On the Job Site: Choosing Tile and Flooring

choosing tile and flooring

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago we launched a new video series called “On the Job Site!” In this series, we are sharing snippets about our design process as well as highlighting the dozens of skilled workers that execute our visions each day. In our last video, we talked about our process for selecting a paint color over at the Pittsburg Residence. We are back at the Pittsburg Residence today sharing our process for choosing tile and flooring throughout the home.

We hope you enjoy watching all that goes on before we ever reach the final reveal of our projects, and we hope you learn something along the way, too! Enjoy!

On the Job Site: How We Select a Paint Color

pittsburg residence painting

We have some really exciting news around here! It’s the launch of a new video series called “On the Job Site.” We will be sharing snippets about our design process as well as highlight the dozens of skilled workers that execute our visions each day. Our first stop is at the Pittsburg Residence, explaining how we selected the paint color for this home!

You can also hop over to our next video where we share all about choosing tile and flooring for this home. Enjoy!

Helena Residence: Final Reveal

midcentury modern bathroom remodel

midcentury modern bathroom remodel

We have a fun reveal to share with you today! Would you believe this gorgeous bathroom is in a basement? Unexpected, right? This entire project focused on the renovation of a seriously dated 70’s style basement. While there were some major shortcomings with it’s “before” style (did you check out that post?) , there was no shortage of space. This project included overhauling 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a laundry room, and family room. The whole place now feels fresh, bright and fun, while nodding to it’s midcentury modern roots.

consistency is key

We wanted to keep this basement feeling as spacious as it actually was. To do that, it was important to use the same key materials as much as possible. As you look around the space and see a continuation of the same material, it reads as a continuation of the room. For all of the bedrooms, family room and hall, we used a white oak vinyl floor. Walnut was used on all of the main cabinetry. We carried the same wall color throughout, except for in the kids rooms. In each bathroom, we installed the same black hexagon tile floors. However, it was important for the bathrooms to have some differences while still being cohesive.

black hex tile with oak flooring

walnut cabinet with black floors

kids’ bathroom

The kids’ bathroom is of course my favorite. We wanted an elevated yet playful aesthetic, and the Fireclay diamond-shaped tile offered exactly what we needed. Besides the mirror and lighting, this tile was the only thing we changed to make the two bathrooms feel unique. I love how it looks with the black fixtures! Paired with a crisp white quartz counter, it keeps the space feeling calm and sophisticated.

green backsplash tile in bathroom

Throughout the basement, we stuck with two metal finishes — matte black and satin brass. While there are lots of way to mix and match metals, our guide for this design was as follows: we paired satin brass hardware anywhere we had a walnut cabinet, and matte black was used for all plumbing fixtures. Beyond that, we had some flexibility for fun combinations, like the black and brass bubble lights over the mirrors.

modern black bathroom faucet

custom modern bathroom vanity

How gorgeous is this view from their daughter’s room over to that bathroom!? I am totally in love with the softness of the blush pink wallpaper paired with the bold bathroom.

girls bedroom with pink wallpaper

black hexagon tile and white oak

guest bathroom

The second bathroom would be the primary bathroom used when hanging in the family room, as well as for guests. We wanted a clean, bright look in here while keeping with the modern accents of walnut and black finishes. We made a few adjustments to the layout in order to achieve a much larger walk-in shower. The full glass enclosure keeps the space feeling airy and clean. With the new layout, we ended up with some unused corner space. We planned for walnut floating shelves to store towels, toiletries, and other items for guests to use as needed.

modern bathroom with floating shelves

floating walnut shelves

black hexagon tile in shower

family room

The fireplace design is hands-down one of my favorite parts of this project. We knew exactly what we wanted, and while it took some trial and error to get the finish right (among other details), it’s now looking so stunning. The subtle variation of shades of black is imperfectly perfect and I love the high contrast to the custom walnut cabinets. The lines of the satin brass hardware on the cabinets are sleek and just as importantly, feel so great ergonomically, too. They are definitely ranked in my top three favorite hardware pieces I’ve ever used. And yes, I take mental notes of these things.

black fireplace surround

walnut cabinetry with brass hardware

And that’s a wrap! Be sure to take a look at the “before” photos if you want a blast from the past, as well as some of our favorite milestones from construction in our progress post. If you like what you see and have a project of your own that you would like to discuss, we’d love to hear from you! Check out our services and let’s chat!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. We hope by sourcing some of our favorite products, we provide value to you and your projects!

