** Thank you for the overwhelming response & love you’ve all shown… This is is just Part 1 of my ‘Small Farmhouse’ Series. I’ll be documenting more about our farmhouse journey, along with links, tips & ideas… so stay tuned! =) **
If you’ve noticed that things have been a little quiet around my blog lately, it’s because after 17 years of living on the island of Maui, our family has moved back to the mainland. Rather than start over someplace unfamiliar, my husband and I decided to return to Northern California where we both grew up. This was a very bittersweet move for us, but we are so grateful for the place God has us. Plus, we absolutely love being near family & old friends again… not to mention Apple Hill is just around the corner!
Since we’ve only rented homes for the past 20 years, we spent a lot of time debating on whether to rent again, fix up an old house, or build something new. We finally decided to build a small house of our own on 10 acres of shared family property. Although we are a large family, we really love living simply & wanted to design a small, but efficient house. We ended up with a 1574 square foot, 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath Farmhouse with a Modern twist, and some bonus space we didn’t expect.
While we love the traditional Farmhouse look for the outside, we actually prefer a very minimalistic & modern style for the inside. This challenged the traditional style that our builder was used to, but he accommodated our vision, and the end result was beyond our expectations!
** Please note: The photos below show a work in progress… We’re not done yet. Then again, are houses ever actually done?! =) **
We obviously love how the house turned out, but what we didn’t expect was the overwhelming positive response we’ve gotten from others. Since moving in, we have been asked countless times for the floor plan, paint/stain colors, and where we bought our furniture, cabinets, barn doors, fixtures, etc… Not to mention total strangers driving up and saying they wanted to build the exact same house. There’s even been some talk about having a magazine feature our home – somebody pinch me!!
Since it was so helpful for me to read other people’s home building & organizational experiences online, I thought I’d start sharing a bit with you all too. Like most building projects, there were budget issues & compromises, so I also have a few tips & tricks we learned along the way for saving time & money. Hopefully you’ll find inspiration & encouragement for wherever you are on your home journey.
I snapped this pic after we had just got done painting. Everybody was tired & hungry – But, we worked together and the boys got to sleep in their new room for the first time that night! The hard work & life lessons these guys learned while building a house will never be forgotten. A neighbor stopped by to bring us the sign ‘Hug Your Blessings’ as a gift & it couldn’t have been more appropriate. They are indeed 4 of my greatest blessings… who need haircuts & some new jeans! =)
Above all, we are so grateful to God, our family, friends & the professionals who have supported & encouraged us along the way… My in-laws deserve their own special recognition for everything they did for us during the building process – countless meals, laundry, babysitting, clean-up, and SO much more.
LOVE built this house & we are truly humbled to finally be HOME!
- Who Designed Your House? My husband & I drew out the floor plan and 3D modeled the whole thing with LiveHome3D. We brought all of that to a local licensed Engineer/Architect to draw up the plans so that they would fully met our local code & building permit requirements.
- Why Did You Design Such a Small House for a Large Family? 1) We truly love smaller homes & the lifestyle that comes with living simply. 2) We had a limited budget. 3) We share our property with family, so our home is actually considered a ‘Secondary Dwelling’ (aka Granny Flat). In our county, a secondary dwelling is limited to a maximum of 1600 square feet. 4) It’s not really that small… When you factor in the way our Attic & Covered Patio is designed, we gain a lot of usable space.
- Can I Buy the Floor Plan? We’re working on this & hope to have an option for you soon. Buying plans that are all ready to go could potentially save you thousands of dollars and a ton of time.
- Can I Make Changes to the Floor Plan? The short answer is Yes – But, you’d have to take the plans to your local engineer/architect to make sure those changes work with your local code & building requirements. The second larger bedroom we designed for our boys to share can easily be split into two bedrooms with the bathroom between them – giving you 3 bedrooms instead of 2.
- How Many Square Feet is the House, Attic, Covered Patio, Detached Garage & Storage Area? The actual living space in the House is 1574 square feet. However, there is an additional 980 square feet in the Attic & 576 square feet in the Covered Patio. The 3-Car Garage is approximately 800 square feet with a 425 square foot attached ‘Storage Area’ that will eventually be converted into a fully separate 1 Bedroom Apartment for us to rent out to help pay the mortgage.
- How Long Did it Take to Build? Building times will vary depending on the weather, budget, your contractor, and county regulations/permit process, etc… But, our build (from the first bulldozing of the homesite to the final inspection) was 6 months.
- Are the Concrete Floors Too Hard and/or Cold? Technically speaking concrete is both hard & cold, but this is not always a disadvantage. During the summer months, they help to keep the house cooler & we didn’t run the A/C even once during the hottest summer days (which reached over 100 degrees on several days!). During the winter, they store heat, and are much warmer than you’d think. We also help soften the cool/harshness with area rugs. In all fairness, they are a bit unforgiving when something like a plate or cup is dropped on them – or worse, when one of our boys has hit their head on the ground. But overall, we love them & function well for our family.
- Can You Do a Video Tour of the Whole House? Yes, we are working on this & will have one up soon!
- What Kind of HVAC System Are You Using? We chose to do a Mini-Split Heating & A/C System in 4 Zones (There’s 1 in the Attic Space). They are very efficient & an excellent way to save on your electricity bill since we can heat/cool specific zones in the house.
- Is the Welded Staircase To Code? Yes, we wanted everything in this house to be ‘legal’ and up to code, even the stairs. Interestingly, our county required an interior or exterior fixed staircase since we wanted attic access. We chose interior stairs for both aesthetics & because it gave us access to an additional 980 square feet of usable ‘attic’ space for our large family.
- Where Did you Buy Everything? I’m working on a full source list, but if you want to know about something specific, then please leave me a comment below & I’ll do my best to answer it as soon as I can. What I can tell you is that a lot of what I purchased for the house came from Amazon Warehouse.
- What is Amazon Warehouse? It is a wonderful feature of Amazon that allows you to purchase like new or returned items that have may have been slightly damaged (like the outer box missing or small scratches on the product), for a discounted price. All of the items have the same Prime Benefits & can be returned if the condition is unacceptable to you upon receiving the item. We saved a ton on our house doing this.