Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Little Old House: A real piece of work

This dear old house was built the same year that Jim was born and is two years older than the house I grew up in.  From the outside it is very cute! (if you don't look too closely.) 

I'll never forget the look on Jim's face when I suggested we live in it if our current house sells before the new one is built.  He really was speechless.  Now he has warmed to the idea.  Well, no that's not quite accurate (that would be the Texas blistering heat we have been experiencing.)  We have resigned ourselves to the idea of living in it should it become necessary.

At one point, we thought we might renovate it and use it as a guest house.  Our builder quickly helped us see the dollar signs that would be required since pretty much everything in the entire house would have to be replaced.  Starting with the roof, which happens to be uninsurable.  Yes, those color variations are buckles in the roof.  The areas that had daylight showing through had to be repaired as part of our purchasing contract, but the whole thing needs to be replaced.  Not a project we plan to do, thank goodness.  As long as the house stands around us until the other one is built then we're great!  And the longer it takes our current house to sell, the less time we get (have) to spend in the Little Old House.  So, as you might imagine, we want our house to sell.... but we are not crying in a bucket that it hasn't, yet.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beautiful Giants: Trimming the trees

Front yard tree, untrimmed
One of the things that we love most about this property are the beautiful oak trees.  There are about 20 giant trees that are 4 to 5 feet in diameter and as much as 50 feet tall.  They have gone many years without any TLC and so getting them trimmed up and happy is a huge job.

The trees are home to at least two hawks that we regularly see flying over the property and.... they are also home to thick vines of poison ivy which has made trimming a real joy for the crew.
TALL!  Jim is 6'3" so this tree is at least 40'.

South side tree, FULL of poison ivy... sorry tree guys!
This is the front tree stand that will make up most of the landscaping for
the future front yard.

In addition to the two hawks, we have seen other wildlife, too.  The other night we saw a giant turtle down at the creek.  He (or she) was about 18 inches across the shell and not too happy to see us.  He/she slipped into the water as soon as we made some noise.  Also, one evening we saw two raccoons sneaking around the back of the lot.  Robert made sure they knew THEY were trespassing.  They did not look too happy, either.

So, with all these trees and wildlife, you might think that our land is quite AGRICULTURAL.  Turns out we've received an education about the difference between zoning agricultural (which means you can't build on it until it is rezoned by the city) and agricultural exemption (which means you pay lower taxes to the county because you are using the land for agricultural purposes.)  To our dismay, we found out that we are agriculturally ZONED but not EXEMPT.  Which means two things:  1)  we have to rezone the property to build on it and 2)  a very hefty property tax bill when all the house is built.... unless... we can plant and cut our own hay or find some other agricultural use for the land around the house.  Turns out it will have to be more than just a home for tall oak trees, horses, hawks, turtles and raccoons. (and poison ivy.)

Coming soon:  The little old house.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Barn Demolition: Leaving it to the experts

I decided that our builder wanted WAY TOO MUCH money to take down the barns on the property, so I took matters into my own hands.  No, I didn't pick up a sledge hammer... but I did get on Craigslist and found a local demolition company that is doing it for about $3000 less!  They started on Thursday and here is their progress:
All this junk and more came out of that little barn.

Here's one of the workers... I don't know how they stand the heat, but they do.

What was supposed to be a two-day job is now taking about four.  Jim found quite a few things to add on to their "to do" list, like taking down the barbed wire fence, pulling up two or three small concrete pads, hauling away all the hazardous materials the previous tenants left, etc etc.

As of Saturday night....
The red barn used to be here!

I found a few treasures amidst all the trash.  I hoped to find them good homes but Mr. Clean (also known as Jim) doesn't quite see their intrinsic worth.  "Dear, wouldn't that be the cutest chair to fix up..."  "NO," and so I hope our good workers will take them rather than just trash them.  (I think they will.)

The next thing to come down is the white metal shed.  Here's how it looks now:

The next thing on the list for this week is getting all the trees trimmed and trying to actually find the property line.  We attempted to hike through the forest to find the boundaries and one of us got poison something-or-other in the process.  The other project is getting the outside doors on the little old house replaced so that anyone off the street can't walk right in and make themselves comfortable.  Not that they would want to. 

Oh, and the builder's bid came in.  No comment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day ONE: The real fun begins

Today is our first full day of ownership of our new property:  5 acres hidden in the middle of our town.  There is an old house, built in 1963, (same year as Jim) that stands empty... waiting for us to paint, carpet and CLEAN in case we have to move into it.  Our current house is on the market and if it sells we will be downsizing for a few months.  (And my kids will see firsthand the type of house I grew up in!)

Although Jim and I both grew up in towns, we both enjoy the outdoors and animals, and we in the past have said, "wouldn't it be fun to have a small farm?"  I'm not really sure if HE was serious or just agreeing with me to be agreeable, but I'm so excited I can hardly stand it because now we have it!  I hope it will be fun.  Some of our offspring (isn't that a good farm term?) are less excited about the project than others.  At least they can get to civilization in less than 5 minutes and they can get there on four wheels instead of two or four legs!

There is more work to do than I can wrap my mind around but we are working with a great designer and builder to help us develop the property into something we can live on for the rest of our lives.  I'm dreaming of someday grandkids' camps and family reunions.  The type of place everyone wants to come home to.  I've already informed Jim that this is REALLY the last move for us.

I'm a very amateur photographer, so don't expect too much there, but I do enjoy writing.  With this blog, I hope to provide a commentary for my family and friends about the adventure of building our dream home from the ground up!