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Helena Residence: Progress Update

black hex tile with oak flooring
black hex tile with oak flooring

As I mentioned in the last post (with the before shots of this project), this project actually took place last summer! We wrapped up in the Fall and just last month got to go do some styling and photographs. All this to say, our “progress” blog post is a bit delayed here! While shuffling through my archived project folders on my computer, I counted over 20 projects (big and small) that have never seen the internet. So hey, on the bright side, we made it here today!

Over on Instagram, I’m consistently sharing story posts of site visit updates as they happen. It takes a bit more time to prepare the photographs for our blog, but it’s so fun to look back at projects on these posts to really see everything from start to end without the other distractions of social media. We’ve used this blog a bit like our project journal, and we hope you enjoy diving into the details of your favorite projects here.

demolition begins

The Helena Residence was pretty straightforward as far as demolition goes. We weren’t tearing apart tons of walls to change layouts, it was mostly just cosmetic changes. Some of the original finishes were so dated though that it really felt great to see those pulled away and have a fresh slate to work with.

The two bathrooms were probably the most labor intensive. They were fully gutted and one had some minor adjustments to the layout, which meant moving some plumbing around.

tile preparation & installation

It was nice to see the bathrooms start pulling back together with sheet rock and cement board. It’s always a good sign that finishes will be going in soon and the real transformation is going to begin.

I loved the transitions throughout the bathrooms. From the large black hex to the mini for the shower pan, and the large hex to the white oak vinyl, they were some beautiful pairs.

the arrival of cabinetry

When cabinets arrive, it’s a domino effect of good things. Counters can then get installed, along with backsplash, plumbing fixtures, lighting and hardware. These bathrooms started pulling together very quickly and it was an exciting time!

We also finally got to see the laundry room start to transform. It didn’t quite make sense to do the walnut cabinetry in the laundry room, so we went with a stocked grey color and paired it with black hardware. My favorite detail to plan was the waterfall drop in the counters for a very sleek detail. This change of height was necessary due to the taller height of the washing machine and dryer, but the lower height needed for comfort at the sink.

the fireplace transformation

One of the most satisfying parts was seeing the fireplace get cleaned up. The hearth on this thing was multi-layered and we had to pull it all out before we could frame over the brick. While many midcentury houses look incredible with painted brick fireplace surrounds, we wanted something much sleeker here. We went through a pretty extensive sampling process to get the look just right. And then more trial and error on the actual fireplace to make sure it had the perfect amount of variation (or lack thereof, which was difficult to achieve) for our clients.

This process was discouraging at times, sometimes to the point of questioning if we should just paint it. I’m so glad we held strong because the finished result is gorgeous. Custom walnut cabinets were added to the side for media storage as well as an area for games, toys, etc.

the final details

Mirrors, lights, hardware, and furnishings… these pull a space together and it’s always so exciting to watch the tiniest things make the biggest impact. I love hearing from clients about their experiences and reactions to their new environment. When I found out about the joy and twirling that happened when this little girl saw the wallpaper in her new bedroom, my heart just about exploded. Creating the backdrop of someone’s life where their memories will be made is the biggest honor.

Be sure to check back soon for the final reveal of this modern gem!

If you have a Spring or Summer project on your mind, be sure to contact me here! It’s time to start planning your design and booking a contractor to meet that timeline! You can contact me or book online here.

Helena Residence: “Before”

walnut cabinet with brass hardware
walnut cabinet with brass hardware

We recently had the opportunity to return to a project that we finished last year to take some photos. While I’m so excited to share the final reveal, I never do so without showing where it all started. This is a gorgeous midcentury home that our clients had just acquired. We knew we were in for a real treat! You just never know what kind of gems you will find in an older home. Take a scroll down memory lane with us!

a wrongly placed farmhouse style

I say farmhouse, but honestly, I’m just not sure what happened here. When you first walk down the stairs to the basement, you are greeted with several chunky posts and beams, complete with mosaic tiled “shelves.” They were purely aesthetic, but just not an aesthetic that fit with the midcentury vibes the home longed to return to. The brick fireplace had so many layers and levels of design, it was quite busy and just a major beast. The storage next to it was obviously great and convenient but again did nothing for this major focal point opportunity. We were excited to tear it all out and design something bold yet clean here.

