Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A House Story: Happy 1st Birthday to Our House!

Did you ever watch that show on TLC, "A Baby Story?" No? Well, it was a show that would tell the baby's story from beginning to end, especially if there were any complications. That's what this post is, but about my house. Our house turns one year old today!

This day last year, we closed on our first house.  And because we built it, I'm deeming this it's first birthday! So today, we're telling the story of our house.

The whole building a house thing was kinda nuts. I started my job in Durham in January 2015 and it took about two weeks of the nasty commute from Raleigh to Durham every morning and afternoon to convince me we needed to move. I just had to convince Aaron!

We started looking at houses in the eastern Durham area because the prices were so much better than anything we could find in Wake County and we both work in Durham. We started looking at houses in February/March 2015 and when we thought we had found the perfect house plan in a new build community, we called our family friend, Yvonne.  Aaron grew up with Yvonne's sons and she is a realtor, so we pretty much called and said "We found a house! Help us get it!"

Yvonne was awesome, but the house didn't work out.  We looked at a bunch of others and it never seemed to pan out, so we stopped looking. We decided we would hold out for a while, then start again.  Then we received a call from Yvonne saying "Hey, I have this house..."

In less than 24 hours, we went from not looking, to looking at a lot in Durham, driving to see the floor plan in Wake Forest, and signing a contract to build. It was nuts.

Our house plan - the Franklin.
 But it was also totally a God thing. We had looked in the neighborhood before and we couldn't afford it. But this lot was tiny and they were bringing in a house plan from a different community. It was the size we were looking for, the price and would be complete about the time our lease on our apartment ended. Totally a God thing! We signed the contract in April 2015.

About two weeks after we signed the contract, we went to the design center to pick everything out. We had $20,000 in upgrades and Yvonne negotiated an additional $5,000 in upgrades and we STILL went over budget. You have no idea how quickly you blow through the upgrades!

Our choices for the stone and my door (red!)

The choices for cabinets, hardwoods, granite, tile and carpet. We went with the darker wood, which was another level up. Of course!
Then I watched grass grow.

Literally, I documented the growth of grass. The City of Durham has this rule that they won't release the last 5% of houses in a development until all of the infrastructure is in place, including storm water ponds. We were in the last 5%. And our builder hadn't finished the storm water ponds in our development, so our permit was held hostage until grass grew.

Have you ever tried to grow grass in the summer in North Carolina? I don't recommend it. The builder finally gave in and started using sprinklers and even sodded the ponds.

We finally received our permit at the end of July. Four months. We waited four months.  There were some people that had been waiting since October 2014!

Construction began and it was so exciting!!

It went up so fast. We went from waiting, to a foundation and more waiting, to framing and then a house!

I literally stalked my house. This was one morning on the way to work.

Aaron sent me this photo that same day on his way home after work.

And this was maybe a day or two later.
It was so much fun to watch it all come together. Every Friday, I drove out to the house to walk around and see what had happened that week.

My favorite part was watching my kitchen come together.  I used to spend my lunch hours designing my kitchen. Don't judge.

Forgive the haziness of the photos. You can only take photos so well when you are relying on nothing but natural light in a house under construction! When those cabinets and that granite went in, I was a goner. 
Little by little, every time we went by, the house became more real.

The tile, shower and tub went in!

The banister and hand rails went in!
Aaron, chilling on our floor. You can see the light fixture at the top.
Then the outside was painted and landscaped. It was real!

We finally got to the end, but it took forever to get a closing date.  I might have had to go a little crazy on a few people. Crazy sometimes gets you what you need. A closing date.

On our final walk-through, I'm pretty sure I did multiple happy dances. The house was exactly what we wanted!

Did I say I love my kitchen? Pretty much all my house photos are of my kitchen!

On November 16, 2016, three days before my 30th birthday, we closed on our house.

Us with the keys to our home!
That day was beyond nutty.  Aaron was a truck driver at the time and when he took off work, we had to make it worth it.  So we closed, moved, had blinds and cable/internet installed all in the same day. It makes me tired just thinking about it all.

Even crazier, the next week, we held Thanksgiving in the house. Which we'll do again this year.

While we haven't done a lot to the house in our first year, we've done some pretty hefty (on the wallet) projects.

We bedazzled the garage. Actually, I think it's technically called sealing it but it includes using flakes as decoration, hence the "bedazzling." We also installed my closet system!

We also installed blinds on all the windows, installed ceiling fans in all the bedrooms and the living room and we've replaced my beloved seafoam couch with a gigantic sectional. It's been an expensive year! Garage organization stuff and backsplashes are the next big things on the list. And I hear I'm getting a light fixture for Christmas. That's when you know you're truly adulting in life - you get super excited for a light fixture for Christmas!

It's been a year and we still love our house. It's the perfect size for us and other than the annoying plant shelf, it is pretty much perfect. So happy birthday my baby house. Here's to many, many more years and birthdays to come!


  1. awww i love this!! my husband and i have a dream of building a house. yours is beautiful!!!!

    1. Thank you! Building is fun, but stressful! And we did a national builder, not custom, so we didn't even have that many choices! lol

  2. Your home is gorgeous! I love hearing all the story behind the build. Jess at Just Jess

  3. You have such a beautiful home! My husband wants to design and build one some day but I'm still in love with our little house more than 5 years later. Before we moved to Durham, I made that horrible commute from Raleigh to Chapel Hill and, alas, it took me 6-9 months to decide it was time to move! But I love living in Durham and wouldn't want to be anywhere else, so IMO, you made the right decision to build here ;-)

    NCsquared Life

    1. Thanks! We love living and working in Durham! This is our first house and we've both decided we're going to live here until we're old and cripply and can't get up the stairs anymore :)

  4. Your house is beautiful! Congrats to you two! My husband and I have been renting in south Durham since we got married and we're hoping to buy sometime next spring. I've heard from many it can be a roller coaster experience. Loved hearing your take on it! :)

    1. Thank you! Buying a house is an experience, but having a good realtor makes all the difference in the world! I hope you guys find what you love when you start looking!

  5. Beautiful house!! I had a friend go through the house-build process recently and even though it's a lot of work, it definitely pays off! Congratulations!!

  6. Congratulations on your house. It is beautiful. You did a great job designing it.

  7. Congratulations!! This was so exciting to read. We are just about to start building our dream house.

  8. What an amazing journey you've had. And you captured it beautifully in this post. I remember all three of us driving to the neighborhood at regular intervals and texting each other pictures of the grass - or not growing. You are the only client I can say acutally watched grass grow and paint dry. LOL!!