Our Building Story, Part 1 with the first Q & A 6


This post has been burning inside of me for awhile and as the walls start to go up, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to share our story. Truth is, it’ll take more than one post because there’s nothing simple or straight forward about the building process. But as I sit here after bedtime, music playing and kids sleeping, I hope I can give you a glimpse into our journey and please, if you have questions, ask! I certainly don’t know everything, but I’ve definitely learned a lot in the last few years. Before I get started, I feel like I need to get something off my chest. Often when we hear someone is building it sounds like it must be some sort of super-fancy large home. I’ve never dreamed of living in a big, fancy house. I’m more of a minimalist, who likes to not spend a lot of money and so, our home isn’t going to be huge! It’s about 1800 square feet and for our family, it’s just right!

When we sold our quarter acre in town 2 years ago, we never pictured we’d build. We desired more space. A place where our kids could grow up climbing trees, playing outside, with room to roam. After we sold, we moved into a rental and thought it’d be a month or two until we found a place to buy. 

A few people mentioned building to us and at first we scratched the idea. We thought only people with  big, fancy incomes built. We’re the kind of people who don’t like to have any debt besides a mortgage and so….we didn’t think building was for us. But we researched and before long, we found property we loved and a builder who was perfect for us.

We bought our 2 acres, and although it was all covered in brush, we could see the potential. Permits took MUCH longer than expected (almost a year), but the funny thing is, I can now see how the timing is perfect. Just tonight we were out doing a little work and commenting to each other how much harder it would be if our youngest was still a baby. The timing has ended up being perfect, although to some it might seem like it’s taken us forever.  I posted on Instagram, asking if you guys have any questions about the process so, in this first post I’d like to cover those!

Question: Did you design the house?

No, we did not. Our builder has many, many different plans to choose from, all of which can be modified to fit your needs. We picked the one that works best for our family. We moved some closets around and made some modifications and I’m very happy with it. 

Question: Did you work with an architect? 

Nope! The builder takes care of all that. It was really nice, because I cared more about our location, size of land and the feel of our neighborhood, than having a giant custom home. I am crazy about how light and bright our property is. We get FULL sun and it just feels happy there. The neighbors our amazing and I love our school. I’m honestly thankful I didn’t have to design the house myself, although I know a lot of people love doing that. 

Question: How personalized will it be? 

We are choosing all of the finishes, picking out the appliances, doing the landscape and picking out paint colors etc. For us, it’s the perfect amount of personalized. 

Question: What kind of time frame is typical?

Oh goodness, this is a HARD question. Some people have their building permit in hand in 6 weeks. For us, it was almost a year because of some wetland issues. For some people, they build a very large custom home, that can take almost a year. For us, our home is a medium size and it’ll be much less than a year of building time. I guess I can’t even answer this! There’s so much it depends on!

Question: Are you already planning your garden?

Yes! But I’m sort of freaking out, to be honest. We have a 2 acre blank slate, which is AWESOME and a good problem to have, but it’s so much space to deal with. Like I said before, it was all brush, that we had cleared (our site work guy was amazing!). Now we need to decide which areas will be grass, where the chickens should go and where the garden should go. I am totally overwhelmed right now and I just have to take it a day at a time. All I know is gardening has a BIG place in my heart and there’s a reason it makes me so happy. It’s something I’m meant to do. I’m meant to grow kids, flowers, food and a strive for a life full of things that matter. 

I want our garden to be one of the most special places on the entire property and I want to possibly grow a huge flower garden or a pumpkin patch…but just look at what we’re starting with. For today, I’m just doing what needs to be done for the build  and trying to remember to breath (it keeps me busy)!

Question: Are you guys doing any of it yourselves? 

Yes! To save money, we are painting the interior ourselves, doing the yard ourselves, dry-walling and insulating the garage ourselves and doing a few other DIY’s. It’s going to be a busy next few months!

Alrighty friends….did I scratch the surface of building? Do you have a zillion questions? If so, post them below. Also, please tell me which parts of the journey you’re most interested in reading about. We have what feels like years of projects ahead of us. It’s no small task to take a 2 acre parcel covered with blackberries and turn it into a home, but we’re in it! Things are happening and I feel very thankful! 

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About Angela Strand

Angela is a wife, mama to three little ones and a lifelong Washington State resident. Besides facilitating the NW Healthy Mama website, she loves being involved in her kids' school, hiking with her girlfriends, growing all the things, writing, reading and taking photos.


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6 thoughts on “Our Building Story, Part 1 with the first Q & A

  • Amy

    Great info! Don’t freak out about the yard it will happen over time. We moved in our home that we built 11 years ago and have done a little bit to the yard each year. We live on 6 acres in Stanwood. The first year we only added a sidewalk in front and flowerbeds. It was very simple. Now we have a fully landscaped yard, back patio, outdoor kitchen, outdoor fireplace, fire pit, chicken coop, 1/4 mile of trails through the woods and a large tree house. Just be patient and let ideas come as they fit your family.

  • Eileen

    We finally made the decision to built instead of buying a house, so we are just looking for the land which it’s not as easy as we thought, I heard it takes a long time for the permits, do you had some one helping you with that or you guys have to it all by your self. Thanks and good luck!!

    • Angela Strand Post author

      Hi Eileen,
      Our builder helped answer questions about the permits, as we filled them out, but we did the majority of it ourselves. When you find a builder, they should be able to help you. Also, the people at the county are usually helpful. I hope you find some land you love!!!

  • Maria

    Congratulations!! How exciting! It always starts to actually feel like a house when the walls start to go up! We are mid-way through what is ending up being a much more giant remodel that anticipated on one of our places and my husband was semi-joking saying it would have been easier in many ways to just take the house down to the foundation and start over. So, positive thoughts for a speedier and easier building process for you!!