dated brick fireplace
brick fireplace with large hearth
LAUNDRY ROOM GOALS

As you walk from the family room down the hall, you eventually run into the biggest blast from the past that I’ve ever seen. And I’m no stranger to original midcentury homes! In fact, it’s where my career all started when working in Denver. I imagine at one point, this was the most stylish laundry room and maybe the most fun for those who enjoyed hallucinogenics. It doesn’t take long in this space to feel like you may have taken a few yourself. The green and yellow on every surface was so overbearing. But seriously, I was in awe over it, in the worst possible way! We like to have fun with these kinds of situations.

70s laundry room
70s laundry room
yellow and green laundry room
bedrooms that are refreshingly boring

After seeing the laundry room, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect for the rest of the basement, as we were just getting started. To my surprise, the rest of the rooms were refreshingly boring and pretty darn easy to take care of with the remodel. With some new doors and trim, updated light fixtures, a lot of paint, and new windows, they’d be as good as new.

outdated bedroom with dark woods
outdated bedroom with dark built-ins
the half-done bathrooms

There were two bathrooms that would be gutted during this project. Both appeared to have been partially updated at some point. My favorite part of midcentury homes is guessing what color the plumbing fixtures will be and adding it to the long list of colored sinks, toilets, and tubs I’ve seen. I’m also thinking I should start a collection of wallpapers from these renovations! Unfortunately I’ve already missed out on tons of amazing opportunities for collecting these.

Anyway, the first bathroom had a very small shower stall, which was the biggest complaint for our clients. This is a guest bathroom that gets used very frequently, so they wanted it to be a more comfortable size. It was the only part in the basement that we needed to explore a different layout!

The next bathroom would be the kid’s bathroom; the perfect Jack & Jill suite and I wanted to make it extra special for them. Again, mostly just cosmetic changes would be needed. However, I did want to remove the partial wall to make the space feel a tad bigger.

I’ve been filtering through my project archives and it’s been so fun to look back at this project! It’s been almost a year from when I met these wonderful clients. I’m so excited to share the final reveal, but first keep an eye out for the progress post, coming soon!

If you have a Spring or Summer project on your mind, be sure to get in touch! It’s time to start planning your design and booking a contractor to meet that timeline! You can contact me or book online here.

Preparing the Land: Drilling Our Well!

preparing for a well
preparing for a well

It’s been a few months since our well was drilled, but this week we got our water quality test results. I figured it was time to give everyone an update!

We weren’t actually planning to drill the well until right before construction began. But after financing fell through with the bank, we decided to keep things moving forward and pay for it ourselves. It was a big investment but having it completed would mean that we could have peace of mind about our water and we’d have all the documents to apply for our building permit.

planning for drilling

Little did we know how scary the process of drilling would be. I mean, we knew, but we didn’t REALLY know how anxiety-ridden we’d be for a solid three days. Our property is an area of a lot of dry wells and low-producing wells (2-4 gallons per minute). There is one neighbor with a decent well (12 gpm) that gave us some hope though. We did a lot of research and preparation before drilling.

We started by studying the well logs in our area, which to be honest, felt about as helpful as closing your eyes and pointing your finger on the map to pick a spot. And with 11 acres, that leaves a lot of space up for grabs. Our land dictated a lot though due to it’s topography. Most of the property has rolling hills, so there’s only one spot that makes sense for us to build. To keep costs low, that meant we would want our well close by to the structure. So we focused on that part of the property for potential well sites.

witching what?

Our next step was to look into well witching. It’s a pretty interesting subject and there is a lot of skepticism around it — both in understanding how it works as well as the accuracy. We were at a loss on how to pick a drilling location though so we figured we’d give it a shot. In one round, we used metal coat hangers and stripped the rubber coating off. We straightened them out and then bent into L-shapes. The idea is that you walk the land and when the metal rods cross, there is a possibility for water below you. So with orange flags in hand, we marked the spots. And marked. And marked. After a few hours of walking every inch of our flat section of property, we had a lot of flags and no idea how to narrow it down.

