House Building: Plan Approval

Last Tuesday, the planning and zoning commission in Ridgway decided that my plans for the house were okay with them even though they differ from the home design standard a little bit. It was nerve-wracking although clearly it turned out okay. I treated myself to takeout Thai in order to celebrate.

That means that I spent the rest of the week giving the draftsperson the go-ahead to finish up with the plans, lining up an engineer, and starting the loan application process. I spend almost 30% of my nights in a shed and the other 70% in a rental house, I would really like to get this process going, you know?

This all feels so surreal. It also feels strange to talk about publicly because so much at this point leans on my finance and in America we don’t talk about finances because people feel bad about money and it’s “impolite.”  (I’d argue that dollars are just facts/numbers not value judgements but alas…)  So, here goes, if this whole house plan grinds to a halt at this stage, it’s because it’s tied up with my financial situation.

In the meantime, here’s the elevations and floor plans. Architect is … me.

Small REAL Houses

Guys, I’ve done it.

I’m at the point where I need to pick a plan or hire someone to design a plan for my house. Once I do this, I can get bids and look for someone who can break ground in the spring. Basically, until I start making some at least basic decisions, there’s not much more that I can do (except keep saving money).


The first thing about this is that it’s terrifying. I’ve done so much thinking about what I need in a house and I know that I don’t need a big house. I don’t need a bathroom for each of my bedrooms. I don’t want it to be ugly. I don’t want it to be sterile. In some ways, buying an already built house suddenly seems appealing because fewer decisions. The reality in this area is that I can’t afford to do that. Somehow it’s still cheaper to build plus get something that doesn’t need to be remodeled, efficient, and small.

The other frustration is that I want both small and a real house.

If you get on Pinterest or browse any Tumblr of adorable small houses, at some point you realize that they’re not really lived in. The words “guest house” and “studio” and “sleeping quarters” or “cottage” start appearing.

When they do, you realize there is either a a giant 4,000sq ft monstrosity to support it just outside the frame. Or, they often have bedrooms so small they don’t have closets because they’re vacation homes where their owners store all their clothing. If you do manage to find a “full” house, in 2016 apparently “small” means less than 2,000 sq ft. TWO THOUSAND SQUARE FEET. I grew up in about 1,600 sq. ft. with a family of 4 and we had a whole giant formal living room and a big entry way we never used (and the dining room was barely touched). 

I’ve lived in 930 sq. ft. with another person and a dog and I know that we had so much wasted space. I don’t want to go too much smaller and I’m willing to consider plans up to that size but I really really don’t want to go bigger.