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The House that We Built

Sometimes you just have to do it yourself, or in this case, with a lot of help from friends. In the year 2001, my wife Shelley and I had decided it was time to move into a larger house. To do that, we first moved out of our smaller one and in with my parents. This gave us the up front equity to make a downpayment when we found what we were looking for. But that was the problem.

Throughout the year we earnestly looked for either a house that was suitable in our price range, or land we could build on. As each successive home appeared to be less of what we wanted, too small, lot too small, not enough garage space, too close to neighbors, too far from work, etc. we started leaning heavily toward building our own.

Once the focus turned to land, the problem was finding something that suited our need. We looked for something around five acres minimum, within decent driving distance of work. At the time, I was working at Itron, Inc. in the Spokane Valley. Some days we went to look at property and ended up turning around before ever getting there, because the drive was too far. We looked at some prime real estate, very overpriced and with no improvements like water or electric. One piece of property we looked at would have needed over 500 feet of well in order to find water. So we kept praying about it and eventually wound up in a good spot.

A friend of mine had purchased 10 acres on Rambo Road near Fairchild Air Force Base. The lots were owned by an overseas investor and were not generally advertised. The price was in a range we were willing to pay, so we selected a specific lot and made the downpayment. We had our land. Now we had to build a home.

At first, I was looking to a pre-built structure. My parents had purchased a home from a company in Spokane called Pre Built Structures, or PBS homes. They had recently gone out of business so I wouldn't be able to buy one from them. My attention turned to Stratford homes. We toured the plant and were suitably impressed with their work, so we found a dealer and started looking at plans. Suddenly things got very expensive again.

To stay within our budget, the size of homes got pretty small, and we began to get discouraged quickly. I talked to my best friend down the street who had experience building his own home and found it could be vastly less expensive to do it myself. So Shelley and I started looking into it. We settled on some unique building methods, using styrofoam block for forming the concrete basement walls, and using structurally insulated panels for the primary walls, and roof. All that was left was to select some plans.

Shelley and I had collected many different plans, looked at things we liked and didn't like. We thought about the best methods for building and saving. Eventually, we decided on a basic design incorporating a basement, main floor and loft. I got started drawing up our ideas and fleshing out a final design. That final design incorporates roomy bedrooms, a wide hallway, several angled walls to improve space and the perception of space, a vast master suite and a garage large enough it currently holds three cars.

Once we both agreed on the floor plans, elevations, and other details, it was off to the county to get our plans approved, apply for permits and get things rolling.

See the plans (open in new window or tab):

Go to the next page for comments on the building process.

Go to the Gallery for all photos of the house building.

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