I can’t describe the feeling I got the first time the rods started moving. I had no idea what to expect with all of this, but it was fascinating! The rods would start moving towards each other like the feeling of a magnet and then they’d finally cross so far over each other they’d come back and hit me on the shoulders. When Connor walked the same path as me and had the same results, there was no explanation left!

drilling a well
try it again

In round two, we decided to go with heavier rods. We bought a few feet of 1/4″ diameter copper from the hardware store. Our thought was that maybe these rods would be less sensitive due to their weight and help reduce the number of flagged areas. It may have helped a bit, but we still had a lot of possible locations marked.

So then we researched some more. We looked for patterns in the flags, large groupings of marked locations, etc. We eliminated any that didn’t fit within these certain parameters. Unfortunately, every marked flag had the same equal amount of “pull,” so there was no way to tell by strength. However, I read that certain people will not have the ability to get results. So we decided to try it out with a few others!

Each time someone came for a site visit or construction meeting, they laughed at all the flags, so I would have them try it out. Some people, like my dad, got nothing. One of the contractors got some results, but at various levels of pull. I knew he’d be helpful — we walked to all the locations marked with flags and if he got little to no response, I’d eliminate them. If he got a medium to high response, I left the flag. And then we compared between them. We eventually narrowed it down to about 5-6 flags which happened to be all in one general area. It was time to meet with the well driller.

drilling begins

The driller confirmed what Connor and I discussed when we were researching well drilling and analyzing the patterns. The lines of the flag were in a bit of a diagonal row so we thought maybe that was some sort of fracture in the ground that allowed water to flow through it. He helped us narrow our possible locations down to 2-3 flags that were within a few feet of each other. Then we basically picked a spot while crossing our fingers. And boy did I do a little rain dance and send all the good water vibes to that stake in the ground.

Drilling day came and it was hard. It took most of the morning to set up the rigs and get all the equipment prepared. They told me they would call the second they hit water. They also told me their average depth drilled per hour (you pay per foot for the depth of the well) and I was literally calculating it to the minute while I waited for a phone call. By the end of the day, there was no water.

Day two came and I was feeling hopeful. Just before lunch I got a phone call with good news. They hit a fracture at about 340 feet, and there was some water coming out! Only 1 GPM but they were going to take a lunch break then drill a bit further to see if they could get more water. They were hoping they were hitting just the top of the water and that it would start pouring out soon.

sand from drilling a well
false hope

Hours passed with no more phone calls. Again, I’m calculating time ticking and how much deeper they must have drilled. I had to go to a meeting at this point so I headed out, but kept my phone on, just waiting for some news. Finally, at the end of the day, it rang. No more water came out from the original fracture, so after drilling much more — to 440 feet, water started gushing out and was calculated at over 60 GPM! I couldn’t believe it. This is an extremely high producing well, not just in our neighborhood, but in general as far as wells go. All I could imagine was that our little hilltop was floating on a lake. Hah! All the anxiety finally melted away.

The next morning they finished up their process and capped it off. We eventually got back up to the property to check it all out. It was getting cold outside and had snowed a few times so as we pulled up to the property we thought there was a large bank of snow. It was sand! You can see in the last photo the sand but most of the larger mounds were covered by the well rigs so I wasn’t really expecting it. As the water blew out of the drill, with it came tons of sand that carved through the land. It’s so soft and Finley is absolutely loving playing in it. If the texture stays good once the weather gets warm again, I think we will be making a sandbox for her!

Next steps

The next step was getting a four hour pump test done along with water samples for the county to ensure the water is absent of nitrates and bacteria. These water results would allow us to get our building permits if all went well. We decided to do a full water sample test versus just the minimum for a few reasons. Our neighbor’s well tested very high for uranium (which is common areas with granite) and it was recommended they get a reverse osmosis system. Since uranium can be hit and miss, we decided to do the test as well to see if a RO system was something we should plan for. Sure enough, our uranium levels came in high. Everything else was good though and we have that peace of mind!

Next we will be assembling the drawing package with all of our floor plans and submitting those with the well and septic design. I’ll be sharing the plans with you all soon — and guess what — I spent my holiday vacation tweaking them quite a bit since I last shared them on my stories over on Instagram. So it should be a surprise for everyone!

Pittsburg Residence: “Before”

galley kitchen renovation
galley kitchen renovation

Sprawling ranchers make for some of my favorite projects, and this one is no exception! Square footage is usually plentiful in these homes but often times they are so compartmentalized, it feels unusable. With strategic changes to the floor plan — opening walls and closing others, a flowing, functional footprint can be achieved. By the end of the project, it’s sometimes hard to remember how the house was ever any other way! If you’ve been following on Instagram, you will have seen the structural and spatial changes we’ve made for this home. It’s now time to give a proper tour of what this house looked like when it was first placed in our hands!

