A little more than six weeks ago we arrived in the beautiful state of Montana. Specifically, we landed in the Flathead Valley which is in the northwestern part of the state. It's a beautiful place with mountains to the west, north and east, the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi, and rivers, streams and gorgeous vistas as far as the eye can see. This is also the area where our 25+ acres of land sit, awaiting our future home. When we arrived, we lived in our camping trailer for a week or so, then found a rental home which will keep us safe and warm until our home is ready. Never having built a home before, this is an enlightening experience. Here are some of my a-ha's.
First, when you move to an area where you're planning to build a home, you need to check the local rules regarding permits. In my area, if you live in the city of Kalispell, you need permits for everything. For example, you need to submit a site plan, foundation plan, floor plans, elevations, framing plans, elevations, and the like for review. You need a permit for a deck, detached garage, electricity, mechanicals and plumbing. This is a partial list! If you live outside the city area, you need a permit for your septic system and .... that's it! So one thing to know is what you'll need to do in terms of getting approval for your proposed home.
The other thing to confirm before you even select a property to purchase is whether there are any kind of regulations regarding what you can build or how you can use your property. In some places that means making sure you are aware of the village, town, city or state building ordinances. There could be rules about the number of floors you can have, minimum or maximum square footage, number of bedrooms, amount of setback space between property lines and your home and so on. If you are considering moving into a development, there also may be rules about the number of cats or dogs you could have, or whether you are even allowed to have pets. In the area I moved to, each parcel for sale has (or does not have) CCRs which are Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. There are also town or city guidelines. So make sure any land you purchase is going to be perfect for the way you want to live your life.
Another interesting thing about the building process are all the costs that go into getting property ready to build the home. Let's say you are planning to put up a home that is expected to cost (for the actual house) $250K. Well, the house cost does not include any of the site work. That refers to things such as removing trees, blasting, excavating, clearing the build site, trenching and hooking up utilities, installing a septic system, drilling a well, putting in a driveway, hauling gravel, providing temporary electric, heat or portable toilets to the site, and on and on. Your $250K expectation could wind up to be $350K. So make sure you know what additional costs might be part of your build. You don't want to find out after you get started.
Then there are the timeframes! You would hope you sign the contract to get started and a week later you'd have a house! Time to complete a home is dependent upon so many factors. The weather. The reliability of the different crews needed to do the site preparation and the build. The availability of materials. The skill of the contractor/builder overseeing the project. The changes you might need to make along the way (try not to do that!). Time for any required municipality or bank inspections. And on and on. I can't tell you how long a well-oiled process might take because our home build is still in process. But even if everything goes smoothly for your home build I'd say plan on at least six months. Or more. Or maybe less.
So what's the status of our new home?
The site was cleared and ready to go earlier this year. In mid-August we gave the thumbs up for work to start. In the almost two months since then, our well was drilled (30 gallons per minute which I understand is a healthy rate) and the septic system was installed. Our footings were set, concrete poured, house was framed, trusses installed and wood was placed on the roof. Sheathing was placed on the outside of the home and now it's being covered with the house wrap. There is a tub/shower standing in the middle of one of the bathrooms. Windows were placed in the garage and are waiting to be installed. In the photo above plywood is on roof and house wrap is starting. So the home is progressing.
For me, the most exciting part of the build so far was when all the rooms were framed. I was able to walk through each room and finally see how big each would be. My imagination started placing furniture. I looked out the spaces where windows will be to see what my view will look like out of each. Up until that moment, I was patience personified. I knew this would take months and months. But now I want to be in! We are still quite a way from having a completed house so I must stay busy with other things and try to forget my home on the hill. Patience is a virtue (repeat multiple times a day to myself).
I will share more as time goes on. Thank you for reading this far, and let me know if you have any questions. I can be reached at 406-270-3667. And now I go wait some more.
Originally posted at thehousekat.com.