram updates, because although this is my photography blog, this is a huge step in our lives! I would love to say it has been a rewarding and riveting process thus far, but the truth is, it’s been really hard. That doesn’t mean we aren’t thankful and excited… but it has been hard. Ben grew up on a small(ish) farm and he and his sister have always known that a portion of land would be given to them- sort of like a birth-right. :) Ben and I didn’t really talk much about the land in the early part of our marriage. We lived at the camp ministry where I worked and while we knew we would eventually move, I also kind of thought we would never move. When we decided that I would pursue photography full-time it sort of shifted a lot of things. We talked about what would be next for us, since leaving my camp job meant moving out of our camp townhouse. Now, our friends at camp may feel like we still live there because we are there quite a bit ;) but, 2 years ago we moved out of our first home as a couple. We spent the first 5 years of our marriage living in the most delightful “first home” and moving out was bittersweet. One thing was for sure, we were so excited to have officially talked with Ben’s parents about building on “Ben’s land” and moved forward with the land engineer to get things going. Suffice it to say, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! We submitted paperwork and met with important people… and then, we waited. Then, very soon into the process actually, we had to submit building plans to the county. THIS was crazy, to say the least. It wasn’t like a subdivision gave us 3-5 home designs to choose from. We had the world of building plans at our fingertips and no idea where to start.
I have to interject (myself) here to share that the unique and very special thing about this process is that my dad is a builder. And he is going to be our builder. It’s what he has done all my life. But honestly I had never even imagined or considered he would build my house one day. Maybe add an addition or help with a kitchen remodel, but never that he’d actually build the house- because who does that?? But when the girl with the dad that’s a builder marries a farm boy who has land… perfect. So we asked my dad for help in picking a house plan that we loved but could also afford (that’s the tricky part! The options are endless, until you talk budget. haha!) Also, because we are building a house on our own land, Ben is technically the “general contractor” which is wonderful, hilarious, and overwhelming at the same time. Ben obviously has his job to do daily, but whenever he is able and especially in the summer, he will be helping to build our house with my dad, which is kind of amazing. :) We have a lot of decisions to make, within the plans, since it’s not a plan from a builder/subdivision with specific parameters, which is one of the most exciting things but also one of the more difficult things (since I have a horrible time making decisions!) I am so thankful for my dad and all the other contractors he works with. I have the utmost trust in the process because of my dad being the foreman on the project, and that is a gift I can’t be thankful enough for. This is a photo of our land in early 2012 when the process began! (the family farm is all around too, so it’s hard to really see what is “our” land… but here it is!)
So, we talked a lot with my dad and the lumber yard, we searched for plans, chose the plans, and we submitted them to the county about 2 years ago… and we thought we were well on our way. After a lot of road blocks and hoops to jump through, we felt discouraged and unsure. We continued to pray, knowing that we would wait on the Lord’s timing, but wondering if we were making the wrong decision and not following His will after all. We continued to feel like we weren’t getting a “no” from God (or from the county for that matter!) but we were just being told, “not yet”. Bethany Dillon has this song “To those who wait”… if you feel like the Lord is asking you to wait- stop reading this, go now, and download that song. I’m so serious. Anyway, that song has been my anthem, as I pray the lyric over and over again “you could do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do.” Wow. Just the other day, I saw the quote from Ian Hamilton, “Beloved, our great and pressing need today is to give ourselves to waiting upon God, because waiting time is never wasted time.” Yes! So much yes. You guys, these are the things, the promises, that I cling to! Because waiting is, so. hard. And we are still waiting. But we know that it’s all in God’s timing- we really do know and trust in that. And that has made
all the difference. If you’re someone who is in my life almost daily, you know that I haven’t always completely clung to the promise that God is working in the waiting- sometimes I’ve gotten mad, sad, frustrated, jealous, etc. Ben and I both have. Because sometimes the road blocks feel too big to get over. And we have wanted to throw in the towel and say, “never mind”. Right up to the day we signed the building loan! I really almost told the nice lady, “never mind. Thanks but no thanks… it’s too much. We can’t handle it.” But I am so thankful that God has not allowed us to give up.
Part of what has taken us so long is that we took farm land (albeit in the family) and subdivided it to be a build-able, residential, lot. That is not an easy process, especially in Anne Arundel County. (I don’t know actually if I can say “especially” because it’s all I know… But AACo sure didn’t make it easy! ;)) But we just kept pressing forward until there was a “no”. And the “no” never came… just, “not yet”. In February we officially got our building permit (release the confetti, now!) and we got the ball rolling with all the necessary people to actually see some progress! And it was amazing. I know it’s May and I just said we got our building permit in February, but again there was some waiting in between. In February they began excavating and surveying out our property. Even dirt and marker sticks with little orange ties made me feel weepy with joy!
We did pre-fab basement walls that come completely poured, insulated, ready for siding (for the walk-out), and reinforced. It took some time to have them made, but it’s supposed to be this wonderful new system, more waterproof, well insulated, etc. (whatever they say! haha…) So when the walls were ready to be brought in this week, the excavators came in and it blew my mind how quickly they worked. In one week it has felt like more progress than in the last 2 1/2 years! These next photos were all taken between Monday and Thursday of this week! Crazy!
Once the foundation was ready, they set the walls in one day and I got to watch part of the process. It was incredible to watch these guys bring the walls in on a crane while a few others got it set and locked in place. So very cool to watch!
The finished basement walls! (I am so excited about the two patio doors and large windows in our walk-out basement! I heart natural light.) They look like they weren’t dug deep enough and like they are too much above ground, don’t they? Honestly? I don’t fully understand it either. But when everything is done with the basement, they will grade the land around and it will in fact be a basement (with the full back wall open for the walk-out of course.) But I know, it looks weird! We are so, so very thankful for all those who have been praying so fervently for us for the past two years. We still covet your prayers as we have a long way to go. But we are so excited to be able to really say… this is happening! :) Stay tuned for more updates along the way!