The Kitchen

The kitchen was probably the most updated space compared to the rest of the house. White cabinets with a pretty simple door style and those little polished brass knobs are not the worst thing. Even the flooring appeared to be updated! But as a whole, still pretty dated. For the longest time I thought it had wallpaper, until I looked a bit closer one day and realized the walls are all hand painted with the floral motifs! The window treatments throughout the house were very heavy, causing a lot of natural light to be lost.

spokane kitchen renovation before and after

My biggest issue with the kitchen was how closed off it was to the rest of the home. Families want to be able to cook and entertain and not feel isolated from their company. Thankfully this home was set up perfectly to allow for that with the removal of the main wall, but this would required structural adjustments.

outdated kitchen before renovation
Mudroom / laundry room

I was pretty excited about this space because it has a large footprint and it was perfectly located between the garage, powder room, and kitchen. You can’t really ask for better than that! We have exciting plans for laundry cabinets on one side, and more of a mudroom set up on the other.

The Den

Like the laundry room, this space really just needs cosmetic updates. The footprint is great and it has large windows! But I was very happy to see the paneling come off. It felt like a heavy weight was lifted from the room! The one tricky part about this room is a large opening to the dining room on the wall opposite of the fireplace. It created an interesting circulation path and restricted furniture placement.

living room with wood paneling

After a lot of back and forth, I presented the option of closing in the large opening. There was a second opening on the side wall near the laundry room and kitchen. Since this was going to be a more private family space, it didn’t feel like a loss when we closed up the doorway. In fact, once this was done, it made both the den and the dining room feel so much better!

wood paneling on walls
Dining & Living Room

The dining room and living room were initially separate spaces. The dining room had openings from three entry points on three separate walls, which made it feel more like a large hall. The plan was to remove the wall that separated it from the living room. This would provide a stronger connection to the living room as well as the kitchen.

formal dining room

The living room was a long space that despite a whole wall of windows, felt very boxed in. Even with a standard ceiling height, the ceiling felt low, especially with a tall client! At the end of the living room was a full brick wall with a fireplace. I liked that wall as a focal point, but the scale was all wrong. The height of the fireplace felt strange as well as all of the negative space on the wall. It definitely needed a change!

living room with wall of windows
living room with original fireplace
entry & hall

Again, the entry had the perfect amount of square footage. It was closed off just enough to create a nice feel! The photo below is a great shot, as the wall on the right is now completely gone and behind it is the kitchen. There was also a small opening from the entry into the kitchen which we closed up to better utilize wall space for the new kitchen layout.

main bath

The main bathroom off the hall is near all the bedrooms and had a whole lot of funk! I sort of loved this wallpaper! It was pretty damaged though and once we got through the design concept, we realized it just wasn’t going to work out.

BEDROOMS AND POWDER ROOM

All of the bedrooms had a different color of carpet. Every room had a different wallpaper. But each one had coordinated the colors so exact, like this green bedroom! The powder room is actually over by the laundry and kitchen, but was another example of the wallpaper selections matching cabinetry, tile, and more.

The bedroom below is the closest to the master suite. After working through the floor plans, the clients decided to take the leap into a larger master closet. So this bedroom will soon be a gorgeous walk-in closet with plenty of storage!

bedroom with paneling and wallpaper
outdated bedroom with wallpaper
the master suite

Last stop in the tour is the master suite! Another day, another carpet. The bedroom is huge and the bathroom is as well! However, the bathroom was very choppy with the existing closets. Adding to this jumble was the vaulted ceiling in the bathroom, but the walls only being a partial height. This creates a lot of visual clutter especially when multiplied by all the walls in this space. This bathroom gets a ton of natural light though, so between that feature and the ceiling height, I was excited to get to work!

master bedroom renovation
moving forward

This project has been under construction for a few months already and there is progress to share soon. I’m also planning to start sharing more of my design plans and concept work to the blog so you can watch these projects transform! If there is anything you’d like to know about the design process, let us know so we can be sure to include them in upcoming posts!

