What kind of house?

Who am I?

It’s so much fun looking for houses. Boy, the sky is the limit. And you can imagine a different sort of life!

For years, Bryan and fantasized about building an alternative house. We talked about geodesic domes, rammed earth processes, even stacked hay bales. And we have always wanted to do something more environmentally sustainable…  

I love cottages, something cute, creative. We are living in Bryan’s dream home – its his “take-my-breath-away” house. He always knew we would sell this for a larger property/smaller house configuration and so we did two weeks ago. 

We started looking at floor plans about a year ago. Southern Living House of the year 2012 was my hands-down favorite. But there were some problems: no study/library, no real pantry, and while I really think I would like some “all-together-open-plan” activities, I think in real life: not so much. So, after really thinking about this, no. 

Decisions, decisions…

I really love living with my second refrigerator. I really think having a laundry room near the bedrooms is a no brainer. I really need a mud room. Bryan really needs his library/study with doors. And a couple of guest rooms: mainly for guests near term, and hopefully (don’t show this to my daughter) I hope to have a few grandbabes running around for summers. I would love a footed tub, and Bryan wants a nice big shower (which we have now, actually). And WRAP AROUND PORCHES.

No, we didn’t take this photo.

We have always loved Oak Alley. If you haven’t been, you really must go visit. It’s a day trip from New Orleans, LA. We both love the look of this Southern Gem and wrap around porches have always been high up on our “have to have” list. 

We decided to hire an architect whose design was listed on one of the “stock” plan sites. We had some changes to the existing plan, and so, we worked with the agency and the son of the man who originally did the design. It is basically Oak Alley. Originally, they have an elevator and 3 stories. But, did I mention, we had changes? So, two floors, no elevator and move the laundry room upstairs. 

We hired them late in December of 2016 and they promised a 10 week turn around. We finally received plans with all our changes on April 4. (Not quite the deadline as promised, but finally.) All the while we were waiting for the plans, we were making repairs and improving our current house and receiving calls from our builder. We arranged with him to break ground on August 1 as he would be finished with his current project by then. We were so excited. 

Hopes dashed.

The week we took delivery of the plans, we received a call from Jim. He and his wife were in a serious car accident and he would not be able to work on the house. Ever. Oh, my gosh. 

So, after all the angst with the architect, we were back at square one. Because frankly, at the price per square foot he quoted us, we could afford to build this beautiful Oak Alley look-alike. Truly, it’s a bit bigger than we need, but we took out the 3rd floor and put in a stairway instead of the elevator. 

So, since April 4, we have been reconsidering our finished plans.

Since we have sold the house, and we needed to start to clear out the garage, we took all of Bryan’s woodworking tools, and a few other things up to a storage facility near our property. We will be building a barn first with a workshop in the rear so that Bryan and who ever builds our house can use the space and tools securely. So, we did that this week. After unloading the trailer we sat down to lunch and we received a call from Jim. He wanted to introduce us to the Mills Brothers and talk. We met Jim and the Mills brothers out at our property the next morning. Jim was healing and actually has received a “provisional” all-clear from his doctor. So, our builder is our builder again!!! Hooray!

 

 

 

Catch up with me

 Background

During the process of getting our current house on the market, a friend recommended that I start a blog on all our activities. Well, I already have this site, so, I will transform this more commercial photography blog into an experiential blog describing our triumphs and frustrations in the process of building our house.

But before I jump in with our current activities (and there are some doozies), I must catch you up.

In 2009, the year I quit USAA and Bryan retired, we spent a month hunting for an acreage on which we could build our retirement house and observatory. So, naturally, it had to be located in a dark site AND it had to feed my artistic soul. No dry desert for me, no way. We spent that month in Kentucky, as we had never been there and it was beautiful. 

Bryan and LaNita at Lauren’s HEB management school graduation.

When we returned, we realized LaNita (Bryan’s mom) would be by herself with no one really to care for her in her golden years as the rest of the family were all working more than they should! So, we put the dream on hold until the time was better.

In the summer of 2010, LaNita had lost too much weight living by herself, so I forced her to move in with us that fall. The next 2 years were up and down for sure, but we were both so glad that we had waited and that we could care and love her in her final months.

Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2010, my small business of commercial/personal photography took off and we really never decided to go and seriously look for property again. We were both on the board of directors of the International Panoramic Photographers Association and that took us to many places between 2010 through 2014. We spent time in the great Northwest, and all along the California coast, New Mexico, Arizona and Tennessee. In all those places, we looked at the places convenient to our different IAPP trips and loved seeing so much of this country.

Two years ago, we took another trip, but this time overseas, to Italy, my dream place. I would live there in a heartbeat… but that is a different story. And at that time, Bryan asked me to think about retiring. My business was really changing and I was finding it difficult to change with the new requests coming my way. Shortly, after we returned, someone in my family became deathly ill and I decided enough was enough and said no more. By setting aside my business, I was able to be with my family through to a successful outcome. (All is better now although it was touch and go for several months, thank you.)

When we got the all clear from the doctors, I asked Bryan, “what are we waiting for?”

Inertia

Mind you, we were very comfortable in our 3400+ sq foot house. It’s a lot of house to care for, and we loved every inch of it. This is the one that burned down in 2002 and we rebuilt in 2003. So, it is loaded with well loved, personal touches along with the remembered pain and angst of all the challenges that we did NOT ask for. 

But in 2015, the time was right. Lauren (our daughter) seemed to be self sufficient and everyone was healthy then and is now (knock wood). So after the Italy trip, we really thought about how to find that perfect place for our sunset.

Bryan found a website called DarkSiteFinder.com and we cross-referenced that with Zillow.com. We looked around the Sherman area 2 or 3 times. Even had an agent take us around in the North Texas country side, specifically, Telephone, TX. Last year, we did fall in love with a 30 acre place in Annona, TX. But, this placed suffered the same as all the places in TX, the owners were very proud of the houses on these beautiful parcels, but the houses themselves were virtually all “tear-downs”. The Annona place was affordable at just over $2K an acre which was the going rate in the area, but the house was plain weird. The house was not worth the additional money they wanted. As an example: They had an upstairs with no stairway. The interior way to get upstairs was a ladder. Really, a ladder. Okay – no. 

We became very upset, and stopped our search for a while. Inertia had set in and we were so comfortable, but really not doing what we wanted to be doing! Last fall, our agent of choice had told us that it was a sellers’ market and we should get back to it. Knowing Bryan as I do, and knowing that I need a deadline to accomplish anything, I thought, let’s look on Zillow again. Maybe we would find a place that would spur us to get our house on the market. Sure enough, Bryan found an affordable place that was more acres than I thought we could afford and was situated in a beautiful part of the Ozarks Plateau in southern Missouri. Rivers surround it, close to Mark Twain National forest and DARK.

We found the place on a Friday afternoon and I asked Bryan what was he doing the following week. He grinned at me and said, “Going to Missouri.”

 

So, our adventure begins.