By Andrew Morrison
I spent last week on the piece of land that my wife and I purchased this past February. This is the first raw piece of land that we have ever owned together with the intention of creating our forever homestead. My intention was to meet with county officials, engineers, the power company, and two of my friends: Roarke (my excavator) and Chris (my designer) to get the ball rolling. What I discovered in that process was much more profound than any permit approval, road grade conversation, or home site location search.
As I sat one evening on the porch of my tiny cabin (it came with the property) I was amazed to discover that I was nervous about owning this beautiful piece of land. When I inquired within what that nervousness was about, I discovered that I was afraid of doing things wrong with the property (for example picking the wrong building site; making a bad decision about driveway location, etc.). I consciously reminded myself that I do in fact have what it takes to serve this land to it’s fullest capacity and that I will do everything that I can to do so. When fears arise during your own building process (and in life), it’s so important to meet those voices and fears head on, to listen to them, and then to gently remind yourself of the truth. Find your center of knowing and make choices from that place. You have all the answers you need.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “It’s always something”, then you may already have had an experience with a building or zoning department in the past. It’s not unheard of to be asked to jump through dozens of hoops before permits are granted. As much as this is normal, it is also very frustrating; however, that frustration can often be minimized. I suggest you contact the department(s) in charge of your jurisdiction by phone and do so anonymously at first. Call in the morning, first thing, so you can actually talk to someone. Tell them your plans and see what advice they have for you. You may be surprised to hear that there are restrictions on things you never imagined, like storing building materials on site in advance of building. By speaking anonymously, you can get the details of such restrictions and then be sure that when you approach the office officially, you know what to say in order to expedite your process as best you can.
As you move through the process, as I did last week, much will come out for you that you may not have anticipated. I’m speaking more about your emotional experience than any code implications. I found myself moved to tears several times last week. Sometimes due to the beauty of our land and knowing that it is “ours” for as long as we can steward it. Sometimes by fear of “doing it wrong.” But mostly, I was moved by knowing that I have an opportunity to provide something beautiful for my family. We are on the path to creating our own dream, our forever home. I am fully invested in that experience, whatever it brings. I wish you that same joyous adventure.
Do you have any words of wisdom or stories to share about your own homesteading process? We’d love to hear them! Leave a Comment below.