If you have a project you’d like to discuss, feel free to contact me or book an appointment! I’d love to chat and see how I can help!

Holiday Gift Guides from Pacific Design Co.

holiday gift guide
holiday gift guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year where searching for the perfect gift can become so stressful! Then you draw a blank on their interests or have a hard time finding something unique. Don’t worry — we have you covered! We’ve created some personality-themed collections with our favorite goodies, and in different price ranges! To top it all off, we’re offering free shipping for the remainder of the month. You can find it all over at the Pacific Design Co. shop!

Items shown: Faux Wood Cachepots | Canvas Grocery Bag | Watering Can | Oversized Market Basket | Botanical Art | Aldridge Bowl

Shop the Full Holiday Gift Guide for The Gardener Here


Items shown: Bone & Olive Wood Spoon | Stoneware Canisters | Ticking Stripe Napkins | Marble Salt Cellar | Copper Measuring Cups | Mango Wood Serving Bowls

Shop the Full Holiday Gift Guide for The Chef Here


Items shown: Urchin Pots | Sandcast Beads | Isla Cotton Pillow | Cane Baskets | Faux Thyme Topiaries | Organic Wool Knotted Pillow

Shop the Full Holiday Gift Guide for The Homebody Here

How To Find the Perfect Piece of Land

This title is pretty hilarious considering some of the things we experienced both during our search for land as well as the hardships we faced after purchasing. We are over the moon about the land that we purchased and can’t wait to enjoy it every day once our home is built. However, there have been some major issues throughout the process as well, and having a bit of extra knowledge could have prevented some of them. But, we live and we learn so I guess that makes me somewhat qualified to share some insight on the topic of finding and purchasing property to build on.

OUR SEARCHING PROCESS

We’ve gone through this process (at least partially) two times now in our lives. The first time we started searching was about five years ago, when we planned to move my childhood home to some acreage and then renovate. It never happened, but we searched for land for several months and had a good idea on what we were looking for. On this second round of searching, we did many of the same things to find the right lot. We spent every week scouring the internet for new listings and planning our route. Every weekend we then drove for hours crossing them off or spending some extra time discussing the features of our favorite ones. This became much more difficult with a kid in tow, which meant the number of properties we could look at each week was very limited unless we had a babysitter. We often drove on our own until we found some we really liked. At that time we would notify our realtor to get more information. Doing it this way allowed us to cover a lot of ground but occasionally we ran into some issues of getting lost and dealing with safety issues, like when we accidentally trespassed on a lot that Google inaccurately took us to. Raw land can be tricky to find so you have to be very careful about how you find it.

PRICE

Prices were so much different five years ago when we looked for land — we could easily find 10 acres of raw land for 30-50k. Getting over the fact that land at this time has doubled if not tripled in price, was a little hard. But it’s never a good idea to beat yourself up over the “would have, could have, should haves” as my sweet mom says. So this time around, we found ourselves expecting and prepared for a much larger price, but our goal of a minimum of 10 acres was still set in stone. Of course we would have been happier with more acreage as well, but that typically meant a longer commute to find something within our budget.

LOCATION

Commute times and general location are always a key factor in purchasing land (or a home). A good location to us had to fit within the following guidelines: no more than 40 minutes from downtown (where we work), good schools (even though we might consider homeschooling, this is still important in case that doesn’t work out for us), and 10-20 minutes from basic amenities like grocery shopping, etc. Beyond that, we didn’t have a preference between north, south, east, or west of our city, so we still had a lot of areas to choose from. The property we purchased exceeded these expectations by far… we ended up 30 minutes from downtown, 3 minutes from town with our favorite stores, and in one of the best ranked school districts. The location still feels rural and private, with 10 acre parcels all around us as well.

ACREAGE & SHAPE

You may ask why the 10 acres was an important number for us. We determined pretty quickly that we are not people who enjoy living in neighborhoods. We like our space, our privacy, and peace and quiet. We want land that we can do as we please, with no expectations or judgment about when we choose to mow our lawn, what we choose to do with our land, and no eavesdropping ears when relaxing in our backyard. We looked at lots with a few acres, we looked at lots with 5 acres, and neither were enough. Many of these parcels were awkwardly shapes – long skinny rectangles that once you build on, you find yourself right next to your neighbors despite all your acreage. This is true even on larger parcels, and with 10 acres, we still had to look for something that was a wider rectangle versus a skinny strip of land. You always have to keep in mind the possibility of new future neighbors building on undeveloped land around you. It’s the risk you take, so there is a benefit in having the adjacent properties already being developed so you know who sits where.

