Walking the Property

For more than a year before we started building, I walked the property and daydreamed. And planned.

Where should the driveway go—high side or low side? Does water stand anywhere when it rains? How long are the shadows from the trees to the east?

We knew that we wanted the house in the top corner looking over the ravine so it would wrap around behind us on our east and north sides. The barn was more difficult to place. If we put it on the low side, the driveway would go past it to our house. But that’s also where all the water naturally flowed (downhill). We didn’t want a wet barn. We also didn’t want our driveway washing out. If we put it on the high side, the drive, house, and the barn would all be dry. But how would the driveway get around the barn to the house once we fenced the paddock for our animals? We didn’t want the barn across the driveway from the field; we wanted our animals to be able to run in and out of it.

Here’s an aerial of where we eventually landed the barn.

So as you can see, I ultimately came up with a plan.

The driveway would cut around behind the barn (between the barn and the woods) to the house—so the barn would be in the paddock and we could get around it to our house. In the aerial above, the darker areas are trees and the house would eventually sit in the corner of the field that has woods on two sides.

The house, drive, and barn would all sit on the higher areas of our property.

The grassy (lighter) area above would become our paddock.

Someday there will be an aerial on file in the county auditor’s office that will show where the house currently sits. That takes some time to update, so I have the above aerial of our barn for now.

Anyway, I did ultimately come up with a plan for our driveway.

And some people didn’t like that plan. (Frank liked it.)

That’s one of the tricky things about building—you have to get pretty confident about your decisions because you’re going to receive 4,000 opinions if you let yourself (per day) (sometimes good, sometimes bad). If you are planning to build, I do recommend poring over books and design sites (ideally while owning the property and spending some time on it) so you can get grounded in what you want before you begin.

This is your home—your homestead. Your land, your layout, your outcome. You’ll be the one living there. And for most, it’s the largest investment and asset of your life.

Of course, you know that. I just have to say it again because it’s easy to get pulled into other people’s ideas when you’re creating your home—whether through a Target ad or your mom stopping by. Or even a Realtor like me talking about the importance of resale value. None of that is bad; some is very good. I’m just saying that it can be hard to stay grounded in your own ideas about how you want to experience daily life in your home when you can so easily turn on the TV to a house flipping show or talk to home-building-advisors pretty much every waking second of your days.

So the first reason to spend time carefully siting your home is because it will be YOUR home.

There are other reasons to spend time getting the home site right—and I’ll discuss more of those in the next post.