For the past three years, Karen and I have been living in the home where she grew up. Her parents built it from 1951-1957 with their own hands. Considering Al had no training or experience in construction, he did pretty well. But, it's a relic of its times. The single-pane windows export heat and import cold; what warmth we have is provided by an ancient oil-burning furnace and a propane-burning fireplace Karen and I installed; it has one bathroom and insufficient plumbing for a dishwasher; the hookups for the washer and dryer are in the kitchen, and there is no external vent for the dryer through the pumice blocks of which the house is built (and, no, there is no wall insulation). It is not a comfortable house.
To Karen, the house is more a reminder of her unhappy teenage years. Her father was schizophrenic, her mother took a lot from him and gave nearly as good as she got, and Karen was frustrated with her parents and her isolation in the country, (all fictionalized in Karen's novel "A Devil Singing Small"). It is not a happy house, and it would never be our home.
Even before we moved into this house from an apartment in Liberty Lake, Wa., we started planning to build our final home in the eastern hills on our property. We selected a site that's warmer year-round (the old house is chilled from its proximity to Cable Creek on our western fence line) and receives more sun, being above the valley floor where the old house sits. We had a half-mile packed-gravel driveway built from the county road to the new home site and had a well drilled. Then, I got sick. Then, the stock market crashed. Then, I got sick again.
During all of that turmoil we pessimistically wondered whether we should, or could build. We optimistically hired a Spokane-based architect who designed a great house - that would have cost two-and-a-half times our budget. After I recovered from my second illness, we worked with a nearby log home company that designed another great house, but would have cost about twice our budget and come with all the inherent problems of log homes, such as log settling and twisting and cracking sheetrock.
Finally, this winter, we remembered that a friend had suggested looking into modular homes, and so we did. Stratford Building Corporation is located just 30 minutes away in Rathdrum, Idaho. We stopped in, looked at their model homes, met their construction manager, Mike Tinsley, visited the factory where they "stick-build" custom homes, and went home with a brochure. During the next few months, we worked with Stratford to develop plans, revise plans, and revise them again. On Thursday, we signed a contract agreement with Stratford. On Friday, we secured a construction loan/mortgage from nearby Global Credit Union. Today, Karen and I selected the color scheme for the entire house.
I'll be posting frequently to this blog as we progress through the construction period. We anticipate that, sometime this summer, we'll have a new house that will be a home, for the rest of our lives.