UTILITIES

The property we purchased is raw land, which means no water, sewer, or electrical have been set up. These will all be completed as part of our construction loan. Not having completed this part of the process, I can’t speak to too much of it yet. We’ve received estimates on all of them though and knew what to expect based on previous research of costs, so it came as no surprise that a large portion of our budget would be set aside for this. One thing to keep in mind is the further your property is from the road, the higher some costs will be. Electrical and gas are all priced per linear foot. Our property is far from the road which provides a lot of privacy, but higher expenses up front for getting settled in with utilities and a road. Wells and septic systems will vary in price depending on location. Septic system pricing all depends on your soil type, and the price of wells depend on how deep you need to drill (priced per foot), so it’s good to know what other wells are like in the area you are looking. Some rural areas do have access to city water, but there can be hefty fees for hooking up to it. It can be nice knowing that you always have water accessible and no chance of your well drying up in the future. Costs of land jump dramatically when utilities are already available, but there is certainly peace of mind in having these ready to go.

USABILITY & MISC. FEATURES

Is the land covered in trees that may require some clearing? It is flat or steep or somewhere in between? Is it rocky? Is there water, ponds, wetlands, or streams causing potential flood zones (think of insurance)? We looked at a variety of land types in our search and were quickly able to eliminate parcels based on their usability. We found properties as steep as a mountain, covered in water, or totally inaccessible by road. You also have to consider their accessibility and use in different seasons. Some roads were hardly developed and while we made it to the final destination, we had to consider that during winter, we probably wouldn’t be able to get in or out. The land we chose was open with minimal trees, some flat areas for easy building, and some rolling hills which lends itself to a beautiful view. My dream was to have water nearby, whether a pond or stream or really anything for outdoor play for our daughter. I was sure we’d never find something within our budget with this, but we did! Our property has a little stream running through it which was a huge selling point for us. However, with this amazing feature comes a few things to consider – the responsibility of maintaining a bridge, safety issues with having children (thankfully the stream is very far from the majority of our property), and we will have to provide proper paperwork that our home is not anywhere near the flood zone in order to eliminate the need for flood insurance.

RESTRICTIONS

Depending on how you plan to use your land, it’s important to know what kind of restrictions might be in your area. How many buildings you can put on each parcel, what kind of buildings (manufactured vs. stick frame), agricultural restrictions (some places don’t allow roosters and/or limit the number of animals), and more. As another example, we have CCR’s that say trailers and motorhomes cannot be parked on the property unless placed within a shop. We know many people who live in an RV on their property while a home is being built, so this could be a huge issue for those unless they are prepared for the expense of building a large enough shop/garage to contain it.

EASEMENTS

Easements can restrict your property use as well and it’s important to know if you have easement access or if others have easements through your property. On our property, we have one of each type. Unfortunately, what we didn’t know is that in one of these agreements, a construction agreement was buried into it which would require more than basic maintenance of the road. The previous owners had agreed to paving or chip sealing the road by a certain date, failed to do so, and decided not to share this information with us as we went through the purchasing process. We are now responsible for completing this.

PROPERTY LINES & ENCROACHMENTS

It’s important to be sure that the property you are purchasing is surveyed, or to complete one so you know exactly where the boundary lines are. Looking for encroachments onto your potential property or items on the property that might encroach on someone else’s property can save you from some serious headaches down the road. We experienced this in a strange way as well. While we were under escrow with the property, the neighboring parcel put in a road that crossed the property lines substantially. It tore up a large portion of the land, and we didn’t find out until after we signed closing papers. We paid for a survey right away and was able to prove that the new road was now encroaching on the land. Unfortunately, we also had to pay to fix this both in the survey costs as well as labor/equipment costs of removing the road on our part of the land. These costs could have been disputed in court, but sometimes you have to pick your battles.

Again, we couldn’t be more thrilled about the land we ultimately chose. I’m happy to be able to learn from our mistakes and share them with you. We are excited to move forward on our dream home and break ground in the near future. I look forward to continuing to share the process and our experiences on this journey. If there’s something in particular you’d like to know about the process, be sure to let me know so I can include them in future posts!